Dear Miriam,

I am writing because I don’t know what to do. I have been married for over 40 years. Now, I feel my marriage is over.

We are farmers. We took in farm labour from eastern Europe. My husband got very friendly with one of the wives, who is a few years younger than us. This woman is now a widow and working in Ireland.

Every Sunday, my husband goes to see this woman. They go for a drive and my husband always goes for dinner with her. The whole day is spent with her, while I am home on my own. Our children are all married. I haven’t told them anything.

What can I do? If I give out, I get the silent treatment for days, which is hard to take. He is besotted with this woman.

Please advise as to what I can do.


Farmer’s Wife

Dear Farmer’s Wife,

Thank you for your letter. After 40 years of marriage and with your children reared, I’m sure you were looking forward to a very different future with your husband; enjoying those Sunday drives and dinners out together. Instead, you find yourself sitting at home alone, while he spends time with this woman.

This is a very painful situation for you and I’m sure that your words will strike a chord with so many of our readers.

No matter how he might try to defend his behaviour (eg perhaps he reasons that she is lonely since being widowed and that they are only friends), from my point of view, it is disrespectful towards you and your marriage.

I think the first step would be to talk to somebody about what you are going through

Even if it was a purely platonic relationship, the fact that he gives you “the silent treatment” when you challenge him shows very little regard for your feelings. Maybe his bullish approach indicates that he knows deep down that his behaviour is wrong; but he certainly does not seem capable of self-reflection or acknowledgement of the impact it is having on your sense of self-worth and security.

So, rather than waiting on him to see the light or come to his senses; what is it that you want? I’m sure the answer is for your husband to stop seeing this lady and to return – heart and soul – to your marriage. But if that is not looking likely, how can you take your own power back in this situation?

This might mean making some difficult decisions – for instance, do you see yourself staying in the marriage and carving out your own life within that, or going down the route of legal separation? Whatever path you chose, however, it will be you making the decision for yourself; not waiting on him to do the right thing.

I think the first step would be to talk to somebody about what you are going through. Would you consider speaking to a professional counsellor who could help you to process everything you are going through and start to map out a plan for how you move forward?

That plan could be as simple as coming up with nice things to do for yourself on those Sundays that bring you comfort and joy, connecting with other people that care for and love you etc. You can find an accredited counsellor in your area through an organisation like or perhaps by asking for a recommendation from your GP.

In time, once you work out what you want for yourself, that counsellor could also support you in leading a more independent life away from the marriage, if that is what you want.

If you do go down that route, it is important to speak with a solicitor to advise you on your rights and entitlements in this situation, reflecting your contribution to the farm and the family down through the years. If you have access to the Internet, I recommend that you look up the following articles written by agricultural solicitor Aisling Meehan in relation to this topic: and

I know that none of these decisions are easy and that any type of change comes with its own struggle. But the current situation does not seem to be bringing you any happiness and it is important to start putting yourself first now. I wish you the very best of luck. CL

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