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Don't Pretend Love

You Assume Love when you take a second look at what your spouse or life partner does as if you are well-loved.

You Pretend Love when you act as if you're loved even though you don't believe it.

When you Assume Love, you give yourself the chance to receive more love by looking beyond your instantaneous, gut-level reactions to events. You pay attention to what you know to be true. You stop yourself from jumping to conclusions. You do this for you, so that you don't miss any love being offered to you.

There's a good chance you'll notice love where you didn't see it before and want to show your spouse more appreciation as a result. That's great! But it's not required, and it probably won't happen every time. When it doesn't, pretending it did is not the solution.


Do you just go through life assuming the best of the person who loves you or do you ask him why he said or did something the way he did?

Do you ever get confirmation that your assumptions are accurate or do you just go on (maybe) living on a fantasy?

>> Do you just go through life assuming the best of the person who loves you or do you ask him why he said or did something the way he did?

You should definitely ask, but not right away. Not while you're furious or frightened. And not while you're feeling unsure of his love. Ask when you're ready to hear the answer and use it to strengthen your relationship, not to test it.

>> Do you ever get confirmation that your assumptions are accurate or do you just go on (maybe) living on a fantasy?

If you assume love (which includes coming up with explanations of how someone who truly loves you might have done with the best of intentions whatever upset you), you don't need to worry about living on a fantasy. Anyone who does not love you will soon do something that a loving person cannot do to a loved one, and you will spot this instantly.

As long as you are loved, accidentally overestimating the good intentions of your mate is a good thing, not a bad one. It is actually one of the distinguishing characteristics of a long-lasting loving relationship. I suspect this is because the way we treat someone we believe to be loving us well strengthens their love for us.

I am delighted to find you, Patty! You did a great job on that "Marriage Is Obsolete" show that Dr. Veronica hosted.

I really agree with the idea of assuming love. My husband and I have done much better when we hold tight to the notion that we ALWAYS want the best for one another, even if our actions are not proving it at that moment.

We've been married for 62 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 15 hours, so something must be working!

Keep up the good work, Patty. I love your story.

Thank you, Lois! And thanks to Dr. Veronica's Wellness for the Real World show for bringing us together.

I agree.

Thanks, Tony.

Patty.....I read article after article about relationships....and I have say that I think it is ALL...TOO MUCH TROUBLE. A relationship is like another full-time job that rarely ever gets rewarded. Stay the righ thing, say the right thing, look the righway, whew! It's definitely easier to be single and date.

Some people are better off single, Billie, and you may be one of them. The advice in this blog is for people who want to enjoy being married.

Great blog hope the site is going well have you bookmarked so ill be back soon

Hi Patty! Just found your site although I hope its not too late for me. I have been married for 9 years together with him for 13. I am 49 (gulp) and he is 45. Second marriages for both of us, no children but he has a (now) 15 yr old son from the previous. For the last few years it has been difficult being married. We did see a counselor but didn't take it seriously. Things would work out for a bit but then slide downhill again. Now he doesn't live here. He moved out 12/18/13. At first I thought we were done, done, done. He called and we saw each other 1/6/13 for the first time he moved. We also went away 2/1-2/3 to our other home which we had purchased in 09. We were planning on retiring there within 10 years or so. Since then we had gotten together and spoke and saw each other approx once a month. During these times as he was trying to reconnect I was extremely angry and had my guard up. Looking back thats when I should have been more approachable and listened more. I kick myself now. On 7/9/13 we saw a marriage crisis counselor who I wish, wish, wish we had seen earlier. After a 3 hour session he "got" us. Knew the core right where we both were coming from. But when asked Bill said he did not want to work on the marriage. While he doesn't say divorce he isn't saying lets work this out. We had a l-o-n-g face to face talk Monday 8/5/13 in which he says he's content. Not happy but content. I've emailed him before our meeting and told him I've been working on myself. During our meeting I explained why I cry sometimes in front of him..that I am releasing my anger which orginated from pain. I was calm and listened to him and his thoughts. I thought the meeting went well and asked him to watch some video's (he took the website info) but haven't heard from him since. I know the right thing to do is back off and give him his space but I'm dying inside. My time restraint issue is that currently there is a yr-round renter in the other home. he would like to know if (a) the house will be sold and he has to move or (b) he will be signing another years lease that expires 2/2014. What are your suggestions to get my husband in the drivers seat and stop living in limbo? Help help!

Tina, let's start with the easy question first. Don't let your tenant's lease dictate your marriage chances by rushing you. Do whatever keeps your *marriage* options open, not your divorce options.

If Bill does not want to work on the marriage, try playing instead. Try seeking happy times together.

On your own, try going through that list of things that caused you pain, anger, and now tears to see if any of the pain was perhaps self-inflicted. You can download my free Spring Cleaning Your Marriage ebook from to help. It's good news if it was, because then you don't need him to help you clean it up.

Men are highly sensitive to blame, especially to blame for something they don't believe ought to matter, especially if they feel undervalued for what they believe are more important contributions. And they are highly sensitive to it because of their hormone mix, not because of how they feel about you or themselves. Tears feel like blame.

It's possible there is much to blame him for. If so, and if you need apologies and changes from him to stop blaming him, you need to give him a lot more reasons to go through all that, because he is content living without you and you seem to be the one with hopes for a better future. So my suggestion is that you two date for now.

Here are some suggestions for great dates with someone you know as well as you know Bill:
Date Night and Your Love Language
5 Ways to Get Your Spouse to Spend Time with You
The Strength of Strengths
How to Fall in Love with Your Wife
Date Night and Love Languages
Inexpensive But Fun Date Nights

I guess my main question is how do I get him to refocus on me? Right now while he does answer my texts and phone calls (which I make on a limited basis) he doesn't make any plans to see and be with me. He says he knows he's being selfish but he does not want a relationship right now. He tells me he goes out a lot but mostly on his own. My therapist says do not chase him and don't ask him a question that he can say no to me to. I would be open to dating him but I don't know if he wants to date me. How do you know when it's too late? I feel (as do others) that he will wake up when it is too late and I have moved on with someone else. There is no one else in my life right now but I do not want to sit home alone night after night. A suggestion has been made by a friend who says I should start the divorce process since he will continue this living this limbo way. I really feel sad and very alone Even though I am surrounded by a wonderful support group. Should I think it is really over? Or wait until he files whenever that may be if ever?

Tina, it sounds like not knowing what will happen is bothering you even more than his absence. If that's the case, filing for divorce might be a good move. I doubt it would bring him home, and I doubt you would be happy, but you would be less anxious.

However, you would be in an awful place for dating anyone else. You might well end up in a miserable relationship or find yourself used by the men you meet.

Please talk to your wonderful support group. Let them know you want to stop sitting home alone at night, and you don't yet want to start meeting men. Invite them to do things with you. Do you like to learn? Try museums, lectures, classes in dance, languages, or interior design. Are you kind? Try volunteering in a soup kitchen or animal shelter, building something with Habitat for Humanity, or getting together to knit caps for babies in your local hospital. Are you awed by nature or music? Join an astronomy group together or listen to classical music or opera, live or in someone's home over a potluck dinner.

Choose activities that help you be more of your best self, and do them with friends. It will change you and your relationship with your husband. And if you choose to move on, you will be in much better shape to do so well.

Dear Patty,

I have been reading your posts off and on for the last two years and it has helped me through some difficult times. I would like to thank you for making this available and answering my emails. I have followed your advice on assuming love and have come to realize that I still love and care about my wife.

The problem is though that she no longer cares about me and told me so as recently as yesterday. I think she build up so much resentment about the way I treated her in the past, that at some point she stopped caring. BTW, there was no physical abuse or infidelity or addiction or anything like that but nonetheless our marriage from her standpoint is more or less dead. I believe most of our issues centered around money, control and respect (or lack thereof). I feel that her main emotion towards me is anger. It does not take much for me to set her off. I want to be honest but I feel that if I do, it just makes her more angry. Nonetheless I have now chosen to be honest at any cost, since I have little to lose anyway. For the most part, I feel mostly sadness and resignation.

We have four wonderful children and that is part of why I would like our marriage to work out. I certainly don't want to do anything to shatter my children's world as their happiness is the most important thing in the world to me, so for that reason alone, I will be staying with my wife for the time being.

However, I find it hard to continue in a relationship where love and affection is unreciprocated. She has told me before a few years ago that she did not care about me and I felt really lost, hurt and lonely at the time. This time around it still hurts, but time has dulled the ache and hardend my heart a bit. I firmly believe that ultimately how you feel in life is determined 99% by how you respond and only 1% by the actual circumstances and that has helped me.

I really think that I am much less selfish than before and I am much more willing and able to consider other people's perspectives and feelings. My own wants and needs are secondary to those of my family at this point. My life is no longer about me. It's best to suffer in silence, if there is no one who cares about your suffering. I just hope that one day I will be able to find someone who will care about me as a person, just plain and simple, without any pretenses. I hope that person can be my wife but I am starting to lose hope. I feel like I am stuck, I can't go back and I can't go forward. I would appreciate any advice you could give me. Thank you.

Ed, at some point, your wife made the same choice you are making today, to stay despite feeling unloved, unaccepted for who she is and wanting this more than anything -- except her children's wellbeing which she would not sacrifice.

This gives you something in common, a starting point for falling back in love. Imagine you met a woman this angry over the choice she had to make. How would you romance her? Would you start by telling her you've become a better, less selfish person? Or would you start by acknowledging her pain and how unfair it is than anyone must ever make such a difficult choice?

I don't think love is dead until indifference replaces anger.

I hope you read my October 3, 2013 post on anger, too.

What if you have never really been in love with your spouse. At the time we started together it was what everyone thought was best and I didnt think I could ever find anyone so great who would love me so i made it work. Ten years later i cant pretend and its not working. I dont want to be married. I think at times it was easier to make it work when I was younger and didnt know better, and over the years, especially with a major lack of personal time with each other, where we could at least try to make it work (even though in the back of my head it was always there that I was trying to make it work) there is no reason i see on staying together. It wasnt because we were in love that I got married, it was rushed, there were mistakes made and to try to stay in it because of not wanting to hurt the other or because of what others expect doesnt seem ok....

My husband and I have a pretty good thing going. There is a cultural difference (he is Scandinavian) we have bridged with humor and has even helped us both to stretch and grow.

He was raised on a very poor farm and did not learn any table manners. He is now highly educated and in corporate America. I was stunned when we went out to eat with his colleagues that he speared an entire long asparagus and shoved it vertically in his mouth, chomping on it like a horse on a carrot, slurped his coffee noisily, etc i.e. the same bad table manners he exhibits at home. I could see his boss was put off. This might be a contributing factor to his lack of advancement. He is sensitive about coming from a humble background. I was thinking of hiring an etiquette person to teach us both better table manners.
Should I surprise him with this as a gift or discuss it beforehand? Or just leave this alone?

This is such a great question, Sue, that it deserves a blog post of its own. You will find my answer here.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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