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One Last Stand Before Divorce

What a marvelous comment I received this afternoon! It came in reply to a recent post, When to Fix a Failing Marriage. This is definitely one worth fixing.

Here is the comment. I love it because it has so many of the elements of what I have heard from both men and women when their spouse suddenly gets restless or angry.

My wife told me 10 weeks ago that she loves me but she's not in love with me anymore and wants out of our marriage. This came out of nowhere..she said I didn't make her feel special and I gave too much of my time to others and not enough to my family. Her sister, brother in law, and most recently her brother had died giving my wife a sense of mortality. She told me that there's got to be more in life than what she has. I thought we were happy for 21 years and then she drops this bomb. I love her and believe she is having a Mid Life Crisis. She doesn't see it. Help!!

A mid life crisis can be seen only in the rear view mirror. For now, she's experiencing a crisis, and she does not expect that time will fix it. But look at all the great information you have to work with!

Often, when a spouse suddenly changes demeanor or wants out, I have to ask if something has happened recently to change his or her outlook on life. Here, we know what it is: three recent deaths of folks in her own generation, three recent losses of her family support network. This is a huge disruption, almost as large as if she lost you, Larry.

In a year or two, she will have rebuilt her life without these people and without her former confidence that there is still time for her plans. She will rebuild it with people who acknowledge how much an earthquake like this has affected her and who support the dreams and plans that it has brought to the forefront. If she doesn't, you would not want to be married to the shell of a woman left by pretending this was nothing. You need to be one of those people.

She says she still loves you. Believe her. If she's not in love with you, she means simply that she cannot right now feel your love for her. But you know it's there. Protect her from her mistake. Stand tall and give it another shot.

She says there has got to be more in life than what she has. Would it not be wonderful to be married to someone who finds the rest of it? Right now, she thinks she needs to divorce you to have it. All you need to do is say, "I want you to have this." And then start looking for a Third Alternative to life as usual vs. life divorced. Those are not the only two options.

The next step, after you jump to her side of the net and agree there must be more, is to learn what she's looking for, and to do it with interest, not argument. You must be open to hearing it. Once you know what it is and you have confirmed to her that she can have it and still have you, too, you can get into the details of how to get it without scaring the bejeebers out of you. Don't bring up any of that until you know what she's after.

She has given you a really big clue to why she does not yet trust you to help her get what she now feels is missing. Have you read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages? She narrowed down her list for you. There are two that match, and I am pretty sure you know enough about her to know which one she means.

One is Quality Time, the time you spend doing things together as a couple or a family with nothing else competing. It's time when you are not thinking about anything else, taking phone calls, checking your email, or answering calls for assistance from anyone else.

The other is Acts of Service, the helpful favors you do for people. When she says you give too much of your time to others, is it doing things for them? Are there things at home you know she's wanted your help with for a long time? If so, I would guess it's this love language she speaks, rather than Quality Time.

Here's the thing about love languages: it doesn't matter how much you offer of the other four if you withhold the one that makes your spouse feel loved. The other three are Words of Affirmation, Gifts, and Physical Touch. We all have one, maybe two, that we recognize in our gut as the measure of real love.

If you want her to include you in her recovery, try offering lots of her love language, whether it's Acts of Service or Quality Time. If you're not sure which one, give her both.

When she says things that make you feel disrespected or unwanted, stop and Assume Love. Assume she still loves you and wants you in her life, but she's been set adrift by these big losses. If this is true, how might you explain her words or her actions? For example, if she pulls away from a hug, and your love language is Physical Touch, you may at first interpret her action as a rejection of love. You might think this, because you would only ever pull away from a physical touch if you were rejecting the offer of love. But someone with a different love language can love you and pull away because she's busy offering an Act of Service to one of your children or to a grieving relative right now or trying to provide Quality Time to someone other than you.

Please know that while she's feeling unloved, she is likely to show you less respect than usual. If you want to keep her around, don't spend any time ruminating on the question of whether or not she respects you or ever respected you. Lots of men get stuck there. She's been with you 21 years, so it's a good bet she respects you, but she's female and feeling insufficiently loved, so it's almost guaranteed she will feel less respect for you. It's just how female biochemistry works.

I saw a great movie yesterday, and I was thinking about writing a post about it. It's called Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. In it, a man whose wife has been busy with her career and is headed off to work in Geneva for six weeks, to his surprise, gets suddenly thrown into a project that requires all of his skills and taps into all of his passions. She discovers too late that she misses him. He ends up living in Yemen with the woman who dumped the project on him.

What I wanted to say to all my readers, what I would love to say to your wife if she asked, is that it is NOT necessary or even practical to abandon your spouse to change your life. I know this from my days of dating as a widow in my 30's and 40's. To a person, every divorced person who dates again reports that they felt held back from doing things by their spouse. But each of them was one of those spouses, too. We form a picture of who we're married to that is trapped in earlier days. We stop even asking for changes. And then we end up divorced from someone who really knows us, divorced from our own past, separated from our children's family, because of a fossilized image of the person we married.

So, to you, Larry, I say this: drop everything, affirm your love for her even if you fear rejection, and start asking her what's on that bucket list of hers. Then figure out how to fit in into your plans. Ask for help coming up with new ideas that preserve what's good from your past and brings in what you've always wished to include in your life.

She's right; life is short. There is no time for a divorce. Get on with living. Either of you could die within the next ten weeks. Don't waste them on worrying about whether you still love each other. Don't wait for life to get back to normal. Just live them, fully together. Live them like they are your last ten weeks together. At the end of those ten weeks, sign on for ten more if you're lucky enough to have the option.

You do not need to pull out of the marriage in advance. Live well enough, intensely enough, that even if she leaves you in ten weeks, these ten will have been worth whatever extra pain you feel because you did not protect yourself from rejection.

Please let us know what happens, Larry. I wish you strength and love.

Comments

My wife told me she wasnt happy anymore and doesnt love me anymore like a month ago.She says i made her feel if she got dressed up or shaved legs that i would think she is cheating but i never told her anything about these stuff.I never told her she couldnt go out and that i was real mean to my step kids.Like a year ago we split for like 2 weeks and in those two weeks she kissed another guy so maybe now she feels in her mind that if she does these things i will think she is cheating again.I did have a problem in accusing her of always cheating after it happend but i dont do it anymore but she says it drove her to not love me anymore.I have left 3 times within the last month but she tells me to come home and help with kids.I have not been the same man for the last 7 months and i have changed 100% but she says its to late.we r seperated right now but i live at the same house and sleep in the same bed.she told me 2 weeks ago that she would work on marriage and give me another chance.she told me she doesnt know how long it will take to love me again but now she doesnt want to try.She says she cant hold me or kiss me cause it doesnt feel the same anymore.She says i can stay there until i find a place to live.i want to make my marriage work but shes not giving me a chance.One day she trys the other she doesnt.How xan i get my wife to love me again and not give up on our marriage

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Don, there are no guarantees that you can get someone to love you again, but it's always worth trying everything you can. This means showing her love in ways that mean the most to her. It means going beyond not mentioning your past distrust to mentioning your current trust. It means staying present, both physically and emotionally. It means doing the sorts of things she might eventually be enticed to join you in. It means giving her plenty of help with the kids. And it means watching for every little hint of love or respect from her and savoring it until she can bring herself to offer more again.

Me and my wife have been together 13 years and there as been infideilty twice on my behalf and she forgave me and took me back, recently i noticed she was in love with me, she told me she cares about me but she is not in love with me. we talked about everything inwhich communication was short on my part and i was doing any things with her i got comfortable, now since the last 2 months we have open communication about everything that has been going on, but she said she is not trying to make it work and she is tired of forgiving, but we still stay in the same houes and sleep in the same bad, we decided to seperate to try to save the marriage, but upon seperation she told me i don't have to go right now, i can wait a coupled of days, but we both sat down and told our kids what mommy and daddy were going to do, but at other times it seems like everything is going on the right track and then bam here it is need some advice

Mike, I hope you will read this page on the Dear Peggy website: http://www.dearpeggy.com/4-marriage/mfwedding.html -- esp. what James has to say. He was still with Peggy when she passed away a few months ago, 57 years after marrying her and then cheating on her. He says things man-to-man that I could never convey to you.

Peggy also left a lot of great, free resources on that website for those whose lives have been forever changed by infidelity. You may find some you want to discuss with your wife as you continue to repair your relationship.

Be sure both of you know the goals for your separation, what each of you need to learn or do to come back together ready to love again.

My name is sofian I beeb maried almost 12 years we have 4 beautiful kids 3 boys and 1 girls the older is 8 and 6,4,and 2 year,.
Since Dec 2012 my wife tolt me she doesn't have no filling for me and she want to move on, she shock me with this bad news, i m husband who work hard, i never cheat on her and i m not gambler , i don't drink,i care about my family, i meet her when she was 19 year old and know she is 30, after all the good and bad time we did have she want to leave ,she said she is unhappy ,i try to fix it and ask her we can move on to a new live you want too, but she said no , i ask her give a chance me may be it s my fault may be i didn't give her intention sometime but ,i did give up a lot for her, i did stay in the house 2 month beg her what is the raison of your unhappiness, she say you need to go because i bother her too much, one day of feb 16 1013 she throw me out the house and and now she files for the divorce , and i m lost , i did talk to all her family but there is no hope , please i would ask from you to give me advise to avoid the conflit and no divorce,i do love her and love my kids .

Sofian, I am so very sorry for your pain. Learning your wife is unhappy, especially when you work hard, never cheat on her, and don't gamble, can be a big shock. But it happens in many marriages. And the desire to fix this to save the marriage is a common one.

I would suggest, instead, that you begin instead by acknowledging her pain and asking more about it, without trying to fix any of it. Offer comfort instead, like you might offer someone whose mother or father died.

Her expectations of the life you two would have together have died. Without trying to fix anything or defend your actions, just ask her about these dead expectations. What had she hoped would happen? What was a bigger challenge than she expected? What was less satisfying than she expected?

Women appreciate all those great things their men do for them. And they appreciate their husbands' problem-solving efforts. But most women get overwhelmed by other feelings and don't recognize their appreciation until they have dealt with their sadness and anger.

Many women, especially those raising children, are very good at reading other people's emotions. They presume that others can do this, too. When you don't notice how unhappy they are, they jump to the conclusion that you saw it and did not care.

Show her that you care. Be as patient with her as you would be with someone who just lost a parent. It will take time for her to notice you now see her pain and want to be there for her.

A lot of what she's unhappy about probably has little to do with you, but she cannot see this yet. So don't try to fix what you cannot fix. Just show her that you care and that you will not give up on her or the relationship yet. And be very patient.

My husband and I have been married for 28 yrs. we had a wonderful marriage so I thought.my husband travels a lot for work.he announced 11 weeks ago by text he was not in love anymore and not happy and wanted out..he has been diagnosed with a condition called low testosterone(male menopause ) this was around Christmas time.he was put on medication.he tried for one month and decided it was not his condition making him feel that way.since he has been working away from home he has not come back to dr for recheck levels.he has been on no medication. He has not moved anything out of the house.because of his job and he has been very busy he is just not coming home. He doesn't want to.he ignores my calls and text most of the time.which is devastating .we were so close and he just shutting me out.we have 4 children 3 adult, 1 7yr old .he is even ignoring adult children's calls and doesn't call 7yr old this is very hard to except coming from this wonderful man.i keep telling my friends it's like someone has taken over my husbands body.this is not the man I know and love.this came out of no where and has destroyed me.i still believe its low t.but he's tired of hearing me say it.he insist its not.im trying hard to stay strong for my children's sake but its getting impossible. Any advice would be appreciated.

My husband and I have been married for 28 yrs. we had a wonderful marriage so I thought.my husband travels a lot for work.he announced 11 weeks ago by text he was not in love anymore and not happy and wanted out..he has been diagnosed with a condition called low testosterone(male menopause ) this was around Christmas time.he was put on medication.he tried for one month and decided it was not his condition making him feel that way.since he has been working away from home he has not come back to dr for recheck levels.he has been on no medication. He has not moved anything out of the house.because of his job and he has been very busy he is just not coming home. He doesn't want to.he ignores my calls and text most of the time.which is devastating .we were so close and he just shutting me out.we have 4 children 3 adult, 1 7yr old .he is even ignoring adult children's calls and doesn't call 7yr old this is very hard to except coming from this wonderful man.i keep telling my friends it's like someone has taken over my husbands body.this is not the man I know and love.this came out of no where and has destroyed me.i still believe its low t.but he's tired of hearing me say it.he insist its not.im trying hard to stay strong for my children's sake but its getting impossible. Any advice would be appreciated.

Try Assuming Love. What if he really does love you? What might convince him he doesn't? The diagnosis suggests he had low energy levels and low libido 13 weeks ago. Eleven weeks ago, while traveling, something or someone brought him to the conclusion he doesn't love you and doesn't need testosterone.

You could take this as bad news or as good news. I would take it as good news. He's avoiding the kids, which probably means he doesn't know what to tell them yet, doesn't know what he wants to do yet. I would take this as confirmation he wants to love you.

And if he wants to love you, the one thing you can be sure he wants from you is your respect. Respect means trusting him to handle his own health problems (unless he's suicidal). Respect means appreciating the amount of work he does to provide for his family, even if you also want more time with him. (He is likely to want more, too, if it offers the respect he longs for.)

If he questions whether he can still love you, it's likely because he feels low in energy when he's with you. This is not surprising when you are feeling as threatened as you must feel in this situation. But if you are to change the outcome, you might want to remember the times when both of you felt full of energy. What were you doing? What did you enjoy about it? What was different then than now? How about the times when you two could not keep your hands off each other? What was different then? And how might you bring back something like that, instead of like your current panicky, scary (for both of you) situation?

Is it OK for him to just walk away from his marriage? No. But people do really dumb things when they run out of ideas. Is it fair that you should need to make a change to fix things while he's just avoiding you? Hell no. But it's wonderful, freeing to discover you are not out of ideas and it just might not be over. If you bring back the energy, he can take the lead next, and you two just might have another, better 28 years ahead of you.

I wouldn't say I am in the same category as some of the other posters here, but I do feel that we are on the brink - and being truthful have been teetering on it for some time. We have been together for over 10 years and married for three of those (I'm 35 and she is 33). My wife is gorgeous, clever, thoughtful and feisty, but she is also wracked by guilt, self-loathing, a sense of unfulfilled entitlement. She comes from a family of immensely deep psychological problems about achievement, body image and the role of men and women in marriage. She has few really good friends and her previous relationships were catastrophic mistakes with boys from the 'wrong side of the tracks' who she treated like crap (not that they probably didn't deserve it).

We are about as diametrically opposed as possible personality-wise. Any personality test - you name it, we come out opposite. I'm thinking, caring and empathetic. She's intuitive, results-driving and intolerant. She is the classic 'CEO' personality. The last 4 or so years have been extremely tough - I went through redundancy in 2008, we very nearly broke up then but didn't and got married in 2009. We then both started new stressful jobs in 2010 and eventually had marriage counselling. We have always had issues about sex - I want more, but more importantly want her to show some initiation and desire for physical intimacy, which is very important to me. She is less fussed about sex, but needs mental intimacy and a sense of togetherness in life generally to want to be physically intimate (she rarely shoes me day-to-day physical attention). Towards the end of my last job things got so bad that we decided we needed to radically change. We started the year of counselling which unearthed some fascinating insights into our psychologies and we used techniques to resolve arguments and create intimacy again. I also agreed I needed to leave my job and we ended up moving to South East Asia which has been great (we've been here a year now) - but she did not have a job to go to. Since then we have been happier, and more relaxed, but my wife's lack of job has impacted her self esteem and only recently has she found full time work. This is great, but is starting to bring about the same tensions we had when we both worked in London. In the meantime, we started having fertility treatment - and to our luck, my wife got pregnant from a first round of IVF (she is now 3 months). I felt that her pregnancy had brought us closer. She did not. Since we moved here, we have had what I consider to be usual relationship spats, arguments and tensions. For her, coming from a family of divorce, she gets very depressed that we are not always (or even often) on the same wavelength - that the prospect of bickering for the next 50 years is soul-destroying and that simply loving each other is not enough. I agree to an extent, but I am a grafter and believe in continuing to try. Her philosophy is to get rid of things that don't work - and has recently made noises about our marriage. We get on, but it can be tough. I don't have a thick skin and she can be extremely cruel and hurtful - not just to be me but to the world in general; she externalises her frustrations and disappointments all the time - coming out as bitchy, rude or irritated. We enjoy spending time together, but often it can go wrong - so we probably feel safer when we're with other people. Discussions can often end in tension because of our divergent world views. We don't have natural common interests - I'm very sporty, but she's not so interested. I love food - she's not so interested. Neither of us is particularly artsy or 'intellectual' but she is developing a very philosophical side, whilst I think I'm more of a pragmatist.

I think that I'm a pretty balanced and complete guy; I cook well and enjoy it, have a good job, emotionally intelligent, empathetic, patient (perhaps too patient!), physically fit.... but for her something is missing. There is no excitement, no danger, no prospect of a better, richer, more varied life. To her, I am a donkey - dedicatedly, determinedly, plodding on with life. But I think this is a picture she paints because life hasn't turned out to be the Ferrari-driving, laugh a minute, edge-of-the-seat life she had hoped for. Most recently we had a spat that ended with us not speaking for an evening. The next day when we used a technique to talk about our feelings, I prevented her from expressing herself because she immediately talked about how perhaps 'we had made a mistake' and that 'she couldn't believe that this was it for the rest of our lives'. This was a huge mistake and betrayal of trust that it was a safe place to express emotions. Naturally I feel like I have trapped her in a life that she doesn't want. And to boot, she is pregnant and we live in a foreign country with no immediate prospects of returning home. I love her. I think she loves me. I don't deny there are parts of her I would love to change (or that I need to change and that we together need to find a way of being more on each others' wavelength), or that our life could be more exciting, but I believe that when you make a commitment you make it for good - and that means working at the relationship, slowly over time, and that you shouldn't undermine what you have all the time. I fear that she is on the brink of wanting to end it - and I have articulated my fear. She knows that there is a lot about our personalities that doesn't jive and that a lot of the anguish and antagonism comes from her - but I can see that the changes required may be too fundamental, that by changing she would not be being authentic in herself, and I don't like that idea either. But I cannot imagine a world where I am a single Dad and she a single Mum - that's not part of my life vision (nor hers) and fundamentally against what I stand for. But I agree that neither is flogging a dead horse if that's what it is. Perhaps I am in denial and she has often said and we would both be much happier with people who are more like each of us. I really don't know what to do.

There are, indeed, some people who are too awful to live with, J. However, after 7 years of getting to know her personality well and nearly breaking up, you chose to promise her your love for a lifetime. And after two and a half years of marriage, you paid for IVF so she will always be your child's mother.

Sounds to me like you want this marriage, this connection. Which means you will not be much happier with someone else. And as an expat father of a young child, your options for that someone else will not be great ones any time soon.

She, on the other hand, is not tied to a job there, which means your kid may be raised far away from you, largely at your expense, and probably with help from a family you see as having even worse psychological problems than you attribute to her.

You are a prime candidate for one last stand before divorce. If you are willing to go for it, start by accepting her as she is. Make no further attempts to change her, except to get her help for any suicidal thoughts or eating disorders that threaten her life or the child's.

Offer your full support for her own efforts to deal with her problems, but acknowledge you have been unsuccessful at changing them for ten years and are likely to continue to be unsuccessful. Only she can do this, and only when she has a lot to look forward to if she succeeds. And she is not likely to find the will while pregnant or for three to six months post-partum.

Instead of waiting for her to change, you need Third Alternatives, ways to get what you need without asking for compromise from her. My blog has a whole category on this topic, in case you are unfamiliar with Third Alternatives. You will probably also need to grow a thick skin, an ability to recognize her unkind words as a way to deal with stress, because she will soon have a bunch more of it to deal with. She is now hormonally primed to look to you for strength, comforting, and acceptance, even more than she usually does.

You are the one who can keep this together, not her. You are the one with motivation to change and the hormonal sanity to do so. Watch the movie Fireproof for inspiration. Read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages for guidance. Read Alisa Bowman's Happily Ever After for help persevering at this task. Read Emerson Eggerichs' Love & Respect to learn the difference between the two. And go read that chapter in The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People where Stephen Covey responds to his friend's admission that he no longer loves his wife.

And when you are angry because of her psychological problems, recite the part of your vows where you promised to love through sickness as well as health as your mantra. Or go listen to your baby's heartbeat through its mother's belly. That umbilical cord that keeps it beating only stretches just so far. The real challenge of fatherhood is to find your way back to that place you have found several times before, where you love this woman with all your heart and forsake all others you imagine might be out there wanting to do a better job of loving you.

My wife and I have been married for 9 years and been together for 13. We have been separated now for about 2 and 1/2 months. She told me that she loves me but is not in love with me. She says that she does not know if she could ever be sexual with me again. She still does not have any clue if she would like to try to get that feeling back again or not. We have 3 children also. At first, I was completely shocked and moved out as she asked. I have been an emotional roller coaster. At first, I tried talking to her all the time about the situation. After about one month, I decided that I just need to stop talking about it, give her the space she wanted, and relax. This seems to have made her more happy but she is still struggling with not knowing whether to try again. We had this similar situation before but I had changed some of my ways and it only lasted about one month. She says that I do not show her enough affection (which I know I do not) and that the only time that I show her affection is if I want something sexually. She also feels that we only had sex for me and that I did not get her in the mood for sex (which is true, I was lazy about it) but always wanted it. She feels as if she was forced to have sex because she says that if we did not have sex that I would be grumpy the next day. If I was grumpy, it was not intentionally and I have always told her that if she did not want to do anything sexually, she did not have to. She wanted to make me happy also so she would do it to make me happy. I have been in therapy since the separation and she decided to join me a couple of weeks ago. I will do anything and everything that I have to, in order to make the marriage work. I know what I have done and what I need to change and I am willing to change for good. I know it is hard for her to believe because I said this before when we had the same problem a few years ago and I did not keep it going. I REALLY know now what needs to be done, I just need that chance. I do not want to be away from my kids, house, or wife any more! I see my kids every weekend but that is not enough. I am trying to keep calm and keep my distance because that seems to work best but I also do not want to give too much space so that she thinks that I do not care. I also feel like the more time goes by, the less likely that she will change her mind. Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.

Talking about falling back in love: not likely to help.

Withdrawing: not likely to help.

Therapy: great idea, whether or not your marriage works.

Asking for trust: not likely to help -- be extremely reliable instead.

Deciding if you will have a sex life before you know if you have a love life: cart before the horse.

Love life: shared micro-moments of positivity (joy, calm, exuberance, warmth, etc.) that resonate between you, according to genius Barbara Frederickson's research.

Where to find such moments: old photos or mementos of happier times, doing something fun with the kids, wooing her in the ways that impress her (gifts? words? being present without interruption? acts of service? a brief touch on the hand or cheek?), taking her out to dinner and discussing almost anything but your relationship, anticipating a need and being ready to fill it just as you're needed, generosity, gratitude, a party, a trip with friends or relatives she likes, meeting to exchange the kids in a park as the sun sets, convincing your kids they have the best mother in the world, more than five positive spoken or body language comments for every negative one.

How to destroy the resonance: ask if it's working, get sexual before she does.

How to destroy the marriage: any of John Gottman's four horsemen while you're on the mend; no criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling.

How to survive the not knowing: assume she loves you and wants to fall back in love with you; don't react to anything that suggests otherwise until you check how it might fit this assumption.

Thank you for your comments. I have not talked about falling back in love. I have not asked for trust. At one point early, I decided to give her extreme space and was kind of withdrawn but stopped that because I knew that was not the answer. I have not mentioned anything about sex. We have had a few good time since the separation. We had a mutual friend over the house in which we were both there and had a good night. We also went out to dinner as a family for her birthday which she enjoyed also. Since her job pays nearly nothing, I still pay for all the bills and extras as usual. She had mentioned something about individuality and I recently opened another bank account for her so that she could have her paychecks in that account. I also just purchased a book for her that just came out Tuesday that she has been waiting for. I have not asked if anything is working, I have not been sexual in any way, and I have not been critical or defensive. I know that I did not show her the love and affection that she deserves. I knew before that I had a chance of losing her but it has really hit home now since I have basically lost her and I am willing to do anything and everything for her.

Sounds like you are on the right path, Scott. It's not a quick one, but each moment of shared positive emotion moves you along it, as does each instance of being reliable.

I have my fingers crossed for the two of you. May your marriage last well beyond your children's childhoods.

Dear Patty, Your insight is needed...
My wife and I were married in 2004. In addition to us, our Parents and friends thought we were a match made in heaven....We both deep down feel the same way today about many aspects of who we are for eachother. But when we tried to combine our 6 kids (3 each) it didn't turnout like the Brady Bunch as we had hoped.... Then my income went down and up and down and up. Now we are separated for the third time. This time she filed for divorce...but didn't follow through. A few months later this January and Feb, we started dating again....It was very beautiful.... many of our friends at church and our pastor rejoiced with us. We quickly grew to including deep words of commitment and sweet intimacy...She told me she had started going to AA and was thinking more clearly. But....only a month she wanted space, then she just faded away...the last time I saw her she met me at church and sweetly sat next to me holding my hand, and then when she left she sweetly kissed me and walked away..I felt it was a good bye....I haven't seen her since...I continued to pursue her with letters, text's and gifts and offers of help but to no avail...I asked what she was feeling and she finally came up with an explanation that she liked that I wanted to provide for her but didn't like that she still felt that if my income went down that she would have to pitch in. I didn't sense that was the whole picture..I continued in very loving ways, and to all her love languages that i understand.....except her want of abundant income, which her rich parents provide whenever she needs....The final response I got to a 10 day very loving pursuit was a text that said "I love you, but I can't be with you. Please stop making it so hard for me.".. I think her divorced friends got to her again...I don't know but it feels like she's drinking again and emotionally bonding with her divorced girlfriends who like to drink. Other comments from her like "I can never go back" make me think there is another love interest but probably not a man more like an emotional connection with her divorced girl friend.....it's like purgatory for me...I have stopped initiating communication with her. My sense is she wants me to be more of a Man and control things that mere mortals can't control, drink with her, be a better provider, and get better results with my children. Some of those thing I am doing but some i can never do....I want to grow to be the best man I can be, I want our marriage to be reconciled, I care about her more then anyone, but I don't know what to do next, short of winning the lottery and proving that I have a guaranteed $10k/mo income for life.....She feels very secure with my consistent faithfulness, love and kindness and thoughtfulness, but money and controlling out side circumstances is a real trigger for her...

Jim, I suspect your story may help others thinking of ending a first marriage with children who hope to find a match made in heaven the second time around. Matching up eight people, six of whom had no say in any of it and surely have not found a match to celebrate, is darned difficult, no matter how much you love each other.

Commitments are not easy. Your wife has been in and out of this one. Child raising and income fluctuations are both very stressful. Then she tried adding a new commitment: AA. It sounds like she's failed at this one, too. Whether she's feeling like a failure or blowing off commitments as too hard, she's not very likely to be ready just yet to recommit to you and your children.

And it is much harder to make and stick to commitments for anyone whose parents have been at the ready with cash whenever it's needed. The message that comes with every cash infusion is that they have it together, she doesn't, and there is no real reason to do the work of getting it together when it gets hard -- except that awful feeling in your gut when you know you don't have it together, which the folks handing out the cash don't remember or don't recognize in their own lives.

Assuming she still loves you and wants it to work out between you (and this is what I assume), you can help by making sure she knows the bridge is still there and neither of you have burned it yet. Give her some time to work up the self-esteem to try again.

Things I suggest you not worry about, if you have any control over your worries: (1) whether there is anyone else and (2) whether a more certain income would win her back.

There is nothing you can do about anyone else, and your relationship is deep enough and long enough that her decision is all about whether she can be happy with you. You have a strong advantage over anyone new or anyone who is just a friend.

And while she surely wishes there were a lot more money to go around in your home, you are experiencing this wish through your need for respect, while she is experiencing it through her need to feel cherished. Centuries of experience have led to making most of us promise to keep on loving through richer or poorer. Changes in fortune happen to almost all couples. When men withdraw or feel criticized when their wives experience distress over a loss of income, they cut off what she needs to help her through the stress: comforting, kindness, and an assurance that she's the one.

I have my fingers crossed for you two. And my heart goes out to you as you endure the wait for her decision.

In the meantime, do what you can with your children to make sure they don't blame her for hurting you (or them) when she comes back. Stepchildren and teens are challenging enough without backlash.

WIFE OF 20 YRS TOGETHER FOR 22 YRS STATED SHE HAS NO SELF WORTH HAS BEEN DEPRESSED FOR AT LEAST 6 MONTHS
POSSIBLE GOING THROUGH MENAPAUSE OR A MID LIFE CRISIS HAD A HORRIBLE CHILDHOOD MOM DIED AT 8 YRS OLD HER FATHER IS COLD MISERABLE HUMAN BEING AND HE IS ON HIS WAY OUT I ASKED HER TO SEE A THERAPIST SHE COUNTEREDWITH MARRIAGE COUNCILING WE WENT I MADE THE APPOUNTMENT IN 20 MINS THE THERAPIST TOLD HER IN ALL HER 30 YEARS SHE NEVER HEARD OF A BETTER HEALTHY HAPPT MARRIAGE AND TOLD MY WIFE THAT SHE IS DEEPLY DEPRESSED AND NEEDS MEDICATION AND THERAPY WHICH SHE REFUSED SHE TOLD ME SHE HAS GIVEN UP HOPE ON OUR MARRIAGE BUT HAS HER OWN LIFE AND THAT I SHOULD BE POSITIVE THAT SHE DOESN'T LIKECHANGE BUT SHE ALL TOLD THE THRRAPIST THAT SHE DOESNT KNOW IF SHE WANTS TO STAY MARRIED
HER PERSONALITY IS LIKE A YO YO

Depression is one of those diseases that affects both people in a marriage. I am so sorry for your suffering. A yo-yo personality might also mean this is bipolar disorder, where a person swings between the slow-moving hopelessness of depression to exaggerated hopefulness and great energy that tends to get used in reckless ways. I am glad to hear the marriage therapist you saw referred her for treatment of her illness.

I am less happy to hear any therapist would make a pronouncement about a marriage, especially such an extreme pronouncement, based on 20 minutes of hearing you and your depressed wife talk about it. A healthy, happy marriage is unlikely when one of the parties suffers from depression. Although I am not a therapist, I would expect a good deal more than 20 minutes of investigation before declaring this marriage to be the exception.

Depression is a lack of hope, so I am not surprised to hear your wife has given up hope for your marriage. Don't take it personally. Whether the depression is caused by hormonal changes, past events, negative thought patterns learned during a rotten childhood, or just a biochemical fluke does not really matter. What matters is whether the two of you can find a different way to relate to each other until she's better. And since she's choosing no treatment, that could be a while.

If you think she's worth sticking by through this illness, or if you made that vow and intend to see it through, I recommend two things.

First, let go of as many expectations of your marriage as possible, except your physical safety and her fidelity, which affects your physical safety. Since the alternative is living without her, find creative ways to live without whatever she's unable to provide for now.

Those creative ways must be ones that get your needs met, because otherwise resentment will destroy your marriage from the inside out, but they don't need to be met through her. They must also be ways that don't endanger her, as infidelity would.

Second, work to find Third Alternatives to everything you two disagree about. A Third Alternative is one that pleases both of you as much as what she disagrees with would have pleased you or what you disagree with would have pleased her. The way to find them is to learn more about each other's needs and preferences and then to brainstorm ideas. If she's depressed, you may need to find other people to help you brainstorm. But remember that your goal is to find something that makes you happy while giving your wife the moon and the stars at the same time.

Hello Patty,

I met husband in 2006 while he was separated from his wife of 6 years. Together they have a 11 year old son. At first, we agreed to keep our attraction to friendship, but it quickly spiraled to intimacy and before you know it, we are living together and I admit, before he was ready.

His divorce was finalized in 2008 after years of legal fighting. My husband comes from a very wealthy family that caters to most of his financial needs (home, car, business, large cash gifts). He does work very hard and long hours, but the pay fluctuates between salary and dividends. In short, we can't predict the income so it's a blessing that his father has helped us when he did. When I met him, I was working FT and only recently, within the last year, quit my job to be at home with our two young children (2 & 4). I come from an upper middle class family, raised by a strong, independent, successful single mother. I have no relationship with my father (my choice). Suffice to say, while we would not be considered "wealthy," we were very close to it and my mother also supported me financially but cut me off years ago (mid-20's). I've been on my own since.

My husband and I had our first son, out of wedlock, in 2008, a beautiful boy. My husband has never placed demands on me to work outside of the home and the emphasis has always been on being home for our children. I'm blessed to have that opportunity & appreciate it each day.

I was not raised in an affectionate home. My mother rarely hugged me, let alone kissed me or showed me other signs of her love for me. Admittedly, I am not a very affectionate person....with my spouse, but my children are different and I shower them with love, affection and quality time.

You could also say that my mother was emotionally abusive as her mother before was. I never saw that side of my grandmother, but I've heard it all too well from other members of our family. I learned at a young age how to emotionally detach to keep myself from being hurt.

So fast forward, it's no wonder that I seem to find myself in relationships with very successful men, but were not emotionally available to me. While I was younger I will admit to dating married men and I fully know now that was for the "daddy effect."

Continuing onto to my marriage, my husband has been very emotionally abusive which has escalated to him threatening to kill me, to him pushing me down on the bed (with baby in arms) to pushing me into a door (again, with toddler in arms). He is narcissistic & comes from an emotionally & verbally abusive upbringing. He has told me that he has heard his father yell worse things to his mother than what he has said to me (which I can't imagine as I've heard it all). His father also has a drinking problem and both of his parents believed in corporal punishment. So there is emotional abuse in our backgrounds (giving and receiving) that have contributed to the failure of our marriage.

While I was pregnant with my first child, while my son was an infant, toddler, - you name it, my husband has been emotionally abusive. I have cried myself to sleep many a night and wondered how I would ever find myself out of this relationship. I don't believe in divorce and I honestly felt trapped.

But when things are good in our relationship, it's amazing - wonderful and we consider ourselves to be soul mates - that's how strong of bond we share. We share amazing sexual chemistry, shared interests - on the outside, our friends and his employees envy us. We are a very beautiful couple, healthy and take care of our bodies. We live in a beautiful home and have amazing children. On the outside, I'm sure it looks like we have it all. He is very private, so of course, no one knows about the abuse.

I, on the other hand, have just recently (over the last year) been opening up to friends about the emotional abuse and going to therapy as well. It got to the point that I couldn't handle it on my own and my husband just wasn't supporting my feelings. I have told him on more than one occasion that I wanted out of the relationship and he always came back and told me he loved me, that family was important to him and occasionally, he would say he was sorry.

In 2010, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter. It was a planned pregnancy whereas our son wasn't (but desired by me). I had suffered a miscarriage before my daughter, so our family was elated that this pregnancy was healthy. My husband proposed to me on New Years Eve 2009 & we had a courtroom wedding the following month.

The abuse still continued and our relationship a roller coaster.

Here it is 2013 and we have endured living with his parents waiting for our new home to completed. Living with his parents, I experienced first-hand the emotional abuse and on several occasions they were yelling and screaming in my face with my children present. Not once did my husband support me, stand up for me or tell them to back off. It was, in short, a horrifying experience as I had much respect for my in-laws. My children were miserable while living there and we attempted to keep to ourselves (children and me) on the third floor of their home. My husband works long hours not coming home until past midnight, most nights, so we rarely saw him. It was around this time that I began going to a new church and was attending regularly mainly for support.

We then moved into the new home as soon as we were given a green light and a few months later, in December, my husband snapped and during an argument threw plates at my head. Miraculously, none of the plates actually hit my head but instead broke into the sink. Scared for my life as my husband was raging, I gathered our children & pets into a bedroom, locked the door and called 911 AND one of my church's pastors. The pastor arrived before the police and while the police took a report, I opted not to have my husband arrested. My husband told the pastor he would agree to meet with him but it never developed.

Since Jan 2013, our relationship has been up and down. A few emotional outbursts here and there and me reacting saying it was over and my husband telling me that he loved me and I'm the only person he wants to be with.

I'm very involved with my church and attend services/classes 4 days a week. I know this has bothered my husband, even though he did attend marriage counseling with me (he attended 3 classes out of 9) and for my baptism.

It's very difficult for us to have mature conversations about anything, especially financial. I do the best that I can with our budget. It's half of what we need to pay our bills, yet my husband has insisted that I stay at home - yet he insults me by insinuating that I don't do anything. I even signed up for a Financial Peace University class at church to better manage our finances and its become very obvious to me that I NEED to get a job and the reality that my husband doesn't make a lot of money for all his long hours and work kills him inside. When he does receive a dividend check, he spends the money himself, not depositing it into our joint so we can actually meet our budget. I have placed other things like groceries, power, water, clothing over paying the mortgage on time. I have experienced with my husband, no support when it has come down to money, and have been in a situation where we had no money for groceries, yet here we are living a good life. As a mom, there is nothing worse than not being able to buy food for your children. I now save money without his knowledge so I'm never without the ability to buy gas, groceries, clothing or other things that my children NEED. I'm not the type of person to buy a lot of things for myself. When I buy clothes, I buy quality so they last. The only things I personally need come down to personal grooming (nails, pedicures, hair).

Within the last 10 days, he has told me he wants a divorce. Says that "it's over" and he's not interested in me. This is not a intimacy issue, because our sex life is amazing. He says he is attracted to me and doesn't want to hurt me and the kids. This is a sudden development, one that took me by surprise. In the past, when I told him that it was over, deep down, I just wanted to work things out. I wanted love, he wanted respect and I had a hard time respecting him when he was yelling and cussing me out in front of our children. I felt his love but I felt is wrapped in toxicity. In my mind, "how could my husband love me AND treat me like this??"

So, I would stop being affectionate with him, withdraw to protect myself and wouldn't come out of that cocoon for a couple of days.

So here it is, my way to get out of this marriage and I am fighting it. Everything but parenting has come to a complete halt as I try to save my marriage. And I know it looks crazy, from the outside, that I would want too.....but here is why:

I am a born again Christian and I believe that when you marry, you marry for life. I believed that going into it. I believe through the power of prayer, that God will restore my marriage. I reach out to experts, such as yourself, for guidance of knowing how to handle the situation as it is, until it's restored. I have made many mistakes as a wife as I have NO role model, other than reading the Bible and following the examples of what is written. I love my husband very, very much and would walk through fire for him. My family is my world. I have professed my love for him and have had to resort to text message as he has demanded that I don't call him. He rarely speaks to me because he is very hurt as I. He was carrying on what I considered to be a very inappropriate relationship with his manager and I became suspicious because he was deleting text messages between them and meeting after hours to smoke pot together. I felt hurt and betrayed that he would go out after work to be with his staff but then come home and lie to me, or come home so late that I just didn't have it in me to be awake until 3am (I'm up as early as 6am!). I investigated the situation myself until I got to the bottom of it and I still have no idea why he lied to me when I discovered there really wasn't anything going on. He was just super busy at work, working late and letting off steam by smoking and hanging out with staff and friends after hours. However, since the "blow up," he has been coming home early, told me he has stopped smoking pot - so I think that he isn't 100% checked out of our marriage.

I need your advice of how to handle this delicate situation. He told me last night that he spoke with his attorneys today and is meeting with them next Wed. He says he loves me as a person, but that he doesn't want to be with me anymore. He goes onto say that, "I'm just not good at this (being married) and looks forward to being single." He says he doesn't want the kids to move out of the house and wants to work out a plan with me to basically co-habitat while separated. Legally, I know couples cannot be granted a divorce if they are still living together. Divorce is not what I want.

He is communicating with one of the Pastors from my church.

He tells me that things need to drastically change, that we both need to work on ourselves.

I know my note is long, but I felt the need to give you background information so you can best advise me.

Patty, I love my husband immensely and without him, my family is not complete. I cannot imagine living by myself with 2 precious children. I have witnessed all these years of a very inconsistent visitation schedule with his son from his first marriage, weeks going by where he doesn't see him. This is in addition to the yelling, screaming and cussing he has shared with his ex-wife and about his ex-wife, in front of his son, to other members of of his family. My heart would break if my two children ever had to listen to their father belittle me to their grandparents and vice versa. My heart would break if my children were in the direct path of my husbands anger and I wasn't there to protect them.


Thank you for your time. I look forward to your response.

Stacia, what a dreadful situation for you, for your children, and for your husband. You are so close to the answer when you ask, "how could my husband love me AND treat me like this??"

There is only one answer. IF he loves you (and from what you report, this seems entirely possible), there is only one way he can treat you like this. He is unable to control his behavior to match his intentions. There are many possible reasons for this: addiction, brain damage, brain tumor, PTSD, or a lousy, violent childhood he has not yet dealt with, which prevented him from learning basic skills every grown man needs.

Here's what happens when you try to overlook the outrageous behavior (aside from what it does to you and your children): he does things he feels shame for. Now he must live with that shame (not good for your relationship and even harder for men than for women) or tell himself and you that his behavior was provoked by something you did (not good for your relationship nor for his self-esteem and not true).

Living together unmarried is probably the worst possible choice open to you. But it's an interesting opening, because it suggests he realizes he's dangerous to his wife, no matter how much he loves you. He imagines he will be less dangerous without the expectations of marriage. He's dead wrong.

He should not be near you or the kids until he deals with whatever prevents him from being able to act in accordance with the love he feels for you. Marriage has nothing to do with this. You can remain married. You can love him. You can keep the kids in touch with him. But to put yourself in a lion's cage and then blame the lion if his biological drives lead him to harm you does no favors for the lion or you. The rest of humanity will shoot the lion to spare you.

They will not care one iota how good your good moments together were, how good a father he is, or whether you love him. They will not even care he was raised so badly. If they get a chance to spare you from someone who cannot behave like a grown man, they will put him in jail, shame him, ruin the reputation he needs to earn a living.

Realizing this, he will isolate you and your children, even while loving you. He will put you down as often as needed to keep you from speaking up, even while loving you. It's human nature to protect oneself. The only way out of this spiral is for him to get help so that he can safely be around you and have no need to prevent others from seeing how he treats you.

You cannot earn enough money, say enough sweet things, tread carefully enough, or have enough great sex to change the situation. Only he can change it, and it means owning up to a good bit of shame and dealing with his relationship with his parents and their money, so it will not be easy for him. The only thing you can do to help him to find the courage is to keep your kids and yourself safe from his lack of self-control. Every time he hurts you, he hurts himself and your relationship, too.

With the threat of divorce hanging over your head, I expect it will be very hard to find the courage to be consistent in demanding he seek help. I would encourage you to let the divorce happen if he pursues it and to fight for full custody if you want your kids to have a better relationship with their father than you had. He's not ready for healthy shared custody or cohabitation.

After he gets help, you can remarry. We are talking here about a civil marriage, a legal divorce. I think you may regard yourself as still married to him in the church and in God's eyes, because you will be doing what's best for him and for your relationship.

I am not a divorce lawyer, a marriage therapist, or a member of the clergy. I hope you will consult all three as you find your way through this. I hope you will gather friends around you, maybe even ask your mother for advice, because single parenting is a real challenge. I also hope you will check out the Boot Camps at compassionpower.com. (I have no financial relationship with them, but this is the very situation they are designed to deal with.)

Over fifty days ago my wife left me and our kids while I was at work and the kids where in school. We've been married over 10 years. She moved nearly to the other side of the country to reside with a childhood friend. At first she was bound and determined that she wanted a divorce and didn't want to be a wife or mother anymore. She was drinking heavily and was getting drunk by early afternoon everyday when she first left. The last ten days or so our conversations have changed and are beginning to come back to husband/wife conversations. She has been asking about the kids. She even has begun attending AA. She struggles with feeling appreciated, having any value, any worth. I tell her I love her all the time but sadly I didn't shower her with the praise a husband should. However, having read 5LL I've begun speaking words of affirmation to her when we speak. I had her favorite flowers delivered to her with a note saying "I was cheering for her." With our physical separation I'm at a lose as to what to do since all I can really do is talk to her on the phone. I know this is going to be a long road and that while she says she knows my words of affirmation are real and sincere it does anger her that it took this for me to begin expressing them to her. She has said she loves me but she's not in love with me. She has said she still cares for me, finds me amazing, sexy and all that stuff...just not in love. I can only hope as I continue to express sincere words of affirmation that her love tank will begin to feel and love will be rebirthed.

Adam, this is such a painful place to be, far away and hearing your wife is no longer in love. Try to listen to the other part: she loves you.

What keeps us from feeling in love with someone we love is often resentment. It can be resentment over not receiving love in our own Love Language. It can also be resentment from having assumed too many responsibilities and feeling a spouse ought to take some of them off our hands.

Leaving the kids with you sounds like she might be trying to show you just how great her responsibilities were. Affirmation and thanks for what she did help with the Love Language deficit.

You can also ask about the second sort of resentments. Ask without any defensiveness. Don't challenge her ideas about whether something needs doing or not (at least not yet). Listen. Express empathy. And then ask if there were more. Then assure her you want to make changes, leaving enough time in her busy day for loving and being loved and for taking good care of herself.

Do not let yourself get caught in the either-or thinking she's likely to be doing. If she lets go of a responsibility, you taking it on is not the only way to handle things. You have probably learned this in the last 50 days, as you had to find creative solutions to keep your kids clean and fed while you earn a living. She hasn't been there for that.

In fact, since your contact is by phone, you could ask her input on solving what are now your problems with the kids. Which other parents can you trust for emergency pickups or after-school care? What things will the kids eat that you can prepare ahead in large batches on the weekends? Does she know of any summer camps the kids might like?

This will convey, so much better than promises, that things can be different if she returns. It also says you have her back, which is critically important.

I am so glad she is dealing with her drinking problem. AA is a great organization that does so much good for so many people.

Please let us know how it goes.

Patty,

Thanks for the response. One of the hardest things during this time is she's saying things and then just like a pendulum she swings back the other way be it a couple hours later or a couple days. For example, today she texted me saying "I won't deny there are times when I just want to run home. But I know I'm not ready and I will just go back to old habits." and then a few hours later she said "I'll always care about you and have love you for you. But I'm not sure if I'm ever gonna love you the way a wife should." And that's frustrating to here. That said I'm just happy that right now she is walking and talking with me. The only thing I can do is continue to encourage her, support her, and be her cheerleader...all the while holding hope that as she continues on this road to sobriety and feels the love I show her that "wife love" will begin to grow again. I know this will be a long road and that patience, perseverance, words of affirmation, and love are the key...but at the end of the day the decision to return is hers and hers alone.

Assume Love, Adam. It will make it easier to weather the swings. You will be tempted to read the tea leaves of each thing she says. You will want to analyze for signs of hope or despair. Try not to.

Instead, ask yourself what could lead her to say each thing IF she still loves you very much. You will gain a lot more understanding this way. And you will stay more centered and hopeful, which should increase the likelihood of things working out well.

You can probably list a bunch of reasons someone who is done loving you might say, "I'm not sure if I'm ever gonna love you the way a wife should." That's easy. What takes a bit more thought is listing reasons why someone who loves you and very much wants to be with you might say it. Those reasons are a lot more helpful when you're trying to save your marriage.

Don't worry too much about her lack of feeling "in love" now. I think we feel most "in love" when we're being loving, even more than we feel it when we're being shown love. And being loving is, I believe, our natural state. Only resentment stops us.

About 3 to 4 weeks ago my wife, (been married 1 1/2) told me that she loved me but that she was not in love with me. She told me that she had felt this way for a while and that she didn't want to say anything because it would hurt me. My wife has general anxiety and gloriphobia. So its different and it has affected our marriage a little. For example going to the dr really freaks her out. Well I tried to get her to go to counseling with me and she did not want to. She also started hanging out with the guy that she said is a friend (sleeping over at his house) saying it was because she got so sad were we live and because he makes he happy like I used to. I keep telling her that we need to work on our issues but she seems like she does not want to. She will say that I don't know if I can see us back the same again. Well finally I had enough and I contacted her mom because they were really close and her mom had a talk and was able to get her a apt with a physiologist, and she got new meds. I feel that she might have these issues because of the depression and the anxiety Is that right to assume and can we fix our marriage by getting her healthy

Patty,

Thank you so very much for your advice...I have one last questions if I may ask.

My wife acknowledges that the compliments I give her make her feel good and she knows they're sincere. However, she also says she doesn't want compliments because they make her upset. She specifically said "It's hard to say...don't pay me compliments. But at the same time...well you know. I'm complicated." I know that the upset feelings are rooted in the fact that it took this great physical distance and the threat of divorce for me to wake up and begin to verbalize what I've always felt in my heart, I know this because she told me. So my question is...how do you compliment a woman without flat out complimenting her since the flat out verbal compliments upset her but at the same time she desires the compliments?

Again, thank you for your time. It has meant a whole lot.

Blessings!

My wife and I have been married 16 months but she want to leave me says she feels empty toward me. I have moved out after an arguement when she said that . I left because I was scared.crazy I know, and now she doesn't want me back in even though she says she loves me but not the same. she wants a new start because I was never there for her with trips parties and holidays and friends. This is true to some extent but not totally we had good times just not enough. I love this woman with all my heart she warm and smart and sexy.Im not perfect but I love her and she's hurt what do I do please help me

From what you said earlier, Adam, she has problems with feelings of being unworthy, not good enough. Your compliments argue with what she believes.

If she has a few areas where she's less self-deprecating, maybe what she does for a living or how she cooks, try complimenting those. And try making your compliments very specific--instead of "you're beautiful," try something more like "when you wear that green blouse you bought, you look stunning."

She's hurt, Greg. Don't argue with her exaggerated version of events. Apologize for not being there for her. Tell her you value her and must not have shown this by your actions and you're sorry for this. Then ask her what you can do to restore your relationship.

Also ask her to teach you to "be there for her." Men and women have different brain chemistry, and you two are still newlyweds. What you failed at is not really your fault, but it feels like it was to her, because she can only picture your relationship from a woman's perspective. She could only have failed to do the things she thinks were missing if she held no love for you. She is probably unaware of the other things you did because you loved her your way. Ask her to teach you her way.

I cannot promise it will fix your marriage, Chris, but getting help for your wife's anxiety will definitely give you a much better chance of it.

Before you work on your issues, work on having more loving moments: more fun together, more sharing of happy memories, more kind words for each other, more listening without trying to solve anything.

Dear Patty,
My husband and I were married in February of last year after a 12 year relationship. Most of which consisted of weekends where I would travel to see him. We met in our hometown and I moved away for college and started my career. However during this time i still came up every weekend and often his one day a week he had off. I put a lot of effort into our relationship. With him his family, finding our house to live in, making it a home (although he also helped furnish it) planned our wedding, trips etc... nothing was ever the way he wanted it. He told me through our relationship so many times he would live on an island alone and be happy he told me to leave him alone he's told me I am not good enough nor is my family for his or his values. Why would i marry him? Because i knew i was good enough and i knew somewhere behind all the hurtful words was a man who loved me. And there were times where i did feel loved but many where i had to trust in my own instinct rather than his words that he did. We lived very different, very seperate lives. I have a career in the city and friends I've made and grew up with. He, a family business a few hours away. We, in over a decade, never have made a mutual friend, not one. I have become friends with a couple of his (the few he has because he pushes people away) but he has intentionally not taken on any of mind and endlessly insulted them to me. He does not attend any events or gatherings with friends and family. I am always alone. Even following our wedding, my own birthday- alone, without him but surrounded by other people i love...i still really wanted him. I fear what it would be like if we had children...which we planned to. He confuses my need or want for him to be a part of this life as a need for attention or to show people he loves me but it's not. Its simply that i wanted to make memories with him, i wanted our worlds to merge...We are married, we are in a relationship. Its healthy to have our own things but not only those. The time we've spent together in all of the years has really only been movies on the couch when I would come home on his days off or come visit. He works long hours daily so Id squeeze what i could when i could doing really only what he wanted. NOW i've asked him to leave, I want new. I dont want that and I dont want to move forward with the memories of any of that (plus some) with him. I don't want the "new changed version" of him that he promises to be. I believe he gets it now but i dont feel the same anymore. In fact, i have some times when i feel very sad because i miss him but i look toward a brighter future i hope for and i'm strong. I dont want to try to make it work, i dont want to try to learn to love him the way he wants me to which is really only accepting the way he is. Ive done that and I want to start new. I'm 30. Its not too old but its certainly not young enough to stay unhappy. He does promise and a part of me believes him. However even that part doesn't want to be in the relationship anymore. Sometimes i think ok, well i'll give it another go but then i realize if i do, i'm really doing it to make him happy or to make sure he gets to be happy and still not caring about my own. Am i wrong for being this way? Thank you very much for your time.

Dana, you sound like you could easily be the wife in some of the marriages men have written about on this post. And in a thousand other impending divorces.

Woman tries hard to make relationship work the way she expects. Man tries hard to minimize the demands on him. Man finally feels comfortable. Woman decides it's over. Man is hit completely off-guard, pleads for a do-over. Woman says, "Too late. I'm done." Man's only hope is to convince her she's more cherished than it appears, while sucking up the blows to his ego as she rehashes their entire history.

Are you wrong to want out? Of course not. One famous couple whose marriage survived Hollywood said the only reason they never divorced is that they never both wanted to on the same day.

Just 16 months ago, with twelve years of getting to know each other, you were ready to take your relationship up a notch and promise all sorts of things to each other. Now you are fed up and he's swearing he'll change. Unless he harmed you or cheated on you, I will guess it is because he simply will not do the things you expect him to do and your expectations ramped up when you got married.

Here's the sad news. You can try again with someone new, but he will also not live up to your expectations if you are expecting the wrong things. When someone promises you love and faithfulness, you should expect love and faithfulness. If you expect he'll mow the lawn and you two will have other couples over to dinner and you will have sex x times a week and he'll keep his job and ask for a raise and he won't find any of your purchases wasteful, and you will plan trips together, you should know that every such expectation is a premeditated resentment. And resentment destroys marriages. Especially resentment you pretend you don't feel, which is a lot of what you describe from your first 12 years.

I expect you have experienced resentment on steroids since the wedding, and I feel awful for you. It sucks the happiness out of your life.

The odds of finding a partner whose preferences and abilities exactly match your expectations are extremely slim. As long as you are safe sharing a home, it's almost always easier to work on changing your expectations with the one you've got before you go looking for another.

If you're up for this, check out the How to Expect Love category for what to do about your unmet needs. And check out the How to Find Third Alternatives category for what to do about the things you disagree about.

Because I do not want you to go from this relationship into another that turns out the same way.

Patty, I have a situation that requires your help. I have been to many other sites but it seems you give the best advise. I have once chance maybe and you can help.

My wife of almost 20 years walked out May 5th 2013 and moved into an apartment from our 3 bedroom Home. She kept moving things until May 28th where she got a U Haul and friends to move all her things and furniture .

She will be 64 June 29th and I am 59 1/2. She is a Christian and this is a case of communications, no abuse or adultery. This had been building up in her for the last few years but she finally did it and left.

She immediately filed for Legal Separation and what little funds left in our joint account I had to get an attorney to answer the complaint.

She works 40 hours and the last 9 1/2 years I have been home with multiple disabilities. I could not longer work after Feb 2004. I do get an SSID check that pays ALL the bills except the mortgage and medical premiums. She pays that.

She is not good at even opening up to communicate and I am not good at picking up the warnings the last few years. After paying these attorney's a lot of money just to start Separation since Christians don't believe in divorce unless abuse or adultery have be committed.

After taking to her, she told me I was controlling, treating her like a child, giving her guilt trips, and Emotionally Dependent on her.

Truth is she is right on all. I spent since she left hours on the internet and finally asked her to go to counseling and hopefully cancel the attorney's. She agreed.
We wrote a letter to stop the Legal Separation so we could put the money to the counseling.

She goes to church regularly and I used to go with her but stopped about 9 months ago. We went to our first counseling June 14th. She is wearing her wedding rings and says she still loves me but can not live with me. I also started back at church and asked (in counseling) if I could call her every day between church and counseling or email. She agreed.

I went to church on June 15th and we enjoyed each others company.
After church we sat on a bench talking and I asked if I could take her out for her Birthday June 29th since it is a church night. She agreed. I also asked for the 4th of July as that is the day we met 20 years ago. Again it was yes.

I called her Sunday as she told me to call around 8:00pm. Even though we had fun talking, when I asked what time to call her Monday, she said to wait a few days (mix message as I thought it would be 5 of 7 days).

I emailed her at work following what different marriages say to do by giving a little friendly and short note. I sent one Mon, Tue, and Wed and just said: 'just thinking about you" or "How is you day going?". I got no replies.

When we saw the counselor again June 20th, the first question to my wife from the counselor was "Where are you at right now?"
She replied: "I am Leaning on not coming home."

I thought we were there to fix out communication skills. She said in her 64 years she never felt such freedom. Her parents and first husband always to her what to do or would be controlling.

The counselor (Christian also) gave me a book by Gary Smalley "how to find God". She said I am emotionally dependent on my wife and I need to get God in my life again and depend on Him.

I spent weeks since she has been gone researching every word about all the things my wife complained about. I need to do this for myself to be whole before I can be whole to my wife. I know this. This is where I learned my communications was destroying my marriage over the years.

Unintentionally, I would use puppy dog eyes and "you really need to go" when it came time for her to visit her relatives in other states. Guilt trips as she called them.

I would undermine some of her work. She would throw dishes into the dishwasher any old way and I came behind her and re arranged them to get more in. Same with the laundry and so on.
This is treating her like a child.

As we were finishing up this 2nd session with the counselor, it sounded like progress was made and she requested space, no calls or emails unless she call me and wants to go to individual counseling along with dual to learn how to stand up to people including me to say NO when I try to "control her". Like I would want to go to the movies, place to eat, vacations, etc and not consult her.

Also I need to mention I loved watching TV and she despises it. She is more a reader. She likes some programs but when asked me to turn off TV when she came home to talk about her day, I did not do it. We lost affection of holding hands, etc.

There is more things like the above but I never did anything intentional. It was just conversation and her trying to tell me different things and I never listened to her. I agree after searching the net I was this person she said I was.

After counseling we left and I thought she was going to her car and me to mine. She stopped me in the hall and asked if I would like to go for Ice Cream and Denny's. I was shocked. Right after counseling and so we did.

At Denny's we sat at a both and I remember many times going out just looking around but never at my wife. She ask me to look at her eyes. Then she asked me to smile. She reached across the table and we heal hands. She said that is the guy I used to remember.

We talked and had fun. When I walked her to her car I got a kiss, hug, and an I Love You and I asked her when can I call her again and she said "don't call me, I will call you".
I waited 4 days with anxiety and panic attacks alone in my home. When she called, (yesterday) we had a five minute call as she is controlling the calls to me and time and I let her have that power. Still hurts.

When we ended, I said are next counseling is July 2nd and that I thought I we were making progress. She said : "even if we don't get through this, we can be best friends". Instant hurt again.

One other issue is we are buying a home we have been in for the last 17 years and she knows with my disability I will be out of funds come August. (She told me to pay the mortgage for June and July.) $948.00 more then I have.
In counseling she said she would pay the mortgage should I not be able to.

She is paying for an apartment and would have to take from a retirement account to pay Aug. What happens in Sept, Oct, etc ???

These are the mixed messages I am getting. She is leaning on not coming home, but will pay the mortgage in Aug, buys us Ice Cream and says she loves me, but next day says on phone even if we don't get though counseling we could be best friends.

Is this normal? Is she trying to see if I will change by Aug so she will move back in? We cancelled Legal action so do we stay married and she lives in an apartment and I go broke? Is there anything you can say about this one?

I love my wife more then anything and want her to come home. I have been learning how to re do my conversation and give her the freedom she wants. She needs to be able to trust that what I am doing to change is truth and to trust it she she can come home and feel loved and free to do what she wants.

I am guilty of this mess and yes I know she had played a part in this too but this email is about me. I want to get my wife back for our golden years and not lose her especially since we had 20 years together. The anxiety is wanting me to call her or email her and I am white knuckling it.

Is she waiting to see the change and have no contact or little contact to see if I grow to my own Emotional Independence and not use her as my Emotional happiness (which she is). Help Patty. Even if you don't post this, please send an opinion as a woman. If she would not use words like "I'm leaning no to come home" or " if it does not work out we can be friends". Either your in counseling and doing everything possible in this Christian Marriage to save it or quit giving me these buzz words and say I will come back when you change?

Thank you Patty. Hope this makes it on the board for all to see.

Hi , my name is March. My wife and I have been married for almost 14 years now. I happened to find this website, and the advice you are giving people is Godly and amazing.

My wife had started a restaurant job as a waitress about 2 years ago. Last year she had told me that she wasn't happy and she wanted to leave. The reason being is because I didn't show her much attention or affection and enough intimacy. The reason why I haven't been doing that is because she works awkward hours in the week. May I mention that she has her own little hair salon room in our home. She loves doing hair on the weekend too. Coming back to last year when she said that she wasn't happy with me, I started to improve and show her more affection and attention as a husband. I even booked us a vacation in april 2012. we had a blast together. we were intimate every single day on vacation. So i figured that things were getting better and that our relationship had turned a new page for the better. as time went by in the past year, I got no return on her part on her wanting to work things out. She works and works works that she barely has time for us. If she begins to work at 10am and ends at 5pm, she then goes to the gym until 7:30 and then she does her rounds to go see her friends. By the she comes home, I'm already in bed. And when she works at 5pm and ends in the wee hours of the morning at the restaurant, by the time she's home I'm already on my fourth dream. The weekend comes, she does hair to her clients and obviously there's traffic of clients coming in and out of our home. Hence, I started to feel resentment towards her because she never had time for me or us. That is why I haven't been intimate with her shown her much attention because she's always working and wants to make money. We don't even have any debts. My wife is a driven woman and loves to work. I on the other hand love to work but I also make time for us to be together. Coming from an Italian family, I find it very important for quality time together. I'm not asking that she should be next to me everyday of every hour, but at least a day together or even a couple together would spark up our relationship again.

3 weeks in may 2013 , she popped the "I don't love you anymore" line. And also the "I don't feel anything inside me for you anymore" line. So she left, took her salon stuff, cloths and left me. I asked her stay to work things out but she said that she tried and tried but nothing has changed. She's been cold with me for the past 2 months. I'm also convinced that the restaurant has turned her into a worldly woman. With all the successful men that show her attention at the restaurant, she feels important , while coming home she gets almost nothing from me because of my resentment. We've been separated for over 2 months now. I've realized my errors and I'm willing to fix them. But I guess she threw in the towel awhile back. She makes lots of money at the Resto, she got a new car, and feels that she can be an independent woman and that she doesn't need me. I think she's getting influenced at the Resto by evil men with beautiful cars, suits, money etc...

I've met her a couple of times during our recent separation in order to fix things but she comes up with every excuse not wanting to come back. Eg. I'm not man enough for her all of a sudden, I'm not as driven as much as her etc... I have a steady job and I'm an average joe.

I do not in divorce because I believe all things can be fixed in due time. I've realized my mistakes but now she feels that she can do it on her own. Last couple of weeks we for together and had sex, she told me later that she didn't feel anything for me while we were doing it. How can she just switch of like that??

She's become a different woman. The one I married 14 years ago is not the same woman today! She hangs around with her divorced friends who are now shacked up with their new men and are living the good life . I told my wife that the Resto and her friends have tarnished her mind and judgement. She denies it all the time whenever I tell her. She is currently in her new apartment living alone with new furniture and all. It's about a week now she's actually living alone prior to living with her sister for the past 2 months when she left me.

I don't want to give up this fight. I'm a believer in reconciliation and I do believe that she still loves me and that she's surpressing her true feelings towards me because now a lot is going her way at the moment that she doesn't even have time to examen herself and or her feelings. You gotta help me. I need some good solid godly counsel about my situation. There's so much more to this story but its too much to type.

One more thing. She told me 2 days ago in the car that she "loves me like a brother" what???! Really??! Lord help me!

I've proved to her in the past month that I've been changing. Been going to gym etc... I've always worked and never been out of a job. I've always been active. I take good care of myself. What more does she want?? I treated her nice always. I've never beat her, verbally abused her, swore at her or anything like that. People who know me including my family are in shock on what happened to me because they know me as "March the guy who's a piece of bread and loveable."
Also want to add that my wife's mom is recovering from lymph node cancer and that she's in a residence recovering from her operation. I also think that this past year she's been worrying about her mom too. And I've been there for her as well.

Sorry for this mixed up going all over the place letter.

I sincerely thank you in advance,
March

Stephen, I always hate hearing about men blindsided by their wife's sudden departure, noticing the clues it was coming only in retrospect. It's an awful way to get thrown into learning marriage skills, unsure whether there will still be time to use them.

It is not at all unusual for a woman to still love her husband and decide she cannot live with him. When she says you can still be best friends, she is saying she still cares about you, doesn't want to lose you.

When she says she feels controlled, needs solo therapy to learn to say no to what she doesn't want, wants to be the one who decides when you talk, when you get together, and where you go together for now, she's communicating pretty clearly what makes living with you so hard for her.

It's not that she's stopped loving you or respecting you.

It's that you demand or manipulate from her (with your puppy eyes and your what am I supposed to do?) things she does not want to do but will not say no to. She fills herself with resentment because she does not know how to refuse.

Lacking this skill, she's throwing out the baby with the bathwater, saying she'll be your best friend (i.e., someone she loves but can say no to), not your wife (i.e., a relationship too close for her current skill level and your level of pressure to get what you want).

Your demand level might work just fine with a woman who had no problem saying no to you, even with those puppy eyes and your inability to work. It doesn't work with the woman you married.

Her skill level might work fine with a guy capable of entertaining himself when she's not available, capable of waiting to hear from her when she's not ready to talk, able to deal on his own with his housing budget after losing most of her income.

She's taken control in the only way she can imagine taking control, moving out, even though the price may be losing someone she loves and wants to be loved by.

To her credit, she wants to learn other ways and she's taken a step to learn them.

To your credit, you are working at understanding the pressures she's felt and enduring the pressures of being on the opposite end of the controlling. This will help her learn faster how to live at a happy midpoint between the two ends of this pendulum.

In the end, to resume your marriage, you both need to learn how to share control. Finding Third Alternatives is without a doubt the best way of doing this. Please read today's blog post and any in the "Find Third Alternatives" category for help with this incredible tool.

It sounds like you also would do well to start working on other resources you can depend on to help with your disability and emotional needs when she's not willing or able to fill that role. You will need them whether or not she returns, and she's much more likely to return if she knows you have found them.

This means seeking out new friends or mending fences with old friends and family members you have neglected, and it takes time. It might also mean finding a rent-paying month-to-month roommate or two.

Sometimes, a woman will return home without resolving the control issue or developing the skills to manage it, out of guilt or debt or fear. You don't want this, I promise you. It's a sour existence, far worse than being apart. Encourage her to work on those skills and get help working on your resource network, your tolerance for uncertainty, and your Third Alternative skills.

March, I am so sorry for the pain you are going through. You have a lot of company among the men who have left comments on this page.

Resentment really destroys love. It destroys sexual attraction. It destroys marriages. And we create it for ourselves with our expectations.

Your wife took a second job two years ago, and you expected she would be available for your attention, affection, and sex life on the schedule set by your job. Your resentment when she wasn't got in the way of giving her attention and affection and it dulled your interest in her.

My guess is she expected her new job would make things better at home. Maybe there would be more money for the things she enjoys and you don't enjoy buying for her. Maybe she expected to be able to do more with you with the extra money. Or maybe she expected she was building a reserve against some change she feared. In any case, her expectations went unmet, and her resentment built, too. I don't know whether she felt resentful at coming home to a sleeping husband or if she found it a relief not to experience your resentment, but in either case, resentment was killing her image of you as her exciting lover and partner in fun, too.

And now you are both full of resentment and apart.

The route back together, if it is to be, starts with removing the resentment from your own heart. It's harder to do now, when so much is on the line, but you cannot win anyone back with resentment. You cannot win anyone back with an elegant argument for why your expectations were good ones, even though they did not match reality. And she's not likely to work at dropping her resentment until she has a great reason to come back, because it's fuel for the courage she needs to face life without someone she still loves.

So, it's you first. Recognize the resentment as caused by your expectations, not her actions, unless those actions were unequivocally unloving. She promised to love, honor, and cherish you, not to keep your hours or rely on your income. Assuming you still want to share a bed and a home with her, the next step is to make that option as appealing as possible for her, in spite of the anger she's nursing.

If you know her Love Language, speak it loudly. If you don't, get yourself a copy of Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages. If you're feeling no respect from her, understand that angry women are lousy at respect when they feel they are getting no affection. It's just not as natural or as necessary to them, a hormonal difference, nothing personal. And then learn to Find Third Alternatives, the subject of today's blog post and an entire section of this blog, because you two have been hiding from your disagreements instead of resolving them for a while now.

Please let us know how things work out for you two. I sure don't want to see you divorced.

Hi ive been with my wife over 12years. And I have cheated once prior to marriage and once about seven years back. I was completely honest both times and she chose to stay. Over the years we've grown apart and had many arguements where things have been said that shouldn't have. Most recently she met someone the last night I said things out of anger because she was going out to the bar. That night she meets a man talks to him all week then sleeps with him. Next day asked me for a divorce. We are currently trying to work things out but she says she loves me but not I. Love and it is going to take time. She believes there has been to much pain in our marriage to fix. She is going to seek help to see if she can get over her anger towards me for my mistakes. I within days have dealt with my feelings on her mistake and am 100% wanting to make it work. I'm just torn up because I don't kniw what actions to take to bring her back all she sees is bad not the good over the last twelve years.

OK. Let's review. You cheated on her, and she forgave you and married you. Five years later, you cheated on her a second time, and she forgave you and stayed married to you. In the seven years since then, you have allowed your relationship to wither, and she did not bother to try to fix this. You said things you shouldn't have to her more than once, and after the latest one, she found someone new and asked for a divorce. And now you have seen the light and want to make it work.

On the plus side, you have a forgiving wife, and she still loves you. The difference between I love you and I'm in love with you is resentment, anger that sticks around and simmers daily.

You got over your anger at her for cheating on you quickly. Now you wonder why she cannot do the same. Let me help you understand. Anger erupts from a sense that we are being mistreated, that we deserve better. If, upon reflection, you decided you may have deserved what you got, your anger would fade quickly. If you felt you got revenge through your words or actions, it would fade. Or if your attention shifted to fear (such as the fear of her leaving), it would fade.

When it doesn't fade quickly, when it appears the mistreatment was undeserved and likely to repeat, it turns into resentment. Resentment then leads to score-keeping, constantly adding new offenses to the list that might have been over with quickly without the resentment. It snuffs out libido. It snuffs out respect. It snuffs out the desire to make any effort to bring you joy or make you feel loved. In other words, it snuffs out all the things that turn I love you into I am in love with you. And eventually, it snuffs out I love you, too.

Resentment does not go away quickly. It goes away gradually as new evidence accumulates to suggest more mistreatment will not occur.

To speed this process, you can ask forgiveness for what you've done, without excuses or explanations. Instead of "please forgive me," I find it more effective to say, "I did this, it hurt our relationship, and I value that relationship; what can I do to repair it?"

You can also attempt, as often as possible, to create micro-moments of shared positive emotions: laughter, the warmth of a great memory you two share, spirituality, awe at nature's beauty, etc.

You can make if-then plans to avoid a repeat of past problems: "if I get angry, I will take a walk before I have a chance to say anything mean to you" or "if I notice we're drifting apart again, I will schedule a day off from work just for the two of us." People who make if-then plans are much more successful than those who don't.

And you can live with your vulnerability, your fear of losing her, because it is a lot easier to fall back in love with someone honest and vulnerable than someone wearing a mask or feigning not caring what happens.

Your marriage is pretty far out on a limb, Mike, and I know it must feel pretty awful. I wish I could offer you a quick fix solution. If you look for a marriage therapist (you can go without your wife and get lots of help on your own), avoid the ones who think you can negotiate some sort of compromise (not likely to help one bit in your situation) or who declares your marriage already dead (it's not). You need someone who knows how to carefully re-knit what has come unraveled over the course of many years. It sounds like all the yarn is still there to work with, and the repairs could last a lifetime.

5 weeks ago my wife said she's moving out and wants a divorce 27 years together 3 children boy 25 girl 22 and one girl 11 she said so many little things over the last 20 years have taken its toll my kids are distraught think there mother is very selfish and ungrateful my eldest two still live at home and know I do everything for my family I work 6 days a week do plenty about the house and do a lot with my younger child she won't listen to anyone she says she loves me but not in love with me and is moving out very shortly with the youngest who says she wants to stay in her own house but mummy will be lonely her mother told her that is the only option

How sad, Kevin! Have you spent these last five weeks romancing her or arguing with her? Romancing has a much better chance of changing the outcome.

Do you think there's anything to your daughter's worry? Has your wife needed her children to keep from being lonely? If so, can you now fill this void?

If you hope to stay together, one of the first things to do is help those kids of yours see all the good things about their mother and understand that mummy must be hurting pretty badly to choose a path that looks selfish and ungrateful to them. Then you might tell them that it is your job, not theirs, to help her deal with that hurt in a different way.

Resentment destroys love. Topping her resentment with your own resentment for her proposed way of stopping her resentment will only destroy it faster. She's run out of ways to deal with her resentment. Are you able to take on this task and look for Third Alternatives with her?

Me and my wife have been married for twentyfive years I love her with all my heart but we done the sharing thing her with another man. and it went on about three years.well we stopped doing that but she said she loves me but she's not in love with me but I would give my life for her what do I do . Dale

You shared her with another man, and now she's not in love with you? Was she in love with you before you shared her? Was the sharing your idea or hers?

It was my idea because I felt like she need more because she was seventeen when we got married I thought she was board with me being six years older than her

It was my idea because I felt like she need more because she was seventeen when we got married I thought she was board with me being six years older than her

Sounds like you have some work to do. You two are still fairly young at 42 and 48.

Do you know what makes her feel loved? Does she like to receive gifts? Have help with her responsibilities? Hear compliments and congratulations and gratitude? Do things together? Or get massages and hugs and hand-holding and the like? Figure out which one and do lots more of it.

Are there any disagreements you two have failed to resolve? Perhaps something she nags you about or complains about to her friends? Instead of withdrawing when she does, lean in and look for new ways to resolve the disagreement with a Third Alternative.

Do you become less fun to be around after you've had a few drinks? Try not drinking for a few months. Spend the time and money you save on romancing her.

And if you think she's getting bored, try some new ways to light her fire. This is not something you can really subcontract.

I am sure she is delighted to have someone willing to die for her, but she's not figured out how to live with you. Help her figure it out.

Recently my wife told me she does not love me like that anymore and wants to end it. She says she still has love for me but not romantically. Married 30 years 3 kids 1 grand-kid and another on the way and I thought our love was solid but things have built up over the years and she felt abandoned by me for most of those years. She is 46 and I am 54. Yes she told me over the years but it was usually after a fight and I thought it was just words of anger and was somewhat dismissive of it. I was blind to how deeply it hurt her, especially to the point it could lead to this. I'd say the fault is mine about 60-40. This has devastated me but it has made me take a real hard look at myself and realize where I went wrong and I did not give her the attention she needed and she felt abandoned all these years. She says she went through the motions giving herself to me from time to time hoping things would change but me being blind we just kept repeating the same pattern until she feels she has had enough.

And me being distraught over this bombshell I have not handled it all that great. But she does not want to give me another chance. Says she cannot trust me and I will just do the same things I have in the past and she is just a bundle of nerves when she is around me. I have told her I do not want to go back to things as usual either but want to start new. I had contemplated leaving the marriage too because she was not happy and I did not know what to do about it. But when confronted with the reality of really ending it I knew I did not want to lose her. She says she has forgiven me but she cannot seem to let go of the past.

One of the the things I have done when we fight is yell and this intimidates her. It is a family trait that has dogged me and my siblings all our lives as that is how we were raised. I now know I cannot do that anymore. I am also what you might call the mans man type but I was too stupid to realize I was not supposed to use the macho BS on her. I never hit her or cheated on her but she was still not getting what she needed from me emotionally and I feel so stupid for not figuring it out sooner. I have made all the mistakes blaming yelling anger etc. But I now know all I can do is try and treat her the way I should have all along and hope she has a change of heart. Who knew it is just the golden rule treat others as you would want to be treated... Sigh! Want to be treated like a king? Then treat her like a queen!

We are still living in the same house and sleeping in the same bed but nothing more. She has even comforted me when I broke down so I know she still has some love for me. But it is hard as I feel starved for affection otherwise.

The fight has gone out of me I can't do any of the old crap anymore it has changed my heart too but she is not convinced of course and feels it is just death bed repentance and if she caved in to trying again I would just get comfortable and fall back into the same ole pattern because all she sees is the past. I really can't blame her for feeling this way now after taking a hard look at myself and our past and she has many valid points. She means everything to me life seems to have no meaning without her all the things I thought were important that took time away from her seem so trivial and useless now, how could I be so blind and stupid?

Now that I more fully understand her feelings and what I did as my part of it and am more motivated then ever to do right by her she says she doesn't want it. I even told her that after 30 years and I finally get it and we could have a new life because of it and now you don't want to even try? It would be a shame to let some other woman take advantage of all your hard work somewhere down the road. But it all comes back to how she feels now and right or wrong her feelings are real and valid and I now just recently realized I have to accept that and not be dismissive of them even if we do end it.

I would walk through the fires of hell for her and kill the devil himself if need be and I have literally been walking in hell that for the past month. However it turns out she just needed my undivided attention more then I gave it to her and I may have squandered my last opportunity to give it to her. I always thought I was of above average intelligence but I now feel like I know nothing and just woke up from a long sleep.

She says she will never give me her heart again because she can't trust me. What's really hard also is she needed my undivided attention but I can't give it to her now because she doesn't want it and it irritates her if I try to give it to her and she claims being around me causes her anxiety.

My way of showing love was by doing things for her so I always have done that and been doing a lot of it lately. But her thing is my attention and apparently I have ruined that opportunity. So I am between a rock and hard place. I keep telling myself she is just angry right now and some of the things she does seem to indicate there might be some small chance but she reminds me verbally every so often there is no chance. So maybe I might just be deluding myself. Anyways that is my story in a nutshell.

And to the guys if you think you were near perfect or it's mostly all her fault you are most likely deluding yourself. She may not be right about everything but you have to accept that she probably has some valid points and take a hard look at yourself if you want any chance of being the guy she has hoped you would be.

Anyway thanks for listening and any advice is welcome.

Hello,

My husband and I have been married for seven years and together for 15. We have two sons, ages 5 years and 1 year. He left me exactly a month ago and immediately began an online affair with a woman who expressed her feelings for him two weeks before he left.

We have always had a tumultuous relationship - he feels I have emotional abused him over the years, and I never took that claim seriously until he left. Now I see it. I was horrible to his parents, too. I am not a yeller and I do not but him off from friends/family/money, etc., but I do react too quickly and with anger. I have made him feel like a bad father and wrecked his self esteem. I repeatedly ignored his requests that I seek counseling until it was too late.

Both of my children have serious health problems. We struggle with money. We have not been intimate in going on two years. We have spent the last five years focusing on our kids and not each other - never taking date nights out because of worry for our children. We completely let our friendship and marriage dissolve. I took my stress out on him, and he finally had had enough.

I have since started individual counseling and signed up for an anger management course that starts in august. I have apologized to him and his parents and accepted responsibility for my actions. I have vowed to change my behaviors. And I am doing a good job so far. I also vowed to work on myself and my own happiness - I am doing little things like putting on makeup every day even if I am just going to be home alone with the kids.

My husband lives with his parents now. They want us to reconcile, but he is ADAMANT about it not being what he wants, so they have stopped pressuring him and have told me in so uncertain terms that he is going to divorce me and nothing will change his mind.

I am working on being friendly with him. We have spent four days this week with the kids, and we have enjoyed each other's company. He says we are building a friendship so we can be healthy coparents when we ultimately divorce and that we are getting along because he has given up on the pressure of marriage.

I am devoted to doing anything I can to start anew. I know I can NEVER go back, as our relationship was toxic. We just didn't have the skills to understand one another and to keep things from spiraling out of control under enormous stress. I was more of the problem, and I see it now.

I am heartbroken for my kids and wish there was something I could do for him to open the door just a little...just to be open to the possibility that I can be a better person and a respectful, loving wife. I know I am a great mother and that I have healthy relationships with my siblings parents, and many friends - and I know I can learn to have one with my husband, too. He said he will never forgive me for being an abuser and that all he wants to do is salvage his wrecked life.

I am trying to be hopeful and to continue working on myself, but it is crushing to know that he is against anything, ever...and knowing that I had the chance to save things before and didn't is making me feel suffocated.

Thank you in advance for any feedback you can offer.

My wife and i have been married going on 6 years together for 9. Two kids a boy 7 and a daughter almost 5. on Saturday she told meshe wasn't in love with me anymore. We have been having some problems for a bit. Just the typical arguing and screaming matches here and there. Recently i really betrayed her trust as i was suspicious and saw went through her facebook messages. I didnt find anything inappropriate. But i know she talks to a guy she works with. And that is what initially got me jealous. I know it hurt her feelings that i didnt trust her and that i went behind her back like that. she told me sunday night she wanted a separation. We decided we will stay in the house together at least until the end of the summer she said. She has been talking about how we should handle.custody. But she still lets me rub her feet (her excuse is she would let anyone do that because it feels good) we hug.here and there and i kiss her on the forhead. Yesterday i was running to the store to pick up butter so i could make dinner. As i was leaving i bent down and kissed my daughter on the lips and went to kiss my wifes forehead when she puckered and tilted her head up. We had this awkward moment like when you are dancing with someone as youre walking toward each other. I instead kissed her forehead and we both chuckled about it. I started doing the love dare

My wife and i have been married 6 years together for 9. our marriage has been having troubles for a few years. Just your typical arguing and fighting matches. Recently i really betrayed her trust. I know that she is friends with a guy at her work. I suspected something funny so i went behind her back and read her Facebook messages. I didn't find anything inappropriate. But i know that it hurt her feelings that i went behind her back and didn't believe her. Sunday night she told me she want in love with me anymore and wanted a separation. We have two kids. A boy 7 and a daughter almost 5. She has been talking about how she wanted to handle custody of the kids. But she still let's me rub her feet every night we still hug and she let's me kiss her forehead. We haven't kissed since Sunday night. We had an awkward moment last night as i was tinning to the store for butter for dinner. We just started eating at the dinner table together on Monday usually we all just crash in front of the TV. But when i was leaving i kissed my daughter on the lips and went to kiss my wifes forehead when she puckered her lips and raised her head tokiss me. We did that little dance like when people are walking toward each other in a hallway. So i just kissed her forehead and left. We both had a little chuckle about it though. So i started the love dare on Monday. I'm on day 3 right now. Bought her her favorite chocolates and a nice card that said i was thinking about her and left it in the car for her to find on her way into work. She found out I'm doing it and said i don't think it's going to work but you can do it. This morning she said we should set up a chore chart and get the kids involved because I've been doing everything in an attempt to make up to her. She said she loves eating dinner at the table together. She asks if I'm going to keep the house if she leaves and will i be able to afford it. But she keeps using sayings like "if i leave" I'm confused and feel like I'm getting mixed signals. I know she is still upset. She has said she will stay until the end of the summer. I want to fix this I'm learning how to love my wife in ways i didn't know i could by only three days of the love dare. Do you think all hope is lost or are the signals she is sending mean that she's not ready to give up either despite her words. The other day she sent me s message that said at the end of the day I'm glad you're my best friend. Got that one yesterday. How can i approach the forgiveness of snooping with out her getting rehurt by it. I have not skipped since and i trust her i really do i was just having my own insecurities.

Ben, sounds like you are on the right track. Marriage was getting unpleasant for her and then you crossed one of her boundaries and made it downright awful. But she did not leave. She floated a trial balloon about leaving, her way of announcing this just won't do.

So good for you, immediately taking steps to change the recent status quo. The Love Dare is a good program for helping you focus on changes. Even Harville Hendrix, who invites us to see the problems we have with our mates as opportunities to finally heal the wounds of our childhoods, starts by having us do more romantic things for our spouses, the ones they ask for and the ones we can surprise them with.

The latest research, reported by Barbara Frederickson in Love 2.0 says that, as far as our brains are concerned, love is momentary, not ongoing. It is brief periods of being in sync with each other over a positive emotion -- like the pleasure of a foot rub, the enjoyment of dinner at the table again, the laughter over a misplaced kiss, the comfort of a hug, the giving of a gift, the sharing of a story or a tender moment with one of your children.

Resentment kills these off, keeps a spouse from experiencing a shared positive emotion because the negative one drives it out. Your wife is doing a good job of setting aside her anger to let love in. And you are doing a good job of offering her opportunities to do so.

Don't focus on the straw that broke the camel's back, the snooping. It's not what really led her to feel she doesn't love you any more. It was losing these daily moments of love. Don't snoop again, of course, but don't wait for forgiveness. Just focus on loving each other again, moment by moment.

You might also start working on Third Alternatives to some of your disagreements. Check for that category on the Assume Love blog. You might even take a Third Alternative approach to the questions about if she leaves. Tell her your hope is that your kids can grow up in this house with two parents and you can grow old with this wonderful woman by your side, but you understand she has other needs. Ask her if she shares your wish for the children and what she seeks to gain by leaving, so you can see if there is some way to have both and not have to choose one or the other.

Letting the kids stay in the house and the two of you rotating out to another apartment is a solution that leaves a lot of doors open. As you discuss such a possibility, you might learn what would need to change to make remaining there together more pleasant for her.

You might also approach your desire to do more for her vs. her desire for the kids to take on more responsibilities as an opportunity for coming up with a Third Alternative together. You could agree that this is an important area of growth for them and let her know how important it is for you to make her life more enjoyable. Ask her for things you might do that the kids cannot, so that they two of you can give the kids a chore chart. You could ask her what she thinks will motivate them to do their chores (rewards, gratitude, acknowledgement of the importance of family, praise, respect, etc.) and learn more about what she needs from you for the chores she does. It would also give you a chance to talk about what you seek from her for the chores you do.

I think you have an absolutely wonderful opportunity for a marriage makeover this summer. And I cannot think of a better gift to give your children or your wife. Bravo to you for taking such a positive step right away.

Patty,

She still hasn't left but yesterday she did present me with the separation papers. We are going to stay in the house together for now. Something strange happened yesterday though. She apologozed for not trying to relieve my susspicions. She said she could have done more to make me feel better about the situation. We had a long talk about a lot of issues. Then I read the agreement with her then we talked some more. We even flirted just a little bit. And I haven't seen her laugh and smile that much since she dropped the news on me the other day. Im still doing the love day on day 4 today. Do you think at this early she is already seeing some sort of change? Could her heart be softening even in the light of giving me separation papers that same day? I told her it's never too late and she said you might be right. Good lord you women are confusing :)

Ben, it took months or years of your old behavior to convince this woman who loves you that she can no longer live with you. Four days won't reverse that, but even one day of going back could confirm her conviction that she can no longer be in love with you, so keep going. Each day you keep loving her will weaken that conviction. Since I do not know how strong her conviction is, I cannot say when it will fall apart and send her back to you.

Do you see how powerful even the smallest actions are? If you make it through the full Love Dare, you will have seen how to keep love alive, instead of falling into the rut of eating in front of the TV, fighting over stuff that matters only because you are in love, and being so out of touch with your wife's feelings that you falsely suspect her of cheating on you and she lets you. You will be able to keep a relationship alive and growing. It's a hugely useful skill and one you will want to teach your kids, even if it turns out to be too late with their mother.

But from the sound of things, it's not too late.


Patty you are amazing. Thank you for all the help. If you are open to one on one counseling I'd happily pick you as my counselor. And not because you say things that give me hope but also because your advice is sound. Thank you again. You don't need to post this one just wanted to express my gratitude.

Ben, you have made my day! Thank you.

I am not licensed to provide counseling or therapy or to diagnose mental health problems in a marriage. I am a marriage educator, also trained as a positive psychology coach. I do some one-on-one coaching with those in non-violent relationships. I can share perspectives and research findings that might help individuals build a more enjoyable relationship with their spouse. I can teach you to Assume Love, Expect Love, and Find Third Alternatives. And I can recommend books and courses to help with specific issues. If this interests you, please contact me. Just stick my first name before the @ and AssumeLove.com after it in the email address.

Hello Patty, My Husband and I have been together for 21 years with two fantastic children that we both cherish.

4 days ago my Husband told me he was going to buy a motorbike, something that I have voiced my opinion over for years... I was upset but as were having the conversation, I felt maybe he was just testing out the waters (so to speak) the next day while I went with my children to a function, he went to a previously made appointm

Whenever a spouse does something shocking and distressing, I encourage you to Assume Love and look for explanations. Your brain is telling you he must not love you, and it will try to get you to look for other evidence of this. But put it on hold for a moment.

Don't pretend you are loved if you're not feeling loved right now. Just assume it for purposes of this exercise. What would make a man who loves his wife dearly and knows she dislikes motorbikes go ahead and buy one? (Your comment got cut off, so I assume he bought one against your wishes.)

Sometimes, checking the date gives you a clue. Is this an anniversary of something significant in his earlier life? Have either of your children reach an age that has special meaning to him?

Sometimes considering recent stresses in his life gives you a clue. Has he buried one or more friends he thought would be around a lot longer, making him reconsider his own mortality? Has he had a life-threatening illness that makes him want to live life more fully and without fear?

Sometimes a check of the balance of power in your relationship provides a clue. Have you done something without his consent lately? Or argued against something else he wants? Many of us have childhood issues about being overprotected that are part of our implicit memories and very influential but not subject to reason.

When you understand what's behind an upsetting move, it can be a lot easier to deal with.

But if Assuming Love does not provide an answer, how about Expecting Love? Everything we expect from our spouses other than the love we were promised sets us up for resentment. You apparently expected to have veto power over a motorbike. What if you accepted that it's not your choice whether he owns one?

Yes, you could decide to divorce him over getting one, but would it remove any of the real reasons you don't want him to have one? Would it really be better to have none of him than to have all but a few hours a week of him? Would it really be better to be certain he's not coming back rather than to worry for a few hours at a time that he might not come back?

What could the two of you do to protect you from the reasons behind your objection? Does you need better life insurance on him, so you can be there for the kids if he kills himself on it? Do you need more savings to see you through if he gets injured? Do you need to schedule time together for activities you can happily share in? Do you want him to borrow the money elsewhere, instead of taking it from the money you've earned or your kids' college fund?

patty i just read a few posts it made me feel a little better my wife uses this e mail i never get on the computer but after 10 years two pretty girls she told me 48 hours ago she wants to seperate she has lost the feeling maybe im 39 i feel horrible and i love her and the girls more than any thing i dont want to lose her the pain is fresh maybe i can win her back

Kyle, I am so sorry for your pain. I hope that you can and will win her back. You won her heart once. Now, how do I get men to this page six months before their wives decide it's over?

Patty, My wife and i have been married for 9 years. I reacently found out that she has cheated on me. says she has fallen in love with someone else. he is the story, we meet though a mutal friend and quickly hit it off she moved in right away and eveything was great! "I" had found what i was looking for but beacause of past relationships and childhood issues i was afaid to show how much i loved and carred. my communication skills were not very good, would keep things bottled up and not let them out. I am not a violante person, would never physical hurt my wife,
EVER. I just did not know how to express myself. but for nine years my wife has let it be ok and says because i am a good man and a great father (we have a 5yr old son) she would jsut hope that i would learn to show my affection. i have always said that i need some help, but was to affaid of someone telling me that i could not change and would than loose everything. also i figured that since i knew i had some issues i could just "fix" them myself. but i didn't get help and did not fix anything. I love and adore my wife more than anything in the world and for her to be happy is what i want. but because of the feelings i have for her, i know that i can give her everything she needs to be happy. I finally have been going to therapy and have relazied that i have been to busy trying to make eveyone one else (my family) happy, but i have not been happy because of that and have not been able to show my wife how i really truley feel. she has done nothing but loved me and stood by me and i was to busy enjoying her love and thinking that person who provided and took care of her was enough. we still are together in our home, i have been doing alot of reading, research, soul searching....and have come to realized how much i love and how much i care for this woman! she is a great mother and has been raising our son to be kind, thoughtful and loving. like she is. i do not want to loose her. i have been doing everything that i can think of to show her that. been writing her letter, love poems, i play guitar and wrote her songs. i leave her little messages and notes for her. what is the next step and how long do i do this......i say forever

How long? As long as you can bear to. It will take a good bit of time. It will subject you to a good bit of rejection. And it may not succeed. But it is well worth the effort.

Ask your therapist and friends to become your support team, to get you through the days when you want to lash out at your wife for what she's done. Ask them to help you remember your goal is to regain her love, and not to even any score. Scores, even or not, crush marriages.

My husband told meend of feb he didnt know what he wanted any more, then on 3rd of may moved to my moms for some ''space'' then ended our marriage on the 31st may, saying he loved me but wasnt in love with me any more, and that he has changed and wants different things now, i cant get out of him what those things are exactly as i dont think he really knows himself. I think a girl he works with has had an influence on him, 'turned his head' as it were, but theyre not seeing eachother, although he knows i wasnt happy about the friendship, and she resorted to harrassing me by txt and email, as soon as we split he became closer friends with her again, saying, 'ill be friends with who i want'', which is fair, but i still hate her and in some part blame her for getting into his head. So ill never like it. (there was hidden txts before he told me he didnt know what he wanted any more in feb, said he was talking to her about how he was feeling, which again i didnt like hes my husband and should have told me my mrriage was in trouble not her!) so here i am not mentioning her or any of the past, have seen him twice in the last week, he came round to see us (hes step dad to my daughter and loves her very much) and then he took us to lunch 2 days later. He got upset when he came to see us as we said we felt as though he didnt care as he hadnt contaced either of us, which ive needed time to get my head together and i realise he has too, but he stood and cried, as he had sent me a txt to say he just wanted to come and collect some stuff hed left, then cried saying he dont know why he said that cos he wanted to see us both it wasnt about his stuff. I dont doubt that he loves me, i just dont know whats going on with him right now. He literally changed in a couple of days from saying he was in love with me and being how we always were (very open and loving, even after 11 yrs!) to ending it completely.It has all been a total shock! weve always been very much in love, that sickly couple ppl always tell to get a room! lol so im stunned as to whats happened. he knows i love him and we miss him, so im not going to keep harping on at him about that. he tends to sit really close to me when ive seen him, and stares at me constantly, then when he hugged me he held me so tight i didnt think he was going to let go, so i know he does love me. i just dont know where to go from here, im trying to get on with my life, going back to uni and doing my own thing to keep busy, not contacting him constantly, but i dont know where to go from here, my daughter even said from his visit the other night, he seems to be trying too hard to not let his real feelings show, I dont know if its this girl at work hes become attatched to and has confused him or if he genuinely doesnt want us any more.

I am so sorry for your pain. Sounds to me like your husband does not yet know what he wants. Most of us, I believe, really want to fall back in love with the person we promised to love for the rest of our lives. This means you still have a shot at one last stand before divorce.

If falling back in love is what you want, I advise you to put the woman at work out of your mind. You and your husband obviously disagree about her, and he has more information than you have about her and her role in his current distress. Your discussions about her would be unhappy ones for both of you, and love happens when you are sharing positive moments together.

You have a right to ask for more information about their relationship if he decides he wants to be in your life again, but for now, any contact with her, any questions about her, any snide remarks about her are all likely to squander your efforts to rebuild your love for each other.

Patty - HELP! My wife keeps saying she wants to "talk" about a divorce - parenting plans, finances, housing, etc. I react by saying, I don't want to talk about a divorce, I want to talk about how we can save our marriage. This cycle is going nowhere (though my wife is still around). How can I better respond to her desires to talk about a divorce without acting as if I want one too? Is her desire to talk about a divorce really a desire to talk about her unhappiness?

Lucky man! She's still around. So much easier than reconciling after you establish separate homes and lives.

I don't know if your wife hopes talking about a divorce will be an opportunity to talk about her unhappiness. I suggest, instead, that you take it as an opportunity to talk about her happiness and how you can be a part of it.

Without agreeing to consider a divorce, sit down and talk with her about what she wants for your kids, finances, and housing. Don't react. Don't offer your opinions yet. Instead, ask her to tell you what would make her happy. After each item, mirror it back to her (paraphrase what she wants and ask if you have it right). If she says you misunderstood, ask her to clarify, then mirror again. If she says yes, ask her, "Will you be happy with this, or is there anything more you would like to add about [insert whichever topic you are now discussing]?"

End with "I want you to be happy." Then move onto the next topic or make a date to discuss the next one. And make some notes on what she wants. If she asks whether you agree, tell her you want to hear about everything she needs to make her happy before you get into what would make you happy.

We're working our way to a Third Alternative. You might want to read some of the blogs posts in this category. A Third Alternative would give her what she hopes to gain through divorce and hopefully more, without splitting up your family.

Along the way, she will probably reveal some of what's making her unhappy. For example, you might mirror her with something like, "So, you would like the kids to have an evening with me every week and two days every other week? Do I have this right?"

And she might break down and say something angry like, "Well, it will be more time than they are getting now!"

So, you reply, "It sounds like ideally you would like the children to get more time than this with me, because they have been getting too little? Did I understand what you meant to say?"

Try not to smile too broadly as you add this to the list. It's a real opening.

If she says she wants to keep the house, try breaking it down into smaller parts. Here are some smaller parts:
- "So you are saying you would like to continue cooking and eating meals with the children here but not have to cook for me or eat with me? Is this part of it?"
- "And you would like to continue sleeping here, but not sharing a bed with me? Is this part of it?"
- "And you would like to remain part of our neighborhood, but as a single mom? Is this part of it?"

Depending on her answers, you may get to ask things like:
- "So you don't want the house for yourself? But you would like to keep it because you believe it is best for our children to remain here? Do I understand this correctly?"
- "This sounds like you have been lonely in our bed lately. Is this true?"
- "If I understood you correctly, you would rather not be responsible for any cooking, but you must do it as a mother? Is this what you meant?"

Each of these gives you an opening for a happy outcome for her other than divorce. So write down the specifics of what will make her happy, not just "keep the house."

Wait until you have her complete list of what she's looking for and what she badly wants to avoid in her future. Run down the list with her one last time. After each one, add one of these, depending on how you feel about it.
- "I want you to be happy, and I now understand this would make you happy."
- "I want this for you, too."
- "I want this and so much more for you, because I love you."

Now add any other things you want, such as her love, honoring your vows, showing your kids something better than what they have seen lately, building the sort of nest egg for your future (and the kids' future) that you can build together instead of in separate homes.

Then say, "I want all of this for us, your list and mine. Divorce gives us some of it, but not all of it, and I think we are creative enough to brainstorm some other ways of getting it. Will you try with me? I am ready for some big changes."

At this point, you might even want to ask her if she would like to hire a therapist or marriage educator to help with the brainstorming, to suggest options you two are not even aware of. And if your wife is not willing to do any brainstorming, you might want to do some on your own with helpful resources like these.

Divorce is an all-or-nothing solution to a bunch of solvable problems. A bit like tenting the house and fumigating it because you're having trouble getting rid of the ants in the kitchen and the wasp in the family room.

Hello Patty,

My husband of 21 years wants a divorce and said he will not change his mind. We have been acquaintances since kindergarten and best friends since 16. We have four children.

He is still at home and although he has been bad about checking in on weekends for the past couple of years, etc., has recently become better about checking in. He has also become more affectionate and even slept in my bed three nights last week (we've slept apart for years - however we still had sex fairly regularly (low testosterone).

I asked him why he slept with me and he said perhaps it was his way of saying goodbye.

He keeps giving me hugs and this morning took my hand as we walked from the car to the house.

I think he is at peace with his decision and is now happier or something so I make nothing of his affection.

He has said "we..." a few times regarding planning and it confuses me.

His brother and sister think he is experiencing a mid-life crisis and so do I. We've had financial problems and I believe he has given up.

He told me he is broken and tired in a way he never thought possible.

Last week, I begged him to get counseling and to reconsider but he says there is no chance.

He's said he's leaving at different times but hasn't moved out or on yet. I told him I would help him and packed one box from his dresser.

Each day he looks through the drawers as if he's forgotten they are empty and yesterday opened the box on my bed where I showed him how neatly I'd packed for him.

I told him that if I can't make him stay then I will help him leave.

He is one of the most decent people I know. Our marriage has not been perfect and we don't have familial support.

I would like to stay with my husband but don't know what to do other than let him go.

I would appreciate any advice here.

Thank you.

Barbara, it sends a very mixed message when you help your husband leave you but say you want him to stay. And yet lots of women seem to try this strategy. Love makes us do some weird stuff. But it's not a good one. Men don't do nuance well when in pain. Pick one message (stay or go) and stick with it.

If he's hurting because he feels like he's no longer the man he once was, every bit of "help" with his responsibilities (like packing) confirms his incompetence. You might do better to ask him to do things for you than to do them for him.

If he's hurting because he feels he no longer deserves your respect, you would do well to tell him loud and clear and in no uncertain terms how important he is to you. (Don't mix the kids' needs in here. Make this about the two of you.)

He sounds depressed, too. If you can't get him to counseling, get him moving (tennis, swimming, chasing after the kids, climbing the nearest mountain, whatever works for him). Impress upon him what a large hole he would leave in your life by divorcing you, and ask him to stay. If you can, get him to join you in making future plans, even for next week.

It's such an awful place to be, and my heart goes out to you. It might help to know that in a long-term government study that interviews people every five years, 8 out of 10 who report unhappy or very unhappy marriages and stay married report happy or very happy marriages the next time they are interviewed. Unhappy is usually temporary. Divorce is not.

Patty,

Thank you for your response and advice.

I will put his stuff back in the drawers and wait until he packs instead.

Should I ignore his request for a divorce right now?

I'm worried about asking him to do things for me because he isn't always reliable and that adds to his frustration.

I can't see where someone who is committed to the idea of divorce would want to help me.

For the longest time I thought he was depressed and asked him to seek counseling but he refused.

We don't do a lot together as a family because he works all the time.

In any case, I wonder if I should continue to act as if we are married, because we are.

What confuses me is his behavior. I just got off the phone with him, shooting the breeze for about 30 minutes, he is a talker.

We are/were friends so there is something deeper, I guess.

I'm not much of a game player so am a bit loss.

>> In any case, I wonder if I should continue to act as if we are married, because we are.
Unless you no longer want to be married to him, yes!

>> I can't see where someone who is committed to the idea of divorce would want to help me.
I can't see someone committed to divorcing holding hands, chatting, sleeping with you, etc. He's still trying to figure out if there is some way to have your love without the pain it has brought him lately (much of which may not be coming from you at all, as I discovered when my husband died while I was thinking divorce was the way out).

>> Should I ignore his request for a divorce right now?
I would not ignore it. I would do everything in my power to look for changes in both your lives that would make him want to stay.

>> We don't do a lot together as a family because he works all the time.
So, what can you change in your schedule and your family routines to make sure you all get some fun physical exercise together? It's good for depression, and it's good for creating those shared moments of positive emotion that our brain regards as love.

>> I'm worried about asking him to do things for me because he isn't always reliable and that adds to his frustration.
Make small, immediate requests (pull up this zipper, move this from here to there, help a child with something right now). Make them after he's had a moment to wake up or unwind. And make sure they are requests, not demands or delegations.

Most men get really riled at being called unreliable after they put in hours at work, earning the money their family needs to survive, then get put down as unreliable for not getting a chore at home done on the schedule their wife assigned it or one they never actually promised to tackle.

Thanks to the difference in hormones running in our veins, we women often think their need for respect is negotiable, that love is unconditional but respect must be earned. Instead, it would take a lot of cognitive understanding for a man to overcome his dead-certain, runs in the blood conviction that a relationship of any sort *begins* with respect. His frustration may not be with his lack of completing the chore but with his failing to get from you the necessary foundation for a future with the woman he loves.

You will have financial troubles whether he stays or goes. You will have more work to do at home than I'm sure you want whether he stays or goes. What you are fighting for now is love. And one of the quickest ways to get it is respect -- as hard as that is to muster when someone is threatening to leave you.

After 25 years of marriage - as of 7.1.13 - I've heard something that makes my mind cringe and cry.
It started when I told my oldest chile (23) that if she was unhappy in her relationship, she should just break up. Her boyfriend was emotionally abusive, and told her such things as "well you aren't a 10", "who else would have you", etc. She is a beautiful (not just her mom's opinion) woman, with a good head on her shoulder's and I've raised her to believe in herself...though she seems to have picked up my low self esteem - though, as snotty as it sounds, I do know I am a beautiful woman.. no perfection will I claim, as I've stretch marks, am going through early menopause due to an early full hysterectomy, and well...blah blah blah, I've never been very proud of myself and had a hard time understanding what my feelings are.
I'll get to the point soon... I was sexually abused from 3-11 years old. No one cared, and when I went to the doc, my "sperm donor" dad was told the broken hymen probably came from riding a horse.... Anyway... dif subject. back to now. I advised my sobbing daughter that knowing now that her newly ex-boyfriend was admittedly bipolar and depressed, as well as extremely jealous, did she really want to live that life, or take this opportunity to see if her soul mate was perhaps out there waiting. I went so far as to say - in front of my husband, that chances are if he (my husband) knew that I would eventually be diagnosed bipolar, have suicidal depression, and be overly self conscious about my appearance, that I was pretty sure he never would have married me. point being, did she want to be stuck like her father is.
He instantly said to us both (her on the phone, me to my face) that "that is a tough one, but I don't think I would have". I grinned, bore it, and told her "see, you are getting an opportunity, not a loss, even though it hurts now. Privately - a few days later, I asked him if he truly would give up our children, our happy times, our fairly exciting (for him) sex life, and our love; if he had been given this pre-knowledge of my mental illness. He said, with almost a half second hesitation, that he would.
I responded that if he had Alzheimer disease, or terminal cancer, or some equally horrid disease, that I couldn't imagine leaving him. He interurrpted to say I should just "leave him to the state". I asked if he would do the same to me, and he replied "of course not".
I'm quite disturbed by his statements, and have no idea how to 'deal' with them. We've been together since I was 16, married since I was 18 and married since I was 19. He has always (mostly always) supported me financially, but emotionally he has always been a bit closed. We have a freshly empty nest. I now travel with him to his work sites - as he is with a large company, we will be mostly travelling - he is a department head.
His statement seems to have stabbed me quite deeply. As I understand that we never would have become a pair if I was as "insane" then as I am now.
I feel betrayed, hurt, angry, and even more depressed... but he seems to think that was a a fair and useful piece of information.
I don't know how to process that other than to feel in my heart that I have ruined his life, and I should have listened to my so proclaimed insanity before.... I am a fool for letting someone love me, for loving someone, and even worse, a hideous criminal for raising our two wonderful children. Lower than dog poop, lowest on the totem pole.
All the response I got from him upon asking, " seriously, you wouldn't have? you would give up the good if you knew the bad would be with it?" is he went and laid upon the bed and watched tv, went to sleep... I'm assuming in the hope I will not be here when he wakes.
I need help, and I have wonderful health insurance, but this seemed the most instant and useful, as well as concerned place I could find to state this aweful truth.
Do I live like this?
Do I leave?
Do I leave my family and friends (few and far between) with my death?
What now? Please. I need guidance. I would call my councelor, but I have just moved here to be with him - leaving my children to become fully adult (they are 18 and 23) on their own, as he wished me to do, so I haven't found one yet.....
I appreciate you reading my post and giving me even the smallest piece of advice.

Hey Patty! I came across your website scrolling through Google trying to find some advice.

So my story is I'm 32 now, married my husband on 7/22/2006...I know I know...today's date. But we married in 2006. First 2 years were great, a pretty normal marriage...meaning we had arguments like everyone else but nothing that was extreme. Til life started throwing curve balls at us. He was fired from a job which put a lot of pressure on me with finances. He went into a depression bc of this an began sleeping on the couch quite often. I would ask why, he would respond bc u go to bed before I do and I don't want to wake u up coming and getting in the bed with you. Plus he was a very loud snorer. So this continued, he got a job, would sleep some in the bed but not always. I felt like he distanced himself from me and I couldn't find the answer of why. So we continued on with regular every day living and then we began looking for a house to buy. Yet another stessful situation. We continue to look. At the same time we began talking of having a baby. I was all in for this, doctors appts, blood work, ultrasounds, to basically be told we would have to use meds to try to conceive and even that may not work. When explaining this to him his response was that if we couldn't have a child by means of natural then he wasn't playing God to create one. I was devastated. During all this we received a phone call from his mother that she was sick. After a few weeks of this she was diagnosed with having had numerous min. Strokes and couldn't function as easy as once could mentally. Yet another stressful situation arose...whether to move her in with us or not. So we did...I was a little against it at the time bc of the trials we had been facing with hunting for a home and trying to get pregnant. The very last day of our married life's that we spent together were lying on the bed talking about we're we going to be together or not...I had had very little sleep and was extremely ill. So I said yes we will split bc it's what I need bc I don't feel like u have time for me anymore. You walk past me as if I don't exist, you sleep on the couch...and so I left. I went to my parents and for 3 weeks anticipated a phone call of I'm sorry please come home but got nothing. So from that point I moved on with my life but never forgetting him, never forgetting the marriage we shared, the happy times, and the vows we had made 4 1/2 yrs back.

Now this coming November (2013) will be 3 yrs that we have been separated. Neither have filed for divorce. I see him about every 3-4 months bc his mom comes to the doctor I work for. Well about 3 weeks ago I started the paperwork on our divorce...not with a lawyer just doing it myself. When it came to the part of me to sign, I couldn't do it...I just felt like something was telling me not to do it. Now during the time of separation I have dated and feel like I am looking for him in every man I meet and date. I can't find anyone to settle with. It's like I'm searching for him in them and when I don't see it I leave them. I'm confused 3 yrs separated and I'm feeling like I want our marriage back to try to salvage what or if anything of it. Or to just start all over again. Downside he is with a lady who has 2 boys and I don't want to be that "home wrecker".

So this past Thursday I saw him at the office I work at and told him I would like to talk to him when the md got finished seeing his mother so he agreed. We went outside and I told him that I wanted to set up a meeting where him and I could sit down for a one on one talk. He agreed and said he would have to let me know a time the first of this week. Promised he would be back in touch with me. So we shall see, he even said ill try for MONDAY which would have been our 7th wedding anniversary tomorrow. I just don't know what to do with what I'm feeling. Is it bc it's the realization that once I sign that that means that's it, it's over, the end, no more. Or am I having these feelings bc God is trying to tell me something. I know I still love this man, and I would give anything to try to have a civil conversation and see how he feels too. So maybe that chance will happen this week. I just don't know what I should do or how to go about it or to even go about it. HELP Please! Thanks

It's a big day for you, Shannon. It's not one I ever got a shot at, so I will share what I can.

First, it's pretty obvious your husband does not like take about his feelings. Probably not your best choice for your first date night.

Second, you have all the time in the world to decide where this is going. No one else is setting a time limit on it. Both of you have changed and grown while separated. Get to know the new him. It will help you avoid making yourself miserable by remembering the past with him if it's no longer an accurate picture of who he is.

Third, since learning from the brilliant Barbara Frederickson that our brains are not paying attention to the arc of our love, or the score-keeping, but only to the brief moments when we resonate with shared, positive emotions, I say we ought to shoot for more of those. Most of the rest of the story in our heads about love is looking for ways our spouse's behavior resembles the worst moments in our implicit memories from before we could form explicit ones, and we can work on those (see Harville Hendrix and the Imago).

So my recommendation for today would be to have as much fun as possible and to stay fully present in the moment. Let the past and the future take the night off.

Hi Patty I really need some advice. Me and my husband been together for almost 15 years, married for 12 years and we have a 2 daughters I'm a stay home mom, I took really good care of them, my kids perform really good in school and has not miss a school for last 3 years, I also took care of my husband, he doesn't cook, clean or do laundry, I'm a good mother and I know I'm not perfect with my husband, I have a bad temper I wanted all his time with us that was the mistakes I made that made him fall out of love with me. I told me a month ago that he can't take it anymore, I was shocked and hurt and then we dicided that we going to try to work it out but he isn't giving any efforts he opened an account to one of the dating sites and I saw the girls pictures and that hurt me a lot because I was willing to do anything to save our marriage but he wasn't trying at all so I asked him to leave I packed his bags and he move to his mother house right now. I have the girls with me and now I'm wondering if my marriage already heading to divorce, I still love him and want him back but i know I pushed it when I asked him to leave the house. And now we fight all the time on the phone I'm trying not to but he is always mad at me. We try not to fight in front of our kids. We left the state I asked him for 2 weeks vacation to visit my friend I have the girls with me, we needed some time apart. But now I'm scared that its really over and we headed to divorce. Is there anything I can do to change his mind? To make him fall back in love? I'm willing to do anything. Any advice would be great and appreciated

Sherre, I am so sorry for your pain. This sounds like an awful time. The yo-yo approach is not a great one for getting someone to fall back in love with you. Consistency works much better.

People fall in love when they can let down their guard, when they feel understood and appreciated, and when they share laughter, peaceful moments, uplifting sights and sounds, and physical pleasure.

A bad temper is something we choose. It conveys a lack of respect and a lack of willingness to find solutions other than the ones you believe suit you best.

When paired up with passive-aggressive behavior, like letting you see him checking out what being single would offer him, it's pretty destructive to love.

It's time to call on all your resources -- friends with even tempers, anger management classes you can get to and afford, your religion's offerings, your local mental health therapists, family members who love you, your local library, this blog -- to learn how to find Third Alternatives instead of being a bully to get what you need. Otherwise, your temper is going to undo all the good loving you do.

And then you need to do whatever you can to interact with your husband in the same way you would interact with someone you were falling in love with. Figure out his Love Language and give him more of it. Show him respect and trust. Ask what would please him. Listen to him. Suggest fun things to do together and be a blast to do them with. Be his biggest cheerleader when things go well for him.

Hi patty, I found your site whilst searching the Internet for help. Your advice makes lots of sense to me. Please help me too, i am desperate. We have been married 20 years next month, we have 4 children, and 8 months ago after a small disagreement my husband (normally laid back, kind, patient) snapped at me and told me he didn't love me anymore and that he would therefore do the right thing and leave. I told him i loved him and that i didn't want him to go and he agreed to stay, although he didn't know if he was staying through guilt, as his heart wasn't in it anymore. I tried very hard to be the girl he fell in love with, despite feeling extremely hurt. A few months later he said he realised he did love me , just not ' in love' with me. He says he feels very unhappy and unloved ( I feel this way too now). I love him very much and want our family to stay together, he says he doesn't want to feel this way about me and would like it to change but up to date it hasn't changed. I am constantly asking him if its changed , which gets me nowhere, I say ok let's split up then if you feel this way, he says ok then, I say I feel so unloved I feel like having an affair and he just looks at me and says he doesn't know what to do and that he's really sorry for hurting me. I have thought I should let him go, but he says he doesn't want it to be like this, we are still very much together, physical contact, laughing, he says things are ok and feels alright when I don't talk about it, what does it all mean? I can't make sense of it and don't know what to do. I want everything to be the way it was. I did the 5 language of love quiz on him and he was physical touch, it's not something I'm brilliant at , I think it goes back to childhood and parents who I never saw being physically close, thank you so much for any advice , I really am praying I get a response from you xxxxx

Jane, I am so sorry for your pain. You did not mention what your Love Language might be, but since you mentioned thinking of having an affair, and you're not big on Physical Touch, I am going to guess it's Words of Affirmation.

You two definitely sound like one of those couples whose marriage can definitely be saved. You're both in a lot of pain now, but you still love each other and neither of you is out the door yet.

I expect you two would find a lot of useful help in Harville Hendrix's work. I think it's hard to absorb while in so much pain, but if you're near an Imago therapist or one of his workshops, you might give them a try. Basically, he's convinced we choose our mates as a way of working through earlier pain that's still affecting us, like craving more physical affection while our parents are telling us and showing us it's unseemly.

As I have written a few times above in the comments on this page, I believe respect is also a big deal. Men turn off the cherishing when they feel no respect. Women turn off the respect when they don't feel cherished. Emerson Eggerichs calls this stepping on each other's air hoses. Threatening infidelity is a pretty big stomp on his air hose. Telling you he's no longer in love with you because you disagreed is a big stomp on yours. One of you must choose to take your foot off the other's air hose with no promise you'll get any air if you do. You must do it on faith. It takes courage, but it's basically the only option.

When you feel pain, your brain wants to take inventory of all the bad in your marriage. I strongly urge you to inventory the good instead. One way to do this is to make a list of your unmet expectations that are causing so much pain. Cross off the ones that will remain the same or worsen if you separate (and Prince Charming does not ride up to rescue you). Cross off the ones he never really promised and you've known for years now he's not good at meeting. You will work on both of these sets of needs by yourself or with him as helpful adviser, but let go of the notion that these have anything to do with your marriage. They are just getting in the way for now of getting back to happily married. If any remain on the list, try to Find Third Alternatives. (Check that category of blog posts for lots of help.)

I would also suggest you might want to work on your skills at showing love through Physical Touch. Gina Parris of http://winningatromance.com offers some great help with this. Ask your husband's help in finally learning what makes him feel secure in your love. Then ask him to try responding with your Love Language as well as his own. And remember that he still has no more idea what to say to you than you have of how to touch him. Be a great coach.

Please let me know how things work out. I wish you both a very happy future.

Patty , i AM words of affirmation ! haha! you are very good! Thank you so much for your reply. I also feel like it definitely isn't over, which is why I'm working so hard to find a way through for us.

So far I've read tons on mid life crisis, depression and stress, I have been with him to the doctors who wondered if it was a bit of depression and prescribed antidepressants to try which he has taken for 4 weeks but stopped now as he feels he doesn't need them as he says he feels the same way about me, I've subscribed to e books on saving my marriage, arranged counselling, bought him a drum kit he coverted and a small sailing boat, organised for him to get away and visit family whilst i hold the fort, all hoping it would change his mind about me,.. it didn't! )

Your reply has made me feel stronger, when actually i feel really weakened by his withdrawal of love. I always believed he cherished me, that his love would always be there without question, and that it would grow not diminish, because he vowed it to me on our wedding day, so its been a real blow for me.

He is a good man, honest, faithful, tolerant, and he's a great dad too, and our 4 girls love him so much , I've been fighting for them too, cos if he walks out of the door it will break their hearts, and it's down to me to stop that happening. But also I don't want to stop him if he 'needs' to go. I'm not a woman who needs a man at any cost. I want him to be happy. He says he's unhappy with me.

Deep down i have known i have neglected my marriage by not doing all the little things that matter, taking him for granted , assuming his love would always be there no matter what, for better for worse. I love him, i thought it was enough, and I always thought i had time to put things right.

I will look up Harville Hendrix thank you. Here in England we have family counselling called RELATE , we went in April and when he told the counsellor he had thought he didn't love me anymore they firstly asked if we had considered a separation! Neither of us liked the idea and were slightly appalled, they said it was impossible to fall in love again so I couldn't get back what I had. I thought it was rubbish advice! But then, I would! I want to keep him.

When i threatened infidelity i definitely didn't mean it , i wanted him to see i am hurting and i want him to want me. It didn't have the effect I wanted , he just said , oh you don't want me , you want other men, I think it made things worse!

He doesn't use the word respect much, but I know he has talked of feeling resentful , and I see in your earlier posts you say it's a marriage killer. He's very unclear about what he resents and what makes him unhappy , so it's a bit tricky to know how to move forward.

I agree , I definitely turn everything off when I don't feel cherished.
I don't feel cherished at all, I long to be cherished , I envy cherished women , I want that feeling again.

When he told me he wasn't in love with me anymore it wasn't in anger, it was a week after our small disagreement, and he said it was a realisation after something I said, he sat me down to tell me and he was very sad at his realisation. He's not a childish man, he considers everything carefully. I'm the one who says things in anger.

I definitely take an inventory of all the bad things, I push myself every day to use positive thinking. I now repeat the mantra ' assume love' , It helps so thank you. Because my inner critic says to me every day in a mocking tone , 'he doesn't love you anymore!'

The 'unmet expectations' has really got me thinking. I have read all your writings here and I agree when you say that marriage is about loving each other. Do I have unmet expectations? I don't think I do, I just expect him to love me whatever. ( sickness / health, better/ worse) .

We spoke about love language and he liked the idea and thought it made sense, we are both trying it now.

I know he feels he has damaged things too much for me to ever feel right again, could this be the reason why he doesn't want to talk about things. He says his best therapy is to not speak about things and to have some happy times together. Is he right ? Should I trust this is the right approach? Thank you so much for being a life line to me xxx

Trust his approach, Jane. It's a good one.

Thank you patty , I will. Xx

Just last night I told my wife we have to separate. We've been having trouble for a year, but recently she told me she's not attracted to me anymore. She loves me but not attracted to me. No closeness, no intimacy. And when I checked her texts, she was texting with the guy that started all our trouble a year ago. And texting him when she knew I wouldn't be home, or couldn't be home. Taking care of my mom/dad. She's a pain-killer addict and lies about it. Lies about a lot. She recently told me the reason she's unattracted to me is because I've been lazy at work. She said we would not talk about it again for a month, I should work on my problem, and then we'll see what we are going to do. And when she said "we'll" she meant "she'll". I'm mostly certain she cheated on me with this guy, but that was the final straw. She's not the woman I married. She doesn't love me. I'm sick of being the one that cares, that tries, that's afraid she doesn't want me. While she holds the cards and texts with the person she told me she never talks to anymore. The worst part is I love my two step-daughters more than I love anything. -Steve

Sounds like atrocious behavior by your wife, Steve. Normally, I would question any parent who claimed to love their children more than than their spouse. Loving their mother is surely the single most important thing you can do for them, if you're able to do it.

But if you are so insulted and angered by her awful behavior that you feel justified leaving the girls and their mother to deal with an untreated mental health disaster on their own, it's likely to be a while before either of you is ready to rebuild a loving relationship. If you want to leave that door open, separate with love instead of fault-finding and take some marriage education courses or go to marriage therapy on your own.

Hello All,
I am in a relationship with a married woman from past 7 years. She is 13 years older to me. She got preganant when she was 20 and her husband left her for 6 years. Then they got married after 6 years when their child was born.During that time her husband was with somebody else. We both met on yahoo chat and started talking.We started talking to each other almost everyday. Before we knew we had already fell in love.She told me everything about her life. She is from philippness and moved to canada in 2006. She worked her hard for forst few month and became a Registered Nurse in one the reputed hospital in Toronto. I was still in india studying Engineering. She told me she is not getting an emotional support there nor financial. HEr husband works in a restaurent. She asked her her husband many times to look for a better job but he dont want to. They bought a house and she paid the maximum amount of down payment and still she is paying the whole mortgage. Whenever she wants some advise or support she always asks me. I decided to go and study in US just to be with her.

I have been married from 10 years to my GF of 6 years. Back when we were dating, i felt everything was wonderful, and during our honeymoon, sex was great, but the moment the honey moon ended, things started gradually changing, and sex started to fade away till it totally stopped a couple of years ago. I tried to open up the subject with her on several occasions, she was either blaming me for not helping around in the house and kids or that she is too tiered and not in the mood or that i think too much of sex.

i tried to improve myself, but she never encouraged me or never took serious steps to improve our love life. She slowly isolated herself with her career and her solo activities till she became a total stranger, many times i tried to reach out for her, but she kept on saying she is not feeling well, she feels miserable and refuses to elaborate more, or let me help her or even seek professional help. At the end i gave up on her, and i stopped opening up the subject again or even touching her in any intimate way. Unfortunately, i began cheating on her, but it made me feel worse and realize that i cannot live without her.

Of course this was a torture for me as she is the love of my life and i could not stand seeing us drifting away like this, and it was killing me to see her not even care, till one day i could not take it any longer and decided to write her an Email.
i told her that i realize that i have not been the perfect husband nor the perfect father, but i do love her and do what to make this work out, told her that i have given her distance for two whole years, even stopped desiring her sexualy or nagging her to make love but still she does not give me the simplest expressions of emotion. I asked her to tell me what is going on in our life, our we married or not, and what does she want from our marriage.

She responded the following day with a shocking e mail, telling me that she loves me but not as a husband anymore, she said that she has been unhappy and even miserable, and that while it is not fully because of me, but i have contributed to a lot of it. She said she is past the blaming, and she knows that i too have been miserable and deserve to be happy, she said family was the most important thing to her, she said if i want to leave she will be okay with her cause "eventualy" she would want to live on her own. Finally, she suggested to discuss the "arrangements" further over dinner somewhere.

i went to meet her, and started by telling her the things i would do to make it work again and how much i loved her, she replied by telling me that if i said this long time ago, she would have been happy and she is no longer interested, i asked her to go to a marriage therapist and she refused, and she said that she has reached a point where she was going to attempt suicide and that the only thing that kept her was our children, she added that she had some online therapy and now she is much more happy and no longer depressed and wants to seek her dreams on her own. it is then when i told her that i love her so much to the extend that i will let her go, i do not except to be the reason for her suffering. i proposed to remain under the same roof for the sake of the children, and keep our family and friends from knowing the truth of our separation, and she was very happy with this suggestion.

i decided to go to a therapist solo, aiming to find out where i have been wrong, and seeking support to cope with the seperation.

i told the therapist the whole story, and he started asking me questions about her, and then he asked to see her. We agreed to tell her to come for my own sake, and that he needed her to tell her side of the story so that he can assess the story more objectively. He said that both of us are decent people, and that i have done nothing major to make my wife that miserable, and these were not reasons strong enough for falling out of love and requesting separation.

She reluctantly accepted to go to the therapist, and made it quite clear that she id doing this for me cause she loves me.

he sat with her alone for more than 90 minutes, and then asked me to join and read to me a long list of complaints and asked for my comments. She was crying.

the following session, i went alone, he declared to me that my wife loves me very much, and that our personalities are not matching and that because she loves me dearly, she could not stand our differences, he said if i wanted to win her back i should change my approach and attitude, i should take more responsibilities around the house and with the children and try to communicate more with them and with my wife and that gradually she will begin to feel her love for me. He said that she has BPD and she is not emotionally stable.

Hearing this news, i started to change dramatically, the moment i am back from work at night, i started working around the house, preparing dinner for the children and my wife if she is late at work. in the morning, i wake up the first, prepare the school bags for the kids with their lunch box, prepare coffee for my wife and deliver it to her in bed.

i started to talk to her more, and send her texts daily while she is at work asking about her day. While she acknowledged the positive changes i have made, she totally refused my approaches to her, she repeatedly says it is over between us, it is too late, the changes i made should have been long time ago, and that she believes we no longer have physical chemistry.

Later on, i discovered she was having an affair with her boss, though she has been repeatedly denying it. At first i was furious with her, but things calmed down between us.

We agreed that she will take time to think about her life, her well being, what would make her happy, perhaps even she goes to counseling, but unfortunately, while she does not know what would make her happy, she definitely knows what DOES NOT make her happy, which is being married to me.

While she keeps on encouraging me of dating, i still see hurt and sadness in her eyes everytime i receive a phone call or a message from a female, i am confused, don’t know what to do, shall i keep the faith that deep inside she still loves me but do not recognize it, or should i move on and spare myself this ongoing pain.

She's looking for advice and support, and she's getting it without divorcing her husband. If you're looking for a wife, I would strongly urge you to look elsewhere.

She's unlikely to divorce him, because she's got you. If she divorces him, statistics says she's highly unlikely to marry you next. If she did, even if she's a saint, you two would have three of the largest challenges to deal with: different cultures, different ages, and step-parenting. On top of this, you would have immigration challenges. Plus, she's had lots of time to develop really destructive habits for marriage because she has no respect for her husband.

You have had lots of time to envision yourself as her rescuer. The moment you marry, you need a new role or you will become the guy who ought to get a better job, who goes to work every day for another 13 years after she retires, while she passes the day on yahoo chat with someone who has more time for her.

You have had your life on hold too long already, Abhishek. Don't add to it by waiting for those rare moments when you two can be together, risking your safety and hers as well as her child's relationship with his or her mother.

Thanks for your reply Patty. Now I havent told you the whole story. She wants to be with me.She wants to get married with me. We already have our imaginary babies. She even said to me just make me pregnant so that I can have your baby. ITs not even a day pass by than we dont talk. We had met 3 times till now in 7 years. For the first 5 years we havent seen each other in real. When we met in real we say that how good it feels to be with somebody whom you love. We made love and it was one of the nicest thing we felt. She is only concerned about the fact that if she is going to be with me she is going to hurt her family back home. With her kid I dont have any issues and she knows it. We had already discussed about all the issue we might face and the one you mentioned about different cultures, different ages, and step-parenting. Age and culture was never a issue between us. And about step parenting so I already told her that I will support her kid. I will be like a mentor to him and she really felt so releived. We were going to meet on 23 may but unfortunately her husband came to know abut us. He was ready to divorce her at first but then he changed his decision may be bcz he knws he cannot survive without her. The kind of comfortable life he is living not he cannot have it if he leaves her. She always knew and always told me that her husband is very lucky to have her. But she doesnt love him and she wants to be with me. Now its kinda difficult for us to spend time together bcz her husband keeps on monitoring everything but still after all this she talks to me when she is at work or when she is alone in the home. You see she doesnt even wanna leave me or let go of me. I might sound crazy but we even make love when we see each other on cam. Thats how we love each other. I had seen her happiness when she is with me. The glow in her eyes that spark. She said to me that I can really live my life the way I want if i am with you. She sometimes get insecure about her looks but I always give her the confidence that she is beautifull and I really mean it. She is very very beautifull. HEr mom is asking her not to be with me and may be thats why she is not yet with me bcz her mom is visiting her in now and she want to spend time with her. HEr mom will be going back in November and than I will really ask her to come to me. She knows it if she is with me she dont have to worry about anything. The problem with us is that we cannot let go of each other no matter what. We just love each other unconditionally. After all this you really think We should not be together?

My wife of 20 years has recently told me she loves me because i'm the father of our daughter but she needs to separate from me. She tells me this has been a long time coming but I thought our marriage was fine until about a month ago when she became very cold and indifferent to me and my 18 year old daughter, our only child. She uses phrases like I need space and time to process, and I need to just stand on my own two feet. My daughter and I hardly even recognize her, she's like a totally different person. she has now moved out of the house and will not talk to me. I love this woman with all my heart and just two months ago after our daughter graduated high school we were planning all the things we were going to do together and become the best of friends, then one day it was like she flipped a switch and wants nothing to do with me. She doesn't seem to care how much she's hurting me or my daughter. She seems very selfish, something she has never been. My daughter and I think she is going through a midlife crisis. Any advice?

Imaginary babies are adorable, Abhishek. They never keep you awake past your breaking point. They never scare you half to death or scream, "I hate you!" They never get sick enough to need to set aside your career goals while you care for them. And I have never heard of one inflicting post-partum depression on anyone's beloved wife even before the ink dries on her teen son's custody arrangements and her financial obligations to her ex.

Affairs are thrilling. When you get together, it is only to bask in each other's touch. Nothing else competes for your attention, and the excitement is heightened by the fear of being found out. When you chat online, it's always about the future or about what a louse her real husband is, not about any of the sorts of hurts and slights and misunderstandings that show up in the text messages the others posting on this page are dealing with. If you two marry, remember to set aside some time for sex and talks like these.

Imaginary stepchildren are engaging and fun. We learn so much as we grow. It's exciting to think of imparting our wisdom to them. However, even when the new step-parent is close to the child's parents' age and the children are still in diapers or elementary school, it is usually a long and difficult process to gain their trust after disrupting their living arrangements. When the new step-parent is closer in age to the child than the parents and arrives just as the child is due to go through the challenging period of pushing away from his parents, usually the only livable option is to lay low and let the parent handle things.

And while it's all still imaginary, it's easy to think her family's relationship with you does not matter. One of my regular readers recently had to uproot herself and their children to go live in her in-law's country for many months while her father-in-law was dying. I doubt she ever expected her husband would choose to go his father's side, but he had no way of knowing in advance what he would feel compelled to do when that news came. Fortunately, she was welcome to share this important time with him and his family and valued it. For others I know, the support and presence of in-laws who distrust them has been needed by their gravely ill wife or child.

I am a huge fan of love, but if you are asking me my advice, it is this. Most people never divorce to be with the person they have an affair with. Of those who divorce, very few marry that person. For those who do marry, the divorce rate is high. Others' experiences predict your stepparent role, if you marry, will be hugely challenging to you and to your relationship with this woman. Adding younger children will make it tougher.

Your in-laws' disapproval will matter deeply at several key points in your life together. The fact that they are halfway around the world will make day-to-day life easier but those big events that fracture or cement marriages much harder. You don't mention your parents' view of her, but I expect they are more interested in her family than in your love for her, so you are not making it easy for them to welcome her warmly into your family.

The things you have added do not sound like good reasons for her to divorce or for you to continue to court her. But I hear you; you will not let go no matter what.

If you decide to go ahead with your plans, and she does, too, please know this: love, while the core of any great marriage, is not enough to get you through all of the predictable problems you two face, nor the unpredictable ones all married couples get hit with. I hope the two of you will make a point of getting good marriage education and locating and meeting therapists with cross-cultural skills even before you need them.

"Midlife crisis" doesn't offer any information you can really use. But it is obviously a crisis, for both of you. And it's timed to the end of what was obviously an important role for her: raising your daughter to adulthood.

Assume Love. Run for a while with the unprovable assumption that she's doing this in spite of loving you, not because she no longer cares for you. Now look for clues to explain her choice to separate. If you can't find a loving explanation, then you can settle for the unloving ones (selfish, cold, wants to hurt me). But while you're entertaining the unloving ones, you will overlook some great clues to what's going on, just because of the way the human brain works.

It sounds like she made sacrifices along the way and accepted things she wasn't happy about accepting in your relationship. Now that your daughter's life no longer depends on her sacrifices, she's looking to recoup some of what she's done without. You might want to acknowledge the sacrifices you're aware of before you knock her new awkward, unpracticed way of making up for her losses.

Her relationship with you is apparently centered on your shared parenting, and that's gone now. Pretty scary. You can rebuild a one-on-one relationship, but you cannot go back to what it has been for the last few years. Are you up for that?

"Stand on my own two feet" is a clue she's dealing with fear of abandonment by or the death of someone she's dependent on, whether that is you or perhaps a parent who helps out the two of you. Did anyone's health status change in the last two months? Did any close friend of hers lose their financial and emotional support? Did anything you discussed two months ago make her feel you were heading in a different direction from her? Are you and your daughter now working together, or is she attending the college you went to, possibly making your wife feel left out? What can you do to support her in reclaiming her security in the face of these threats?

Empty Nesting, by David Arp, Claudia Arp, Scott Stanley, Howard Markman and Susan Blumberg, may be a helpful book to read right now. I hope you find ways to become a loving couple again.

Stigmatizer (may I call you Stig?), bipolar disorder sure makes marriage harder. It can be awfully difficult to sort the disease out from the feelings. But the situation your therapist describes is a really familiar one. So many couples actually adore each other but build huge walls around themselves. The other must first scale his or her own wall, then their partner's, to discover the truth of that intense love.

The wall may look like, "It's too late; you'll never be able to do enough to convince me you love me..." Unspoken: "...as much as I still love you and crave your love every hour of every day."

Or it may look like, "I cannot live without sex, and if you won't give it to me, I cannot help but respond to anyone who offers it to me..." Unspoken: "...but I still want to support you and see you and have family dinners with you and our kids, because I still adore you and crave your touch every hour of every day."

And sometimes, Stig, people living in these brick towers get a glimpse of what's going on in the other tower and decide not just to scale the walls but to take them down, one brick at a time if necessary, because they so want this intensity of love. And when those walls come down, you get the most incredible marriages. These are the very couples who sign up to mentor other couples and run Retrouvaille and other marriage retreats and church or community date nights.

It sounds like you have such a wife in such a tower, and she's got a disease that makes it even harder for her than for other women to moderate her emotions. You're dating, because she's making it all sound so hopeless, but you have nothing to offer those women while you're harboring the feelings you have for the gal in that adjacent tower. Each phone call you take sticks another brick on the top of her wall. And yes, each of her declarations that it's too late (which I do not believe for a minute) adds one to yours.

But you've started taking some of hers down by tackling housework and parenting work and communicating more. Figure out her Love Language (see The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman) to break some more. Learn to Find Third Alternatives to your disagreements on this blog. Maybe even take a look at Imago Therapy (Harville Hendrix's books) to start to make some sense of her feelings about sex and why you were attracted to them.

Sex won't be very appealing to her while she's still angry. But you have a therapist's word that inside all that anger is a whole lot of love. Deal with the anger and take down that wall to find some really intense love still hoping to be rescued.

May be you are right but we are in love. Affairs is like kinda more of physical to me And we both we are connected more emotionally. Its not easy to be in Long distance Relationship.But we were for the first 5 years. We havent even seen each other in real but we our bond was strong that it is kinda unbreakable. I know her family wont like me but I am more confident that given a time they will like me. When all this incident happened that her husband came to know about us I wasn't afraid of anything. I called her mom talked to her about us.I wrote a big letter to her brother letting our side know. I even talked to her husband on the cam. I dont think anybody will do that if he is in a situation like me. I challenge that. Its isnt use to be always happy when we use to chat.We use to had a big big fight bcz I use to get mad at her why is she still there and other stuff.But in the end I always use to come back to her bcz I love her and I Cannot leave her. May be I am crazy but I love her and I know it bcz I am that kind of guy who doesn't get inspired by somebody. She inspired me to be a better person. She is responsible for everything what I am today. My parents are so happy back home seeing me doing well in US. My dad feels proud about me. This all happened just because of her. You are talking about divorce so I just wanna mention this that in past 7 years we had many fights, we dont even use to talk for weeks but at the end either she or me always use to come back to each other. For us its about excitement or fun or thrill anymore. For us its about real feeling that emotional attachment.The level of understanding we both share will never let us go apart. I wanna tell you that I attended my first party in US and I was grinding a girl but later I felt the guilt and I texted her early in the morning that I did this. Even with her she told me when her husband forces her to hav sex she feels very painful and she dont want it. She rather dont want to discus that with me bcz she knew that I will get hurt. So see even after all he odds we love each other and still willing to be with each other.I know she is old to me But while making love her feeling matters to me. The way she holds me when she kisses me her feel its feel so heaven. The way she holds my shoulder tight when we go out I feel so good.
She says that the way she feels when we make love she had never felt like that. She even wants to have my baby. About the babies so I told her if she will have any kind of risk then I dont want her to get pregnant. We can adopt and I am open to it. She calls my mom her mom and my dad her dad. My sisters know her and they even talk. I know her brother and he knew about us and I also had chatted with her brother. For both us what matters now is the bond we share. We both know that when we will be together it is not always going to be happy, we know we will fight we will argue for sure but we also know that in the end we will come together. I am a very egoistic person very and my friends knew it well and she also knows it but I myself is surprised that I dont show my ego in front of her. May be sometimes I do but I jus go back to her and say sorry. Only if you knew what we both went through to be with each other and what we are going through now just so that we can talk to each other. I also know what are the difficulties we will be facing when we will be together but I am positive that whatever difficulties we will face at the end we both will be back to each other. It would have been really easy for both us to jus break up way before bcz she has a family and I am yyoung and I Can have any girl but we both didnt bcz we knew that we are in love and more than love its about that emotional bond we share that support we have for each other.

I wish you two the best, Abhishek.

Hi, I just want to say I read every ones story here, and your feedback has been some of the best I have ever read so I hope you can help me out.

First i think i should say when I first met my wife, she was dating another guy for 12 months, but there entire relationship due to different schools was long distance, one evening with mutual friends, she asked me to go to the movies, and we hung out almost everyday since. I have always been interested in her for years, kinda like a highschool crush, so i was estatic that she was the one pursuing me. I knew she had a boyfriend, but she told me things were not good, and on the second time we hung out, she showed me mutiple texts of her breaking up with him and him saying no. She did leave him, but about a month later, she started seeing him behind my back again, this went on for about 6-8 months while still with me too. Her boyfriend was mutual friends with my friends, so he made it his mission to take over those friends. I basically lost all my friends because her ex was always with my friends. I had my best friend left, but then i found out he too decided to message my girlfriend multiple times, trying to get her to hang out with him, even offering her trips! He was going through some tough times with drugs, and now messaging my girlfriend, i contacted him and told him until he can be a real friend, and get off the drugs, i dont think we can be friends no more. After all that mess, a year in a half later, me and my wife got married.

Both of us came from controlling , verbally abusive homes, that didnt show much love, both of us hardly speak to either of our families. My parents split when I was 22, i still talk to my Dad, my mom very seldon, and she talks to her Dad, and her mom very seldom. Her parents still married though, so we never go to any family functions on her side.

My wife tells me she loves me, but she is not in love with me. She shows me much affection, never intiates sex, when we do have it, its like get it over with quick please. So i got tired of feeling like i was making her have sex, so I no longer pursue it, and we just dont do it. We are fairly young, i am 31, she is 27. She tells me she hates her life and is not happy and wants to move out from this town. She is always grumpy at home, and snaps at me if i talk to her. She pushes me away if i try to get close, turns her head and moans if i give her a kiss. I will have to tell her I love her repeatedly in a row to get a response back, so of course it feels forced and i do not feel loved or wanted in any way. She treats me so badly but when she is out, she is extremely nice to everyone else, smiling and excitement in her face when she talks to them, and it makes me very jealous that i dont get this treatment. I beg her for it. She also tells me now all she wants to do is go out and party. She tells me she resents me because i am too controlling and always yelling. I admit I was kinda controlling, i hated when she goes out partying as i fear about other guys, i always told her to go, but i did act grumpy when she went. But, she has had stints where she goes out partying, and then, there is about 5 kids 5 years younger always texting her phone, and i have seen some of the texts, and these young adults are asking for dates, why she left them at the party, etc So it does make me angry. She works two jobs, one being our Restaurant, and I run a car detailing business from our house, and a carpet cleaning business. She thinks, just because i work from home, that i dont do anything, but in reality i work 10 hour days and pay all the bills except her vehilce. So it makes me angry. I also work about 10 hours a week at the restaurant, mostly the maintenance stuff. We are well off for our age to say the least.

I feel like we have both isolated our friends to be together(they still all hang out with her ex), and even our families, and now we are all alone. I dont see myself getting my friends back as i dont really want to, she now hangs out with mostly employees from the restaurant, which i dont like, because, her employees should not be her friends, because its leading to problems with the store, with employees not doing the work, and her not enforcing it, because there friends. Its not good for running a business. I mean you can be friends, but at the end of the day, they are your employees, but they are treated more just as friends. They are all 16-20 yr olds as well. She also always complains to me, that everyone hits on her employees and nobody hits on her. I dont understand why she wants guys to hit on her. She then constantly tells me she wants to get her Breasts done (she isnt flat) I feel like i am all over the place here, i aplogize jsut trying to place all the problems. I know I have some control issues, and yelling, but over the past year I have really tried to change, and i think I have, but i just dont see anything in return from her. I feel like i am the only one trying. So last night i got really frustrated, after telling her I loved her, and her not responding, so i asked her if she loved me, and she said she didnt know. So i told her to jsut leave then, because i am so tired of being unhappy and the only one putting in any effort. So she started to pack just as simple as that. I then told her to stay (it was 1 am) and she did. I then later told her, i dont want her to move out, i just want her to mutually try to work this out with me. I asked her if she was going to move out tomorrow, and she said maybe, i just want to party. And I said so you would throw this all away, just so you can party, and she said yes.

Basically how do i get my wife to love me again? How am i not suppose to get upset when she wants to go partying with young 20 yr olds? And it feels like she only wants attention from everyone else but me? I try the romantic notes, the cleaning ( she doesnt clean at all actually), the cooking. I do all the yardwork, washing of cars of course lol, i renovate our house constantly. I tell her i love her daily,say bye when i leave the house, say good night, often to get no response back on any. I dont know what to do anymore, i feel like i cant make my wife happy. I am to the point where i am so frustrated, and drained, where i am getting unotivated to try anymore, because i get zero response back. I have watched the movie fireproof, about a year ago, and I work alot of that already daily in our relationship. Sometimes i think, the restaurant is too much for her, and i need to quit my business and just do the restaurant. She complains about both, her day job, and restaurant, hates them both. She wants to be rich, but wants it handed to her i think. (Her parents gave her what she wanted, no longer in picture though now, her Mom is literally impossible to get along with, belittles her constantly, yells, screams even in public)What do i do? No matter how much i beg her to work with me, nothing happens. She says yes, but does the opposite, it just gets worse. Help please.

Thank you for your kind words, Josh. I am so sorry for the painful situation you find yourself in now.

So, here's what I see. You married a woman who had everything handed to her as a child and who values wealth. Now she must work hard for it, and all she wants to do after a few years of giving that a go is party.

In other words, regardless of her relationship with you, she's going through a tough time. This is not the life she expected or wants. Obviously, divorcing you is not likely to get her what she wants, either. She was wise to marry a hard worker who also values wealth.

However, when you tell her how to run the restaurant or who to be friends with, or when you are controlling in any way, it's rubbing salt into an open wound of an unhappy life. She's built up a bunch of resentment, and it's impossible to be in love with someone while resenting them. Good for you for recognizing you need to stop trying to control her and resume trying to entice her back into your life.

I also note that you two had to abandon most of your friends a few years ago, and you have not made the effort yet to find new ones. She's begun doing this in her own way, and these new friends are not mutual friends or supportive of your marriage. You could tackle bringing such folks into your lives. Search for couples you two could do things with, including partying. You're out of school now, which means you actually need to invest time into this and get creative about meeting and approaching potential friends.

A third thing I notice is that you are looking hard to hear the words "I love you" from her. Many who grew up in verbally abusive homes adopt the belief that words have nothing to do with love. Watch for the other ways she might show you love or look for it from you: gifts, acts of service, quality time (shared activities and/or ignoring all distractions while listening to each other), or physical touch (which it appears you can rule out in her case). You may be getting more love -- or more bids for love -- than you're noticing.

As you are getting angry over her text messages, her lack of acknowledgement of the work you do from home, her befriending of employees, and the rest, keep in mind that it takes 5 positive interactions for every negative one to keep a marriage on track. Even though you might apologize for the negative ones, you also need to balance them out with positive ones.

Is it worth it to try to save your marriage even when she's not trying, too? I believe it is. And when your spouse is trying to reshape the rest of her life, it's an excellent time to do the work. Even when you can't yet see the results, you will be subtly influencing her efforts to reshape the other parts of her life in a direction that can support a long and healthy marriage.

I wish you lots of luck as you try different things to improve your relationship. It sounds like you're on the right track, except when you blow up and say hurtful things like "get out." Say what you really mean: "you matter to me, even more than money does."

I am a wife and 4 months ago my husband told me that he was not sure that he loved me anymore but whenever thought about leaving he cried and got upset. Then I found out that he had been texting a young girl at work for months in secret, picking her up to take to work and talking to her all the time. I asked him to stop and he said that he would but it did not I came home early by chance one day and found he had bought a spare phone. I moved out but now back at home. The problem I have is that he told so many lies it took weeks of me finding out that they were still in touch even when I had begged him not to. He says that he wants to work on our marriage but I am finding it very hard to trust him. He had been a very uncaring and unemotional person for the 24 years that we have ben married and this final thing is the ultimate betrayal it fiills like. Because he admitted nothing he only admitted things when got caught. There is nothing sexual in the relationship they say but I am just beside myself and feel so completely let down. This afternoon he said that he needed some time out because he knew that I lacked trust in him he has gone out and has only text to say not coming home until tomorrow he will not take my calls and has turned the phone off He has taken no clothes other than the ones that he left in. Even thought he has put me through hell one way or another for24 years I love him and I have tried so hard to get over this betrayal by him, and have worked to get things back but for someone who says that he wants to stay with me he makes no effort in the relationship at all he expects me to do all the work to make him love me again when he makes no effort. I am lost and confused and in the past 4 months have lost over a stone in weight through stress. He reaches for me every night in his sleep and as soon as feels me lieing their next to him he relaxes but then in the day acts like I am not there. What do I do I am devastated and not sure how much more of this I can take ... should I just shut the door and move on :O(

Hi patty I wrote to you about 4 days ago. You said you think we have a chance. I have tried so hard to get on with things like it's all gona be ok , but just tonight we went out for a meal, I was quiet and bit withdrawn (as I'm upset , feeling rejected and unloved, and thinking about things) . a lady came round the table selling roses, he said no thanks, it upset me as we are trying to repair things, i thought it would be a lovely gesture, we had words and he has said again (as he always does ) quite coldly that he can't go on not feeling the right way about me and he honestly feels the best thing to do is to separate as it's what he wants. I'm sat here thinking that that is what I will have to do , I can't believe this man who I've been with for 21 years , 4 kids and a great life together doesn't feel he wants to be with me anymore , I feel I will have to go ahead with the separation and divorce as I see no other way, how can i save a marriage when i'm the only one trying to save it! I have tried to get him to want to save the marriage too, but even though he says he wants to , when it comes to it, he does nothing but ignore things, and then when i speak about anything he says he wants it to be over. Im struggling to deal with any more hurt and rejection from him, I have thought it's a mid life crisis, he doesn't think it is , now I think I'm just fooling myself, if someone can't see a future with you, you can't make them. I wish with all my heart it wasn't like this , but his feelings for me have changed and neither he or I can change them back, he says he doesn't see them changing back, he used to adore me. I really don't know what to do...I know deep down he blames me and feels I should change to make things right, thou he doesn't know how or why, but it's got to be two people , I feel he doesn't care anymore and that, after 8 months of trying so hard , I should throw the towel in ...I've been a good wife , faithful, loyal, there, we have a good life together apart him not wanting this life with me. Please help me :(

Oh, I know that awful feeling of wanting to throw in the towel, Jane. I also know that dreadful feeling of suddenly realizing, the day after he died, what I could have done to singlehandedly affect our marriage, what I do now in my second marriage when nothing's going the way I expected for a few days.

I don't know your husband or you, and I wasn't there at dinner, but maybe you will find a few ideas on how to change things in this fictitious inner dialogue...

Husband (not at all sure he can bear the pain he feels in his marriage any longer, but trying to change things by avoiding the pain and having some fun together), to himself: Why does she agree to go out to dinner with me if she's just going to sit here quiet and withdrawn?

Wife (quiet and withdrawn, because her husband still appears to have stopped loving her, despite his promise to work on it with her), to herself: Well, I hoped he would try to cheer me up, but now he's got that furrowed brow look again. What's he angry at now?

Husband (to himself): Oh, how I wish she would reach out and touch my knee or my hand the way she did before we became parents instead of lovers. That, or let me leave.

Wife (to herself): Okay. I can't talk about what's bothering me. What are we supposed to talk about? How are we supposed to have fun when I feel so hurt?

Husband (to himself): Oh no, here comes one of those obnoxious rose sellers. We finally get rid of door-to-door and telephone salespeople interrupting dinner and restaurants let them annoy us in restaurants. Don't come over here if you know what's good for you. I'm here to have a good time with my wife, and it's already going poorly. And of all the things to sell! Who wants a living thing that's been killed and left to die in her basket? A dying thing covered in thorns, no less?

Husband (to rose seller): No thanks.

Wife (to herself): Are you kidding me? He can't even spring for a freakin' rose?

Wife (to husband): Really? We're trying to repair things, and you're not interested? It would be a lovely gesture, but I guess you're done with those, huh?

Husband (to himself): That's it! I can't guess what she wants, and it seems like nothing I do is good enough for her. All she ever does is criticize! I want to love her, but I do not want to be told how. And I don't be wrong in everything I do, either.

Husband (to wife): You want a lousy rose? What for? I can't go on pretending to feel the way I am supposed to feel, trying to do the things I am supposed to do. I should just leave.

Husband (to himself): I don't want to leave. I want to stay. But not with this woman, with the one who thought I was her Prince Charming: smart, on my way up, worthy of her trust, able to impress her, exciting to make love with, the sort of man she wanted as father to her children. Did she just use me as a sperm donor to get those kids? Did she ever think I was good enough for her?

Husband (to wife): Let's go home. The babysitter's got to get home.

Every expectation is a premeditated resentment. Expect love. When you expect roses, you get hurt. When you expect love, you see more of it. When you tell yourself that not getting a rose means you are not loved, you create your own pain. When you criticize your husband for not giving you a rose, you create his, too. When you criticize your husband for not giving you a rose while he's taking you out to dinner and you're too stuck in your own pain to be present there with him, he's likely not to be able to tell that you are trying to save your marriage.

I'm not a great storyteller, but I happened to read a great story last night that might help you get a better perspective on what's happening. It was in Your Tango, called The One Sentence That Saved My Marriage, by Jen Anderson. Maybe it will help save yours, too. I really hope so, because agreeing to break up your marriage over a rose breaks my heart.

How very sad, Sara. Twenty four years with a man who is very uncaring and very unemotional but you love anyway, and now this. I want to recommend a website with some excellent resources to you for the emotional affair your husband is having. It's http://dearpeggy.com. Print out the http://dearpeggy.com/4-marriage/mfwedding.html page for your husband. Ask him to read what James says about how he ended up in an affair.

I also wonder why an uncaring and unemotional man would cry and get upset at the thought of you leaving him or get himself into an emotional affair. Either he's some sort of manipulative con man or you've told yourself a story about him that's not quite true and gets in the way of trusting him, respecting him, and loving him in any way he would recognize as love.

There is no question he will need to regain your trust after taking his emotional needs to someone else, but right now, that road is blocked, because you are unable to give him your respect.

Unless you've decided it's all over, you might want to spend this time taking a second look at what sort of man you married and what he adds to your life, so you can open some space in your heart for him to show you it's over now and he's all yours, ready for a new start.

My wife informed me she wasn't feeling the marriage in January of this year. So I went into panic mode and tried to show her my love and be super involved in the kids and work around in the house. She even commented I couldn't be doing anything else. In May, she let me know she had an emotional connection with another man. A week later I discovered love notes and proof that there was more than just an emotional connection. The other man was my daughters soccer coach who is also married. So this relationship progressed from May 2012 to June 2013. I have been told a lot of lies and am being tortured by the lies and meetings they had together in my mind. She says there is no contact anymore and knows that if it continues I would probably never trust her again, I also couldn't be her friend anymore. I love my wife very much, she says she is trying, but is not "in love" with me. She is going to therapy, but it is not marriage therapy. I am trying to just have normal days and interactions with her. I am trying to not say I love you too much(b/c it isn't usually returned), I am showing her lots of acts of service and gifts. She knows I am madly in love with her, but its hard to even feel like I am in a marriage at this point. How long do I wait to see if my wife loves me again? I don't want to feel unloved forever. And what do I do in the meantime?

Hi patty, thank you so much for your response and explanation of the 'rose' scenario. You are absolutely right. I read it, got it straight away and went to my husband and apologised to him , using your dialogue to help me explain myself.

It went very well, he thanked me for my understanding, and we talked more about how he feels. The big word here is resentment. It's how he feels.

You have talked of resentment on this site and you say it kills love. I now know that is what has happened in my marriage.

In our talk we turned a corner. We understand now what we are dealing with. He seemed to have a sense of relieve at realising it ( i think i knew all along) So thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me.

I read the 'your tango' link you sent , thank you again, it is enlightening. I am that girl and he is mild mannered mike. He has suffered in silence and now he's had enough. I've gone too far and I didn't even know, he never said, and I didn't realise.

I can date it back 6 years at least. I have yelled and bawled and stressed, I have said very hurtful things, through stress and frustration on my part (We have dealt with some very difficult times) which I handled very badly, and he let me.

He cried on repeating some of the things I have said, buried and internalised, they were ill considered, throw away, nasty remarks from me, to him they were much, much more. I said I was very sorry, but I know it's so inadequate now.

I have made him feel unloved, unappreciated, worthless. And I hate myself for for it.

For your understanding the examples he recalled were as follows; I have called him 'spineless' and 'weak' over a very protracted and very nasty 'right of way' neighbour dispute that went on 3 years and was utterly horrible. A dispute in which I felt threatened, bullied and frightened and wanted him to protect me. I tried to get him to behave how I wanted him to behave, (of course he didn't) I went to counselling at the time to help me deal with these issues, and we have just moved house because of it . I also blamed him once for passing on a medical intolerance to our two eldest children, i said it was his fault they have it, because he was asking me to do something i didn't want do at the time, he was deeply wounded and upset that I would even say such a dreadful thing, to me it was another throw away remark said in retaliation to something he said. This is just some of it.

He doesn't know if the damage is repairable. He says he loves me but he is no longer in love with me, that feeling has gone. He explained his want to separate because he feels any other alternative is a foggy maze.

I have killed the love. Am I too late to recover what I had?
I want to keep going, trying to show him i love him because I do, although I'm so emotional and upset inside that i cry at the drop of a hat now and feel very weak and unlovable inside . I have no idea whether I can get his love back, or indeed how long it may take.

Do you have any answers for me and can you help me more please, I am so grateful to you for taking the time to help people like me on here, thank you xx


Such happy news that you have turned a corner. Are you too late now? I don't believe you are.

Can you two agree to separate but not date anyone else for some period of time while you attempt to mend your wounds on both sides?

We need to feel safe to feel love. This is something shown in recent research reported in Barbara Frederickson's Love 2.0. Once we are on edge, anticipating something going wrong in every one of our interactions, we drive off the emotion of love. Resentment does this to us.

I suspect this could be the reason why John Gottman found it takes 5 positive interactions to outweigh each negative one and keep a marriage healthy. We are hard-wired to watch for risks. It takes a lot more of the good stuff to relax us after anything puts us on guard.

But now that you know what's putting him on guard, you know how to avoid it. If you are consistent in avoiding it, your loving acts may actually cause him to feel the emotion of love.

Besides being safe, you need to be physically together and you need to both be experiencing a positive emotion: contentment, exhilaration, amusement, joy, etc. So plan your together time around those. Use your phone calls for dealing with financial or house issues. If you need to clear the air about past grievances, make a date with a therapist or set aside a particular place and time for this. Don't let it leak into your love time.

I am excited for you and your husband, Jane. I think a number of others reading here will find hope in your story, too.

Joseph, my favorite resource for anyone trying to learn to trust again is http://DearPeggy.com. Although Peggy is no longer with us, she has left us a treasure trove of helpful and inspiring writing.

It sounds like your wife ended her romance 4 to 6 weeks ago. It takes time to mourn the end of any relationship. I don't know how long you should wait, but I think you should start counting again from now. If it's over, she's probably just now available to fall in love again.

I know you've been trying hard since January. And I am sure it has hurt fiercely every time she rejected what you had to offer. But then, she was unavailable. Now, she is available. Pick a number of weeks you are willing to woo her: 4, 6, 13, 52, whatever number you feel strong enough to handle. Then give it your best shot for those weeks, and don't stop once to ask any awful questions about whether it's working or what if it doesn't work. You will figure that out when the time is up or when she melts in your arms.

I need your advice. I've been with my husband for 20 years (married 10). We have a 9 year old and 7 year old. We have always been madly in love with each other. Everyone has always held us up as the "ideal couple." Well, a couple of weeks ago, he drops the "I don't think I love you anymore" bomb. Full disclosure: I have suffered with depression and anxiety in the past and during my last bout of depression (about 8 months ago), he says he just snapped, something inside him changed. He is confused, says he doesn't know what changed in him or why, doesn't know he wants. I have since gotten a much better therapist and my illness is a thing of the past. In fact, even with him (the love of my life!) telling me he doesn't love me anymore, I have not fallen into depression. He has noticed that and says he is proud of me, but that he feels he needs time alone. He feels empty inside, doesn't love himself, and therefore can't love me. He is looking to move out for a couple of months to sort things out. He is 41, and I am 36, and I think he is going through a midlife crisis. My question is: what do I do? Do I give him space and let him sort it out, do I try to reignite the spark? Part of me wants to leave him alone to sort it out, part of me says there is no way I'm letting him go without a fight. I'm confused, please help.

I am not a therapist, so I am really glad you have a great one you can ask about this. From my layperson's distant vantage point, it sounds like that snapping may have been depression moving in. "I don't love myself, so I can't love you" sounds a good bit more like depression than resentment.

If you are out of depression now, and he is not, you two have had a major role switch in the past eight months. He's no longer the strong partner who sees you through this illness. And, since he's a guy, he will likely get stress, not relief, from help you offer him.

If it is depression, you know alone time won't end it. You also know how hard it is to experience the emotion of love while depressed, even if you retain your commitment to a person. So, if you fight to keep him, as I hope you will, it may be quite a while before you reap any rewards.

Please talk to your therapist about how best to get him a diagnosis and help from someone other than you. And make some plans for physical activity together as a family.

Hi Patty,

I first want to say I read your bio. My heart broke when I read how you felt the day after you read your list to your first husband and he passed so suddenly. That had to be a very difficult time in your life. Clearly you came away from that life changing moment with a positive outlook on how to move forward. Something I don't know I will ever achieve, and my marriage hasn't even ended yet, I am just in fear it will soon.

I have read many posts and found none that are similar to my situation. My wife and I have been married for 17 years and been together for 20. We have 5 beautiful children. Our marriage has had very little struggles over the years. We have had our share of arguments & fights about money, the kids, sex, etc... But our marriage has always been strong. We are best friends. We could say anything to each other. And we did! We had a healthy relationship, we had our own friends, we had mutual friends.

Everything was great until she started working out with a mutual friend about 3 years ago. For the first few months everything was fine. She was feeling good about herself, looking good and having fun. I had no problem with it. Then things started to get more frequent, more workouts then before. More time spent together away from the gym. Then the texting started to get way out of hand. All hours of the day and night, way past the time it should be our time. I felt threatened. I checked our Verizon account and saw a ridiculous amount of texting and picture messaging going on literally every minute of every work day and all hours through the night into the morning hours on most nights for months. I finally called her out on the issue I was having.

She became very defensive and upset with me. She swore it was only a friendship. After all, he was her brother-in-laws brother and was married and had 3 kids. Our families hung out together all the time. She told me I was wrong to feel threatened and became angry with me. But this was affecting our relationship. She was so set on defending this friendship. Everyone that had knowledge of it knew it was wrong, her best friend warned her she was too deep into it and her sister told her she was not being fair to me. Her friendship with her best friend ended when she said that what was going on was dangerous. And she knew more details then I did about their alone time. In the end, we got through it. But it changed her.

Then we moved to another state. Had to start over, make new friends. She was totally on board with the move as were all the kids. For the last 3 years we were doing fine. We were happy. She was happy. We had money to enjoy life. I knew her job was not overly exciting to her. I knew that was a sore spot. But financially we were doing well.

We went on many weekends away together to get away from the kids. She loves that. I treat her like a goddess. I tell her all the time how beautiful she is. I send her texts at least once a day telling her I love her and how beautiful she is and how I can't wait to see her after work. EVERY DAY! I give her physical attention sometimes to the point I am afraid i touch her too much. I ask her if I need to back off the attention and she says she loves my touch.

Sex has been an issue in our marriage for about the past 8-10 years maybe. The act of sex is amazing. I have no complaints other then we just don't do it enough. Sometimes it is a couple times a week, sometimes it is a couple times a month. My problem has always been she knows it's not about intercourse for me. I want to please her. I love giving her an orgasm. But it still doesn't produce the kind of consistency I would like. But we have always gotten through those issues. We would eventually talk about it after a few months of frustration from my end.

We always came through every issue, battle, disagreement on the same page. Lovemaking has always been a positive part of our marriage, even though it was a sore spot at times. the act of lovemaking has always been a very positive thing. She has always communicated to me I make her feel satisfied and she enjoys it. But recently things started to stagnate again. For months we teased each other about having a 3some with another man.

It kept our conversations exciting and put her more in a playful mood more often so I just went with it. We talked in length about the pros and cons. What would happen after, how we would both feel. I asked her what would happen if she enjoyed it but I struggled with it and didn't want to continue. She said not a problem. We would try it and see. I told her that I was afraid if she did like it and I couldn't handle it, she might want to pursue it without me and I wasn't ok with that. We either shared it together or not at all. She agreed. Long story short...we did it.

We talked a lot about it, the good and bad. Initially there weren't many bad things about it. I struggled with a few things. But we talked about them together. The whole idea behind this experience was to get her to open up more sexually with me if we fulfilled her fantasy. That happened for about 3 weeks. She was more open sexually with me. The things that bothered me about the encounter she was more open with me to do. But I told her before we did anything that if it was something I couldn't handle and I pulled it off the table from doing it again, I thought she would back away from being more open with me sexually.

With in a month of our first encounter, she wanted to do it again. I tried to be positive. I tried to give her what she wanted, but on the day before I told her I couldn't do it. He cancelled anyway. But my prediction came true. We talked extensively about my issues and she assured me everything was ok. She understood. She told me she was disappointed, but my feelings were important to her. Yet she completely cut me off from sexual activity for 2 weeks or so. When I started questioning her, she started to tell me she was just unhappy with her job, her physical appearance, etc...

I actually contacted the guy right after he cancelled and told him she and I were struggling with it, and that we needed a few weeks to work it out. I told him not to contact her for a few weeks. Her and I were going to Chicago for a weekend away to reconnect, talk about it and I needed that time to come to grips with weather or not I could give that to her again. I told him I would contact him after that weekend away and set up a meet and surprise her. he agreed.

Chicago came and went, we had a wonderful 2 nights together. I held her hand while at dinner and told her how much I loved her, we walked the streets of Chicago holding hands and shopping. Stayed til close at a club she loved and had a blast. But she was too tired to make love to me. We had a blowout on the way home about her unwillingness to be intimate with me. Nothing was resolved.

When we got home, she told me she needed to go away the following Sunday night to clear her head. She wouldn't tell me where she was going until Sunday afternoon when she left. I told her in an e-mail that if she was going anywhere near where we met him that's what she was doing. I begged her to tell me that she was planning it. I begged her to just tell me before it happened. But she swore to me she loved me and she would never do that to me. We had talked many times in our 20 years together that we would never do that to each other. Even if one of us fell out of love with the other, we would tell the other person before hurting them. Long story short...she met him.

I found out 2 days later and confronted her. She had no answers for why. She was just caught up in it. Everything we talked about happened. And here I sit waiting for her to decide if it's me she wants to be married to or if she would be happier going out and finding that new feeling like she had. How naive was I to think this would help an already strong marriage? All this for sexual gratification. 20 years in the shitter to fulfill a fantasy. What an idiot.

I gave her so much love, so much compassion, so much of my heart. How is that not enough for a woman today? What did I do wrong (other then the obvious)? Our love should have been strong enough to handle it I thought. If you have any insight into a woman's mind, I would greatly appreciate it. I thought I knew my wife, clearly 20 years isn't enough time to get to know the person you love...

Thank you, Steve. Our worst days often turn out to teach us much. I am so sorry you are going through some awful ones right now.

If we Assume Love and look for an explanation of her behavior consistent with this assumption, I see two possibilities. The first is that she had developed some sort of relationship with this man (real or in her fantasies) before your first encounter and hoped to honor her bond to you without letting go of him by bringing him into the marriage instead of cheating on you (a dumb idea many have had and almost none have succeeded with). The other is that sex with this stranger was so intoxicating that she's willing to risk her integrity, your trust, and your children's security for more of it.

If you were to look for a Third Alternative to staying and leaving, especially if you think it might be the first explanation or if she feels she's gotten it out of her system now, it might be to seek out a therapist to teach you new techniques, so that the man she has a bond and children with becomes new and different.

As I have said to others whose spouses have been unfaithful, I highly recommend DearPeggy.com as a resource. It's not too late for the two of you yet.

I have been married for almost 10 years now. my wife and I have had a very rough marriage between being active military and the ways I have treated her. I honestly treated her like shit for the first 8.5 years. about 2.5 years ago I cheated. she went on a 2 month vacation out of state justlike every summer and she cam back and told me she's not sure if she is in love with me and she doesn't know if she wants to remain married. she tells me she loves me. I get no emotions from her nothing. she says she is at the crossroad and has to make a choice. when I am home from work she wants me around and pending on mood tells me she loves me. just from looking at her I can tell she is 100 percent depressed and unhappy. she is willing to stay and get theropy so she can figure out what she really truly wants. stay or go. she is going to start counseling for her and marriage for us both. so she can work on whatever she is going through. I am in limbo right now hurting trying to figure out if shes leaving or not. we both say the last 1.5 years has been the best in our marriage. how do we figure out what she wants so we can end this limbo stage and move on with life in either choice she makes. I know I 100 percent love her and I want her here. that's what I honestly want. but she tells me she doesn't know if she wants to fight and just give up so we have an answer.

Mat, it must be awful for you to have to wait for her decision. And awful for her if the best 1.5 years of her marriage still leave her depressed and unsure she can go on.

Patience is your friend here. No pushing for a decision. Let therapy take its course to tease apart the problems in your relationship from the problems in her life.

Learn to listen without defensiveness, too. It will defuse her resentment. If couples need a 5:1 ratio of positive interactions to negative ones, anyone with 8.5 years of mostly bad ones and 1.5 years of mostly good ones is probably still dealing with a lot of resentment.

Avoid saying, "That was then; I'm not like that now, am I?" Instead try, "I was awful to you; what could I do that might make up for it and repair our relationship, because I really want to love you and be married to you."

You might also want to read Love 2.0 to learn how to improve your chances of sharing the emotion of love more often.

Hi patty , as you were so kind enough to take the time to help me understand my situation better, I thought I would send you an update. Things are the best they have been since all this came to light last November when he 'dropped the bomb'. And what a relieve that is to say , as it has been one of unhappiest, unsettled years of my life so far.

Since you gave me the 'rose' dialogue and I was able to understand him better, I think it made him feel safe to talk which he did. He said he got a lot of things off his chest and feels so much better for it as he hadn't realised it was stuck there.

I think the fact I didn't argue with his feelings helped such a lot. I validated them and told him I understood them because I do. I listened and acknowledged everything he said, and then I apologised from the heart. He later said all this made him feel better.

Since then I can see an obvious change in him and it is wonderful. He has gone from hostile to loving literally straight away. I'm amazed but so pleased. We are treating each other with mutual respect and care. Obviously it's early days, but I'm consciously trying every moment to do all the things I've learnt on here, things I should have been doing all along, it's nothing extraordinary, it's what loving people do every day without thinking.

He has his first counselling session booked for mid August (this was arranged through our GP at the time when we went to see if he had depression) so with the help of that too I'm really hoping things are on an upward spiral now.

Another huge change has been that he approaches the subject of us now, something he just hasn't done since all this started, it's been me asking where we are, how does he feel etc, now he's asking me, I feel like he cares again and it's helping us heal.

Thank you so much, it doesn't seem a big enough word though xxx

me and my wife have been seperated for 3 years,before she travel she promise to make me join her where ever she goes. She used to help me financially until i told her i want to get a job. She change completely to me and think things will not work for us anymore. She refused to pick my calls and wouldnt reply my text. The last time i talk to her she assumed she not good for me. I love her so much and i need to save the marriage. I dont know what to do,i want her to come back to me as she promised

me and my wife have been seperated for 3 years,before she travel she promise to make me join her where ever she goes. She used to help me financially until i told her i want to get a job. She change completely to me and think things will not work for us anymore. She refused to pick my calls and wouldnt reply my text. The last time i talk to her she assumed she not good for me. I love her so much and i need to save the marriage. I dont know what to do,i want her to come back to me as she promised

Tunmi, your circumstances are unusual, and I am sure they are very painful. If she's not living near you and won't answer your calls or texts, and you have no money for travel, it will be difficult to rebuild your relationship. I would suggest quietly rebuilding your life and seeing if she contacts you out of curiosity when she stops hearing from you.

A job sounds like a good idea. So does anything that boosts your spirits or expands your horizons. If and when you get another shot at spending time with her, your best use of it is to share happy stories of your time apart and do things together that make you both smile. These are the things the body and brain recognize as love and respond to in ways that increase your chances of re-winning her heart. You cannot beg or argue your way back into it.

Hi. I feel like I'm in a very difficult position and maybe you can help. I married my wife June 1st, and two weeks after, she abandoned the marriage. One thing led to another, and here it is, two months later, and she says she's filing for divorce. Some background... I was married before and have been divorced 17 years. This is her first marriage. She's 31. I'm 42. We dated for a year and spent six months planning a very expensive wedding. I get along great with her parents and she with mine. However, she is very selfish. Even when we were dating, it never seemed like we were 'in it together'. Her wants and needs were far more important than mine, or ours. She says I neglected her for the 8 months prior, and that she was hurt by it (during this time, I worked a very high stress job, with very long hours. Since then, I have taken a lower stress job with much better hours). She never moved into my house, even in the two weeks we were 'getting along' after the wedding. Since the separation, I have reached out to her multiple times trying to get her to work on things with me, which she flat out refuses to do. She even comes over to my house just to tell me that she's still filing for divorce. At the same time, I'll get texts from her at 3 in the morning, saying I'm the only person she wants to sleep with. I'm at my wits end and have just given up and am waiting for the inevitable. I don't want the marriage to end, and I want the stability, but I know it takes both to work on it. I would think any rational woman, who professed her love to a man in front of a hundred guests would at least try to work on things. At the same time, I have very strong feelings that I would be better off without her, move on and find someone who will take a more sharing role in a marriage.

John, in this case, I strongly urge you and your wife to see a psychologist who offers marriage therapy. She sounds full of resentment but ambivalent about the marriage. There may be an easy resolution. You might be overlooking something a therapist could bring to light that can be fixed. But I recommend a therapist trained in psychology in case a personality disorder is in play here. In the meantime, please, please do everything in your power to avoid conceiving a child with your wife.

Thank you, Patty for your response. You pretty much confirmed what I knew is necessary. I have offered to go to therapy with her, which she absolutely refuses to do. She basically says she wasn't happy for several months before the wedding (because of neglect - which I admitted to doing and offered to work on) and that she 'hoped it would get better' when I took the lower stress job. Yet she only stuck around a couple of weeks after I made that change. Most of my friends (and even her parents) are telling me there is something wrong with her. Her parents (who footed the giant bill for the wedding) have even apologized to me for their daughter putting me through this. I want to assume love, but I don't think I can anymore without her admitting we need some help. Thank you.

I am so glad to hear you have already offered therapy as an option. I would recommend it to you right now, solo, as you process this very upsetting event. You had a divorce at a young age and married someone with very low commitment this time. I would hate to see you second-guessing yourself or avoiding love when you have another opportunity for it.

I blamed my first husband for not compensating me for my very long commute, when I had longer working hours and we were deliberately near his work for his convenience. Very soon after his death, I took a bold and risky step to cut an hour in each direction off my commute, because I had to be closer to our son's school.

When the dust settled, my new office was within walking distance of the building he worked in. I thought about how much nicer life would have been if I had done this sooner. It forced me to think hard about the rewards of sticking with my story that I was doing something for him or us during the two years I made that drive. And this new clarity about myself made it a lot easier to enjoy being married the next time.

I encourage you to take a closer look at why you enthusiastically chose this woman with the big wedding plans but no shared plans for your married life and how you then found yourself working so hard you could pay little attention to her until after the wedding. It might make falling in love again a lot easier and a lot more rewarding. It might even change her feelings about you.

thank you for your respond patty.

Have known my wife for 9 years, married for 3 years. My wife has two girls from her previous marriage, 13, and 10 years old. My wife and I have 1 girl together, who is 3 years old.

I am the only one who works outside the home for income as an engineer and my wife stays home and works with our girls.

She wants to leave me, says she feels no love for me, but only cares for me (I did not know there was a difference in these two words until now). She informed me this has happened because she states I'm too critical with "her" girls and I have raised my voice to them on a few occasions. She says I should not be too critical with them when they are not getting good grades in school, on when they're ipods/I pads listening to gangster rap, watching inappropriate shows on tv/movies (many rated R or NC17). In any case, I felt it was my role as a father to emphasize the importance of an education (with grades to shoot for at least a B or better), that some words and stories in gangster rap was not acceptable in our home, and the same for the TV shows/movies. Basically I thought it was more like normal parental guidance.

My wife essentially viewed my disciplining as hate or yelling at the girls.

I don't want her to move to an apartment because I want her and our family to be safe in our house. I've already accepted and told her that I'm supporting her in her wishes to do this, and that I will be here for her if she ever needs me.

Lastly, the girls (except the 3 year old) have conveyed to my wife that they do not want her to do this.

Any further things that I can do to win my wife back? I feel helpless...

although sometimes when she pick up her phone,she only said she is working when i am calling and she said she is too busy to reply my text. Please help me out i want to be close to my wife and i want to stay married to her. I am in pain alot

It must be so painful to hear she's feeling no love for you. Resentment and fear kill it. Get rid of them, and you can resume being loving with each other.

Step one in getting rid of your spouse's resentment is to avoid the "tell me my spouse is awful" game. Instead of asking anyone to agree with you that your approach to parenting (or anything else) is the right one, ask them to help you understand why she might think it's wrong. Any confirmation that you are right will just add to your pain. Understanding may suggest ways to relieve her resentment.

If your wife sees your actions as hateful or hears yelling when you don't, there is likely something very painful in her past linked to the style of your parenting, not necessarily your aims. She's scared of something, and she's angry at you for scaring her, because you are the one she wants protecting her. And she's so frightened for her children that she's willing to ignore their requests and yours to take over protecting them.

We don't have nearly as much control over fears implanted in our heads as children as we would like. Even if you somehow convince her that what feels frightening to her is not, it's not likely to quell the fear and allow her to experience the right-now emotion of love with you. For now, until she can deal with it some other way, you might want to consider learning what triggers it and taking a step-parenting class or a parenting class to learn about other ways to be a good parent.

You've got at least 15 more years of parenting together to deal with, whether she loves you or not. Why not give it all you've got right now to first clear away the resentment and then start doing loving things together?

So you are in touch with her? When you talk to her, is it to share your pain or your joy? When you can't talk to her, do you dwell on your pain or seek out little joys you can share with her? These little things make a huge difference.

when i talk to her i try to talk to about the way i love her and need her. I told her i want to get paperworks done to go and be with her,she reply am saying dont waste your money. When i told her i am not wasting my money trying to be with my wife she reply again asking me to trust her that i want to waste my money. I am curious why she wont let me come be with her. It been over 3 years i saw her

I am curious, too. The best I can suggest is making your life at home one she wants to be part of.

i was married for over 2 yrs now,me and my husband has only spend two weeks together on earth though i love him but i cheated on him because we are not together for so long,i cant hide it from him so i have to tell him i cheated. He said he forgive me and say that he loves me but am in love with the other guy and i still love my husband. He want to be with me but i feel am not good for him. I dont know what to do

Could I ask why you are married to someone you could be with for only two weeks out of the last 100 and some weeks?

And why you say you are not good for your husband, even though you love him?

I loved him and still do. Sometimes when i love someone i have to let them go. its all my fault. I'm not a good person. He don't need me. I'm bad for him. I hate saying it but its all true. I am in love with the other guy i dont want to hurt him.

So, it sounds like you have permanently abandoned your husband after two weeks, telling yourself and him it's for his benefit, not yours, so that you can be with someone you love more (or love less but believe deserves worse than your husband deserves). Any reason you two are not divorced yet?

i dont know what i want. Hes distance away from and i dont have the money to bring him with me and he dont have money either and i dont know what to do. i asked him to divorce me but he wont listen. I ve moved in with the other guy.

i dont know what i want. Hes distance away from and i dont have the money to bring him with me and he dont have money either and i dont know what to do. i asked him to divorce me but he wont listen. I ve moved in with the other guy.

If your husband won the lottery or inherited from a rich uncle and could join you there or provide a nice home for you where he lives, would it change your mind? Or is money no longer really the issue keeping you apart?

if he get rich that good for him. He hurt me,and turn me into cash cow,he would make me feel sad until i cheated. Now he want to come back and begging me to stay. I work two jobs and am always tired. I dont have time talking to him. I want him to find someone else that wont hurt him like i do

Sounds pretty awful, Beada.

Tunmi, Beada appears to be your wife in name only now, full of long-standing resentment over how you treated her, receiving love from someone else, and not physically close enough to give you a chance to stir any feelings of love in the moment if she forgave you for the pain she feels. It will take a lot more on your part than proclaiming your love to win her back.

I am truly saddened by the pain both of you have experienced as a result of this botched long-distance marriage. I wish you both something better.

Jane, your comment brought me to tears. I am so very happy for the two of you. I wish you many happy years together.

I was so busy when you posted this on Friday, and so bombarded with spam (4,000+ emails in three days!), that I am almost glad I did not spot it in the pile then. I have the time tonight to read it over several times and really feel your relief, which I am sure reflects his relief that love and respect can grow here again.

Now my feet are doing a crazy little happy dance as my smile works its way down to them. Thank you for letting me know, Jane. Thank you.

My wife and I have been together for 4 years and married for 1.5. We have a beautiful baby girl who is 20months old. About 6 months ago my wife told me that she feels that she has fell out of love with me, she says that I don't act the same way that I did in the beginning of our relationship, that I work a lot and don't spend so much time with her as we used to, she also says that sometimes she cringes when we kiss. I'm not a bad husband, I don't drink, don't go out late with friends or sleep around, I don't yell, i have been working hard to provide and majority of my time is working and trying to help her take care of the house. She was 19 when we met and I was 24, I work 2 jobs to cover expenses and on my days off I try to spend time with her and the baby, she is a stay at home mom and has been doing less and less housework and letting everything go. She says that im the one who doesn't love her, I cant believe it I'm so head over heels for her, I do agree with her that I haven't shown her how much I love her recently, I used to hold her every night and now because I work 2 jobs I'm so tired at night with my back hurting that I just sleep on my back. She has gained about 70 pounds from her pregnancy that she has been having a hard time loosing, I lover her so much that the extra weight is not bothering me, I lover no mater what and I have been encouraging her to loose weight and even been dieting with her and I actually got into so much better shape that she has been feeling so self conscious that she refuses to get undressed in front of me anymore. She feels as though she has not accomplished anything in life she and that I baby her a lot of times. In the early days of our relationship she kissed another man, but she regretted it and apologized for it, I don't even bring it up, but sometimes she says that she doesn't deserve a nice guy like me. Recently she acts more and more depressed, she says she doesn't feel like a partner but just someone living in the house and taking care of a baby, I do agree with her that I try to do all the errands and even most chores, but I do them so that she doesn't have to and to make things easier for her. Its so strange one day she would tell me how much she loves me and be all happy and cheerful and how she has these great ideas for our next anniversary and our next vacation and then in a week she could be telling me how much she doesn't love me anymore, its like a cycle. I don't know what to do. 3 days ago she packed a suitcase and went to her parents house, she says she wants some time apart to see if she will miss me. She tells me that we should take a month apart or even longer and see if we want to get back together. I have been so depressed and don't even know what to do, I've tried talking to her about us and telling her that I will try to fix any issues that we had and make her feel more equal in this relationship but she says she just wants time apart to think if she wants to come back. She did this once before but came back after a week, I just don't think it will be so simple this time.

Ouch! Another marriage in need of quick repair. I am so sorry for your pain, Sam. I hope you will read my other comments, and I will add a few more.

(1) Encouraging her to lose weight is a libido-killer, especially while her body is still likely dealing with hormone issues from the pregnancy. Encourage her to enjoy her body instead. It's so easy in our culture to find oneself trying to live as two people: a shameful body with a joyful soul in it. The soul gives up first. Dance with her. Walk. Skate. Ride bikes. Splash your feet in the water. Admire the quality of her skin, the shape of her lips, the feel of her ears.

(2) If you want respect (and I know you do: you work hard, take on responsibility, help with chores, etc.), start by cherishing her. With her female biochemistry and brain circuits, she panics when she doesn't feel special and worthy of romance. And when she panics, she doesn't notice any of that great stuff you're doing. (Read Love & Respect or How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It for more info on this.)

So Before you fix whatever is broken in the garage or kitchen on your days off, schedule some time having a great time with your wife.

Before you open the door at the end of your double workday, try to see your entrance the way she does. Her workday, probably just as long as yours, is non-stop demands from a toddler who demands things from her, demands time alone, and lets her know how miserable life is until it isn't. Make sure your homecoming is a real break from all that. Ten or fifteen minutes can make an enormous difference in the rest of your evening -- and in how good your kisses feel.

(3) You might also want to take a hard look at what you're working so hard for. I waited too long to do that. I felt so superior and entitled with that extra two hours a day in the car on top of a longer work week. When I got rid of them soon after my husband's death, I kept tallying up all we could have had that really mattered if I had done it sooner. Right now, the hard work is making both of you resentful, and love cannot survive in resentful hearts.

Wishing you two the very best.

Hi Patty

My Wife and I have been together for 14 years, married since 2006. We got engaged very soon after meeting, within a month. Things were very good at the beginning. we have 2 boys aged 5 and 3. We have had alot of great times but more bad times over the years where she has asked me to change and i had for a few weeks but had soon slipped back into my old ways. 5 years ago when we had our first child is when my wife says to me things started to go wrong for us. I am to blam, i threw myself into my work and would come home and go strait up onto my computer to do work and would come back down to eat dinner then go back on it. Totally ignoring her and the children (i have always had diffuculties in being a father) i also starteed to smoke herbal highs, which i am ashamed of. 10 weeks ago my wife sat me down and layed the cards on the table, telling me if she could not go on the way things were and saying that she was still in love with me at the moment but didnt want it to turn into her hating me. she had told me that she had confided in an old friend (male friend) who were very good friends before we met but they had a big falling out over his marrage to her best friend at the time. It felt like that there was an obbssesion with him as she was always looking at his twitter page and texting him secretly, she would go up staires or go out of the room. One day i decided to look at her phone and saw texts off him saying, dont think we should be sending flirting texts as you are trying to save your marrage. This upset me and confronted her were she said he is just trying to make her feel better, I also phoned him and spoke about it and accepted what was said, there was no cross words beetween him and myself. It had taken some time for me to accept that she was talking to this friend which slowley I got over and would drop her off at his house for her to see him to talk to him. I would ask what was said and proberbly pesterd her too much about it. I t caused problems in trust between us because i looked at her texts. 2 weeks ago we were sitting toghether and he had text a reply to her and she had jumped up away from me and ran up staires, where i followed and forced the phone out of her hand to look at the text. To my shock after the reply of the text said (how dose your hubby think of me violating his wife lol ) I was very disturbed about this text expecialy after we had said we will be open and honest about it all, I still allowed her to speak and text him and to call round there. H efelt very bad about what he sent and she was worried if it affected their friendship. Things were going good with us we had some great days out untill this week when she had spoke to another friend. when she came home I had asked what was said and did she give us any advice, her reply was we didnt speak much about it. I am friendly with her friend too so decided to text her saying, thanks for being a good friend and hope you dont think bad of me. I asked if my wife was ok caus she has diffuculty talking to me. She had replyed by saying my wife didnt know what she wanted and she didnt think she is in love with me anymore. I spoke to my wife later that day and said that I had contacted her and she asked to see the text. This caused more problems but I just wanted to be honest, no secrets. Since then she has been really down saying she dont know what she wants any more and she is trying to fall in love with me. In the last 10 weeks I have done everything she has asked of me to turn ourselfs around, to be honest I have proberbly done to much and smotherd her. All she says is I dont know but she just wants to be happy. She says she wants to give it a go but I dont think she is giving 100 percent. We have arranged to go away this weekend just the 2 of us and she have said lets see how it goes, but I cant help thinking its going to feel like a test and i'm afraid of messing up. She blams herself because our eldess child is a bit troublesome and is blaming herself for not doing something about us earlier. I had been asking her if we were ok and are getting there prior this week and she has said yes everything is fine, but it clearly hasn't which has hurt more caus we said about being open and honest. I really dont know what to do anymore and afraid this weekend could be our last, expecialy if I mess up, I love her with all my heart and very much in love with her.

So I need some help. My wife and I have been together off and on for 9 years, with the past 7 without a split and the past 4 married. We have 2 daughters (7 and 2). We've always had our bouts. We have usually resolved them or agreed to disagree. I'm not sure how we got here. She told me a few months ago that I needed to get help. I withdrew from her, the kids and other family and friends. I didn't realize I did this. So I tried to make some changes. I went to the Dr and was put on anti-depressants. They helped a bit with my mood and allowed me to not get "set off" about the little things.
Well 2 weeks ago we were camping with friends and I thought everything was good. We got into an argument about her not coming to bed with me. I know it was petty now. But at the time I thought my wife would of liked to lay next to me and fall asleep with me. We got into an argument and didn't talk the whole next day.
The next night she laid it all out for me. She said that she was angry at me about how I have been. She said she felt like a single parent for the past year. And eventually she just stopped caring to get me to see what was wrong. For me? I don't know what I was going through. I don't think it was depression. I had some issues with my job and made a change to correct that. I think I simply got lazy and took her love and our marriage for granted.
So the past 2 weeks have not been good. She has been very withdrawn from me. She has stated that she needed time and space to process things. So I gave her that. I started to look at who I was and what I was doing. I decide to make some changes. Going to bed at a normal time. Stop drinking pop to help with some weight loss. Start helping (well basically doing) the laundry and dishes. Spending more time with the kids. I thought I was doing what she always wanted from me.
Last night she didn't come to bed. I went out to talk to her. She said she is annoyed with how I changed and how no one can change overnight. I explained to her that when someone is presented with what she said and now looking at the cliff, they do change. They do whatever it takes to not go over the ledge. She thinks I am just putting on a show and as soon as she is not mad and things are better, that it will just go right back to where it was. When I asked if deep down inside if she still loved me. She said she did and always will but she is not in love with me. That spark ended a while ago. I asked her if she wanted to work on that and she said she didn't know. We have an appointment with a marriage counselor on Monday that she is still willing to go to. So I guess that is a positive.
I love her with all my heart and I am ashamed that I was not a husband and I did not see what was happening for so long. I want to make this work. I am willing to do anything. It just seems like the only thing that can help is something happens to me (car wreck or something) and she realizes how much she loves me. Like something from the movies. I don't know.
So what do I do? Do I back off on changing me? Do I continue to do it even though it annoys her? How can I get my wife to open her eyes and see that the person that she first met, fell in love with and married is still here?
This hurts. It hurts more than anything that I have ever experienced (and we've been through 3 miscarriages).
If nothing else I guess I just need some inspiring words and messages of hope.

Colby, your wife has noticed she doesn't feel "in love" with the man he she loves, i.e., she's not recently been feeling the emotion of love, which comes and goes as often and quickly as anger or fear does. But she doesn't know why, so she's on edge. Who wouldn't be? Unfortunately, being on edge actually keeps it at bay.

You might want to subscribe to my http://EnjoyBeingMarried.com newsletter. You'll immediately get a copy that includes the one that went out yesterday about the latest research on this emotion of love.

She has to feel this emotion fairly often to feel "in love." And she has to (1) feel safe, (2) be physically present with you, (3) slow down and stay in the moment, and (4) share an emotionally positive experience with you for your brains and hormones to sync up. Love is that feeling of resonance with another human being over a positive emotion: amusement, gratitude, joy, calm, or the like.

Look at your recent history. When you are "set off," she cannot feel safe. When you withdraw, she cannot be present with you.

When she tries to have a good time with you and you get angry over unmet expectations that she likely had no clue about, she feels unsafe, and positive emotions don't happen. While camping, you had an expectation about sleeping arrangements not at all unlike Jane's expectation about the rose. (Please find Jane's comments and my replies on this page if you have not yet read them.)

Now she's physically unavailable and you feel unsafe in this relationship.

And she's convinced herself that your marriage adds little to her life as a mother. (I would disagree, but I remember being in her shoes long ago. It's awful.) But then you messed with her new belief (good work!), appearing to do what she believes is impossible: changing overnight. Of course, changing overnight is possible, but it still takes time to make the changes into habits.

To help make them habits, create if-then rules for yourself. If it's 6 pm, I will do this. If I see ___, I will do that. If it's Tuesday OR the laundry basket looks unusually full for a weekend, I will wash the clothes.

And then two more. The first is this: if I feel angry and my life or health is not in immediately jeopardy, I will go for a walk before I share what's bothering me, so she can feel safe.

Here is the second: if it's (pick 3 oddbeat times a day, like 7:13 or 9:43), I will look for an opportunity to share a positive emotion or a loving touch with my wife. I will put my arm around her and point out the dawn or the sunset's beauty. I will thank her for these great kids. I will congratulate her on a success. I will try to make her laugh. Or I will simply give her a hug or a shoulder massage as I pass through the room. And I will do it whether or not I got a good response the last time, because she has a lot of bad memories of my behavior to overcome, but underneath them, she loves me. She said so.

And please skip that car wreck idea. Read my reply to Cindy's comment on this post about expectations for why.

I'm glad you two will have a therapist on your side, too. Your odds of getting through this, as you got through those miscarriages, are good ones. I have my fingers crossed for the two of you.

Marc, I suspect you are correct that this weekend is a test. What do you think will get you the best grade on it?
- Use the time to figure out if someone else is pursuing her and, if so, if she's interested. (F)
- Do everything she asks, without complaint. (C)
- Enthusiastically suggest doing things the two of you have enjoyed together in the past, protect her from harm, engage in random acts of kindness, and let her know how lucky you feel to be married to her. (A)

Go have fun with your wife.

My wife and i have been together for 20 years and married 18 1/2 years,we have 2 daughters age 18 and 15. We were planning our family vacation 5 weeks ago on a monday..i noticed her talking with someone on the internet,an arguement started and she told me im not happy and i dont love you anymore.She has lost 61 lbs through excercise and an extreme diet plan over the last 8 months or so now.She moved out by wednesday that week..has been gone 5 weeks now.I found cell phone records of alot of interaction with this person,although hes a 1k miles away i think she was falling in love with him.Since shes been gone any interaction with her has been horrible,she has a look in her eyes of hatred towards me and is full of resentment and spite.Losing my wife is terrible but ive lost my best friend and that hurts even more.Any suggestions as shes told me its over,ive gotta accept it and shes not willing to work on it..in the last 2 days we have been able to at least communicate about sep,lawyers and kids and the look in her eyes has subsided but i dont want to set it back off by doing something as much as i want to work on things.

Patty,
I just stumbled across your blog after a late night search for such help in desperation. I hope that you read this and can help me.
I have been married for 15 years to a man who is on one hand a great guy, great personality etc but who on the other has put me through a lot since the first couple weeks of our marriage. I did not see any signs of his raging bad temper before marriage but two weeks in I was on the receiving end of the first of it. I was really shocked but stayed and it continued a cycle. Stupidly, I agreed with him not to tell anyone as I was too ashamed to admit it to my family anyway. I guess I bought in perfectly to what he wanted in a wife looking back. In addition, from time to time he would get drunk. Although I barely drink and made it clear to him I did not like this I didn't see it as a huge problem as it was only a few times per year. I should probably add at this point that his family background includes a dad who was routinely abusive toward his mother and his entire family are functioning alcoholics. Twelve years in (and with 3 children by now) this was starting to take a huge toll on me and after crying for 3 days straight after his latest rage on me and barely being able to cope in addition to his sister in law leaving his brother for the same reason, he realized he had to scale down his temper and did start making big changes. The trouble was that by that point I just didn't feel the same about him anymore. I've spent the past 3 years trying to figure out whether I thought he was a great guy or the opposite. I was depressed and seeing a therapist helped me but it was years before I even dared speak to her of all these issues. This spring everything changed overnight when I got an STD. My husband denied everything until tests confirmed it and I find the deception very hard to take, that he didn't come clean. he says I got it from a one off event with a prostitute 4 years ago despite the incubation period being 2 weeks when he was out of town. He says it happened as he was too drunk and he hardly beleived it happened as he barely remembered it afterwards. I suspect something similar happened two weeks previous to me getting it. i went overnight from having an unsatisfactory (for me) sex life to having none as I could no longer bare it. He has been begging me to make our marriage work again. I did not leave and am trying to work things out but don't know if I really have it in me at this point. I am confused as he, although this may sound strange is a great guy but I wonder if too much water has gone under the bridge for me. In addition, he has now gone 4 months without sex as I just cannot and he is feeling very impatient. During a recent search on the history of his phone and laptop (which I don't normally have access to) I found a link saying where to pick up women without looking creepy and a dating site for no links attached (sex) hook ups with local hot girls!!! When I questioned him he said they were either spam emails or a link from fox news!!! I'd love to believe him but I don't. I search fox news daily now and have yet to see such a link. I also think he should be acting perfectly right now given what has happened. Even last night after a lovely meal together he was begging me to lie naked beside him. I do still love him but I realize I am totally shut down sexually and cannot face it. I know he loves me and is desperate to save our marriage but I am feeling pressured. Sometimes he tells me just let me out if its not going to work so I can find a girlfriend! Othertimes he will take me out for dinner and do other things that make me feel we are making progress. Overall, he admits he is not a patient man and it's hard for him. Truthfully, I am sick of hearing what is hard for him (basically just lack of sex, he says affection too). I love this man as the father of my kids but am no longer in love with him, I want to do the right thing by my family, I don't want to hurt anyone and I am afraid but I know I don't feel what I should feel in a loving marriage anymore. My husband says I have hardened my heart and am unable to forgive him. Perhaps this is partly true but I feel I have forgiven him more for the infidelity than for the years of anger that preceeded it. I don't know what to do with that and how if ever I can move on. We have been to marriage therapy but I found it most unhelpful as the therapist came from an abusive alcoholic background herself and her sympahties lay with my husband as he was making changes that were difficult for him. I know my husband will not go much longer without sex, I am not even in a place emotionally to even thing about that with him and I don't know what to do here. Would we be better to part at this point? i see the changes he has made and I know he has a lot of good qualities but I cannot seem to let go of all that has gone in the past and of the fact that any change has all happened very conveniently when it suits him. Please help, you are my last hope not just of saving my marriage but of saving my sanity as i seem unable to know what to do.

I am so sorry for your loss, Robert. Many harsh words are said in the heat of anger. Let hers go. Work on reminding her what a great friend and lover you can be.

She's making a huge mistake finding someone new before letting you know she has problems with your relationship. Give her time to see the errors in her approach.

Set yourself a timeframe for wooing her again, because your heart will want to alternate between doing that and seeking to protect itself from further rejection, which is pretty ineffective. Nine to twelve months is a reasonable length of time to go on being her loyal husband and convincing her to be your wife again if your religion does not specify a longer time. If that's longer than you think you can handle, choose a shorter time, but mark it on your calendar as a commitment to yourself, so you can stick with it even when you're angry at her.

Go to therapy if she will agree to it, even if it's family therapy to help your daughters. Find a marriage-friendly therapist.

And try a little soul-searching. Maybe you have some idea why she's full of resentment. If you have in any way contributed to her mistake, you might want to admit it and ask what you can do to make it up to her. It's harder to stay resentful in the face of such a request.

Dear Jane #2, I would love to see as happy an outcome for you as for Jane #1. You have been through quite a lot.

I am neither a therapist nor a lawyer, but I don't think you should be concerning yourself right now with your husband's desire for sex, unless you fear he might rape you. In that case, I hope you would concern yourself from a safe distance, with a therapist. His fastest, surest route to a sex life with the woman he loves is through rebuilding your trust after being so reckless with your health and life that he brought you an STD.

Is there any chance you two could make it to Dr. Steven Stosny's Boot Camp in Gaithersburg, Maryland, September 20-22? I have heard Dr. Stosny speak and read a good bit of what he's written, and I think his approach to anger and resentment is a very powerful one, well-suited to what you're going through. His website is http://compassionpower.com. He also offers a telephone version of the boot camp, but your husband's past disqualifies the two of you for it.

And you can stop checking Fox News. First, they tailor ads to who's reading. You won't see those ads. Second, if the links were in his browser's history, someone clicked on them, no matter how they were presented. Third, you're taking the responsibility for a job that's his: proving to you he can be trusted again. If he blames his infidelity on alcohol, this includes letting you know his whereabouts and proving he's taking active steps to stay sober.

I think you might also want to check out Alanon, AA's organization for people affected by other's alcohol problems for help dealing with that.

When you Assume Love, you do it in part to check whether you're being loved when what's happening hurts. People do have problems with anger and with alcohol, especially if they were raised by angry alcoholics, but the sign that they love you is not that they apologize for those problems, but that they do something about them.

I have written in other comments on this page about the book Love 2.0. It says the emotion of love (the feeling that comes and goes, just like the emotion of anger, and appears to be responsible for that sense that we're "in love") doesn't happen unless both parties feel safe. Work on feeling safe with him. You will feel "in love" when you begin experiencing the emotion again. And you will most likely want sex with him then, too.

I'd like to recommend this book to Jane #1. I read it and it doesn't help in my situation but if you have a husband who says they are no longer in love with you I think it would really help. http://lauramunson.com/book/

Thanks, Jane. I'll check it out, too.

Patty,
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for you prompt reply. I will read over and take seriously all that you have said. The thing I wonder is if as you say and as I suspected Fox News or an email mailing is not to blame for these seedy things I found then where does that leave me? If he is supposedly trying his best to regain my trust and he is lying about these matters and or his intent with them and it does look very suspicious to me given that he is desperate for sex then doesn't this just prove that this is another level on which he is lying and I cannot trust him? My concern is that unless there is concrete evidence such as STD he is not willing to tell the truth. I cannot get concrete evidence for this matter. This is where I get so confused between the man who is trying his best going to therapy, working on his temper and yes on his drinking also and the man who is so desperate and impatient to have sex and who is possibly lying to me about what I found on his history.
I want things to work out and to be happy together as a family but I do not want it at any cost, for example if he is lying to me about this. I cannot lie to myself. My resentment is one thing and I will work on that but not if he is now lying to me about something else. Since I can't get proof on this matter and he is telling me there is nothing he can do to prove it to me I just have to believe him and trust him or divorce him, how on earth do I proceed?

Maybe you are not the one who needs to proceed, Jane. It sounds like he's the one who needs to take the next step.

Even if he looked at the two sites, it may not have been to find women but to assess his options, to figure out how difficult it might be to move on. And he may be lying or he may have chosen you. But there is not much you can do to figure out which.

You could tell him you understand he wants to be loved with sex, and you appreciate the efforts he's making, but you are not feeling safe enough for this yet. Then tell him one thing that would make you feel safer, for example, "take all my calls immediately after 5 pm" or "send me love letters daily when you travel." Give him a way to start earning your trust back. Make them simple things where you will both know whether he does them, not requests like "tell me the truth about ____." (You can't tell if he's told the truth.)

Put your focus on rebuilding the relationship instead of proving him right or wrong. And take it slowly.

Dear Patty
My wife and I have been married for four years. We have a four year old daughter together. We have been split up for a month and a half. We have been through a lot together and I have put her through a lot. I cheated on her when we first got together six years ago it only happen once when my father died she wasn't there for me and the other girl was. I have had a rough time with work for a while and haven't been helping with our bills like I should. When I do have money I was just blowing it. I have cussed and hollered at my wife and daughter. Hi treated them like crap. Was not taking care of my responsibility at home. She told me to leave she still loved me but was not in love with me. I love her with all my heart and want to save our marriage and family. I am trying to change. Do u Think she will take me back? Help plz. Mark

I have been with my wife for 18yrs helped her raise her son to a man I'm the only one employed in a house of five I do everything in my power to make them happy set aside my dreams and aspirations to support them and I'm being rejected on the grounds that I don't support my wife or show her that I love her after a 13 hr work day while she works out for 5 hardly cleans up and is always tired she's a great mom but doesn't respect what I do or what it takes looks for faults and mistakes to taunt me or show sarcasm everything wrong I did it the youngest kids are 12,14. So after I verbally lose it she's done if it's not a gym it's not improvement but the gym pays no bills. Dreams come after some sought of financial effort should I call her bluff and walk or bend further over and work a little harder to hand her,her dreams with no fustration or lip when I hear I gave you my time I'm your wife you supposed to support me when I was working 5yrs ago she was done the first yr it's 18 now what do you think tell me!

Dear Patty,

I just stumbled across this forum and I'm really hoping for some advice.

My wife is 20 and im 21 and we have been married since valentines day this year and we've been together for 3 1/2 years. Last August we broke up because I didn't have a job and I needed to mature a little more. She started seeing this guy when we were broken up. I got a job and listened to her feelings and I matured a lot. We ended up getting back together but things were a little rocky and she ended up cheating on me with the guy she had a fling with. I ended up forgiving her and we worked things out and we got married. Then back I'm april I ended up cheating on her. I told her about it and asked for forgiveness and told her I how sorry I was and for the next few month things seemed to be getting better. Until about a month ago when we found out that she's pregnant and we're expecting a child. All of a sudden after we found out the good news, she starting bringing up my infadelity again and saying that she wasn't sure if she was in love with me anymore and if she couldn't get over it and finds that she's not happy she won't want to stay married just for our child. She wants a few days to spend away from eachother to see if she gets that missing feeling. I accept what I did and I know how wrong it was and all I want is for her to trust me and still be in love with me. Please give me some advice to push me in the right direction towards saving my marriage and future family.

Thanks.

Andrew.

My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We have 3 kids. 2 are his step-children that he loves. About 5 months ago we split up because of the way he treated me. He had also cheated on me. Long story short we both saw other people why were apart. We still couldn't let each other go completely. So, we got back together. Things were great in the begining. Now he says he isn't happy. When I ask why and what would make him happy he says doesn't know. Should I just let him go?

Ahh...What I think is that your scenario is way too common. Husband makes sacrifices, works hard for his family, expects respect. Wife raises children, keeps house, expects to be cherished.

Expectations dashed, resentment grows. She starts treating him with disdain, making his need for respect even greater. He starts keeping to himself, doing his job and coming home tired and angry, making her need for cherishing even greater. Emerson Eggerichs wrote an entire book about this, Love & Respect, in which he labeled this stepping on each other's air hose, because both get frantic for what they need from each other.

If either of them finally gets what the other needs and provides it for a while, they usually get what they need, too. But it takes strength to be the first to change the steps in this dance and not to fall right back into the old steps.

If your work day leaves no time or energy for your wife, consider looking for a home and hobbies you could afford on an 8-hour work day. It actually beats trying to support your kids in one home while you live in another, and it is likely to get you a lot more respect and love from them and your wife.

Ouch! Andrew, you two have been off to a very rocky start. May I use this opportunity to post a public service announcement to everyone else reading this page? When your marriage is rocky, consider using birth control to avoid introducing hormones, nesting instincts, and body changes into the situation or bringing a new life into a bad situation.

OK, back to you two. Missing you is not a good measure of whether the love is gone. It's the "love" side of things, not the "in love" side. It's the bond you have built (which is definitely not yet a very strong one -- evening the score really did not help) vs. the positive emotions you enjoy together daily (and, we hope, several times daily).

So, let's hope your separation is only a few days and that you spend them thinking about what makes her feel loved and cherished (your words, your touch, your kindnesses, your gifts, or your time and attention, to list those covered in Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages). Think about what your real strengths are (http://viame.org can help) and how you can use them to make her life better and how to compensate for your shortcomings or immaturity by relying more on your character strengths. Think about the things that make the two of you laugh, relax, or say, "Ooohh" so you can put more of them into each day. Think about what sort of entrance you make when you come home and whether you leave in a way that makes her happy you're coming back. Read everything you can on this blog about Finding Third Alternatives for your disagreements.

And if she hasn't left for those few days yet, ask her to take them AFTER the two of you take a marriage education class together. Check http://smartmarriages.org, http://www.healthymarriageinfo.org, and http://narme.org for listings, or use a search engine to look for marriage education in your city or state.

I want this child to grow up with a great dad who knows how to love the kid's mother.

Definitely, Jeana. We may promise to stay through sickness and health, wealth or poverty, but none of us promise to put up with unhappiness or confusion. Too much to ask.

Hi Patty:

I am sitting here on day four of an emotionally devastating day.

I have been married for just a little over 8 months. We have been together a little over 3 years including the marriage. My husband works out of town after losing his job here and has for the past two years. It is also the town where his kids live. I also have kids. We have a blended family.

We had a huge argument over nothing 2 months into the marriage. He stormed out with his kids as it pertained to his youngest and was not even anything but a question posed to the child about an item. I felt he was looking for an argument. He stormed out and hours later said he would never bring them back here at the time he was coming home every other day and on the days he stayed he had his kids then every other weekend they came here when he had them. It was a share custody plan with his exwife. He said since he was never bringing his kids back why are we even married. I fell apart he walked out on me and my kids and not the first time he ran away. He always would start an argument through text and we're in our mid to late 40s. He split up with me back in November and started seeing another woman from school right away and I had no idea. I was miserable for a month then he showed up professing his love and whisked me off my feet and we were married in days.

I am off point. Due to having been separated the last four months with him acquiring a home there instead of living in the small apartment adjacent to his work we have seen one another four to five times. When we were to have plans something would come up or he would try to make an argument via text that I would not do and he'd call off our weekend or any plans scheduled.

He started writing me about a month ago telling me he loves me and wants me there with him that we belong together that he chose me yadda yadda yadda I of course responded and we have seen one another. The house here that is two hours away is paid for and no overhead. Why he always traveled back and forth. He said that I and my kids would need to move there since his job was there and at his age the driving back and forth was not healthy for him which I understand.

He stated we would move to an area that has great schools and is more affordable financially and only 20 miles from his job. During our separation his 16 y/o son has been staying with him all summer. They live in a small three bedroom below his work. All of his kids have been excited and mine as well. He told me we needed to find a home with a minimum of so many bedrooms and other factors to make sure all of our kids had a place and I agree with that. His kids did not want to change schools mainly his teen son and he goes right by his school to get to work so he said he would just drop him off on the way in and it is a mile from his work he'd get him in the afternoon since he does not have his license due to immaturity at this point nor a part time job. I had no issues with that him taking him to school and so forth. I have been excited about house hunting and making a fresh start with my husband and being with him every day and night as I love him to the moon and back.

He was here over the weekend as I had an accident and ended up with a limb that needed surgery. It happened on the day I was to return back there while my kids were visiting their father. In any case I was no longer able to drive there so he the following day came up and took care of me all weekend. He talked about our future how excited he was how excited I was the kids his teen seemed to be okay as they talked on the phone. He was holed up in his bedroom at his moms so instead of him returning Monday and going into work he left out a day early to get him his son. I find the way he is a father admirable and loving and a great quality!

All the way down he would call me text me to check on me and tell me how much he missed me loved me could not wait for the kids and I to be there and we were coming to go look at houses in a few days leg permitting. I could not have been happier with the feeling that we were finally going to be a family all I ever wanted and even though it would not be overnight one way or the other I planned on being and living there with my children by the holidays.

Several hours later I receive a text saying his teenager flipped out about moving saying he would not move with us and would instead move back in with his mom who just remarried a month ago to a man that this teenager does not like. The relationship I had with this teen was great until a year ago and for some reason he stopped liking me. The ex has a lot to do with that as at that time she was not allowing them to come on their weekends and more as the man she just married and her had split as she cheated on him as she did with my husband. Anyway, my husband told me he would not lose his son again and that his son was the only one that had been there for him during our separation had not turned his back on him and he would not do that. I am devastated at this point. I tell him by phone as I called and said this makes no sense he was fine. I know it will take time it will for all the kids. He said the teen said she is just going to take you away from me again and I won't live there. He said it has nothing to do with the school but about this small home. That I would have to live there with my two kids (one of which has severe medical issues) and by doing this would we also have his other two kids almost daily and I stated that we could not put four children in one room together especially one that is both epileptic and autistic and cannot be around certain things and more. Plus not being biologically related at their ages it was not appropriate in any way. He said that is it in stone that he would not lose his teenage son and I said so you would rather sacrifice your other four kids and your wife and he then said oh and I love you but I am no longer in love with you - we've been separated for five months sometimes feelings change. This was all said in less than one day of him leaving me. I am mortified. I am shocked. I have no idea what is taking place.

I also found out that he is talking to the lady he went out with when he broke up with me previously before we asked me to marry him. He says back then they never slept together and they are just friends now and that they will always be friends since they went to high school together and have known each other so long. All that after telling me she was crazy and an alcoholic and had hit him physically when he took her during our "break up" before we were married.

I heard those words and my soul is dead. I am unable to function. I feel as though these last 3 years and especially last 8 months have been a hoax. I was to move there once before with the kids before we married and he kaboshed that too. At that time saying we should keep the home here since it is paid for and rent there is so high and it made more financial sense.

Please. I don't know what to do. Is this something I should fight for? It is not like I can just get in the car and drive to him. I have a SN son and another child both of mine are younger than his. I feel humiliated. I have never removed my ring or fallen out of love with him. I also felt him saying what he said was incorrect as people are sometimes away from one another for a year or more if they fight for our country. Not that we are doing that it just I have no idea. I am grasping at straws. I feel hollow and shaken to my core. Better to know now and just concede since his children come first in our marriage whereas I thought unity and a solid loving foundation was what was best for kids. I feel like a failure. I love him or I would not have married him. He was my life. Being without him has made me depressed withdrawn and I have gained weight. I have no energy before and was happy again the last several weeks until this and now I am farther into my depression than I was then. I am numb and dead inside. I do not know what to do. I hope you get this.

Helen, I am sure these have been four of the worst days of your life. I don't know how much of this blog you've read, but "Assume Love" means try on that idea to look for other explanations besides the ones that devastate you. If you don't find any, you can go back to the "it's over" story. But if you find them, you will know how to proceed toward love and happiness.

Assume that what he's done and said happened even though he still loves you dearly and wishes you two could be happily married for the rest of your lives.

One possible explanation is that he believes he must make sacrifices for his son, even sacrificing being loved by a good woman, and he sees sacrifice as the only way to satisfy his son.

If this is the case, the three of you need a Third Alternative -- not all of you in that tiny house, not the two families two hours apart, but a third option that satisfies everyone's wishes. To get there, you need to know more about what would satisfy your husband and his son. To find this out, you need to make it clear you are willing to satisfy them and stop arguing for what does not meet their needs.

I'm willing to bet your stepson's need is not "not moving" -- he would probably move in a flash to a larger home with his dad or to the house next to his best friend. It's much more likely along the lines of "I don't want a special needs kid at the dinner table keeping me from sharing my day with my dad" -- and these two things are not really opposites, they just look that way to a kid with no experience of life in a large family and a father who's used dinner instead of bedtime or a lunchtime phone call or a walk after dinner for this purpose.

It's probably also not "not living with your new wife," either, since his alternative is to live with mom and her new husband. Much more likely there was more to what upset him last summer than you have grasped, and he's bracing against something that does not matter to you but does to him.

If your husband says he's "not in love with you," it's likely because his feelings got hurt in discussing the move with you or he decided to sacrifice his seccond marriage to avoid doing any more harm to his son than divorcing the kid's mother did, because he doesn't see any other options.

So, go read all the stuff about Third Alternatives on this blog and see if you can lead your husband and his son to one that works for all of you. And don't try to do it yourself. Let them be part of blue-skying some wild ideas as you find your way to the one that works for you. It might be a home with bedrooms on two floors or with rooms where each of you can have private time with your own kids or an au pair to help with your special needs son or two homes in the same city for now or a job for you in his kids' city or a move to a town where your stepson could be part of an award-winning sports team or band.

And before you get all worked up over the woman your husband counts as a friend, know that he really, truly needs your trust and respect. These are the very basis of a relationship for a man, not the cherry on top. If he's told you she's an alcoholic he has no sexual interest in, go with that, not your fears, until you have some hard evidence of anything else.

Mark, it sounds like you've got a long journey ahead of you, but a worthwhile one. A good starting place is to drop any excuse for cheating on her. Sure, we make more mistakes when under stress or dealing with grief, but a mistake is a mistake. Just own it, so she can put it behind her.

Then take some action on your temper. Sign up for an anger management class or Steven Stosny's Boot Camp. Let her know you are working on becoming a different person, not just hoping to become one.

And don't expect the love to return just because you get rid of the things that drove it away. You will also need to do things together that make both of you smile in sync. I'm betting you know what she enjoys: dancing, funny movies, carnivals, beautiful sights, surprise gifts, or watching your daughter be amazed. Find ways to do these things together without pressuring her to do more.

She loves you. You love her. But there's not been much loving going on. That's where you start. And remember that healthy marriages have at least 5 times as many positive moments as negative ones, so avoid those negative ones.

Patty, I sure could use some help! My wife of 17 1/2 years recently gave me the "my feelings are different, I fell out of love" line. We just moved back home after 7 years in southwest Florida, the last 4 very tough due to the economy. She got her job back at a high end restaurant and started hanging out with all of the 30 year old, single girls partying non stop. The biggest thing is a 6 month relationship we both had with one of these girls, my wife fell for her, telling me that and started questioning our relationship. We are now seeing a counselor but for different reasons, I want to fix our marriage, she wants it to end peacefully. We have 3 boys and the pain that will be inflicted on them seems to be of no worry to her. I am heart broken and devastated.

i would appreciate some help - i've been married for almost 5 years and through these years all I see is that my husband is only really interested in fending for his parents and sisters(married) - even when we are spending some intimate moments and his family calls he will stop everything to talk to them even for hours. even though they dont stay with us its like their shadow is always haunting us 24 hours of the day. and to top it all he feels i should interact with them more but its only driving me away from them so much so that i hate to even talk to them on the phone - just the mention of them brings so much negative energy around me that i hate my life. and when i spend any time my family he will firstly refuse to join in, if he does he will stay aloof, if he doesn't he will stay in a sulky mood when i return even if it was for a few hours. we constantly keep having fights despite some good moments we spend together. now we just had a fight at which i've been forced to attend some ritual in his home town which i refused to attend because he got all angry when i tried to tell him that i don't wish to go - as always the moment i say anything against his wish he will not listen to why i'm saying it and just start shouting. now his family has interfered and said that if i cannot abide by their rules then i should think of dissolvng the marriage- the trouble is somewhere deep down i don't want to - i mean i know practically that i might be happier without my husband as all the negative tension will be gone but i'm not sure if i'm ready for a divorce. i just cannot understand why after going through all this i am still not ready to move on. if you have any words of advice that can help me make up my mind i would be greatful.

Try a Third Alternative. Agree with your husband that his family is important (to his wellbeing, which is important to you). Then let him know the current way of dealing with them, whether right or wrong, isn't working for you. (In other words, don't make him or them wrong or bad. It's just not working for you.) Talk to him about what he wants for them and how he wants them in his life, then let him know what you want to add to your life together. For example, you might want phones off for an hour when you're intimate. You might want to be able to make dates with him for time together that won't get canceled for their convenience. You might want one evening a week that's permanently reserved for the two of you unless you both agree on something different. (Note that all of these are about the two of you, not about his family.)

Then get to work building your own relationship with each of his family members. Don't relate to them only through him. You'll find them a lot more likeable, and you may be able to ask one of them to help you navigate family politics.

Dear patty,
Well my husband an I have been married 3 years...have 2 beautiful little boys...he is in the army...an in late September I was home visiting my family because we thought he was being shipped to Korea for 2 years an we would go with him.. when he was gone on an assignment training for army an such...well when he came home an came to visit everyone from our home state he sat me down an told me he wanted a divorce only to find out there was someone else...well idk if this came all about because he was going to Korea an maybe we couldn't go with him am he was scared or what it is...so we have been separated since sept of 2012 an he tells me he loves me but not in love with me....my heart just totally broke because we do have 2 little boys together..an this came on all of an sudden...I'm still in aww...like I don't know or not sure what to do...I try talking to him...but he's made a decision...idk maybe u could give me some advice...I'd appreciate it... Thanks..

Candy, that is so sad! Military marriages can be so hard for both spouses. Fortunately, the Department of Defense recognizes this and provide programs and counseling to help. I hope you have taken advantage of these.

A year apart is a long time, especially if whoever he's having the affair with is in Korea, too. But a year in a foreign country in service to his country can change a young man.

What I would recommend while you are so far apart is building a life the fulfills you and supports you: friends, hobbies, people to help you with the boys, trying new things. If he doesn't change, you'll be in a much stronger place to handle the loss. If he does, seeing you ready to live life well without him may make him hurry to hang onto you.

Postpone any dating until he's back in the country and into a routine of some sort with your boys again. Put this time into your life, your dreams, your happiness, not someone else's.

When you get a chance to talk with him until then, avoid talking about your relationship. Most men do not think about relationships; they have little to add to the discussion. Instead, go for brief bits of shared laughter, shared delight in your children, or shared relief over averted disasters. Those actually do a lot more for resolving relationship problems than relationship discussions do.

I hope his affair is a long-distance one that will fade quickly once the two of them are together. Most do.

Hi Patty,

my husband and i have been married for 7 years. Ours was a love marriage and we do not have any kids. Now my husband wants a divorce as he feels that we are very different and despite of trying hard for all these years our marriage is not working the way we wanted. Besides I got involved with a boy when he was out on tours and he came to know about it. Strange thing is he didnt ask or said anything and allowed it to happen and one fine day left home. Its been 7 months now, I pleaded, begged did eerything that I could do to bring him back but he is not ready to listen to anything and pushing me for divorce now. He was in a relationship before marriage and that girl also had cheated him and left him for the other boy. But I realized my mistake and have been asking for forgiveness for so many months. he says he has forgiven me but cant come back, living together is impossible now for him. Please suggest how can I convince him to give me another chance.

I've been with my girlfriend for 4 years the 9th of this month, and now she says she doesn't want it anymore. The first two years of our relationship I treated this woman like a queen besides my daughters from a previous relationship there wasn't anything that could change the way I treated her. At the end of the second year of our relationship she had a internship in Austin. At first I didn't think she was coming back, but about 4 months later after talking and texting every night she told me being over there helped her realize where she belongs and where she needed to be. That was here with me and my two little girls. A month later she came to visit me and helped me find a new apartment but the apartment was really for us when it was time for her to come back after the internship. A few weeks later she came back to me and we were so happy. It didn't last long. My little brother called me one night and asked if him and his kids could stay with us for a bit, I agreed not knowing what was in store. For the next 12 months he stayed there and didn't help out financially and it drove our stress levels through the roof. My girlfriend would list her concerns but I pushed them to the side as a quick fix to make her feel better for a split second, but its exactly what it was a split second. We finally got out of that situation and got our first house together 6 months ago, and to me, the weight was off of my chest because I didn't have to deal with him anymore, but something happened to her something happened within that apartment that stuck with her. She has high anxiety and knowingly depressed. Being a man before you, I admit to my fault and being a key player in her heartache. I didn't listen when I should have I didn't have the heart to tell my little brother something when she said he was taking advantage of us, in tears. It was all about how to make her feel better right then and there. so I wouldn't have to hear it. That type of behavior from me is my biggest down fall. When she talks about bills, all I say is that "we'll be fine". Not really addressing her concerns. Three weeks ago, I FELT IT. I don't know what it was but I felt the void. I told her I didn't want to break up and I loved her. She looked at me like I was being dumb or irrational and brushed it off. Two weeks ago I said it again and she said "neither do I , why would you say that" that was the end of the conversation. Last week on Friday we just finished having sex and we were both in fairly good moods, I said it again..."I don't want to break up" and she said she doesn't think its going to work and we need to. I refused to give in. I told her that we can work on it. Knowing my faults I know what needs to be done, we live in the same house, and she said she wants the break and wants to be alone to think. For the last week all I wanted to do was talk and have some type of assurance that she was going to give me a chance to prove myself again. I'm afraid that I've pushed her further away from me. She is the queen of my world and I don't know how to sit around and wait for this slow motion crash to happen. My heart is so broken. She says she doesn't love me like she used to but deep down it has to be there. Help me. please.

Patty,

My wife and I have been married for 2 years, we've been together for 6. When we entered our relationship, I had a 3 year old boy from a previous, and she had a 1 year old girl. 3 years later, we had another girl together.

She would always tell me we are the perfect couple. Never any big fights, get along, spend time together, do things with the kids. No substance abuse, nothing like that.

We bought our first house together last spring. We both loved it.

2 months ago she tells me she wants to leave and then I found out she started seeing somone else.

I asked what changed, she doesn't know. Sometimes she loves me. She says its not me. She (at the time) felt like she was homesick (25 minutes away to a small town). I talked to her mother and he mother just laughed, Christina has wanted nothing but to move away from there all her life.

Since then, she has continued to see someone else. Things got bad, and after everyone talking to her. She switched her personality immediately. It was just a lie, I knew it to be too quick of a turn around. She has admitted wanting to be with this other person and likes him, and he likes her.

We've started counseling, but only have had one session. That session it came out she was lying to them to (he had split us up during the session).

Now, we have 3 kids that need to get to school and back. We've been using her dad's car. He found out and took it back. Her schedule is changing so that we will need 2 cars for work and school mornings. We are like most people, living paycheck to paycheck. She almost lost her daughter last weekend, because the father and his family absolutely do not want her in an unstable invironment. I stepped in and told them I would watch her, as I've done so for 6 years now.

I told her things are becoming a wreck, we've lost a vehicle, we are losing our family, and next will be the house.

I understand she has feelings for this other person, she feels leaving is easier, its what she's always done with previous relationships. But she needs to realize the lifestyle with him is not going to be easier. She doesn't like this storm. I've been patient, and trying to be understanding.

I feel I can't live without her. She told me yesterday, that she is seeking counseling on her own. I don't know if they will tell her to just be happy and leave this mess she's creating, or try and work on what is wrong and fix this family before its too late.

Wow, Shawn, what a mess! I feel for both of you.

It sounds like things were great for six years until the two of you bought a house that put you 25 minutes from where she feels comfortable and in such a tight financial spot that you live paycheck to paycheck and have to borrow a car. Now you have no car and will soon need two.

This has to be stressful for both of you, but it sounds awfully stressful for your wife. She's cheating on you, lying to her therapist, laughed at by her mother, in trouble with her father and her daughter's father, dependent on you to retain custody of her daughter, and looking for individual counseling -- all in the course of a few months after years of being a responsible, happy adult.

She's sought some relief from all the stress with another man, but I agree with you the likelihood anything will be better for her or the kids if she leaves you sounds really slim. So, I have to guess her stress is so great that she's grabbing at fantasy solutions.

Which means you have to be the realist and reduce the stress in a way that gives your family a future. What are you able to do to reduce the stress? Can you take in a boarder? Rent out the house and live somewhere less expensive? Get your work schedule changed? Find a job with a higher salary or a schedule that matches her new schedule? Trade some of your skills for the loan of a car? Take a second job? Drop the kids off early with a friend who lives near the school? Sell the house?

Right now, I would worry less about whether she loves you than about how to stop the stress. My guess is she's in survival mode, unable to love you or this other guy until she's safe again. And she's doing nothing likely to get herself to safety, except for seeking a therapist. I applaud this move. While I agree some therapists fail to look beyond the individual's immediate happiness, most are better than this and will see how important her daughters' wellbeing is to her own.

You asked for what you wanted, forgiveness, and got it. So perhaps your first step should be to stop asking for it.

What you need next is a Third Alternative, a new way of relating to each other that is not a return to your old marriage and not a divorce. And maybe it does not involve living together right away while you do what you can to rebuild his trust in your integrity.

When you are working on a weakness, I find it helps to use your strengths to do the job. It makes the heavy lifting more enjoyable for you and puts you in your best light with him. You might want to visit http://viame.org to assess your character strengths and see which ones you can employ in the service of re-establishing your trustworthiness.

And I always refer anyone dealing with infidelity to http://dearpeggy.com/ for excellent insights and advice. I have no idea if your husband can be convinced to try again. It sounds like he's not cared for quite a while. But it's definitely worth a try. Seven years is a lot of history together.

Thanks Patty for your reply but am stil not clear what should I do. He 's fixed a meeting with the divorce lawyer and is not ready to meet for anything else but this meeting. I realized in all these months that he's been very kind and generous to me. I was more of a possessive kind, doubting him coz i loved him so much. Now he is relating every problem-his health, professional life with being unhappy in marriage and the only way out he thinks is divorce. PLease suggest what should I do ?

This note is partially intended to allow you insight into our situation as a couple, but also as a therapeutic exercise for myself as I attempt to break isolation and grasp the reality of this situation. I apologize in advance for the length of the message.

3 kids. 13.5 years together (married 12.5), and she shared with me on Sunday that she loves me but isn't "in love" with me anymore. That it's the "romance" missing from our relationship, and lack of true intimacy. Doesn’t feel connected on that “life partner” level like she did when we first met. She's not the girl that wants to be spoiled or wined and dined, and hates Valentine's Day as a greeting card holiday yearly.

I think the world of her, and want to do whatever's necessary for our marriage and our love together. Apparently she's felt this way for some time now (8-9 years) and never said anything out of denial and her own insecurities. She’s overweight (which I’ve never made her feel bad about), has had low self-esteem as a result, and has been leaning on me as her safety net for years, apparently unable to admit to herself what was happening all this time.

If I'd known how she felt years ago, I would have taken steps then. She told me "It's not you, but me. You didn’t do anything wrong", but I know in my heart that there are things I could have done over the years to better show my affection and love for her. Even if she can’t see it. We haven't been truly "intimate" for a while, and the kids always came first. I'm not talking “sexual” intimacy, but a personal connection on a deeper level, and that's how I gather she's feeling. Date night was never prioritized by either of us, and on the occasion that we did get out, there was often some argument that just spoiled the evening.

She sees me as a wonderful father, and loyal husband. It’s as if everything in our marriage is great except for this one, single thing. I would never intentionally be abusive to her, and we’ve always talked through situations where she’d felt some form of negative control over her that made her feel uncomfortable. We worked through it as a couple would.

For the past four days, I've been experiencing extreme anxiety and depression. Enough that I can't work, can't sleep, can't eat...she's all that I've been able to think about. I think I've had two meals over the past four days. It's been crazy.

Also, I'm a Christian, and my wife is agnostic (believes in a higher power, but hasn’t named him yet…basically on the fence). While I wholeheartedly agree that she needs a healthy dose of Jesus in her daily life, that's a whole different thing that I've prayed about for years, and not something I can change on my own. If she walks into a counseling session and we start quoting scripture...that's probably not going to end too well.

Ironically, I've been attending a sexual addiction men’s group for the past 2.5 years (never asked me to, it was something I wanted). This most recent year, I've actually been leading a group to help healing in other mens’ marriages. I joined for myself, for God, and for my wife. She never really understood it, but encouraged me to do whatever I wanted in that area. Pornography never bothered her, and we'd even watched it together years ago on rare occasion.

My mentor shared with me an interesting analogy before joining the group for the first time:

"Imagine when you leave for the day and your wife gives you a handful of coins. These coins represent your emotional energy. You're looking around and checking that girl out at lunch...you lose a coin. Later that night, you're watching pornography online...lost another one. How would you feel coming home after spending your emotional energy, not having any left for your wife? How is your wife going to feel when you've come home empty handed? That’s what you’re doing when you betray her with those things.”

I did that for *HER*.

She doesn’t get it, because she’s not looking through that same biblical lens that I am. Part of me feels like that was wasted time, but I know deep down that it wasn't. I now have a better grasp on my emotional landscape than most men I know, tools that I can use to cope in a healthy way, and can communicate how I feel pretty well. I’m a stronger person having gone through its process. But somehow we're still just not connecting on that deeper, emotional level.

There’s more, including my suspicions that she’s having an affair or a fling with someone else. I’m wrestling with how to deal with that, and it hurts in my gut. We swore to each other earlier on that we would never cheat on each other while married (and that we despised it), and as my wife…I trust her in that still on some level, but there have been too many coincidences recently to ignore it entirely.

She’s been studying for a degree to change careers (which I’ve been very supportive of). Difficult courses, and many late nights this quarter. 12 units is considered full time, and she’s taking 16.

Some of the study sessions are 3+ people, but recently some of the other people couldn’t make it and it’s been my wife and this other guy. I confronted her a week ago before any of this and shared with her how it makes me feel that she’s spending all this time away from me and with this other person. She understood, and I asked if she could try and prioritize the groups to 3+ people. Granted they’ve been at a 24-hr diner, which I can confirm through a GPS tracking app on all our family phones. They were always in public.

She comes home on Saturday, and tells me she heard that this person was gay, and that he’d shared that during the day at some point. Fine…I left it alone. Then everything happens on Sunday and I ask her frankly, “is that person really gay?” She replied “No, I just didn’t want you to feel worried about it anymore.”

So now I’m wrestling with this “lie” as well.

It hurts that this week is finals week, and I’d found all this out the Sunday prior. She’s so busy this week that we’ve barely had time to connect or talk, and my text messages often get a quick one or two word reply. I confronted her about why she’s responding that way when it’s not like her…when she answered:

“if I dig into it this week and address it, I’ll cry and don’t want to go back into the lecture hall that way because people will start asking questions”.

I understand her point of view on that, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve been shot by a 9mm and dropped off on an island to fend for myself with no hospitals or doctors. She’s emotionally and physically absent while I try to cope with my own “receiving end” of this. I’m grieving for our relationship, too…not just her.

I took the 5 Love Languages quiz on Monday and shared my results with her via email. I also asked that she take it as well (two minutes, c’mon) and share her results with me. She hasn’t done so yet.

Here’s the link in case anyone else reads this and wants to take it. I learned something about myself in what my love language is, but more importantly that they were something I rarely actually perform for some reason (Quality Time and Physical Touch).

www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

Seriously guys. If you haven’t taken this, please do it immediately. Even if you aren’t currently in a relationship…it’s good stuff to know about yourself! I’ve had multiple people recommend this over the years, and about 10 people did over the past few days. If only I’d picked it up sooner.

Hopefully we’ll be able to spend some time together and connect this weekend once finals are over. I’m trying to setup a date night for next week to at least be somewhat actionable and intentional about this.

Also, I was browsing "Dear Peggy" yesterday and downloaded "Making Love Stay". I'm currently reading it. The first chapter is a chilling resemblance of our current situation.

Go, Will! Sounds like you're heading in the right direction. Were you able to make an intelligent guess at your wife's Love Language?

I loved your story of the emotional energy coins. I am sure it resonates deeply, especially with men who can see the coins as respect and hanging onto them as a sign of integrity. To stay with your analogy, and try to explain why your wife isn't thrilled by your new integrity, she may hand you pesos in the morning and get back rupees at the end of the day. They don't feel valuable to her because they won't work in her vending machines.

Most women don't put any emotional energy into ogling men or watching porn, even if they do those things. They put it into helping classmates and encouraging their children and checking in on their siblings and parents and Liking their friends' announcements on Facebook--and having affairs with men who listen to them and ask questions about who they are and what they believe while affirming how desirable they are sexually. If you're saving up your sexual interest for your wife, but she's waiting for you to come home nurturing and helpful and interested in her thoughts, it's as if you brought home the wrong coins. Or perhaps I should say too few coins; marriages need both.

I hope your counseling is agnostic and successful.

Thanks for the reply!

Yep, we're definitely in an awkward predicament with the faith thing. I don't generally press her towards one direction or another. That's a choice she needs to make for herself. I married her for who she was, without expecting a change. I might have hoped for it, but that's a different story. No shame or condemnation being dished out in that area.

I honestly didn't want to "guess" at her love language. Probably because that's how we got here in the first place. I've loved and cared for her all these years, but probably said/did everything in the wrong ways. We married young (I'm 32 and she's 30 now), and our kids have always demanded our time and energy...to the point that we forgot to take time to love ourselves and love each other.

Daily for the past week, I've been trying to think of subtle ways to let her know that I love her and that I enjoy her (regardless of her actual love language). Holding hands while snuggling up when she's taking a break watching a TV show, cuddle in bed (no strings attached!) just for the sake of doing it, sending short text messages throughout the day letting her know I'm thinking about her and miss her.

Granted, I can only get that right to a certain point until I know how she views her own love language. I'm probably saying all the right words, but in the wrong language.

I'll say this. I'm thankful to be sharing a bed at all with her. We may not be getting it on, but I assume that to be a sign of love from her on some level. If she were completely over me and ready to move on, I probably wouldn't be where I am now.

Is it wrong or inappropriate to want to share these comment links with her at some point, or do you think it's too soon for something like that? Maybe this is supposed to be a venting session for me and not to be shared. Just curious.

About the Love Languages: the two you've tried this week are Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation. Think about the things she did back when she was crazy about you, especially the ones she did with a big smile on her face and a bit of giddy delight. Did she make or buy things to delight you? That's Gifts. Did she do things to help you out? That's Acts of Service. Did she give you her full and undivided attention during conversations or plan activities for the two of you? That's Quality Time. The ones she delights in doing are usually also the ones she delights in receiving.

I don't recommend mending a marriage by sending your spouse to read what you already shared with the rest of the world. You can use the comments here to think through your situation. When you talk with her, do it directly and from the heart.

Thanks. I think deep down I know that, but my words kept getting jumbled up when talking with her about any of this with how I feel right now.

Today's her last day of finals (her biggest one), and I got up early with her and made her breakfast before she left (something that wouldn't ordinarily happen). She thanked me multiple times and said that if I hadn't done that, she probably would have just skipped breakfast today.

Lots of long hugs right now, actually. There's definitely still some affection on some level. Today, I'm more hopeful than yesterday.

One day at a time, right? ;-)

If only that dang marriage counselor would get back to me. Two days and no call back (sheesh).

Gratitude and hugs are very positive signs, Will.

Hello, I don't see anything here quite like my situation so here goes. I have been with my husband 6 years and married 4 1/2. It has been a rocky relationship from the beginning. I became pregnant and we were married 4 months in I lost our baby. I have a daughter 12 yrs old. My husband works full time for national gaurd. He liked to drink and stay out to 4am and i could not do this because of my child. he would pick fights tgen storm out. it started many trust issues that began even before marriage. After being married year he was deployed, during that time I discover he had had at least emotional affair with a woman at the beginning of our marriage. I was devastated and told him I was leaving during his deployment. He begged and I stayed because he promised he would go to counseling. When he got home he did not go. He did however start going to church and things got better with about every 6 months him pulling an all nighter at bars. These times made me angry and fearful of what he was doing hence the trust issues. During this time of good years he has been very hard on my daughter. With me always standing in the middle. He thinks she is terrible and disrespectful. I really don't see she is nor do others. However our way of discipline is different and of course when I thought he was being too hard I stood in the way. He says he just wants me on his side. I do see there are things I could have done different I have tried different things through out but having read many books. I realize that moms are soft and dads are not and this is how God made us. Anyway at this point he says he is over it and tired of being disrespected and that I'm not there for him. So he has pushed me away. I do not want a divorce and feel like I have forgiven him time after time and I deserve to be able to fight for our marriage and fix it. The more I do such as love dare and live and respect the further he pushes. Me away. He has always been secretive with his phone and shady.. Which cause my trust issues. I agree I could be more respectful. He just won't allow me to even get near him. He has been gone for work most of the month with a week break that he barely talked to me. He has not called and only sent text telling me his feelings have not changed since being gone. He left for the week 2 days early and is now stayed gone a day longer then scheduled. I want my marriage to work but everything I do is meet with anger.. I know he has been chatting with other females on Facebook which he denies and says its just me and our problems causing his feelings. He should be home soon and I don't even know how to act when he gets here I don't know if he is going to throw me out or give me the silent treatment. I have tried to just give it to god feeling as though I've done all I can

If he won't meet with you, you can write him love letters, have gifts delivered to him, ask others to speak with him, create a plaque or song extolling his many virtues and mail it to him, have his favorite food delivered, get yourself into therapy and have your therapist send him a note about your progress, whatever you think might eventually put a small smile on his face without making him angry.

Lea, I would urge the two of you to find a marriage therapist. If he won't go, you go. He just might join you at the second appointment if only to find out what you're saying.

I was seaching for answers and came upon this post. My wife recently told me that she has been unhappy for over a year and during that time spoke with a therapist about her issues. We have been together for 19 years and had sought out counciling 3 years ago and stopped going after we mutually said we had fixed our issues.
When my wife told me about this I was devistated and have started going to counciling again by myself.
When our problems first arose I blamed all the issues on myself and did alot of sole searching to find the things that made her unhappy and thought I had changed. I was even more devestated that she would never initially go to one on one sessions with our councelor and then sought out her own only months after we stopped.
She has given a time frame of january to make her decission but in my heart I feel she already has made it. She has told me its her intamacy issues and there is nothing I can do. She also has told me that she doesnt have to be married and spends alot of time with other women that are divorced or miserable in their lives.
I love my wife and feel that I will ride the wave till January and show her how much I love her through different acts (cards, affection when she will allow it) and hope she changes (she said she would try).
Our marriage has had a couple of downs but alot of ups and three specail kids.
In the end all I can do is my best to save the marriage and vows I had taken with the woman that I love but sadly I cant make her feel the same love that I have for her.
In the event that she choses not to be with me its something I cannot stop but when if it comes time for me to heal at least I know I wore my heart on my sleeve and tried everything I could.

We will have been married for 9 years in October. Unfortunately my wife has lost the "in love with me" feeling over the course of the last 7 years. It's not her fault, but solely rests on mine as I have not been there for her. It started on the honeymoon when I lied about where we were going, needless to say it didn't go over well. While there have been some good times, she seems to only recall the negative ones, which she continues to tell me.

During her pregnancy, I made a few negative comments, which probably put a dagger through he heart. One the day of our son's birth I wanted nothing to do with the actual birth, rather sit and wait until my son arrived. No one seemed to be happy with me that day.

The last few years I have been a bit more reserved and focused on myself rather than my wife. She tells me I don't communicate and believes I am not able to have fun. All her friends ask her why her husband is mad all the time. Thing is, I'm not mad, but it's the outward appearance that is being read.

While I am still in love with her, she has many emotions going through her head. Love, hate, trust, communication. I have attempted time and time again to tell her I can change and be who she thought I was when we first met.

I am working on finding a marriage therapist to speak with so we can work through the issues and move forward with our lives together and as a family. Not sure if you have any encouraging words, but I am open to anything.

I was seaching for answers and came upon this post. My wife recently told me that she has been unhappy for over a year and during that time spoke with a therapist about her issues. We have been together for 19 years and had sought out counciling 3 years ago and stopped going after we mutually said we had fixed our issues.
When my wife told me about this I was devistated and have started going to counciling again by myself.
When our problems first arose I blamed all the issues on myself and did alot of sole searching to find the things that made her unhappy and thought I had changed. I was even more devestated that she would never initially go to one on one sessions with our councelor and then sought out her own only months after we stopped.
She has given a time frame of january to make her decission but in my heart I feel she already has made it. She has told me its her intamacy issues and there is nothing I can do. She also has told me that she doesnt have to be married and spends alot of time with other women that are divorced or miserable in their lives.
I love my wife and feel that I will ride the wave till January and show her how much I love her through different acts (cards, affection when she will allow it) and hope she changes (she said she would try).
Our marriage has had a couple of downs but alot of ups and three specail kids.
In the end all I can do is my best to save the marriage and vows I had taken with the woman that I love but sadly I cant make her feel the same love that I have for her.
In the event that she choses not to be with me its something I cannot stop but when if it comes time for me to heal at least I know I wore my heart on my sleeve and tried everything I could.

We went to counseling he quit going. I have left cards and notes. Taken all the blame that I find to be mine. Much of it I didn't see prior to reading the many books. He just says now I want to fix it, that he threating divorce. Friends have tried to meet with him he won't. He has not told me that he knows he wants a divorce just says he doesn't know yet. Just tells me to leave him alone

I am so sorry. Lea.

Good for you, BK. Marriages do mend. In fact, 80% of unhappy marriages that don't result in marriage are happy when researchers check in again 5 years later. Spend these months wisely, and yours could be one of them.

Stephen, I salute you for looking for a therapist. There are also things you can do right away, before you find one. If she's lost the "in love" feeling because you've been focused yourself, it ought to be rather easy to do more than just talk about changing. You can shift your focus in the next five minutes. If she remembers bad things from years ago, it's because she's had many opportunities to feel threatened, to fear she's lost your love. That's where the mind goes at times like that. You need to increase the ratio of positive interactions and negative interactions to at least 5:1.

If you need help doing that, check out the books How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It and The Five Love Languages. And see your doctor; it sounds like you might be suffering from depression, and there are many ways to get out from under it. It is much easier to love and laugh when your brain chemistry cooperates.

Withdrawing (aka stonewalling) is one of the "Four Horsemen" John Gottman's research has revealed as predicting a marriage will fail. (The others are criticism, contempt, and defensiveness.) It's entirely within your power this very day to remove it from your marriage.

Hi Patty,
Just a side note for everyone that appears to be going through the same situation as me.
Marriage like anything else has a series of peeks and valleys. Everyone has there arguements and other issues. I myself cannot comprehend why a person that loved you one day can loath you the next.
You cannot beat yourself up for what another person does or feels.
My situation is occurring about a month prior to my retirement which was supposed to be an awesome achievement for both myself and my spouse.
I had initially lost about 15 lbs due to the stress of my situation and was letting it kill me.
Then I realized that i have little power over another persons feelings and although my wife is the love of my life and best friend I cannot make her feel the same.
I have surrounded myself with a pretty solid support group and councelor that are assisting me through everything. I also have changed my attitude and joke about my weight loss as the "stress diet" and was hoping to possibly publish a book.
For all of you reading these posts and going through the same nightmare find a good support, group be strong (I know its tuff)and in the end do the best that you can to repair your marriage. Win or lose you did your best, will learn about yourself, and be better person.

Thanks, BK!

my husband walked out 2 weeks ago kissed me told me he loved me that he needed to go and he didnt know when he would be back. i call him everyday multiple times a day (pushy yes but he moved me 3hrs away from everyone just 2 months ago n now he gone back there!) things hadnt felt right for a long time ive found things that would suggest hes cheated (with men) but he swears on our kids he hasnt. he told me on thursday after an appointment with a psychologist that he wasnt coming back. weve been together 10 1/2 years have 3 small children and he says hes not in love with me anymore and that he never can be again.. after thinking about it we spoke 24hrs later and i said how does he know he can never fall in love with me again? i think its a pretty legitimate question since i have stood by him through some really major things. he says "i just cant see it" ive asked that he come and try counseling and said if he doesnt then when the kids ask why isnt daddy here ill say " he doesnt care enough to be" because to me if you truly care about your kids and wife ( he says he cares about me n loves me but as a friend) you will try everything possible to get that back! he says he is thinking about it n will talk to me on monday just under 48 hrs away am i delusional to think he might try? i just cant understand it at all that if he truly hasnt cheated then why wouldnt he want to try?

Just a guess, but he might be wrestling with whether he's gay, even if he has not actually cheated on you. That's a big thing to deal with, pitting his integrity (his marriage vows) against his sexual identity. He may have even moved you away to escape dealing with someone pressing him to break his vows and "free" himself. Or maybe such a person found him where you moved to, and he's gone back to be free of either influence.

I would strongly urge you *not* to tell your children their father "doesn't care enough." If he comes back, as you appear to hope he will, or if he makes room for them in his life, they may distrust you or him going forward. If he doesn't ever come back for them, they may agree with you, but it diminishes their sense of who they come from, and this does not help them find their way in life. They would be much better believing he left for reasons that have nothing to do with his character or his feelings for them.

For now, be loving. He may have left for another woman or for a man, but such affairs very seldom lead to permanent new relationships. Or he may have left to go deal with some huge problem he was running away from when he moved you, and he may succeed in fixing it. Shaming backfires, especially with men, when you're trying to restore a relationship. Be loving and rekindle the fire if you get the chance.

I'm 42 and my wife is 29 and we have been married for one year and have been together for 2 1/2. We met at work and fell in love, moved in together less than a month later and she was pregnant 2 weeks later. 5 months ago she and her mother drove to Tennessee for her aunts funeral. Two days after returning she told me she was moving out. She said she loves me but isn't in love with me. We tried dating for a couple of months but she decided it wasn't gonna work and asked for a divorce. I did the typical begging and pleading to no avail. So i took a couple of weeks to come to term with it and hired an attorney. About a week later she called and asked if we could hold off on the divorce cuz she had so much going on. Of course I agreed. Within days we started talking more and texting more which was a change. Up to this point she had avoided me like the plague. Then one nite she let herself in and crawled into bed with me. We had sex and asked if I still loved her but made a point of telling me nothing had changed. Since then we have had a few meals together and she calls to fill me on on her day. This weekend we went to a concert together and stayed in a hotel together. In two weeks we are going to a Denver Broncos football game. I haven't had the guts to ask her what is going on and she talks as if we aren't together. I love this woman dearly and besides our 19 month old son I've adopted her 3 year old daughter. She grew up as a pentecostal and I believe this religion has affected her. She's been married before, basically having her husband picked for her when she was 17 and was married for 8 years. Its the first time in her life she's been by herself and I'm sure she's enjoying it but I need your thoughts on what is going on and what I can do to bring her home. She had said I complained to much and overreacted to much. She has mentioned that she's noticed that I have changed which is something I've been working on. So, what's going on and what do I do from here?

Sam, I am trying to piece together the timeline of your wife's story. She married at 17, in what sounds like an arranged marriage. She divorced at 25, had a baby at 26 whose father is now dead or disinterested in his child, went back to work, met you there six months later, was pregnant again less than 6 weeks after meeting you, gave birth 19 months ago, married you when the baby was 7 months old, and left you five months later after spending some time with her mother, the woman who chose a husband for her before she was old enough to finish high school and had no say in her choosing you.

She grew up in what was surely a restrictive household, and chose you, a man 50% older at the time, to take care of her and her first infant. And despite the greater wisdom usually conferred by age, you took no precautions against creating another child before you even got to know each other, joining the two of you in some sort of relationship for at least the next 18 years.

When she left, she complained you complain too much and overreact too much, and she's enjoying living by herself and dictating when you see her.

I am not a therapist, and I have never met you or your wife, so I am going to throw out an idea, but you will need to see if it fits and decide if you could use some professional help in dealing with it. My guess is that the love she experienced as a child often left her protecting herself against being forced to ignore who she is to be who others expect her to be, but having to watch that she doesn't go too far and find herself unloved and left to fend for herself while too young to do so.

As a man with a good many more years behind you than she has, you may have a hard time allowing her to be your equal in the marriage. And you may not even be aware of this, feeling you are protecting her from decisions you have already learned are not good ones when you veto her. But you can't hold onto her unless she becomes your equal. After all those years of fearing asserting herself, she can finally do so and survive it. It's not just you she's dealing with right now. It's also her childhood.

Expectations, your notions of what she ought to do if she loves you, create resentment, and resentment kills love. Instead of saying no to her, you must find ways to say yes to her and still get what you want, too. This means finding Third Alternatives. Look for this category in the Assume Love blog, because it is a powerful tool that will make it a lot easier to become her equal and her beloved husband. You two still must deal with those two children, so start using it there until she sees it works. Then start using it on the issues that make it hard for her to live with you (or anyone else with an opinion).

Thank you for the comforting words in this post. I have read dozens of pages on the Internet trying to find some comfort after my wife whom I have been with for 20 years informed me that "she loves me but is not in love with me anymore". This was the first one that I read that connected with me.

I know that she is struggling with a number of major life changes that have brought about her unhappiness and confusion along with some other past issues that she has never adequately faced . I realize, that while I am not perfect, most of her unhappiness has little to do with me although she is having trouble seeing it. It is particularly difficult for me right now because she still says I am her best friend and a wonderful father to her children. If I was abusive, a cheater or a bad dad, this will all be so much easier take.

I know my failing has been lack of Quality Time. But that is difficult to fix right now as she is disengaged and wanting space. My efforts to be supportive have resulted in her begging me to back off.

I want to help her secure what she is looking for. My biggest challenge now is I'm not sure I can learn what it is because I don't think she know what it is either. Hopefully, the counseling she is seeking will help with that even though it is incredibly difficult for me to wait through the process as I am a "fixer" personality and want to get things back on track much quicker than it is possible to do at this stage.

Again, thank you for your comforting words. I want to be one of the people to support her dreams and plans. I just hope that she will let me.

Allen, I truly hope that you two find your way back to a better way of loving each other. While you cannot offer Quality Time to someone who wants none of your time, you can do a thorough review of how you use your time now and make the changes that will allow you to offer more of this. As my own first marriage was going downhill, I never once thought of how to get rid of my long commute. When I had to after his death, it was scary, but it landed me within walking distance of his old office. I realized how very different our lives would have been if I had done this two years sooner.

My husband and I have been married for 11 years. we have 4 beautiful boys together. Several years ago my husband had to leave and go back to his home country. The kids and I would go every summer to visit and stay with him for the whole summer. My question is lately my husband has been distance towards me and when I ask him he says I am the one who is distance from him. I admit things are different. Us living apart has cause some problems but I love my husband with all my heart and I know he loves me but things are just different. I feel his actions does not agree with his words. please help me

Hello, im having some difficulty in my marriage. It started going downhill after my mother died in March. In May of this year she asked for a temporary separation as she needed space from me to clear her thoughts. However i had just had knee surgery and really couldnt go anywhere because of course couldnt walk. Then we were together for a month and half and the ugly monster reared its head again. On July 17th she asked for another separation, even though things had been going great. This time i agreed to this and bounced around to different places for about a month. I then had no where to live and couldnt afford my own place as i was still paying for everything. So i moved back in and am staying in the kids room. it has been 3 weeks and for the most part it has been okay. Oh, she did ask for a divorce in July as well and just last week, she told that she still wants a separation, but not a divorce. She is thinking anywhere from 6 months to a year. We are still having intimate moments, spending alot of time together, laughing and so on. It confuses me greatly and i always bring up "why are you wanting this again" Now i should i mention that i found her talking to another guy over email in May as well. She doesnt tell me anything, but i have found stuff that suggests that she has cheated on me, physically. She has said that she has been to his place, he has been to our place. They have kissed and hugged. But thats all she has told me. We have been married for 7 years on 08-26-2013. I feel she is going thru a midlife crisis. She tells me that she is not in love with me, but that she loves me. We have 2 kids together and 4 total. Im just so confused as to what to do. Im a very forgiving individual and can and have forgiven her. i just dont know what to do. I dont want it to be over as i love her dearly! Please help...

Wow, Chris. This sounds like a truly awful year for you: your mother's death, knee surgery, and a wife who wants out.

Loves you but not in love with you is not really a midlife crisis. It's a marriage crisis. It means your marriage may have been giving you enough of what you want from it, but not enough of what she wants from it. Lots of people measure the health of their marriage in intimate moments of physical pleasure, unaware that they are married to someone who measures its health in intimate moments of emotional support, a sense of teamwork, or a sense of financial security.

It sounds like you are attending to the Love 2.0 emotion of love opportunities, but she still wants a break from her responsibilities as your wife. It sounds like it might be to test-drive a replacement (usually a disastrous approach--marriages generally don't work or fail because of who we chose). But it might be more than that.

You might want to read some of my blog posts about Finding Third Alternatives. You could offer to find a Third Alternative to the separation/together as we've always been options that only work for one of you. Find out what she hopes would be different on her own or with a different man. Let her know what you value about the relationship you have. Then look together for a way to have all of this without putting your two older kids through a second family breakup and your two younger kids through their first.

You will need to be creative and open to change. Some of us need help generating ideas to choose from. I invite you to post here what specs you two come up with, to ask my many readers for input on what might work for you.

Patty,
My wife and I have been married for 13yrs. We have had our fair share of ups and downs, with the most major being in 2007. (she had an affair). I handled this badly by speaking to a female co-worker who had divorced 3 times...and was open when confronted by my wife. After, I ceased talking to her unless is was work specific. Time passed, and all was going alright. Recently, I deployed overseas for 6 months. It was all "I love you" and happiness until a troop of mine died, and I was very stressed. My wife called, and my phone was forwarded to a female co-worker...and she stopped talking to me. (She was working two jobs, started college, and our the basement in our new house flooded). When I found out about the basement (I received numerous notices stating she hadn't responded and a claim would go unpaid)...I finally got ahold of her and asked if she could fix my house. This wasn't good as I said "my"...and I acknowledged to her I choose my words wrong, but I was very stressed. Still...no communication after this for a few weeks. I spoke to her on 11 July, and begged her to open up to me...but no communication was given on her end until 1 September. I still send her "I love you" and "I'm sorry" messages daily. Upon return, she said she was upset that life was all military and she felt like she couldn't pursue her dreams. I failed to see many of the signs...I really thought things were alright...never thought divorce was even on the table. It was alright when I left and during the 1st month I was away. Now, she said she can't do it anymore. I have accepted my part in failing to communicate, and I'm not placing blame on her. I've even helped her with college enrollment, payment, and course work. She mentioned moving out, and I said I would leave the house if she wants me to. We still live together...but I'm worried. Another issue she brought up was moving so often to which I immediatlly submitted paperwork to remain in place until I retire. I'm hopeful she sees that I truley want to listen to her feelings, and make her happy...but feel lost. Also, she's been going out a lot and I don't get too picky on this. I've always wanted to her get out, and don't question this as it's nice that she has friends to talk to. Any advice?

Blayne, I just discovered your comment from July, unpublished, hidden deep in my comments folder. I do apologize for missing it back then. Because many still read this post every day, I want to be sure they get a chance to see what you have learned from your pain. You may save someone's marriage. I sincerely hope that things have turned around for you and your wife since you sent this, and I would be happy to reply to an update with suggestions.

Melissa, I just discovered your comment from July buried deep my comments folder. I am so very sorry I did not reply at the time and so sorry for your pain. Because so many people still read this post daily, and because you obviously learned a lot from this huge shock, I had to publish it. Your insights will affect others who don't yet understand what's gone wrong in their marriages. I will avoid making any suggestions so long after you wrote. I would love to read an update, and I would be happy to reply with suggestions if you are still working things out with your husband.

Eric, I have just found a bunch of overlooked comments in my comment folder. I apologize for being so late in answering. I sincerely hope that your girlfriend has not called it quits.

It can be very hard to give someone space to think. And I really don't believe it's what most of them actually want. I believe most respond well to being treated with love and respect. Unfortunately, in our fears, we often hound them with requests for reassurances instead. When someone asks for space to think, they have no reassurances to offer. This is when it helps to keep expecting and looking for signs of love instead of asking for them.

It sounds like you have come to a great understanding that will change who you are and how you love. It would be awful if she misses out on this. I hope you will let us know how things are going now, almost a month later.

Michelle, distance creates distance. When you can be together, it is better to create moments of closeness than to question the distance. You might also want to budget to be together more often if possible, maybe even leave the kids with relatives to visit one-on-one for a week mid-year. You might also want to invent your own long-distance version of date night or to invent a ritual of daily love letters or weekly poetry writing for each other.

You two surely have three things pulling you apart. The first is the long periods apart. The second is the reinforcement of your different cultures by each living in the one you grew up in. And the third is your tighter relationship with the children because they live with you and in your culture. Even when families are able to live together, as they grow in size, fathers often begin to feel like outsiders. Since men thrive on respect and trust, feeling like an outsider to their wife and kids can make them feel unloved.

Rich, I get the impression you are the sort of guy who hears about a problem and fixes it. This works great in the military, but it often backfires with a wife. Feeling intimate with you means feeling she has something to contribute to your decisions and you have something to contribute to hers (but won't make them for her). While your wife may be tired of moving, you may have removed the need to move before she got to a place where she wants to stay. She wants to pursue her dreams, and you have helped with college, but college might not be her dream. It might be a way to afford dreams if she has to leave you to pursue them. You had a great loss in your life when someone who reported to you died while you were deployed, and instead of trusting her with your grief, you went incommunicado and left her to deal with problems back home on her own or by talking with your female colleague.

Ask her about her dreams. Don't jump to any conclusions and don't offer any suggestions until you have asked as many questions as a magazine reporter would ask a famous musician or best-selling author about what she wants to do next and why it turns her on. Just hear her out and repeat back what you think you've heard, to make sure you get it all correct. Pretend your editor and fact-checker will be scrutinizing your version of her story. You might want to take her out for a nice dinner while you do this, or go for a walk in a place you both love. Once you've heard the whole story, ask her, "How can I help?" Then listen some more before you suggest anything. After each suggestion, ask, "Would that be a help?"

You have taken some good first steps. It sure sounds like you two could find your way back to a loving and mutually supportive relationship.

Rob, it looks like a bunch of comments in mid-August got buried in my comments folder, and yours was one of them. Four tough years financially, a move, and a relationship with someone outside your marriage is certainly plenty to rock the boat. I hope your work with the counselor is helping the two of you find points to work on in your marriage. I am really glad you two are seeing one.

I have said a lot in other comments on this post about falling back in love by working on the emotion of love, paying attention to the unexpected ways in which you are loved, showing love in your mate's Love Language, making your wife feel special in your life (even when what you would want is to feel respected). You might also want to work even harder on the financial issues that separate you. And if you're dealing with infidelity, be sure to check out http://dearpeggy.com for great tips.

HI,
3 months ago my wife came to me and asked me for a DIVORCE! I was blindsided i didn't know what to say. We have been married for 26 years and dated for 4 years before that. She was fifteen when I met her and I was 18. We did split up a couple of times before we were married but have been faithful to each other our whole married life. We have 3 beautiful children our oldest son which is 23, our Middle son which is 20 and our 16 year old daughter. About a year ago my wife started coming home from work and sitting at our bar in the kitchen listening to that 70's love song music and always looked like she was in tears. i tried to asked her what was wrong but i never really got an answer from her and over the past year i have noticed her changing , the look in her eyes and the way we kissed were just some of the changes I noticed. i really did not understand how she was feeling or what she was going through. Until she just pop up and asked me for a DIVORCE. She begin to tell me at this time that she had been trying to tell me to fight for her, that she needed to be First in my life. That she was was not happy anymore and didn't think that she would ever be happy with me again. That I had put the kids first and the pets second and put her last in my life. That she needed to see after 30 years together what life was without me. I did know what to say, yes I made mistakes in our marriage but I didn't realize that in the last year the battle she was fighting was to make me aware of how she was feeling. My wife is 44 and I am 47 we still live in the same house and still sleep in the same bed but she doesn't like me to touch her in anyway. She said that she does not have it in her to try again but she will not take me to court to divorce me. We still do some things together but she has made it clear she is standing up for her self now. We still tell each other that we love each other everyday but there seems to be a wall she has put up between us and she will not let it down. Neither of us has left even though we have had several heated discussions of one of us leaving. She works in the law field so i would think that if she wanted me out she would find a way to get it done. She keeps saying to me that I am a good man and that she loves me but she cannot live under a microscope and be controlled anymore and that she standing up for herself. She doesn't really bring up the kids that much maybe because they are older I'm not sure. The one statement that keeps coming up is that she not happy with me and doesn't think she can ever be happy with me again. She is will to go to counseling with me but I'm not sure if she is really going to try if we go. She has given me a time limit on the counseling of one month if nothing happens in that month she's done. I'm working very hard to change everything that I have been doing wrong but it seems every time I start doing something right she says " it would have meant more a year ago." She just refuses to let me back in because she doesn't believe in me anymore and believes it will go right back to the way it was before. I love this lady with all my heart and soul and I would give my life for her with no questions asked. I believe she still loves me , but she is not going to live the way she has been feeling for the last year. How do I make her believe in me again? I want her to be first in my life forever but I not sure I can if she will ever let me back in to prove it to her. Please help me!

I am so sorry for the pain you are going through, Matt. I am glad that she is willing to see a counselor with you. It sounds, though, like she expects the outcome to be a change in you that she can trust is permanent. She's not yet ready to consider any changes of her own.

This means you need to lead, as Harriet Lerner writes in The Dance of Anger. You need to lead, and you need to expect that she will at first misinterpret your lead. After dancing step-touch-step-touch-step-step for so many years, when you lead her into a turn, she will at first think you've nodded off and gotten the steps wrong. So you wait for your next opportunity and try the turn again, remembering that the real job of the person who leads is to make the person who follows look like a truly great dancer.

I doubt it's coincidence her pain began when your youngest reached the age your wife was when she met you. You have been part of all of her adult life. There is no way for her to separate her disappointment in the dreams she let slip away or the chances she did not take from her disappointment in the life she's built with you. But now she's watching her three children start their own lives, just as she's losing her identity as mommy.

You cannot fix all her pain, but you must know the pain is there, fueling her feelings about her future with you. And she does not want you to fix it, only to let her know you feel it and wish it were not so.

Many men say, "I would die for her." And I believe they mean it. For men, relationships are about respect and loyalty. For women, just because we have different hormones, they are about something slightly different. She longs to hear, "I would give up my Saturday afternoon for her." Or, "I can think of no better use of my money that to buy her something that brings beauty into her life when she's not expecting it." Or even, "I want to be seen in public with this wonderful woman, showing everyone how lucky I am."

As this is a time of transition in roles for her, she's likely to be a bit prickly, like a teenager. You don't want to belittle or put down her ideas for changing her life. She needs courage to make changes, and it's likely you have been her source of courage through many trials. When she's coming up with some crazy idea that will affect you, try to be encouraging first. Then you can go for a Third Alternative (see that category on the right side of the page) that gives her the boost she's seeking without rocking your world more than you can handle.

I think it's great she has not filed for divorce. It means she's still hoping it's not necessary. For those who manage to postpone divorcing, 80% go from a very unhappy marriage to a happy one sometime over the next five years.

Because all she has stopped while considering divorce is sex, I think there is a chance she's recognized this as your love language, and she's making a play (not a very skilled one, but a heartfelt one) for you to adopt her love language before she takes your back up. You might want to visit Gary Chapman's www.5lovelanguages.com for ideas.

I have my fingers crossed for the two of you, Matt!

i need help...i have known my wife for 8 years and will have been married in Dec for 5. We had such an amazing time when we first meet. We would go out and have fun but then she got pregnant with our first child. After he was born i asked her to get married and she said yes. Skip to today we now have 2 kids and i thought everything was going great until i found out she had kissed another man. I got very upset and didn't handle it in the best way. We decided to go to marriage counselling so that we could work on our issues. I discovered in the sessions that she has been sexting other men for a good amount of our relationship. I told her i forgave her and that i knew that i had issues as well. I was not condoning what she has done in the past but i know that i have not given her the attention she deserves, lack of communication, have been needy etc. Well 3 weeks ago she decided that she wanted to separate for six months to see if she wanted a divorce. I was heart broken. She said that she just doesn't have that same affection for me anymore. That she feels so guilty when she looks at me; she has even taken all of our pictures down in the house because she says in makes her cry when she sees us together. I dont know what to do anymore. At first i wrote her love letters. Dropped them off at the house twice a week. She said she loves reading them but makes her feel bad because i love her so much and that it hurts her how she has emotionally cheated on me for so long. Then about 2 weeks ago we went out as a family to get dinner had a great time. the next morning she texted me and said after the 6 months was over she wanted to get back together because she felt that it was for the best. i was ecstatic to say the least. I gave her her space like she wanted still though. Well yesterday i asked if we could talk so i picked her up from her job and we talked for about 30 mins. She told me now she is leaning towards divorce at the end of the six months. I dont know what to think its so back and forth. i have bent over backwards when she needs help with the kids or just needs a break. I don't know what else to do or if i can do anything. i love this woman with all my heart. I am going to counselling now not for her but for myself. i Know that i have things that need to be changed to better myself and if we get back together will benefit both of us. She is so wishy washy. one day she wants me to stay over cause its "late" and sleep in the same bed. Other night it could be 10pm and she says see you later or she will sleep on the couch.

It hurts so bad to see her hurting. I just want to jump in and help. I know she needs her space but i worry that the more space i give her the more she will become distant and move on. She says we can stay best friends but who wants that....She has told me she wants to get to the point where she feels like she wants to love me not has to love me because of reliance on help, money, etc.

Her moods are so up and down but she refuses to get help. Ive explained that i love her and that even if we dont get back together i want her to get help because us not being together wont change the issues she has. But she always has an excuses not to get help.

Also i dont know if i should help her when she needs help. With the kids, yard, money. Im at the end of my rope and need solid advice on these matters.

Chris, it sounds like you are on an awful roller coaster ride. Must feel awful and leave your head spinning.

Assume Love. Ask yourself how you would explain your wife's behavior if you could be certain she still loves you. You have a much better shot at answering this than I do, because you know why you two got pregnant while aiming to have fun, whether it was birth control or fingers crossed for luck that failed you. You know why you waited until your first child was born to ask your wife to marry you. You know what harm you might have done to her perception of you in the wake of discovering she had kissed a man.

You know what happened in counseling when revealed she was sexting other men. You know whether that counselor (who actually met with the two of you and has the training to diagnose mental health issues, which I do not) raised the possibility of sex addiction as a problem for your wife. You know whether you did or did not do whatever exercises the counselor assigned to help you two rebuild trust and alleviate whatever resentment might have driven her bad choices. You probably know from that counseling if your wife did this to even a score with you or to get more sex than you could provide.

You are the one who can weigh all the facts and look for possible explanations based in her love for you. If you find them, the explanation will tell you how to proceed. They will tell you what needs to change for her love for you to turn again into feeling "in love" with you.

I am not a therapist, and I have not heard your wife's side of the story, so I will comment only on your report of what's happening. I don't think you can remain best friends, because you two don't sound like best friends now. I fully understand wanting to take six months apart to consider the consequences before divorcing, but you two are not apart. She has sex with you when she wants it, sends you away when she wants to, depends on your help with the things you help with when you're together. And you hang on her every mood swing to predict a decision that's still five months off, instead of brick-by-brick building a new relationship with her.

Guilt over harming you would not usually lead to separation or removing photos of the two of you. Even after my husband was dead several years and I was dating again, I found it hard to remove the photos of him and of us together, because my son lived with me, and we were still his parents. But after some time, I removed most of them from the walls to make our home more comfortable for those I dated.

The one bit of really solid advice I can give you is about helping with the kids. She doesn't need help with the kids; the kids need help from you, whether she asks for it or not, and you owe it to them.

You and she will remain co-parents for a long time. If your wife needs mental health help and you cannot convince her to get it, your children need protection from her problems. You might want to see a counselor who can help you grow stronger and figure out what they need.

If she's taking her sexting to the next level during this separation, your children need protection from you contracting any STD she contracts. If she's doing this while the kids are in the house, your children need protection from her bad judgment.

At the same time, they need to love their mother and to know that you wholeheartedly approve of them loving her. Instead of love letters to her, which she has rejected, you might write bedtime stories for them about all that is good about their mother.


I apologize i did not explain the situation correctly. Let me give you some back round on my wife. When she was five - seven her older cousin sexually molested her. He would tell her if she didn't do it he would tell everyone not to play with her. This went on for about two-years. When her parents found out her mom was very upset and wanted to press charges. Her dad on the other hand didn't press charges, it was his side of the family. Her aunt yelled and said my wife was making it up. so her cousin was never charged. Unfortunately my wife did go to some counseling but this type of trauma seems like something that would need to be helped the rest of our life. The marriage counselor did mention to me that the outcome of sexual abuse or molestation usually leads to the victim becoming more sexual promiscuous. The funny thing is im okay knowing this. I love my wife for who she is and everything even her scares. My wife is a great mother she is not having sex with anyone in our house or at all for that matter; at least at this moment. We both decided when we got separated that we also would not have sexual relations with each other as to not sway our decision to stay together or divorce.

the reason why i waited to marry my wife until our first was born, was to make sure she understood that i loved her and wasn't doing it because we had a kid together.

i also see my kids every other weekend as well as every wed for swim, Thursday for soccer practice, and sat for their soccer games. MY question is should i give her support when she asks so she can go out with friends or when she needs money? I want to help because i love her but at the same time i don't want to be pulled on a string and then let down after the six months is over.

As for the exercises my wife left me before the counselor could give us any. I'm just at the end of my ropes. I don't want to bother her but at the same time i don't want us to grow apart.

My wife and I have been married 8 years, we have 2 children (7&4). About 2 weeks ago, I returned from my second combat deployment. A couple of days after I got back, my wife informed me "she loves me, she just isn't in love with me," and she wants to separate. We have started counseling, but I'm pretty sure she (at least for the present ) she is only doing the counseling for us to try and stay friends for the kids.

I was completely taken off guard by this. During the deployment, I could tell there was some distancing, but I figured this was somewhat normal considering the situation.

I've started doing as much research and reading as I can, and am really trying to keep a positive attitude inspite of what I'm feeling on the inside. I'm committed to making my marriage work and am working on how I communicate, and really trying to make myself a better person. I'm just afraid she won't give it the time to see that I'm trying to improve.

I will most likely have to move out, but thankfully I have a place to stay less than a mile from our house. I really need help figuring out how to get our emotional connection back, especially while we are living apart. We have decided we will split custody of the kids 50/50.

She also says she isn't happy with our relationship anymore, but when I asked her what actually makes her happy, she told me didn't know, and would need to figure that out when all of this is done.

Hi

I could do with some advice!

I am a 36 year old male with a wife and 2 children. I suffer from a mental illness known ad OCD. I have had this all my life. I have started having help with this and was starting to come out of it using CBT. I have pushed my wife and kids away due to the illness and everyone around me. I have put on an act at work to make my customers happy. I am now faced with a massive problem that my wife now says she cares for me but doesn't love me like she use to and could never go back to the old life.

I suffer from stress on top of this as-well and work for her family which is very stressful due to the nature of the business. I have come home for the last 2 years with really bad OCD and wanted to hold my wife but couldn't as i felt ill and depressed and i thought she wouldn't understand.

We have had arguments and called stupid names which I fully regret, in-fact fully regretted them as i was saying it. I became paranoid and depressed even more to the point where i would think she was cheating on me.

I would worry when she went out not that she was cheating but if she would be safe. I would worry that someone may come along and take her off her feet whilst i was making her feel down.

To cut the long storey short I have had to let her go and she wants a divorce due to the past and doesn't want a future she still wants to run the business with me and we can be friends. She cares for me and is the nicest person I have ever met. In-fact everyone says the same. Everyone said she is to good looking for you and this did not help me either since i started to thin out on top either.

She loves our children as do I. I have finally started to come out of this depression but feel as though she could love me but at the minute there seems no hope. She wants to move the divorce quickly which again makes me paranoid as well.

I can change I know I have already started and I would love her fiercely more fiercely than ever known. But she wont come round. The last 2 weeks have been hell for me and I guess her, with me moping around and crying asking for forgiveness. I simply don't know what to do. We have been together for 15 years and married for 6 and have kids. I don't want to loose any of them.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards

Dave

David, I am so sorry you must deal with this awful illness and that your wife has reached the end of her ability to deal with it, too.

One thing I noticed is that you two run a business together, where you put on an act to make your customers happy. Watching you drop the act at home must make her feel she and the kids mean less to you than those customers. And now she's saying she's fine continuing to be around you where you put on the act, just not at home.

Is there a job you could do that would require less of an act during the workday, so that you could give your wife and kids the benefit of the act (and less pent-up stress) at home most of the time?

There are things you can do to slow down a divorce. Moping, crying, promising to change, and even asking repeatedly for forgiveness are not among them. Having fun, showing love, offering praise, solving longstanding disagreements, continuing the CBT, maybe even doing something fun as a family you could not do before (pay your therapist to come along if you need the support). And, of course, rescheduling appointments, making errors in the paperwork, contesting the divorce, and whatever else gives you time to re-win her heart.

If any of your in-laws can fill in for you, maybe take a week off from work. When your wife comes home from work, treat her even better than those customers at work. Instead of asking her to change her mind, tell her, "This is who I want to be now. This is who I intend to be. And you are who I want to be this person with."

And please let go of those mean comments that she's too good-looking for you. I am sure they come from men, who are far more visually stimulated than women. Research shows women are far more influenced by a smile than by head hair or physique. Give her as many of your smiles as you can. If you are depressed or anxious when she's around, exercise immediately. Ask her to go for a brisk walk or bike ride with you or go dancing. Her odds of seeing you smile will increase dramatically.

And you might want to Assume Love, which you may recognize as rather similar to self-disputing beliefs in CBT. The old brain / knee-jerk reaction to her wanting to hurry the divorce is likely to be fear that she already has chosen a replacement. What a scary thought. It would make anyone anxious.

Now ask yourself why would someone who loves you (even if she is no longer in love with you or able to handle the stress of your illness) want to hurry this divorce? How about to spare you the horrible anxiety of a drawn-out divorce to undo the good of your CBT sessions? Does this fit the evidence better than the knee-jerk scary thought? I think it does, because you two live and work together (leaving little opportunity for much of an affair) and she wants to continue working with you, even though it's her family's business (making anyone new in her life mad with jealousy).

I just found your site and am excited to read the various perspectives. I have been married 13 years, am 42, and just returning from a trip with my 2 kids from a foreign country for a month where they had the opportunity to learn a language and engage in another culture.

Before I left on this trip, I felt something strange between my wife and I, so I asked her (we used to check in all the time) if everything was alright between us. She said absolutely, all was well. I had before this actually taken steps to let her know that I was working hard to accomplish my work/financial goals and was sorry as they had made me a jerk (sniping, sarcastic and sometimes rude). Otherwise I am not perfect, but a (by others statements) wonderful father and excellent husband. I do not control my wife, nor have I treated her as anything besides an equal over the entirety of our relationship (by her own admission).

While gone, we talked about the year, how it started off well, but then we kinda slowed down. We talked about rebooting the relationship, and taking advantage of learning more about what was happening in our relationship.

I landed with my kids, feeling like a returning hero, giving her a parenting break, admitting my stress was hurting us, and ready to get to work on it. She treated me icily, cold and curt. I asked what was wrong, but no answer came. After a week of pressing, I asked her if she loved me, and saw a future with me (almost kidding in my question). She said she didn't love me, and did not see a future with me.

This was stunning as I had asked her just this summer about us, and had no clue whatsoever about these feelings. I immediately went into problem solving mode, as I am happy to admit when I am wrong, and will consider any sane approach to working together on the relationship. She said she did not know where this was coming from, why it happened, when it happened or what would happen. We both have flexible jobs, so I asked her to stay with me for few days to figure this out. She wouldn't.

She gave me no information for weeks, while my resentment, defensiveness and anger was building up. I begged for information, anything to help me make sense of the situation to no avail. I finally became incredibly angry as I felt lied to, betrayed and this situation was threatening not only me, but our family (most importantly the kids). I raged for about a month, then she wanted fully out, threatening divorce, and saying she was finished. I feel that I had no chance to change as these things were never brought up to me, never expressed and when they were, it was already a foregone conclusion that it was over.

We immediately went to a therapist (not so great-no guidance, just free flow), and are using a Gottman book w/ exercises to try to meet our agreed upon goals (find love again, have a happy marriage and family), but there is no progress. She doesn't want to wear her ring, but does it for me outside, and will not let me touch her. She says she is participating in the above for me, not her, as her mind has not changed. I am exhausted, angry, still loving but not in love with her and questioning my commitment when it does not seem she is the same. We have agreed to try to save our marriage, but she will say right after that she has no hope and that it is done. She wants me to just leave her along while we are in the same house with 2 kids who have grown and flourish with our individual and whole (us 2) caring and love. I feel I cannot fake things and it is difficult for me in social situations. I am now doing my best to give her the space she needs, but cannot deny the anger, defensiveness and feelings of betrayal. Where to from here? How long? Which direction? What hope? It is pretty tough from where I sit, as we still talk, share daily information, but the coldness of the night in bed (saying just good night, where we used to share our love for each other) is killing me harder every day. Help?

What you are dealing with sounds positively awful, Bill.

But it is not possible to get angry enough and resentful enough and demanding enough to fix a marriage. You must get loving enough and happy enough and grateful enough. And then you can look for Third Alternatives on the issues where you disagree.

You could start with something like this: "Thank you for not admitting how bad things were for you right before I left with the kids. It was a gift. I was able to be fully present with them."

Next, you might try: "Thank you for sharing a bed with me. I know you feel our relationship is probably dead, but it means a lot to me that we still share this. I would love for this therapy to show us the way back to each other."

If you're feeling defensive, you might want to look up Brene Brown's TED talk video on the value of vulnerability. When trying to rekindle feelings, you can only succeed by allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Defensiveness is one of Gottman's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, one of the big signs your marriage is going downhill, not up.

You might try something like this: "When I am under stress, I see myself becoming a jerk. I snipe. I'm sarcastic. I'm rude. And you are the last person in the world I want to do this to, but it seems to get worse at the end of the day. And the worst thing is I don't see it until the damage is already done, and then I feel helpless. Would you be willing to work with me to come up with a code word or a hand signal or, better yet, something silly that you could use as an early warning signal, before I've made a mess of things? Whether we resurrect this marriage or not, we're going to be dealing with each other as parents, and it would mean a lot to me."

As you shed some of your resentment and defensiveness, you might be ready to get to work on that "in love" feeling. There is some new research on what creates it. I described it in my report on Love 2.0 from last March.

I hope you two find your way back to a deep and abiding love, and I admire you for asking for and going to therapy and looking for answers on how to move forward again.

Our relationship started in highschool. We were together for 3 1/2 years before we got married in July 2004. We had our daughter 9 months later. During which time I gained almost 50lbs. Over the course of our realtionship I had discovered that my boyfriend now husband was "Fataphobic" but never thought I would have to deal with this because I had vowed to myself to always stay a skinny to average weight. So immediately after delievering our daughter I began dieting. 3 weeks later bought an ab lounge and treadmill and busted tail for 4 months and was back to my pre-pregnancy weight.
Over the course of that year I worked 2 Full-Time jobs and one part time job. My husband worked one job and watched our daughter. While we didn’t have a lot of family time what time we had was full of love, smiles and happy memories. When our daughter was 11 months old my husband decided he wanted to all the sudden with no discussion become Catholic. We had both been raised as Baptist and Upon this discovery, my first reaction was to leave him! God did not call us to be unequally yoked and this would certainly divide our household. But seeking God's truth I decided that I would stand by my husband because he was indeed the leader of our family and that I would respect his wishes.
In the fall of 2006 I had left my part time job but was still working 2 full time jobs. My husband had changed jobs and was now working second shift. We rarely ever saw each other but when we did we were happy and in love. In Jan of 2007 we discovered we were pregnant with our son. Which to me was a great blessing and also quite frightening at the same time. I had heard from many people how much harder it was for woman to lose weight after their second pregnancy. So, I decided to eat a mostly vegetarian diet and walked during every single break at my jobs and then when I got home I would walk another mile.
The summer of 2007 my husband decided (due to prompting from a not so good friend of his) that he needed a motorcycle. So knowing my dislike for one, he went and got one anyway. In the fall of 2007 our son was born. I had gained 20lbs during my pregnancy and upon delievering I only had 6 lbs to lose to get back to my pre pregnancy weight. I still immediately started up my diet regimine and quickly found my self down an extra 20lbs.
I left one of my jobs and was now only working one fulltime job. I kept the weight off and spent my evenings walking our two children around a nearby lake. In Summer 2008 my husband was moved back to first shift. We got to spend more time together than ever before. But things were just a little bit different. Yet again we found out we were pregnant with our 3rd child which we ended up miscarrying. Two days after I had miscarried my husband said he had went to a dr and was going to get a vasectomy! Yes, only Two days after! Considering we had discussed having 3 children before we got married I was very upset. This was a decision I would not support this was a decision that I would not allow to happen. However, without my knowledge a month later he went in and had a vasectomy. Obviously this has caused a great deal of pain and heartache for me. But I still tried to give him any and everything he asked for.
In summer of 2009 he started becoming really controlling with me. He wanted to know where I was every 5 minutes. He would just show up when I was having coffee with my best friend and our kids and sit down. If my phone died or if I forgot my phone in the car he would leave messages every 10-15 minutes and eventually start cursing me in them. He became really jealous always accusing me of cheating but I never was/never would, I love him! But even with all the controlling he became distant with me and the children. He always had to know where we were or what we were doing. But he never wanted to be with us and he never tried to be home. He went to school 3 night and would go play dodgeball, and golf the other 2. His weekends were filled with riding motorcycles for 8-10 hours a day or going golfing. He was never home! This lasted until May 2010. I had had it! He obviously did not want to be married or have a family. So we would leave. I went to an attorney for a consultation. Had the money to file the separation papers and was on my way to pay for them when my husband got wind of what I was planning. He sat down with me in a 3 hour discussion and stated that he wanted us and wanted us to be a family and he was sorry and he would change. After a month of him being at home with us, I finally decided not to go through with the separation. But he was still controlling so I gained a few lbs and he backed off a little but not a lot so I gained a few more. And before you knew it I had gained 40lbs. He no longer cared where I was or who I was with.
In Feb 2012 a friend of mine said that she found out that our husbands had not only gone to a strip club but had gotten and paid for lap dances. I was absolutely gutted! I had decided to not say anything and to just let it go but after laying in bed beside my husband for 4 hours I couldn’t take it anymore and confronted him. He denied the whole thing. I didn’t believe him but he kept on denying it and as far as I knew he hadn’t ever lied to me before so. I left it. 3 days later I found texts between my husbands not so good friend and him about divorcing wanting to divorce their wives! What?! I was upset but let it go. Later I was looking on the computer for some poems I had written when I stumbled across 40 files of porn. I cried I lost it. I was so upset. But my husband assured me it was a virus that had put them there. And that he was having a bad day the day he’d been texting his friend and that he didn’t really mean it. I struggled with this for months but decided that I would stay, forgive, and try to make our marriage work.
Yet again, This year on my birthday, no less my husband tells me that I have gotten so fat that I need to lose at least 80lbs(I was 50lbs away from what I weighed when we met) before he can be “in love” with me again. And I find more porn on my computer in the recent places folder. Heartbroken, simply heart broken. I took on more hours at work and decided I need to lose weight. But its been harder this time around and after months of dieting and working out I have managed to only lose 18lbs.
The other day we were talking about what we wanted for Christmas this year and I asked for simply a pair of jeans. He said yeah, if you get down to 100lbs I will give you anything you want. What? I have never been a 100lbs the closest I have ever come was 128lbs! When we met I weighed 148-150lbs. This to me means that he has never been happy with the way I looked, not ever! Heartbroken doesn’t even describe how low my self-esteem is. I have lost another 6 lbs and still working on it. I have tried having sex with my husband but he says he is too tired doesn’t have energy or makeup some other excuse. Yet, he will spend an extra 3 hours playing video games. He will sleep in till the last possible moment before having to go to work. If I go to hug him he refuses to hug me back and kissing him feels like a chore that he is being bothered with.
Obviously, I don’t want our marriage to desolve. I still love him! My marriage is in need of repair. Thanks In Advance for any help/suggestions you may have.

*please excuse any typos/errors posting from a cell phone.

Patty-

Thank you so much-I know you are right. I will update over time.

Best,

Bill

Brooks, I have to agree. Your marriage is in need of repair. It sounds like it has been for a while.

I have a strong hunch that your weight is not the real problem, although it's served a central role in your marriage to date as the whipping boy for all your other problems.

Even though you gained very little weight in your second pregnancy, your husband purchased a motorcycle, a big symbol of freedom from constraints, and did so against your will, late in your pregnancy. As soon as he started feeling closer to you again, you became pregnant again. Even before you miscarried, he had decided not to go through this again. But I doubt "this" was a 20-pound temporary weight gain. It was more likely an increase in responsibility.

Vasectomies can affect sexual functioning, whether directly or because when normal problems occur, the surgery provides a reason to obsess about them. But after a vasectomy is not a surprising time for a man to toy with new forms of stimulation.

Soon, while spending lots of time away from home with friends (and perhaps in a strip club or two), it apparently became apparent to him that you might cheat on him, and he attempted to keep tabs on you instead of being present and loving with you, a foolish move that quite often backfires, as it did in your case.

So he comes back into the relationship but he's not convinced you have, so he can't quit controlling, so you gain a bunch of weight, handing him the perfect phony excuse for his growing porn problem and his attempts to control you into loving him instead of coming clean on the real reason why he's no longer able to have a good sexual relationship with you and why he's really avoiding sex.

It is truly just a hunch, but you might want to take a look at these websites and see if it's worth it to you to respectfully and lovingly get him to take a look, too.
Dr. Mark Laaser's website, Faithful and True
Gary Wilson's Your Brain on Porn

And here are two just for you, to help you prepare for this conversation:
My blog post, You Don't Have to Accept Porn
My blog post, Porn and the Otherwise Lovable Husband

I am not a therapist, and I am working from nothing more than the information you provided here, so if my hunch doesn't ring true, please ignore it. In either case, I expect you two will find the journey back to a happy and emotionally intimate marriage one that could use a guide in the form of a good therapist.

My wife and I have been married only 3yrs. Since we started dating 5 years ago she has been nagging me about being an absentee partner, meaning I don't actively work hard enough on our join responsibilities. We have also had a complicated sex life which meant it was infrequent. This caused more issue for her than me, but stemmed from my low testosterone and her criticism of our sex life.

In both cases we've had countless conversations where she asks me to change and I approach her request like a puzzle, constantly trying to find some new and creative solve since I'm a poor planner had little sex drive. The lack of sex and why became a snowball early.

In the past year we've gone through two miscarriages and have no kids otherwise. This has put all of those issues under a microscope and has my wife re-evaluating our marriage. Last week she told me she no longer thinks of me as anything more than a friend and she is already into full planning stage of life after marriage.

That bomb was what it took to give me clarity about my limitations. I have been getting hormone therapy for months and have, by her words, been doing exactly what she ever wanted. But, she says the damage is done. She has agreed to therapy but she doesn't want me touching her or sleeping in our room and prefers to spend time with her friends.

By living inside those rules I'm missing chances to reconcile. I've told her I agree and I know I've been wrong and nothing is more important to me than her. I'm afraid she's clinging to the momentum that got her to this place despite seeing months of change. No one in her friend circle has had a successful marriage side from the one newly remarried and in the honeymoon stage. Is she creating an environment that gets her out the door and what can I do to save us?

Yes, she is creating an environment that makes it easier to leave, Eugene. Which means it's not easy to leave you. I would take this as good news.

Therapy is a very good idea for the two of you, because she may (or may not) have been using your hormonal problems as an excuse for issues that were her own, which only became apparent after you started dealing with the hormones.

Surely sex is not the only way to show her how much you care, and this is definitely not a good time to conceive again.

You can make it harder for her to leave by taking over more than half your shared responsibilities (that's still fewer than you'll have if she leaves), by making her laugh, by leaving love notes or small gifts for her to discover when she's not with you, and by learning to do active listening. If you two celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve, you have three opportunities coming up to go all out to create new traditions to carry your marriage forward.

Hi Patty

My husband of 9 yrs just confessed to me that he didnt love me from the start. He was too afraid to call of the wedding. All these he tried loving me & be there for me when we have our 3 beautiful kids are all out of responsibility. He confessed he had to use visual stimulation to satisfy me in bed; he felt obliged. He wants to be free, to experience the world, he never wanter children in the 1st place, never want to get married. I was beyond devastated to know my life is all a lie.

He didnt want to leave for now cos he cant imagine losing them. We decided to stay for the kids but it kills me every day to see him. To know that your best friend, your confidante, the love of your life will never say he loves you ever again. My close friend believe that if I give him space, he'll come around. I doubt so. How do I pick up the pieces?

None of YOUR life is a lie, Nebula. It does sound like your husband thinks his has been. And perhaps it has, but right now whether he wanted children or not is a moot issue. Today, he cannot imagine losing them. And if he experiences the world without them, he will lose them. He is also likely to lose them if he stays in the family home acting as if you are just part of the furniture there.

So, he has a problem. A big one. And his solution is not working for either of you.

Unless "feel free and experience the world" is a euphemism for testing how many women he's still attractive to at this age or whether gay men find him attractive, you may be able to help him find a much better one.

A better one would be a Third Alternative, a way of letting him experience the world and feel free while preserving some parts of a marriage you obviously value a lot. There are a lot of posts on this blog about finding Third Alternatives. They are start with letting go of the two alternatives that conflict. For you, this means letting go of the idea that he will "come around" and you will go on living together as you have for nine years. For him, this means letting go of the idea that you five can be a family, sharing a home, with no love between him and you.

Your specs for a new solution must include letting go of a lot of expectations about each other, falling back in love, and building a new life together that is freer and lets you see more of the world as a family of five. But you two need to get a lot more specific. What do you fear about traveling or moving away? What do you like about it? What parts of loving matter most to you? Could you accept physical love without the words "I love you"? What expectations about his role are you unable to let go of? For example, would you consider supporting your family while you all experience the world? Could you let him involve the children in activities you would be too frightened to join in?

Once you have those specs, you will probably need a month or more of brainstorming idea to find your new path. In fact, if you want to share them with my readers, I will ask them to help generate some great ideas for you.

Patty-

Still working on the love building (see notes in the above comment section), but another note to help me and the other folks going through this out there. My wife (14 years) fell out of love with me, but is still working on it with me. She says she is scared that it will never come back, and even through she loves and cares about me, being in love does not seem like it is going to happen. It has been about 4 months of up and down, fighting, kind of making up, trying to find ways to come together and doing our best.

Staying focused on being loving and kind is pretty tough with the general pressures that are normal (kids-of course I love them- and work). Not quite sure what kind of recommendations (books, websites, videos) you can make for those in circumstances that require time. We gave it a year, and I am trying to be as patient as possible, but it feels like the clock is ticking down, and I become anxious. We have about 10 months left. Ideas?

Thanks! Bill

Thank you so much for the update, Bill. The best book on the feeling of being "in love" is probably Love 2.0 by Barbara Frederickson. A great book about making a long journey back to love is Project Happily Ever After by Alisa Bowman. And if you would like to become slower to anger or despair, you might check out The Resilience Factor by Andrew Shatté and Karen Reivich.

I found out a month ago my wife had an affair that lasted several months and she has since told me she's not sure if she still loves me. We have four children together ranging from 2-8. We work different shifts and spend little time "together." Five years ago my wife was diagnosed with cancer...while she was pregnant with our third child. We got through that but things have certainly changed since then. Since I found out about the affair we've entered marriage and personal counseling. My wife still doesn't know if she wants the relationship to continue. Even though I've been cheated on...I understand there is quite a bit of psychology behind that and am willing to forgive. Though it's only been a month, I find myself thinking very little about the affair but much more on how can we resurrect our relationship. My wife says one of the things holding her back is that she doesn't think she'll ever "get it back." I agree, I don't know how I can get it back either. I suggested that we need to establish a new bond....it's obvious the old one didn't work. She seems lukewarm to that. How do I allow her the room to figure out what the hell she wants yet fight like hell to keep this thing together?

The "it" you're trying to get back does not come back through thinking, Greg. It comes back through doing. And you must become just as terribly vulnerable as you were while courting her to have those experiences. You must picture yourself and your children and grandchildren gathering as a family with enormous love twenty years from now and want this so fiercely you're willing to look the fool to get it.

"It" comes from the accumulation of ten or twenty experiences a day over weeks or months. If you blow hot and cold, uncertain some days whether it's worth the risk, worth looking foolish for, worth doing without discovering who else would have you, then it's over six months or two years or longer.

Your wife is announcing she doesn't have the strength or will to be the power behind this, but she's willing to be on the receiving end, willing for it to work. Take this and run with it. You might fail. It happens. But look into your kids' eyes, pull out your wedding album, picture that future when the bond is rock solid again, and find your courage to endure the vulnerability.

Also, from my own hard experience, I want you to know that having little time together because you work different shifts is not a given. It's just a choice you two have made. If it's making reaching your goal a lot harder, give some serious, serious thought to how to make a different choice work.

I am hoping for the best for the two of you, Greg.

Dear Patty,
I am a wife who after 36 years of marriage, stormy one, is considering separation from husband. My case is hard because since our wedding day, my husband never stood by me from his mother's abuses, lies, slandering and plain meanness in public and in private. My husband has been accusing me of being covetous when before his mother died she was demanding money from him. At that time his older brother was in adulterous relationship with a young married girl with 2 sons and was stealing from my husband's parents (that brother left his 35 years marriage but had been committing adulteries ever since). I told my husband, she will only give the money to his adultering son and that's when he called me covetous. Then a few weeks ago, when he accused me of being greedy for getting all the money for the proceeds of a sale of a house. When in truth. he instructed me to do just that, to place the money in 2 time deposits in my name (linked to our joint accounts anyway) and he can access them. It has been a painful, emotionally trying relationship because my husband is passive aggressive. Maybe because of the domineering, slandering, lying really mean mother and self-righteous, self-serving father, I had a breast cancer a few years ago because of depression and I wanted to die then. Every wedding anniversary has been fights, not one happy event. Now my husband is really acting like his obnoxious ather, some things he did not do before, he is doing now. I always felt and told him, I feel like your mother, the way he treats me and now he is turning to be like his father. We have discussed this and he hated his father because of his father's selfishness and blow me, his parents' marriage is the most unloving, disrespectful and untrusting one in the world. Don't want to be in one like that. We are living apart at the moment but have not made it official. I am a Christian and don't want divorce but if I stay and he does not change, my cancer might come back because he can cause chaos from thin air. I think my marriage died on the day we wed when his mother told me that he promised not to marry anyone and when I told him, he just dismissed it. He even acted as if it was not true. I can not trust him, he is not connecting emotionally, he does not listen, he can not communicate. He has not said a word of appreciation for me. He threatened to punch me the last time we had a fight, for reason I couldn't figure out until now. I am more peaceful away from him. What do you think?

If it's time to go, you will go, but my sense is that you are looking for reasons to stay, reasons to hope it could be better. So let me offer a few of these. I'm not there in your shoes, so you will need to judge whether they might be true in your marriage.

(1) You have had a lot of problems with his mother. Some mothers are like that. One that I met literally banged on her married son's coffin and yelled at him for abandoning her. Most husbands cannot stand to be torn between a mother and a wife and behave badly (or stupidly) when stuck there. But your mother-in-law is dead now, and you remain upset, so I am guessing you are looking for something, perhaps an apology. Don't expect one while the grief is fresh, which can last up to a year. It would be like speaking ill of the dead, no matter how well-deserved it might be (and it sounds well-deserved). But when the time is right, ask directly for what you want. You just might get it.

(2) Both items you mention as upsetting you involve his accusation that you are being greedy or covetous. This is a great time to try to Assume Love. Imagine that you knew with absolute certainty that he's still the good man you thought you were marrying and he still loves you very much. What might explain such a man being overly focused on this issue and likely to see it when it doesn't exist, even in someone he loves? I'm betting in 36 years, you've gotten to know him and the other people in his life well enough to recall something in his life (not yours) that might be triggering this. You might have the sort of aha! moment others have had while Assuming Love. Once you do, it becomes a lot easier to get close again.

(3) You say he's becoming self-righteous and self-serving like his father. Did this begin before you separated, or is it perhaps in response to your movement toward declaring your vows done and taking your half of the assets? If the latter, is it reasonable to assume he would continue to be anything like his father if you two found your way back to love, especially now that his parents' marriage is over and he's not being asked (even indirectly) to support his brother's infidelities?

(4) You mention he doesn't say a word of appreciation. Hard to imagine where he would have learned how to do this. But perhaps he has in the past shown love with one of the other four Love Languages Gary Chapman details in his book: acts of service, quality time, gifts, or physical touch? With men, respect is important: you won't get any show of love by criticizing him for not using (or even knowing) a particular Love Language or by taking for granted whichever ways he shows you love. But as long as you do it with respect and love, asking for what you want does work much of the time.

(5) I can't imagine you've stayed married all these years if he's a low-life or a failure. I'm betting he has some character strengths that are now a big part of your wellbeing, maybe almost taken for granted. It's worth thinking about the strengths that drew you to him and how they (in spite of his lousy social intelligence and relationship skills) have evolved and benefited you over the years.

I don't think you should go back to a non-peaceful marriage. It's time to work some things out to protect your health. If they cannot be worked out, divorce might be your best option. But I really hope one of the five items above will help you find your way back to his love.

Hi

I'm so glad I've found your site.
My wife of 17 years has told me that she loves me but she's not in love with me. She cites problems we've had over the period of our marriage, many of the themes have been touched on by other posters.

She believes that I have not been present, preferring the computer or a book to her company; not wanting to have sex with her when she was willing; ignoring her opinion on important non family issues. The thing is, she's right. I can see her frustration. We've had several conversations about this and while things improved for a while - she felt (and she's probably correct) that they went back to the way they were.

I have tried to be attentive, stroking her feet while we watch TV, buying her flowers for no reason, buying presents when I travel. They now seem so superficial.

Now we're talking about divorce. We have told the children (14 & 16) it's a possibility. We're still talking -there are very few angry loud arguments and I take a positive from the fact she says she loves me even if she follows that with but....

I've suggested that we go to counseling, but she says she's not sure that she wants that, not sure she's in a position where she even wants to save our marriage.

I've promised her I will change, that things will be different but she rightly isn't ready to accept that's a possibility given my past behavior.

We're not going to do anything fatal to our marriage before Christmas but I'm shredded inside.

I see from other posts that I shouldn't analyze every little thing to see if things are going well or badly, but it's hard not to. I want to work at saving our marriage but if she doesn't have the same view, then this is over is it not?

Do you have any guidance, anything I can do to improve the chances of saving the marriage?

Your comment has been published with a reply:

Peter, did you ever enter a contest, one in which you felt you might have the talent to win against the other competitors? If you focus for even a moment on whether you are winning or losing, you cannot perform confidently enough to win. You must focus on what you can bring and then let the chips fall where they may. Winning back your spouse is just like this. Set a time limit for yourself and stay focused on winning at least until then.

Here are some other posts (with great comments!) that might help:
http://www.assumelove.com/2013/03/micro-moments_of_positivity_re.html
http://www.assumelove.com/2013/11/woohoo_a_great_example_of_assu.html#comments
http://www.assumelove.com/2013/10/how_to_have_more_fun_with_your.html
http://www.assumelove.com/2013/10/the_road_back_to_love.html

Patty

Thanks for your comment. So often the advice is to give gentle touches - to connect during communication - to surprise her with gifts. I am doing that but I'm still not sure if she wants to save what we have. Today - I fear it's over. We're just playing it out until after the holidays. What can I do to let he know I will change, I'm serious and I want us to be together? I know in the end it won't matter what I want - if she believes it's over, then it is.

Peter

Peter, she doesn't want to save what you have, and she will never believe you will change, only that you have changed. So it would be a real waste to give up over either of these.

What she wants is to feel "in love" with the man she loves. Touches, gifts, helpful acts, affirmation of her special qualities and talents, and time together where you are focused only on her and what you're doing together will all help. New routines (like goodbye kisses, coming home kisses, after-dinner thank yous, Tuesday treats, Friday date nights) will make it easier to be sure you have AT LEAST a 3-to-1 ratio of positive-to-negative interactions as you deal with her (I am hoping temporary) unhappiness and a 5-to-1 or better ratio while you discuss any conflicts.

Patty

I wrote twice yesterday. I find your guidance helpful. There have been more discussions over the weekend. This morning she told me she thought we should separate. It would give her time to realize if this is truly want she wanted - if she would be better off without me, although I would have unlimited access to the children.

I've convinced her we should visit a therapist. My view is that it might help save our marriage and point us in a new direction. I feel she sees a therapist as a way to manage closure.

I'll continue to show her that I love her, that things could be better but I fear she has already checked out.

What do I do now?

Peter

What you do now, Peter, is resist the urge to check out. You will feel vulnerable while you're the only one in, but you will survive it. A year from now, you two could be closer than you've ever been or you might be apart, but you won't be wondering what might have been if you gave it a chance.

I once heard an interview with a high-profile celebrity couple who had been married for 36 years through so many work-related separations and easy temptations. The interviewer asked how it was that their marriage survived when so many wither under that heat. He said, "We never both wanted a divorce on the same day." His wife smiled, nodded, and gave him a squeeze.

If you want a therapist who will resist a quick trip toward closure, check this website: http://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com/

Dear Patty,
About 6/7 weeks ago my wife of 4 years moved out (first to house sit and then to an apartment). We had met at school and then found eachother about 5 years ago and found out that we had always liked eachother. Due to her becoming pregnant we got married. Around this time I joined the Army Reserve and had to go away on a lot of courses and after I was commissioned as an Officer I took command of a unit which took a lot of my time in addition to my day job.

Although the extra money came in useful my wife never wanted me to join up and, rightly, felt I ignored that I did it anyway.

She moved away to where I live away from her family and friends. It is expensive and time consuming to get back to the mainland and this created isolation. She is quite shy and struggled to make friends. Add in the fact my mother, while well meaning, is intrusive, domineering and nosey.. all led to my wife feeling like she was trapped alone with our two children with no escape. Financially we had to move into the cottage attached to my parents granny-flat and this didn’t help her privacy when I was away with my parents always trying to “help”.

When she moved out I felt devastated but she said she needed space so I tried to be supportive on the outside. I helped her move some of her stuff and helped get the kids to and from. She took this as not caring and me being happy for her to move on.
I was doing some clearing on our joint computer and found she had been conducting a relationship with a much older work colleague. This cut me to the core and for a few weeks I have struggled with my emotions.
I can rationalise the affair as I believe I understand my failings. I wasn’t there when she needed me and I feel terrible that I could put the woman I love in such a bad place. I don’t feel anger, just shock and sadness that I brought this on myself and made her life miserable.
She doesn’t want to go to counselling as she thinks it is too expensive and a waste of the money we have.
It all seems lost with the standard line of “I love you, but I am not in love with you”.
We have kept close contact though and it is so confusing as she will come round and have meals, we spend most weekends together and she wears a necklace I bought her and still wears her wedding ring. She has even slept beside me in bed and let me give her foot massages while we watch a comedy shows… despite still seeing the other man (to the best of my knowledge). We spend lovely weekends with the children and I have tried to replace my tears and paranoia with trying to do nice things for her as I genuinely want her to be happy and to be the husband she deserves.

It is so confusing. I love her and wish I could turn back time, but can only move forward. I am in the process of resigning my Commission and want to dedicate my time to my family. This situation has made me realise how important they are to me and I have had more enjoyment out of my time with my wife and children than anything I have ever done. I have made some real personal discoveries. My fear is that it is too late as she is still planning to find a place of her own and the hugs and nuzzling my neck are just pity.

Dear Patty, I have been married to my husband for 2.5 years, living together for nearly 8 years, and overall together for nearly 11 years. We are 32/33. He returned from a business trip 4 weeks ago telling me he wasn't sure about our future, he wasn't sure I even like him anymore, and believes he's just a convenience for me to get a house and children, and he doesn't think he can go through with having a baby with me ever.

I was devastated it was a bolt out of the blue for me. He then proceeded to insist on a trial separation which would involve me leaving our rented apartment as it would be the only way to figure out his feelings. I did not move out but have been away for a few weekends to cope and try to get my head around what he is asking.

I came back to our apartment last night and he now says he doesn't want a trial separation, he just wants to split up because he just doesn't want to be married anymore, he wants to focus on his career and he believes that the fact I want a baby at some point in the future means that we can not carry on as he has changed his mind about kids. He would like to proceed to file for a divorce, he wants it to be amicable and doesn't want to fight with me, and he still cares about me very much, but doesn't feel he's in love anymore.

He has been very kind, cooking meals and doing the laundry and ironing etc, which he never really bothered with previously. He insists he wants me to be happy, keeps checking how I am, and insists that there is no other woman.

I started to clear out some things since he's made it clear we must eventually separate but he got upset and put everything back in its place. He doesn't seem to be ok with his decision but is insisting on going through with the break up.

I am so confused and I don't want a divorce, I'm hoping it is just a phase because of the new job he started in August which has meant he has been away on business trips each month. Is there anything I can do to pull this back from the brink. He is saying he believes a divorce is the right solution but he seems to be struggling with it at the same time.

My wife and I have been married for almost five years. I thought we were happy. Last week she said she was going out for a drink with her co-workers. She did not come home till 6am the next morning. That night I asked her what was going on. She told me that she was not happy and was not being herself anymore. She told me that she no longer loves me the way that I deserve to be loved. She told me that she didn't want to be married anymore. She left after that to stay at a friends house that is out of town. She has been gone for 6 days now. She will barely talk to me in text messages. So I wrote her an email and tried to be supportive and understanding. I told her that I take everything she said very seriously. I told her that I want to help her figure out why she is not happy and to take the steps to change those things. I told her that I do not know why she is not being herself, but I hope that it is not to make me happy. I told her that I love her for who she is and I want her to be exactly who she wants to be. She answered my email by telling me that she read it but had no response at the time.

I do love her and want to work out whatever problems might exist. I just feel that she is not telling me everything that is on her mind. I feel that she has convinced herself that divorce is what is best for her. This may be the case, but if we do not discuss the problems, how can either of us decide our future.

She says she is not doing anything behind my back. She offered that information, I did not ask. At the same time, I have very good reason to believe she is not staying where she says she is staying.

She has agreed to meet me tomorrow. How do I get her to open up? How do I save this marriage?

Emma, I am so sorry for the pain you must be feeling. You are confused. So is your husband. It's mind-bogglingly confusing to love someone and discover you can no longer tolerate living with them.

If he's not sure you like him anymore, you two may have simply become disengaged since the wedding, no longer sharing those daily micro-moments of positivity resonance I wrote about in http://www.assumelove.com/2013/03/micro-moments_of_positivity_re.html‎, my piece about Barbara Frederickson's latest research. That's the slow track to the death of a relationship (and not good for your health, either).

Or you may have become critical or condescending of him, especially during disagreements. These are two of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, predicting a much faster slide to divorce, according to marriage researcher John Gottman. Men are especially sensitive to both and tend to feel respect is the bedrock upon which you build a relationship, not something that ever needs to be earned.

Or the challenges of the new job may have given him serious misgivings about committing himself to the financial support of a child. There are Third Alternatives to the child/no child disagreement. But first you need to convince him you really do like and love him and are willing to find a better way of sharing your lives.

Your speediest route back is (1) don't pack or go away or threaten to do so or offer to do so unless it's unsafe to stay, (2) build up the number of daily micro-moments, (3) add at least three daily expressions of gratitude for all that he is and does, and (4) cease being critical and showing contempt -- if you have a problem or an unmet need, present it as your problem, not his, and ask for, don't demand, help with it.

Expect a few false starts, but commit to persisting at this for 3 months, 6 months, or a year before you give up.

Hi Patty

I wrote a couple of times over the weekend. It's been a difficult few days. To reiterate, my wife says she thinks our marriage is over, that she has checked out and now she's added she just doesn't feel attracted to me any more. She's talking divorce and separation. She has agreed to counseling and we start next week. She also said while I was away for business one night, she imagined what it would be like if I wasn't there permanently and it was 'odd'. Finally she says if we break up she'd still like to keep her best friend for all the positives I provide. My feeling - which I didn't articulate - was that I come as a package and if you reject part of me you reject all of me. I'm hanging in there - but it's hard. Reading all of the above - any new advice? peter

Peter, I tend to agree with you about being a package deal, but rejection probably is not your best move while trying to reignite the old flame. I might try, "If you want to be my best friend, help me with the one thing I want most in the world right now: to win my wife's love back."

Hi Patty, I am inspired by your idea of assuming love. The last three months have been by far the worst of my life. My wife of 10 years is the center of my universe. I have nobody else and I love her dearly. I would easily die for her. She told me that she wanted time apart while her parents were visiting and woke them up to tell them this at the same time. It was humiliating and harsh and I basically wanted to die. I stayed in a dumpy motel for a week then asked her if I could come back home and she stay with a friend since she has some friends who live in town (I do not). she did that and wouldn't tell me where she was staying, then just rented a house a couple weeks ago which again I have no idea where it is. However I am still paying for almost everything including now what will apparently be two houses. We only communicate via text. She says it is time apart, but also says it is just too late and she is scared of coming back and arguing and living a "broken record". In reality the only thing we ever fought about was when she would tell me that I was making her unhappy. I have always tried to fix it. But it is like everything I do to fix it makes it worse. If I apologize, or tell her she is beautiful (basically everything from the 40 day love dare), it just makes her mad or she ignores it and gets more angry. It makes no sense to me. I guess she feels I am not sincere even though I couldn't be more sincere. I am failing at giving her space because this is making me crazy. I have no idea how or why to continue on living without her. We have been so close and built a beautiful life together in a place where we knew nobody. But all she sees now is her anger and only the bad things and arguments that happened. The other day I finally saw her and we had dinner. She mentioned she had talked to a lawyer. I almost had a heart attack. She also at the same dinner said she loves me. She says she is scared and thinks I haven't changed. But how would she know just by text messages? I don't want to pressure her but I want to win her back. I have poured my heart out in emails of how regretful and sorry I am, and how beautiful she is. But it just makes things worse. I feel like my hope is running out and I am digging my own grave but don't know what I can do to salvage this, the most important thing in my life. It is especially tough by being separate and she can't see the things I have done to change and the help I have gotten. I don't know what to do, and not contacting her also feels wrong. I have tried everything, and have focused a lot on myself and the changes I need to make (being less sensitive, and more present, and more of the "man" in the relationship, and more focused on my real priorities (instead of work, tv and the couch). But how can she see that with only getting my needy desperate texts which is all I have to communicate with. I will never give up, there is too much good in our relationship to save. I believe she is also unhappy because of her career, age/self-image, and is possibly bipolar. I think she can't see that this crisis she is having has more to do than just our relationship but that is what she is blaming for all of it. I just want to help heal her pain and make her happy. I never wanted to hurt her, and seeing her cry has cracked my heart into pieces. Any words of wisdom would be very greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Bob, I feel for you. It sounds like your wife has let an unhappy situation get way beyond her ability to cope before letting you know it's a big problem for her.

It also sounds like you are very likely dealing with depression if your life had become work, tv, the couch, and relying on your wife for all your social needs. You are at risk, and you really should check in with your doctor about treating it. At the very least, please stick this hotline number in your phone in case the holidays or her next move worsen your feelings: 1-800-273-8255 or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

Keep Assuming Love. Ask yourself not "why is she rejecting me?" but instead "why would someone who truly loves me keep her address a secret for now?" Instead of "why did she humiliate me in front of her parents?" ask "why would someone who truly loves me want her parents present when she asked me to move out to give her space?" Your natural, human instinct is self-protective and knows nothing of love, only rejection. If you Assume Love and ask how her actions might actually fit with her claim that she loves you, you will remember things and put things together that might help you see your best path back to happiness with her.

Some things to note: apologies and telling her she's beautiful both address only one of the Five Love Languages that Gary Chapman writes about. You might not be speaking her language yet. Try the other four, especially the one he calls Quality Time.

Whenever you write one of those desperate text messages, save it in draft form for at least 12 hours. You are right: they definitely are not helping. During those 12 hours, get out and do something you enjoy (or try some creative project at home -- woodworking, baking, painting the walls, sculpture, even finger painting). Write a text message about what you're doing and how much you are enjoying it. At the end, allow yourself one "I love you" or "miss you." Send that message instead.

When a woman says she loves you while going through a period like this, she means it. She wants to make things work. But she's already gone through the panic you're going through now, and she's already on the "I guess it's over; I can't fix this" side. But it's not really over until both of you get there.

Your strategy should not be to plead but to entice. Create something new for her to check out. If all you get is dinners, make them upbeat, happy dinners, something she will want to repeat. Repeat enough of them and you'll be moving them back into your dining room -- and then she can observe firsthand what's changed for you. If you use them as a courtroom to plead your case, there will be fewer and fewer of them. And, as you've already noted, words don't carry a lot of weight with her. So show her a different side of you. You are an articulate and conscientious man capable of lots more than the routines you accidentally fell into.

I have been married for 3 years with my wife and have know her for almost 11 years. When we first got together in high school things were great, but after we moved in together things started to get worse. We started arguing a lot and has even gotten physical with us at times. The worst thing i have done was push her down and i'm not saying thats ok either. She has pushed me down the stairs and has scratched my neck giving me a scar. After we got married she could not stand my mom and just recently told me that just the fact that she is her mother in law makes her sick. She says that my mother is mean to her and degrades her and i do not say anything to her about it. I must admit that i have brushed stuff off a lot not that i didn't care but because i just didn't want to deal with it. I used to have a gun in the house and when we got into an argument i told her that if she didn't want me in her life or my mom then she could shoot me. She did not like that and i knew it was a stupid thing to do. I have played like i was going to commit suicide just to get her to wake up and listen, but that was wrong as well. I have tried to get her to go to counseling with me, but now she does not know what she wants to do. She wants to separate now, but does not want a divorce. She wants to move in with her parents and work on herself. I was really crushed by this because i truly believe in marriage and trying to make it work no matter what. I always romance my wife whether its giving her roses, text messaging roses, or just telling her i love her everyday. I'm the type of guy that loves to cuddle with my girl at night. I do not know what to do and i do not want to lose my wife. I sometimes get so down that i just do not want to go to work and cry. Please help!

A separation to work on yourselves does not seem like a bad idea, especially if you both agree to remain true to your vows and to actually do the work. You can see a marriage counselor on your own, maybe learn some more effective ways to get your wife's attention than threatening to kill yourself or inviting her to kill you. And maybe some ways to manage your frustration and anger, so you are never tempted to hurt her, and some ways to help defuse her anger, too.

Learning how to handle differences between your mother and wife could also be helpful. A lot of men try to just stay out of it, infuriating both women. A counselor can help you with ways to get your three-way relationship in good shape. Generally what's going on is that your wife is an adult dealing with another adult woman, but when your mother is around, you slip back into childhood habits. For example, when your mother visits, your wife may feel she has a house guest to entertain while you feel free to do your own thing and let your mother fend for herself, because she was always the one in charge of gatherings at home. To your wife, this would feel like a burden and look like you're an inconsiderate host.

If you separate, work out an agreement: how long until you check in with each other to report your progress and decide whether to move back in together or continue the separation for another fixed period, how you will communicate with each other and how frequently, when you will throw in a date night, etc. You will each need room to think through what you are learning without the usual provocations (good and bad) to keep your old habits alive.

Ask her to leave you a piece of her clothing to cuddle at night or some of her perfume to spray on the bed to get through those lonely nights until the two of you are ready for a great new start toward your 50th anniversary.

Hello. I have been married to my husband for 2 years, and together for 4 years. I fear that our marriage is over. I have come to resent him deeply, and he says he loves me, but I am not sure how that is possible since there is no connection, communication or love line between us.

I purposely have not tried to have a baby as of yet, because I am terrified that my child will be subjected to the emotional mess I have have been. My husband is emotionally aloof and cold. He works a lot, and doesn't like to communicate. He gets angry that I don't initiate sex, but, how can I want to have sex with a man who doesn't want to talk or have a loving connection with me? Truth is, this started 6 months into our relationship. I knew he had past issues with his childhood, but I thought, if I could love him enough for the both of us, we could work through it. But I was wrong and things got progressively worse. Even on our wedding day, his cold emotional state made me nervous and insecure that the relationship had no legs to stand on.

Now the good part: I have suggested he go see a psych. about his past, but he insists I am the one with the problem, and that he loves me and doesn't understand why I dont see that. He doesn't communicate his love, not in hugs, words, or anything--at least not since we got married. But he thinks he's dealing with his issues, meanwhile I am suffering and depressed.

Just recently, I have asked him to leave. Honestly, I am trying to protect the rest of my sanity and emotional being from him. But I really, really, really, want him to get help--not for our marriage, because I think its totally broken. But for his future. I don't want to get into the "I am not in love with you" or "you've been a bad husband" stuff with him. Saying that to him is pointless and will hurt him more than I know he already is.

I do love and care about him. Which is why I am here. I am not sure I want to move forward with the marriage, as now, I need to repair my own mental and emotional self. But I do want to help him deal with his pain.

How can I communicate this to him? I am at a loss.

I am so sorry for the pain you must be in, Stacey. Bravo for postponing parenting until you have a good relationship to bring a child into.

While it is entirely possible you married a man who has so many emotional problems you cannot salvage your love for him, there is a lot in what you write that suggests you still have a good shot at a great marriage.

Let me start with this. You sound like a perceptive and caring woman, wanting to get him help with his pain. But a wife simply cannot take on the job of fixing her husband, no matter how broken he might be. You can support him in his efforts to fix himself. You can cheer his victories. You could even be a small part of a team intervention if he's an alcoholic or a drug addict. But you cannot make the diagnosis and you cannot propose the cure.

Here's why. For men, respect is not just a nice bonus of a good relationship; it is the very foundation on which a relationship sits. You must be his peer. You cannot sit in judgement of his emotional health. You cannot take on the job of doing enough loving for both of you. If you do, and you kick that respect foundation out from under your relationship, he will most likely (under normal conditions, without marriage education or estrogen for cancer treatment) immediately cut back on communication, become much less tender, avoid sweet talk, and, if criticized for this, become self-defensive and possibly stonewall you. Sound familiar?

When he does this, you (if you're normal, without marriage education) will most likely panic. And criticize more. And grow resentful.

There are two good books about this. One, by Christian preacher Emerson Eggerichs, is Love and Respect. The other, without any religious content, is by Pat Love and Steven Stosny. It is called How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.

There is nothing wrong with you if you have done this, and nothing wrong with him for reacting the way folks with testosterone instead of estrogen react. I am not saying you started this awful feedback loop, and I am not saying you need to be the one to change first to stop it. But you have the opportunity to do so once you understand what's normal and how to stop what's very likely making it so hard for him to offer up the sort of loving you are looking for.

As my first marriage went downhill, I found that my growing resentment kept me focused on the problems in our marriage, until they were all I could see. This, too, is normal. Our brains are built with an override system to keep us safe. Threats rule. They release brain chemicals that literally narrow our thinking. It was like a dark curtain over our marriage. I still loved him, but I could not tolerate our life together because of all the things I felt were missing.

The first morning after my husband's sudden death, I felt as if the curtain had been torn down and sunlight flooded into my now half-empty bed. I could have sworn just a day earlier that he was doing nothing to show his love for me, but now I saw the signs I had missed all over our bedroom. When I went into the kitchen and the living room, I saw more. When I cleaned out his office at the university, I saw even more. And I realized how rich our life could have been without my resentment, without my version of how someone should love me.

My first husband did not have a rough childhood, but my second (current) husband did. And I am having a great time with him in spite of the scars it left. Now I know: if I want to feel his love, I need to tear that curtain down every time it shows up, and I need to respect whatever he wants to do about his childhood. My own childhood taught me something about how to love but nothing about how to be loved, and I am working on that.

But you asked how you can leave your husband without criticizing him or telling him you don't love him and still convince him he's broken and needs fixing. The answer: you can't.

I hated to leave it at that, because maybe your marriage is not yet totally broken, just painfully difficult to repair without an instruction manual.

Hi - I really hope you can help provide some clarity on my situation as your responses seem to be spot on with those I've read so far.

I met my husband 7 years ago and we were married nearly 3 years ago.

My husband told me about 6 weeks ago that he wanted some space from our relationship but then didn't make any effort to engineer the space. Fast forward 4 weeks and he drops on me that he feels our marriage is over and begins listing petty fixable things that I do which annoy him. As it seemed he needed the space, I went off to stay with a friend and about four days later he came to see me and I had him read a love letter I had written trying to explain my side of things. He read it and immediately said that it is still over and that he doesn't want to try or work on it.

I was desperately unhappy being away from home so asked to come home - he said no. A day later, I insisted and returned. He then finally decided he might leave.

That left me with feelings of abandonment as we usually spend Xmas with his family and this year, I had to amuse myself (I foisted myself on some friends).

He's now away and returning in two days and I know he wants to look at divorce- I'm sure that he is busy trying to set up a meeting with a lawyer.

The subtext to this is that I suspect there is an inappropriate emotional (at least) relationship going on with him and a friend (who hasn't checked on me since the story broke). He told me that he confided in her about 'our problems' before I even knew about them. He's also been contacting escorts and paying for porn sites.

I know I have intimacy issues due to being molested as child, and finally confessed this to him before I left to stay at my girlfriends house, coupled with health issues meant I spent a time being non-intimate; and I had to have an operation to help us to have children which we have been unsuccessful with. I got to a point where I was feeling better and started trying to initiate sex again but he pushed me away.

I really don't want this to end in divorce as I love him- he is my soul mate, my best friend- but I feel like he's ignoring my needs now.

We are both 37 and he says that he doesn't see himself having children with me and thinks that it is fairer for us to split now so I could meet so one new to have a family with. I actually just want a family with him, regardless of how hard it might be.

I'm at a loss. I don't want to push him away anymore but I fear I've lost him already.

Please help.
Sophie

Sophie, what an awful time of year for a marriage to fall apart. Sounds to me like both of you are having intimacy problems, if he's taking his problems to a female friend, hiring escorts, and spending money on porn. Have you considered making an appointment with a sex therapist or a couples therapist who deals with intimacy issues and inviting him to join you? Actions speak louder than love letters at a time like this.

He may indeed have an emotional connection (or more) going on with your mutual friend, but your problem is your connection with him, not hers. Of course he is ignoring your issues now, and he will until you two make a new connection, because he is working at not loving you so he can move on. You need to find lots of support to deal with your issues on your own, or you won't have the energy and self-confidence to work on your connection with him.

It sounds like he has decided he prefers not to have children, while you are hoping to make sure he has some with you. This difference in goals is going to interfere badly with your sex life and his trust of you. It may be temporary, if he is now feeling that the babies you could make with him are more important to you than he is, or it may be permanent.

With him already halfway out the door, you need to decide if you can love him even if you never have any children, even if you have to use birth control to make love with him for the next 15 years or so. That is a huge decision, not one anyone else can make for you, but it is one a good therapist can help you with.

Lots of people have gotten halfway out the door and come back, so it is not over yet. But starting the process of mending your relationship falls entirely on your shoulders now, and only you can decide if it is worth the effort and the risk.

Like most people I am in the same position.

My wife and I have been together 13 years. And the other night she dropped this bomb on me too.
She said she is still in love with me but just not happy being with me.

We had this discussion a few months back and since then I have been working on things. But out of nowhere she finally told me she wasn’t happy.
We can relate to a lot of everything being said. A year ago her father passed away, and 2 months later her grandmother, who were really her only family support.
I know how close those ties to them were so I did everything I could to be her support.

I tried to talk to her to find out what our issues were, but while she doesn’t want to blame me, everything keeps coming back to how I’m not the same person I was 13 years ago.
She brought up the space thing, but then said she didn’t want to go. So I told her if she needs the space to get it.

But then the tears started to come more because she said what was I going to do if she decided not to return.

I don’t want her to leave, and I am trying everything I can to save our marriage, but I don’t want to smother her.

The strange part is a few weeks back she asked if it was ok for her to go out with a friend, I told her sure.
Then a few days later we fought because she said she wanted me to tell her no.

I know it seems like it’s all over the place, but these are the major things that have occurred in the past 3 months.
And I don’t know what else to do to keep things from falling apart.

'Tis the season for unhappiness. When your wife says she's still in love with you but not happy being with you, something big is out of whack in her life. Chances are it's not you, but she thinks it is.

You would probably want respect and room to deal with your problems in your own way in such a situation, and it sounds like you offer these to her. Women are wired differently. We may not care for disrespect, but it's not the primary thing we're tuned into. We want to be cherished, to be the most important thing in our man's life. She's been left behind by two of the people who cherished her. If she feels you are taking advantage of her or no longer trying to win her heart, she's likely to be in pain.

When I reached the point your wife is at, I was working way too hard, driving way too far to work, panicked about my son's schooling, and feeling completely unable to change any of it. So I looked to my husband to fix it, to pick up more of our joint responsibilities. When he didn't (and I now realize why he couldn't), I felt unimportant to him, and it was intolerable.

So, rather than fix the problems, I sought to get away from the pain by leaving him. When he died, and I still had all those problems, I finally had to find ways to fix them. In retrospect, I truly wish my husband had offered to help me think through the problems instead of simply refusing to help with them. And, of course, I wish he were still interested in convincing me to stay, doing the wonderful things he did that convinced me to marry him when our lives were simpler.

Unless you have left out some infidelity, angry outbursts, change in personal hygiene, or all-consuming new work or hobby, I would guess your wife is a lot like me. If so, let her know unequivocally that you want her to stay and you're ready to find Third Alternatives (lots of posts about these on this blog) to remove some of the points of pain from her life.

My wife and I were married for 11 years, and she decided in September of 2012 that she wanted out. For most of the marriage, I neglected her by not giving her the attention she needed. I asked her to try to work on it until the summer, because we have 4 kids and I didn't want to disrupt their lives too much in the middle of the school year.

During the "trying it out" phase, we basically were roommates who were just friendly. We didn't fight much, and when we had a disagreement, we would talk it out instead of arguing. In March of last year, she had an affair with an old boyfriend. I moved out in July.

During our separation while the divorce was finalizing, we remained friends, and talked rather frequently. She had a few boyfriends, and I met someone.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving. She tells me she misses me very much, and wants us to try to make it work. I was hesitant, because I didn't want to get hurt again. I thought it through, and we made a plan that we felt would ensure it would work. We said that if there was ever a problem, we would talk about it as soon as it came up. She would work on being affectionate, which was a problem form most of the marriage. We agreed to go to counseling, both individually and together.

I moved in a week later. Things started out great, but then we fell into the habits we had at the end of the marriage. She pulled away affectionately, and I started worrying that she was cheating. On Monday, she said that she knows this isn't going to work, and that she wants out. I asked her to hold off on her decision until we had a chance to start counseling. She also had a hysterectomy at the beginning of November, which I think may be affecting her moods.

Is there any way I can save the marriage?

Dave, I sincerely apologize for not noticing your comment when it first came in. Lately, I have been getting a dozen or more spam comments a day (over and above the ones my spam catcher catches). I hope you found some useful items in this post or the comments at the time.

I really wanted to publish your comment, because it sounds like you learned quite a lot and took a lot of great steps (other than that one where you helped your wife leave -- you might instead have suggested moving both of you out from your parents' home). I hope you are now seeing the benefit of your plans to make more time for your family, and I wish you two the very best.

Eric, a hysterectomy affects a woman's hormones, which can affect her moods. And a huge life change like that can affect a woman's priorities, which may be why she wanted to give it another try a few weeks later.

Cheating is more symptom than cause in a situation like yours. Not really worth figuring out if it's happening (unless she's likely to be careless about STDs), as you already know there is a big problem. You both have some habits to change. Counseling can help, and I think it might give your cause a huge boost to change your habits right away.

There is a great book out on changing habits of any sort. It's by Charles Duhigg, a reporter who dug into the research in this field and made it really simple for all of us to use. The title is The Power of Habit.

If you are interested in some of the possible sources of those habits (and hers), and some things you can do on your own to address their effects on you, try Mindsight by Daniel J. Siegel.

And on a calm day, when the kids are in bed or visiting their grandparents, you might try asking her how she knows it isn't going to work. Then listen attentively to her answers and encourage her to keep talking. Do not respond or defend yourself, and you just might learn from her some easy things you could do differently that would make a huge difference in her assessment of the situation.

I wish you both, and your children, a restored and healthy marriage.

Hi Patty, I don't want to go into a huge thing about my past with my wife as my situation is similar to a lot of the comments posted. My wife of almost 6 years, 9 years together dropped the "I feel no connection/not in love" bomb on me about a month ago. She had seemed distant for a couple weeks so I basically pleaded with her to talk to me and that's what she said. She didn't know why but hinted at all of our past arguments and fights. I admit all these years I have never handled myself like a man and instead acted as a child with yelling and name calling. I know this has given her a hopeless feeling about our marriage and I understand why she is not longer feeling a connection with me. She said she was no a different person and didn't know what she wanted in life.

Anyway, my life got turned upside down after she told me that. I cried and pleaded with her to give me a chance to fix things, did everything someone shouldn't have done. I did tell her I understand her feelings and would give her the time and space she needed. She didn't really mention wanting divorce but did make it clear she didn't want to be together. We are not financially stable enough to have one of us move to a hotel and we do not have friends one of us could stay with while we took this break. So we decided basically to just live beside each other. The next 3 days were the hardest time of my life. I couldn't eat, sleep, work.. I had never felt anything like that before. Finally I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started reading stuff online, bible and even started going to see a counselor and church to fix my issues. Reading this blog among hundreds of other things has really helped me see my mistakes and really see myself for who I am and where I want to go in my life. Of course this still includes my family still being together but isn't my number one focus, it's me.

Fast forward to 2 weeks after the bomb was dropped, these 2 weeks were spent with me doing as much as I could for myself, even getting out of the house when I could. I have always been a homebody and always felt I needed my wife with me in order to have a good time. Of course, I now know this is one of the worst things to expect out of your spouse. It's basically smothering. I had smothered her so much she lost herself and I became totally uninteresting. Back to the story, I had stopped touching, saying I love you, everything I could to get the stress of me off her. However we did still share the same bed although we had a big gap between us. After 2 weeks of this, I got her to go out with me for a fun night, something we hadn't done in forever. I made it clear I just wanted to go out and have a good time and that there was no other motive and not to feel any pressure. She happily agreed and we ended up going out downtown to a Mexican restaurant she was dying to try in this new hip community. We chatted and chatted, talked nothing about us(I was dying to but fought the urge) it was a really nice dinner. We sat outside by the river, it was just a beautiful day and you could tell she was really impressed that I had even put this together as I'm not huge on Mexican and definitely hate sitting outside. This was a great time. Then we went downtown and I took her to a tower bar that you can see the whole city from atop. I admit I did time us to get there for sunset, but I was only trying to do something nice for her, do something I would normally never do and give her a new first experience with me(sunset while on top of the city). This was an awesome time for us both.Again, we chit chatted about everything but us. No pressure. We weren't drinking much at all, maybe 3 over the course of 4 hours. Our next stop was going to be a piano bar that she had been wanting to go to. Since we were downtown we were walking to our destinations which was nice. Well on the way to the piano bar she grabs my hand and holds my arm basically in a loving way. She continues to tell me how surprised she is that I even came up with this and she is having a fantastic time and thanking me for this. She continues to hold me hand, we take selfies together, sit close, all the stuff I had been dying for. After this stop we met up with one of couple friends. During this time I talked business with my friend's husband while the ladies chit chatted. I did message our girl friend to see if anything had been said about me and she told me it was mentioned she was having an awesome time and could see how much I have changed and had been trying to get a hold of my life. This was the greatest thing I have read, she could see my efforts and appreciated them. We continued to have fun, she even started hugging me and she ended up kissing me a few times, even wanting to get a picture of us doing it. We got home and had a heartfelt where she told me she loved me so much and didn't want to have a life without me, she appreciated all my efforts and basically said she was proud of me and wanted to quit this break. I was ecstatic. She is the love of my life. We have dealt with so much together from the death of one of our children who was born extremely premature, to her own heart problems, to almost losing her when she gave birth to our 2nd child. All this rushed through us and you could really see it was heartfelt and felt right.

After this, we got back to saying I love you, kissing each other goodnight/bye. We talked about everything under the sun, which is something we had stopped. My wife had been a stay at home mom with an at home job until June 2013 when her work got cut down by about 3/4. She then started waitressing and working double shifts in order to make sure we could pay for preschool and other things we needed that I couldn't handle with my salary. She worked her butt off and she still continues to to this day. Anyway, we usually see each other for 20 minutes in the morning and a hour after she gets off work. Before there was no talking, but now there was a ton. We had a great Christmas, she loved her gifts, even bragged to her friends about a calendar I made her with special date nights every month that only told her what to wear, not what we were doing(our first is on the 25th). There was no fights, no arguments, no anger from either of us. Everything was awesome for about a week and a half, then she started being distant again. I probably asked her way too much about what was bothering her to the point it was annoying. I never got a response. She did continue with the I love yous, hugs, kissing. Well after 2 weeks since our big night, I decided we should sit down and talk about us. I wanted to see if we were on the same page, if she was just overall happy with everything. She again dropped teh bomb on me that she doesn't feel anything towards me, she wasn't attracted to me. She told me she didn't want to lead me on. Again this hurt so bad, everything had been going fine. Prior to me asking she had been spending a ton of time on her phone texting people, one of which I know is a guy she works with, who she has assured me had nothing going on with him. She assured me she respected marriage and wouldn't do anything behind my back and she did not have feelings for anyone else, she just didn't know what she felt or wanted. I again offered to leave but the lack of money had us talking about how it was impossible. So now we are exactly were we were after the first bomb. Very friendly with each other, having a good time when we do stuff as a family, everything but the I love yous, kisses and hugs. She always tells me she after we do something about how much fun she had and overall liked doing that. Even after this second bomb she continues to talk about our future, about wanting to buy a dog, moving into a house after our apartment lease is up, taking vacations, Valentine's dance, she knows I have a getaway planned for her birthday and she is super excited about it.. everything a husband and wife do. She acts completely normal with me, even when she is texting away on her phone to him and her other friends. I have took on a second job to make more money so she could get a better part time job so she could have time with our daughter and our family. You can tell she is so happy about this. She has never been a materialistic girl, always been hard working, never ever gave me the sign that she expects to be taken care of and doing as she pleases while husband works. She's a great woman and mother. I could never imagine her jsut playing me yet of course I feel she is playing me, keeping me at plan B. I do feel she is emotionally involved with this coworker but I am giving her the benefit of doubt as she spends her free time from work with me and our daughter. I just don't know what to think right now. Am I doing a good job? She I just continue to let her be? How can I show her I love and appreciate her other than being a good guy to talk to, taking care of our daughter(she basically only sees her in the morning), keeping the housekeeping up? I know I'm everywhere with this comment. It's difficult for me to put my thoughts into text. Thank you for your time and for still responding to comments on this great post.

This was all typed while your comments were down yesterday. I just wanted to add what happened this morning. I've been obviously bothered by everything so I straight up asked her if she was just sticking with me for the health insurance(she has a big surgery coming up later this year). She told me no and that she was trying to work everything out with me. Good sign? I hope I'm not coming off as rushing her because I really don't think something like this can be fixed in a month's time which I've stated to her a few times. This is all just wishful thinking in my heart.

Hi, Sean. Imagine you are dating and you find a wonderful woman and have a great time together. Now picture what would happen if you asked her, "How am I doing? Are you falling in love with me? Think we'll get to our 50th anniversary?" And then two weeks later you ask, "Are you just seeing me for the free meals and entertainment, or are you really falling in love with me?" And then two weeks later you ask, "That male friend you're always texting -- do I have anything to worry about there?" And then when she's not available to go out for four nights in a row, you text her to ask, "Please! Talk to me. I don't know what's going on. Are we still good?"

Think she'd want to spend the rest of her life with you? Think she would welcome this any more if she had already agreed to spend the rest of her life with you? It's like giving balloons to a child and then popping them so you can see if she's smiling.

Give her some more balloons and resist the urge to verify how well they were received.

Every time she says or does something that sets off your panic alarms, Assume Love and look for other explanations. In other words, don't try to figure out whether she loves you or loves you not. Try to figure out why she might say or do this if she really, truly loves you. This information will be a lot more useful to you in deciding what to do next.

For men who have been blind-sided by their wife's announcement that it is over: if porn has been an issue in your marriage, I urge you to read the heartfelt comments from women on the post Do I Have to Accept Porn, so you have some idea how strongly your wife might feel about it. It can be a much bigger deal than most men imagine.

Patty,
My wife and I have been married for 22 years, 2 kids in high school. About 6 months ago, she had what I thought was the beginning of a midlife crisis. We were at a party with friends (I was the DD, no drinking) and the party got a little too touchy feely for me, I was uncomfortable. The next day I actually felt cheated on by my wife, just by the way she acted. I talked to her about it saying I had a weird feeling about the night. Later she confirmed that my feelings were correct and that she'd had a conversation with her friends and would be willing to bring another woman into our marriage if I wanted. This was from my "conservative" wife of 22 years. Going forward, her personality became more and more blasé about the incident and she became more sexual with me than ever before. I couldn't consider the 3 person option, and it went away. Well, fast forward to today. I took a job in a different state, the family would finish out the year and join me. I've have been traveling back home on weekends. She has been basically avoiding me when I'm home and there is tension in the air. While gone, she prefers to text rather than talk, which made me feel even more alone in my new location. Tonight she stayed out with friends 3 hours past when she said she would be home, and when she came in she got defensive with me. Our discussion erupted and she admitted that she doesn't feel like is experiencing life like she should and wants a divorce. I've simplified this quite a bit, but the message is the same. She feels like she isn't her own person and wants more experiences in life. I trust my wife and don't believe she's having an affair, we had spoken early on in our marriage that we would call it quits before doing something that would make us hate each other. I believe divorce is inevitable, but still want her to seek counseling while we progress with the divorce paperwork (selling house etc). Is there a chance we can still save the marriage or this a sign that someone is ready to move on?

Dan, that must have been quite a shock when she asked to bring another woman into your relationship! She is obviously going through some big changes. Whether they spell the end to your marriage depends in large part on whether you and those changes can get along.

If the children have been the main focus of her life for the last 15+ years, their imminent departure could easily trigger a need to redefine herself. Or she may have recently ventured just far enough out of her conservative boundaries to rediscover a lesbian or bi sexual preference she buried years ago, triggering a need to redefine herself in a much more open age.

Obviously, your impression of who she is must be going through some real changes. We tend to settle into our picture of who we married a lot earlier than 22 years. She surely did, too. While you are starting to see some new sides of her, she's likely still operating on her picture of who you are. And based on that picture, she has decided she cannot both redefine herself and stay married to you.

But she may well, as so many women seeking a divorce do, really hope she can have you and whatever is currently missing from her life. If she is, you definitely have a good chance of saving your marriage.

Does this mean you need to accept a third bed partner? No. It means only that you need to be willing to sit down with her, perhaps with a therapist to guide you, and learn more about what she needs and what you need. She doesn't need another woman in your relationship, but she suggested this as a way of getting something she needs without letting go of you. You rejected it as not giving you what you need. Throw out both of those alternatives and look for a Third Alternative that meets both your needs. If you can find some of these, you can have a very rich marriage together.

And if not, at least the choice to divorce will be yours as well as hers, saving you some grief.

You might find she's only seeking to divorce you because of her promise to divorce before cheating on you, if she's questioning her sexual preference. In this case, you might decide you can handle a same-sex affair you know about, with a time limit, after which you two will divorce if she's not yours exclusively any more.

It's likely the experiences she's looking for are not just sexual but adventurous and social. You might find you can happily join her in some of these or wish her a great time while she explores them. But if you discuss divorce instead of marriage, you'll never know.


My Wife and I have been married for almost 18 years. We have been together for over 20. We have 4 daughters ages 15-11. About 4 months 8 months ago my wife changed jobs. She is a nurse. Her old job was a rotating job with mostly night shifts. The new job is days only, with the same rotation every 2 weeks, this is a much needed change from her old crazy schedule of random days and nights every week.
About 5 months ago she starts telling me that she feels different, that something has changed between us. I did not understand what it could be, I haven't changed, I have had the same job for 16 years. I thought that it was that everything was different in her life and that she was wrong to think that things change between us. I didn't think it was possible. In October her mother passed away, I was there for her, to support her and to be a shoulder to cry on, anything she needed.
She began acting different in November, she wasn't complaining about things with us as much.
Last week I found out that she has been texting a guy that she works with ever since November. They have gotten very detailed about what they want to do to each other and actually were out at a bar together after work with there other co-workers where she told him she wanted him. She swears to me that nothing happened because they both new it would never lead to anything, She is married and 10 years older then him and he has a fiance.
I found out about this and confronted her where she began to slowly give me all the details of her fling. There was never any "Cheating" according to her. Even though they held each other in their arms, she kissed his neck and said the words I want you.
I have been going Crazy for the last week, and have been questioning everything she does. I have mistrust in her even though she tells me it is over and that nothing ever would have come of it.
When I ask why she did it and why she never put an end to it even when I was starting to suspect things, She said she enjoyed the attention, she liked the excitement. It made her feel good. I know that I haven't been showing my love for her in the past but vowed to show it to her 3 weeks ago. even after I said that and started doing things for her she said I was doing to much and changing who i was. I don't know what to do anymore, She tells me she loves me but is not in love with me, she wants to work it out but she pushes me away all the time. Every time I try to do something it seems to blow up in my face. We went away for the weekend, it Might have been to soon after finding out about the other guy. but we went to a cabin, relaxed in a hot tub and had a real nice night. we came home Saturday and it was back to the way it was, fighting, no intimacy. she keeps saying that it will take time to fix but she doesn't know if it will work. i get the feeling that she does want it to work but is scared that it is not going to. I told her i would back off on all the questioning and try to move forward but i fear that i may have pushed her away to much already.

Any advice for us moving forward?

Brad, I believe you are most likely correct that your wife wants it to work out but fears it won't. The distance between you grew over a long time. One weekend in a hot tub is not enough to close the gap.

And the loss of a parent can make anyone question the life she's made for herself. Allowing herself to toy with the possibility of another partner a month later was fairly human. I think it's great that she stopped herself. It says a lot about her and about you.

For some tips on how to start feeling "in love" again, please check out this post: http://www.assumelove.com/2014/01/how_to_get_your_wife_or_husban.html

My name is Matt. I have been together with my wife for 22 years..and married for 15. We had a bipolar daughter which caused tons of stress. I took my frustrations out on her. Over the years she has built an emotional wall from my bad behavior. I have been a bad husband. Last Saturday she told me that she made arrangements to transfer jobs a few hours away and has to decide by 2.16 to take the job...thought the marriage was done..and wanted to divorce. She was amazed and really taken back that I told her I love her and want to remain with her. She thought I would be in agreement and was really flabbergasted by my response. we had a lenthy discussion and she explained all of her reasons. Without offering excuses...I took the blame and admiited that I had been a bad husband. I told her that I loved her with all my heart and sole...and that I really wanted her to give me a second chance. At that point she only has 1 week to decide if she is taking the job transfer. She agreed to go to a marriage councilor....and we had one couples session Monday. We are scheduled for individual sessions throughout the week. I am afraid that it may be too little ..too late. She is still processing my response and states that she does not know if she even wants to try to work it out..and is still processing. I cant help but try to convince her. I have been attending to her...had dinner when she came home from work, which she said was nice. She layed on the couch and let me run crème on here feet and thighs...but stated on certain situations she is unclomfortable because I smother her and she is not used to it. She says she is gonna use the councleor to help her decide if she will stay and work on the marriage....but there is not enough time to have multiple sessions. Do you think there is hope....being that she told me the nice things I am doing are nice and is willing to go to the councelor. SHe stated she is going to the therapist because she knows its important to me. Do you think she may think there is hope...at this point she cant decide if she "wants to try to fix the marriage" but is still willing to see the therapist. She is convinced that I truly does love me..but cant find any love for me at this time. We are very short of time before she has to make her decision. What do you think

Thank you Patty,
The only question that Still remains unanswered to both of us is whether or not what she did as far as the sexting and actually going as far as being alone with the other guy, being in his arms, kissing his neck and telling him that she wants him, but not going any farther. She is saying that she did not cheat on me and insists that nothing else happened. I feel like I was cheated on to an extent, maybe emotionally or mentally, she went as far as you can go physically without actually doing it. Is this type of behavior considered cheating or just a fling that she knew would never lead to anything that she would have stopped eventually because she knew it was wrong?

Brad, could I suggest you two find a Third Alternative here? Don't call it cheating, because it's good that she's acknowledging a line between this and acts that risk pregnancy and STDs. Don't call it no big deal, because it's definitely not that for you. Call it necking or frexting or George. The name does not matter. What matters is that you two agree neither of you will try anything so damaging to the intimacy in your relationship again.

Matt, do you love her enough to apply for jobs in the new location or commute on weekends for six months? Making dinner and giving her foot rubs for a week is unlikely to be enough to turn your marriage around. If she turns down the transfer, she would be doing it to see whether there is hope for your marriage or not, and she probably would not have a definite answer for months. If things don't work out, she might have a harder time finding a transfer later after turning this one down.

Since you acknowledge you created the lion's share of the rift between you and you are the one who does not want the marriage to end, you might want to be the one who takes that big risk instead of asking her to do it. Being in a new location with new jobs will also shake up all your old routines and probably make it easier to build something new. Put your current home on AirBnB.com for six months and give yourselves a real chance at starting over.

Iv been going through a lot of this my self for over a year is there any hope she could changer???? I fell in love with a woman that dosnt seem to be here any more... Same body but different mind

People change when we change how we interact with them, Mitch. We cannot dictate how they change, but we can usually force some sort of change. The changes most likely to work out well for you are: (1) increase the ratio of positive to negative interactions with her, getting it higher than 5:1 every day, (2) create more opportunities to share a positive emotion (laughter, awe, warmth, elevation, pleasure, meaningfulness) with her, and (3) find a creative way to lessen her unwelcome responsibilities.

This is going to be long, but here goes.....

Been married almost 24 years. We are both 45 and we have two great kids, one is in college and does not live at home and the other is a HS Sr. I can remember our marriage being really good for the first 5 or so years. Then for the next 10-15 it was up and down, which I thought all long was just normal at that point in our relationship.

For the last 5 years or so it hasn't been very good. I started having some health issues about 3 years ago and they went largely unresolved for a couple years. Early in 2012, I finally started to make some noticable progress in my health and I've been consistently getting better since then. However, for about the last year and a half or so, our marriage has been really bad and consistently getting worse. Our sex life was nearly non-existent, but I attrbuted this to my health issues and assumed it would improve as I recovered. But we only had sex a few times last year, and we grew further and further apart.

About a month before Thanksgiving of last year we had gone 2 or 3 weeks barely even speaking or acknowledging one another. I'm pretty stubborn, but she didn't normally stay mad at me for more than a day or two so I assumed that something was really wrong. I kept trying to get her to to talk about what was wrong but she consistently refused saying "it wasn't a good time" or "not while the kids are here". But finally I had enough and insisted that we have a talk. When I finally got her to open up she basically said that she was done with our marriage and had been done for over a year. She said that things had been building up for years. When we argued, even when I apoligized, she never really forgave me, it just added to all the stuff that ws building up inside her. She pointed to a specific fight that we had about a year and a half previously that she claimed was the straw that broke the camel's back. She had every intention of leaving but was just waiting for our daughter to graduate HS, move out and start college.

I was pretty shocked, I knew our relationship had not been good for a while but I had no idea it was to that point. I told her that I really wanted to work it out but if she had made up her mind then I was willing to just stay together for convenience until our daughter graduated UNLESS there was somebody else. She immediatley got real defensive and said she didn't have time to be involved with anyone else, that I better have proof if I was going to start accusing her of such things, and that she wasn't interested in having sex with anybody at that point.

We continued to talk for the rest of that day and finally agreed that we would try to work it out. She said that I had been witholding alot of things like attention and affection from her for several years as far as an emotional connection and our fights and arguments were pretty heated but never seemed to solve anything. We both said we would work on changing that but she claimed she had built up this emotional wall and that it would take time for her to be able to initiate or reciprocate any kind of affection. I told her I would agree to see a counselor with her, even though I had told her "no" when she had asked about a few times in previous years. She concurred but told me it was up to me to make the arrangements to do so.

I found a couple local marriage counsleors that were in our insurance network but didn't schedule an appointment because of the wife's work schedule. Her company is going through a major reorganization and she was having to work out of town a lot for training and to help close out items at other offices around the state so I didn't feel comfortable making an appointment with a counsleor until after the first of the year when her schedule was more stable. Otherwise, it seemed like things were getting a little better at first. We went to Phoenix with her family for Thanksgiving and seemed to get along well, but it was strange to me that when I tried to show her any attention and affection, the very things she said I had been depriving her of for years, she acted like it was a chore or pushed me away. They were not sexual advances, just things like holding hands, hugging, saying "I love you", etc.

A few weeks later on a Saturday not too long before Christmas she was in the shower but had left her phone on the nightstand. I really didn't think there was anyone else but because of the way she had been acting I was a little suspicious so I thought I would take a look, just to satisfy my curiosity. Well was I surprised when I found some really intimate messages in her text log from one particualr number that was identified only with initials but not a name. There were only a few days worth, as I suppose she would erase them periodically, but she had been out of town for work for a couple days that week and the messages appeared to be both leading up to and following an encounter they had.

When she got out of the shower I confronted her about it, and I must admit I was much more calm than I ever thought I could be in such a situation. At first she denied it and started asking why I would accuse her of such a thing. I told her I saw the messages on her phone and she finally said "we need to talk". She said it had started just after the big fight that we had about a year and a half ago. She was eating lunch with frinds and on her way out she saw a guy that used to work for her same company, though in an office about an hour away, eating lunch with his family. They had gotten to know each other when both were involved with their company's employee association several years ago but he got another job a few years ago and no longer worked for the same company. When she got in her car he texted her and asked if that was her that had just walked by in the restaurant. And so it started from there.

They continued texting for the next few months just about day-to-day stuff like work, sports, their kids, but it started to become more of a relationship when they started confiding in one another about the problems they had in their own marriage. It then progressed to meeting for dinner while she was working out of town and eventually led to sex. She said that it had happened four times, always when she was out-of-town for work in this one specific city. I asked who it was and she told me that I did not know him but he used to work for her company and was part of the employee's association. She also said that he had changed jobs a few years ago and didn't still work for her company.

I still can't believe how calm I remained, even though it ripped my heart out, but we talked about how she had lied to me just a few weeks before when she said there was no one else and when she asserted that she was going to work on saving our marriage, when in fact she had met him for sex a couple times since our pre-Thanksgiving blow up. She was mad that I had snooped by looking on her phone and said the reason she hadn't been trying and that she met him for sex was because I hadn't followed through and set up an appointment to see a counsleor. She claimed this was just evidence of more broken promises so she didn't see the need to try either. We talked for several hours and after I told her I thought I could get past the affair if she would end it immediatley and promise that it was over, we again agreed that we wanted to work on saving our marriage. That next Monday she assured me that she had called him and broken it off.

I also called and got an appointment with one of the counselor's that I had found previously. We saw her together on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week (the week before Christmas). I actually felt pretty good about where things were going and our chances of saving it at that point but the day after Christmas she told me that she wasn't even sure if she wanted it to work and that she was planning to move out because she needed some space to figure that out and also work on finding out who she is. She was actually talking about seeing a lawyer but we did agree that it would just be a separation for now and that we would re-evaluate at the end of March. We also agreed not to date anyone else during this time. From this point, we have continued to see the counselor, but individually instead of together.

She didn't end up moving out until February 1. In the meantime she continued to live at home and we even slept in the same bed, but there was no intimacy. We agreed that I could tell her I loved her, give her hugs and kiss her on the cheek or forehead, but I shouldn't expect her to reciprocate. She basically just asked me to be a friend. I have been trying to do that, even helping her move to her apartment. I have been working on the issues that she had with me, like my short temper and some control issues. I was never physically abusive to her but in addition to often raising my voice and yelling to try to get my way, I would say hurtful things to her when we argued, just for the sake of winning. I promised her that the changes I was making were permanent, but since I had made similar promises many times over the years and always regressed back to my old ways, she doesn't believe me and said she is just waiting for the "bottom to fall out" again.

She has confessed that she still has feelings for the affair partner, which I am guessing is normal, but she has also told me they are fading somewhat with time. She has also stated a few times that she feels like she was forced to end the affair and didn't get to end it on her terms and that she was concerned about how he was doing. He is married and has two grown kids, even some grandkids. I know our counselor told her that she is not responsible for his well-being and that he should be working on improving things with his own family. They do not know about the affair but apparently he isn't happy in his marriage.

Since she has moved out, we still do things together, though just as friends. We are stil doing the hugs and kisses on the cheek (without reciprocity) but things have not really gotten any better in that way since we had the first blow-up before Thanksgiving. Last week we were at a HS basketball game. We drove seperately but she and her sister did sit with me. During the game I saw her reading a text from the other guy. I confronted her about it and she at first denied it but when I pressed she admitted it. She said I shouldn't jump to conclusions, and that we could talk about it after the game. I wasn't comfortable with that so I tried to get her to talk more, which just irritated her, so we did end up waiting until after the game. Instead of riding with her sister, she rode with me so we could talk and I took her to her sister's house. She said the guy had sent her a text the previous week and asked if it was OK for him to call just to see how she was doing. She promised that this was their first contat of any kind since she had ended it back it December. She also assured me that the phone call was innocent and that the few texts they had exchanged were just about basketball and nothing that I should be worried about. When I asked if she would show me the texts she said that she had deleted them. She again said she had not been comfortable about how she was forced to end things with him earlier but after a long talk she did say that she was OK with cutting all ties since she knew he was OK. She also said that next time he texted her she was going tell him that she did not want to have any contact with him. I told her that's what I wanted but that it had to be her choice to take that step, otherwise it would never be really over. We agreed that she was going to be totally honest and that she would let me know when he next attempted to contact her and that she would tell me when she did end any contact with him. She also said that she would let me know if he tried to contact her anytime after that and that she would not respond.

I'm not sure why she thinks she needs to wait until he contacts her before she ends it. I suggested that she go ahead and tell him instead of waiting on him, but she said she was going to wait on him since he had been intitiating any contact they had over the past few days. I decided it was best not to push it as I figured he would probably try to contact her again the next day. Cell phone records indicated that they had texted back and forth dozens of times each day during the affair, so I assumed once he saw a crack in the door he would be persistent in trying to reconnect with her. However, up until last Friday she said that he had not contacted her again so she had not told him about her "no contact" decision. Not sure I believe this but what other choice do I have.

Last week was even more compicated because of her birthday (Feb 12) and Valentine's Day. On her birthday, the kids and I took her to dinner and then to a movie. For Valentine's Day I sent her flowers and took her dinner (just the two of us). Over the weekend I went to a birthday dinner for her at her parents' house and then to a college basketball game with our kids and her sisters, and her sisters' kids. She even went to my parents on Sunday evening and had dinner for her birthday. Again, there was nothing more than the minimal affection that we had been having but we did have a good time and she did thank me for everything.

I know she said the reason for her moving out was to have her space away from me and up until now I haven't really been giving her much of that. We still been talking or texting about matters concerning the kids, telling her good night or good morning, and even random stuff like sports, friends, etc. but she rarely initiates it. Also, the circumstances last week really did not allow for me to not be in the picture. She still assures me that she is not ready to let her wall down and doesn't know if she ever will be and that she does need space and time to figure it out. She claims that any kind of attention or affection form me just drives her further away. (Isn't it ironic that these are the things she says she was lacking for years leading up to this, and now she doesn't want them?) I promised that it would be easier logistically for me to back off some with last week behind us, but not necessarily for me personally. So I said I would only contact her when absolutely necessary. She did say it was OK just to send her a little text or picture once a day to let her know I was thinking about her and/or that I love her, but not to expect her to reply or reciprocate (i've been doing this for the past couple months).

This week is gonna be difficult for me because she is out of town for work. This, along with her recent contact with the affair partner has me a little concerned, but I may be just a little paranoid. When we first agreed to work on things, we did discuss the fact that her work would still requires occassional overnight travel. I told her I didn't want to interefere with her job but that if she could call me while she was gone and assure me everything was OK that it would help. She agreed to do so but the couple times it has happened since then, her idea of reassurance is just telling me everytihng is "going to be fine". This is not really reassuring to me so I end up calling/texting her nightly to try get that assurance. Of course this irritates her because she feels like I'm just checking up on her. So Sunday I told her that I would not be calling or texting this week (aside from my daily notes to her) so she wouldn't think I was checking up on her. I did send her my daily note yesterday about noon and besides a "Thanks" that I got from that I didn't hear from her last night.

I guess right now trust seems to be my biggest issue. I wouldn't enjoy it, but I could deal with the separation thing alot easier if I knew the other guy was no longer an issue. I can never be really sure that she's telling the truth about anything, as the only times she has ever confessed to anything was when I had indisputable proof that she was lying or doing something wrong. She has lied over and over about things up until the point she knew that there was no denying it.

I want this to work more than anything. I can let go of what happened with the affair in the past but am not sure it's really over. I realize that I made lots of mistakes that led her to the point of "being done" in the first place. I have apologized repeatedly, promised to change and continue to work on my issues, both for our marriage but also to make me a better person.

However she says she can't be sure that this is the real thing and that I'm not just doing what it takes to get her back before going back to the same old - same old. I completely understand her fears and have told her repeatedly that I don't want to go back to the way things were either because I know that they can be so much better. I've just been too stubborn to see that for all theses years. But how can she ever see that things can be better if I can't be around her to demonstrate it and if she won't allow me to show her the attention and affections that she once craved? I also wonder that without me being allowed to meet the emotional needs that she says were so influential in her relationship with the affair partner, how will those needs be met? Will she turn to him again to fill those needs?

I don't know what the counselor is telling her. I know that she's telling me that we need to work on ourselves foirst and then work on the marriage. And I have been working on my issues. My point is that there will be plenty of time to work on ourselves later but our marriage is slipping away now. I have suggested maybe even alternating between seeing her individually and together, but my wife says she is not to that point yet and the counselor doesn't seem real interested in pushing for that either.

Recently I've read several books, and read hundreds of blogs and articles on the internet. Some say to stick it out, that it's not over until I quit trying. Some say that it has been over for a long time and that I just need to let go and move on with my life. I want to believe that there is still a chance, but I believe she may just be dragging this out to try to prove to herself and everyone else that she tried to make it work. I fear that she already has her mind made up. Even if we can work it out, I know that it will take a long time, but I don't see much difference in her, in fact maybe even some regression, from when we initially agreed to try to work it out. We have been getting along pretty well, as friends, and we have probably talked alot more and about more stuff that really matters in the last few months than we have for the rest of our marriage combined, but even that will be alot more scarce since she wants, and I am giving her space.

My gut tells me to hang in there as long as I think there is even a glimmer of hope, but if she's just going through the motions I wonder if I would be better off just cutting my losses and going my own way. If it's a done deal, I don't want to waste months or even years waiting on something that's never gonna happen, when I could be using that time to get over her and try to find somebody that will return the love I'm willing to give.

Sorry for the long post, but I am open for any advice you have.

hi Patty, after months of increased arguments and us never aggreeing about things my husband of 19 years came out and told me that he doesnt love me anymore, felt nothing for me and didnt think that he could continue in the marriage gieven how he was feeling. I asked him over and over again what he felt he wanted to do but he said he was confused and didnt know what. we chatted and he said he wanted to try to make things work but i felt that in the 3 months i was trying and he wasn't. when I asked him again what was happening he said that he was feeling like this for the last 5 years but thought that his feelings would have changed but it wasn't. I couldnt understand how I missed the clues but he certainly had made up his mind about this already. I then moved out of the house and he gave me an islamic divorce the next weekend. This is given with the chance that he could change his mind within the next 3 months and could take me back as we are still married in the eyes of the lord. However he has told me that he has no intentions of reconciling. Now we exchnge only sms's with regards to the kids and nothing else. He says he needs space. if i chat about what happened and how it made me feel and that i felt we could work things out he says that I am putting him under emotional stress that he cannt deal with right now. Even cant work at the moment when i talk to him. He told a family member that he felt like this because i belittled him as a father and robbed him of his rights as a father, i didnt show him any affection, come sit with him after work, never initiated intimacy, he felt worthless and pressured to be someone else. All this I can see now and clearly felt that this was fixable given that some of those things stemmed from my own insecurites about my health and weight. However, he does not want counselling or any family member to try to intervene. the kids stay with me during the week and one goes home weekends. He is very distant and angry with the world. Sees everyone as looking down on him and says that I never paid him any compliments that would make him feel nice. Over the last few years, we have delat with financial issues, his mum coming to stay with us, his brother pressurising him to buy our house, he had an accident on a friends motorbike and owes him for that, he injured his wrist as well as his ankle and limps, has screws. but most recently he was really worried about his current financial situation and i was unable to help given that i am in the same position. We ended up gambling which made it a little worst as well. I think he blames me as well for this. i am still very much in love with him but what do I do now that he wont communicate at all with me. We dont see each other at all. please help me to understand this?

Kevin, those walls do sometimes come down. It's certainly worth your best shot.

I would call your attention to this one thing you wrote:

"I realize that I made lots of mistakes that led her to the point of "being done" in the first place. I have apologized repeatedly, promised to change and continue to work on my issues, both for our marriage but also to make me a better person. However she says she can't be sure that this is the real thing and that I'm not just doing what it takes to get her back before going back to the same old - same old. I completely understand her fears ..."

You are not the only one with a trust problem in this marriage.

Now read this again with that in mind:

"She was mad that I had snooped by looking on her phone and said the reason she hadn't been trying and that she met him for sex was because I hadn't followed through and set up an appointment to see a counsleor. She claimed this was just evidence of more broken promises so she didn't see the need to try either."

You understand the reasons why you took no action until then, but taking no action increased her distrust.

She understands the reasons for waiting to tell the other fellow not to contact her again, but taking no action is increasing your distrust.

One of you will need to trust the other without knowing you won't be proven a fool. That's pretty much what it will take to bring down the wall. Distrust and resentment are the mortar in those bricks. And you are the only one motivated to start bringing it down. Her distrust has been building for a lot longer than yours.

While you have every reason in the world to be furious at her dishonesty and lack of integrity, trust that you two can unwind your marriage back to that point a year and a half ago and rebuild it from there is what you need right now.

You have no reason to compete with the other guy, and I advise you not to. For your wife, this sounds like a choice between accepting the disruption of getting divorced on her finances and her relationship with her children and future grandchildren or trusting that there is a chance to rebuild the marriage in a way that supports the changes she needs to make as her mothering role comes to an end. The other man is there to numb the pain of deciding, pretty much like a hot fudge sundae habit or alcohol is for others. Show her the choice is now going to be a much easier one.

If you have been controlling in the past, checking up on her all the time, even if her behavior warrants it, won't show her that the future of your marriage will be better than the past.

Keep showing her affection in as many ways as possible, even though she's not yet ready to accept some of them or reciprocate any of them. Letting her know she's the only woman you want is a huge way to show affection, so watch that you don't suggest you could do better than her if you agree to this divorce.

Ask for what you need from her. Be clear and direct. You cannot expect to communicate anything useful by withholding affection or money or cooperation or anything else.

Pay attention to the difference in your Love Languages (and see Gary Chapman's book about them if you are not familiar with them). You may feel she's rejecting your love when she rejects sex or physical affection, but those things may not be the way she experiences love. She may be more attuned to your words, gifts, or helpfulness.

If you don't feel your counselor supports you in your wish to remain married, consider finding a different one for yourself, someone who might help you make your wife feel comfortable in another joint counseling session. Check the list at http://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com.

I'm rooting for the two of you, Kevin.

Hajirah, your husband sounds seriously depressed (to me -- I am not a psychologist). Is there an imam or family member he trusts who could encourage him to see a doctor or psychologist for the sake of his children? The request should not come from you, as he could see it as further evidence you don't respect him.

Most men crave respect from their wives and need respect as the foundation of a relationship. It's a hormonal difference between them and us (in addition to be written into much of Islamic law and practice). When a man's going through difficult times, as it sounds like he is, almost everything his wife and children say can sound like criticism and disrespect and feel like betrayal.

If you would like to restore your marriage, consider avoiding even the appearance of criticism until he's out of this depression. Your distance should make it easier to say nothing when you cannot offer respect or praise.

And while I know very little about Islam, I wonder if three months of not communicating is within the law or the spirit of 'iddah. Another question for someone whose knowledge of Islam your husband would respect.

Hi Patty,

Thanks for the advice and the encouragement. My heart tells me that the right thing to do is definitely to keep trying to save our marriage. It's my head that has a difficult time because in my mind all I can think about is putting forth all the effort only to find out that she's not willing to let go of the affair or work on our marriage. So the question I keep asking myself is if all the effort is worth it when I know that the outcome may very well not be what I want it to be? In other words is the risk worth the possible reward? And my heart has to keep convincing my brain that it absolutely is, at least for now. I suppose if things continue as they are, there will come a time when my brain will not be convinced, but I'm not there yet.

I understand that both of us have trust issues. And I also see that me checking up on her all the time does not help matters. I did make it through her out-of-town travel this week without contacting her while she was gone. It was difficult but I managed to make it and I hope she can see this as a sign that I'm really trying to trust her.

When you said "Ask for what you need from her," I guess I'm not sure what you mean? Are talking about asking for more affection? Or asking that she absolutely ends it with the other guy? Or asking for nothing but the truth from now on? Or something else? And what if she refuses or just becomes more irritated when I ask?

We both read Chapman's book on Love Languages a couple months ago. I am pretty sure that her primary languages were Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation, at least earlier in our marriage. But I've tried all 5 recently and she doesn't really respond to any of them. She even said it wouldn't do her any good to take the test to determine her primary language(s)at this point because of the wall she has built, and I kind of agree with that.

As far as our counselor, it's not that I don't think she isn't wanting our marriage to work, it's just that it doesn't seem she is as urgent to work on our marriage, as she says we need to take care of our individual issues first. I do agree that we each have issues to work on, but I don't see why we can't work on them at the same time as we work on our marriage. I'm certain she agrees with that but she's not going to push it on my wife until the wife tells her that she is ready to try that.

I know my wife thinks that her moving out will allow her to figure some things out for herself, but I don't see how she can ever be sure that my changes and efforts are real and permanent unless she's around to experience them first hand. At some point she's going to have to decide whether she even wants it to work and a large part of that hinges on her being convinced that this is not just a ploy to get her back and that things won't go back to the way the were before. So I'm just afraid that she will ultimately base that decision on my past behavior and actions instead of my present (and future) ones.

Thanks again for your reply and thanks in advance for your next one if you have anything to add.

Kevin, when someone decides to try to enter the Olympics, they have no way of knowing whether they will qualify. Even if they qualify, the odds of winning a medal are slim. And it's possible one of the judges will rely on their emotions about the contender's country or hair color rather than their actual performance, and that's enough to see a possible medal slip through their fingers. If they waffle, their bodies will be four years older the next time they get a chance.

The Olympics are worth watching because everyone in it made the choice to take the incredible risk of failure and prepare themselves for the competition anyway.

In the middle of a marriage crisis, it is easy to walk away. I was ready to do it myself, and then my husband died. You cannot begin to picture how much you'd be walking away from while you're in the middle of the crisis. More of your income will go toward the basic costs of living just as you're ready to do more and spend more time with other people.

If you date, the pool from which you choose your dates will now include a much higher percentage of people with lousy relationship skills and personality disorders. You will come to realize much that you could have done differently and have no way to undo any of it, so the temptation will be to blame your wife for the failure and avoid growing stronger and wiser.

You might fall in love again, but the odds of your new love falling in love with your grown children, too, is mighty slim. Twenty-four years of your best memories will be mostly private ones you can't share with your new love or with the person who is central to them.

Right now, your wife, nearly convinced you two cannot succeed as a couple, is threatening you with all of these. If you agree with her, it's over, and the whole package of regrets is yours. If you disagree, though, even knowing all the odds against taking home even a bronze, I doubt you'll ever look back on making the effort as a failure. And if you doubt that, watch a few of those Olympic competitions.

Hi Patty,

Me and my wife have been married for 3 years. In the middle of January she became good friends with this guy she just met. She started spending a lot of time with him until 1-2 am then coming home. Before this we had a happy marriage. She loved toi just sit at home and spend time watching tv, hanging out, or playing games. She had no problem if i woudl call or text her any time of the day. Once she started hanging out with this guy all that has changed. I got told that i dont give her space and that i don't need to talk to her all the time. When she woudl get a call or text from hiim she woudl hide it or go onto another part of the house. Then i get the old I love you but i am not in love with you line. She filed for divorce last month. Then jsut the other day she comes back and says i don't want the divorce anymore. Then yesterday i get i don't know what that was all about i still want the divorce. THe night she did come out and say she didn't want the divorce anymore she did admit to fooling around bu tno sexual intercourse. She has been staying at this guys house for a week now. When she is there or he is around she won't talk to me or i get leave me alone. SHe has only taken a few things of hers out of the house. I love her very much and i am not ready to give up hope. This just came on all of a sudden there were no hints. Just before she started talking to this guy and hanging out with him we were makign our plans for what we wanted to do this year. One more thing the other day she told me she loved me, but when i asked her about that she said i do but there are different kinds of love. How can one person just stop caring and loving someone? I really want to get back together and make it work. I will try anything. I know I can forgive her for what she has done. Could you please give me some advice? If you need more details i could try and give you more.

Thanks

Edward, my guess is that if your wife began spending a lot of time with another man after 3 years of marriage, has filed for divorce, and is staying in his home now, you had a happy marriage but she didn't. The "in love" part of the marriage was gone for her, and she sought it again with someone new.

At this point, you are not competing with him so much as with her expectation that you can no longer provide that "in love" feeling. If she loses the feeling again with him, she's likely to conclude there is something wrong with all men.

"In love" is no longer as mysterious a feeling as it once was.

Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, showed how often we exhibit our love in the ways that are most meaningful for us instead of the ways that touch our spouses. His book is available in almost every library or bookstore.

Emerson Eggerichs (author of Love and Respect, based on Christian biblical verses) and the team of Steven Stosny and Pat Love (authors of How to Improve Your Marriage without Talking About It) both wrote books about a gender difference in how we expect to be loved: men crave respect, while women crave cherishing.

Marriage researcher John Gottman (author of several excellent marriage books) determined that healthy marriages have a ratio of at least five positive interactions for each negative one and are largely free of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he calls them).

And most recently, Barbara Frederickson (author of Love 2.0) checked into the brains of people feeling the emotion of love and discovered it occurs in brief moments of shared positive emotions (happiness, laughter, awe, relief, etc.) and happens much more easily in person than by text, email, or even phone call. When we feel it, our brains release oxytocin (which improves communication and trust) and stimulate the vagus nerve (which actually makes our heart and other organs healthier and makes it easier to feel more love).

Resentment makes the emotion of love harder to experience, leads to negative interactions and all Four Horseman, stops men from cherishing and women from respecting, blinds us to acts of love, especially those using other Love Languages, and cuts way down on the gratitude that makes a partner keep on trying to show love.

When someone claims to love you but to have lost that "in love" feeling, there is still a chance to save the marriage, unless one of you has an active alcohol or drug abuse problem or cannot control your temper and won't seek help with this.

You might want to ask her if there was anything you did or failed to do that would have made a difference, as a way of understanding her resentments without sounding like a used car salesman overcoming an objection to a sale. Then you might try some of the tips in my Find Third Alternatives category for coming up with a different resolution to the disagreements that led to her resentment. That is the fastest way to show her the future could be very different from the past.

Then move on to finding opportunities for "Love 2.0" and ways to show her love in her own Love Language or through cherishing several times a day. If you have a bad interaction, follow it up with several good ones, not with backlash. Avoid the Four Horsemen. Don't tell her you forgive her before she asks for forgiveness. And stay steady: set yourself a date before which you will not withdraw your love or threaten to go ahead with the divorce, even though her emotions may swing back and forth for a couple of months.

I wish you the best of luck in turning this ship around, Edward. There are no speedy ways to do this, but there are many things you can try before you abandon ship.

Hi Patty,

So my wife of 14 years fell in love with another man that she started spending time with because of business. She dropped the bomb, "I love you, but I'm not in love with you, I love someone else" like 5 months ago.They continued to see each other and go out on dates, she even invited him over to the house. I caught them kissing one day and confronted them. I asked the guy if he was willing to continue with their adultery and he said that he didn't want to be that guy and promised to end it, which he did. But my wife had fallen for him. It was hard. I felt like they had treated me like scum, laughed in my face. Anyway, she ended up being around him with other people twice since that time that I caught them. She told me that she really enjoys being with him.
She told me that it was real love and that it was a result of years of me not fulfilling her emotionally. We are presently going to counseling, but the feeling that I get from her is that she doesn't trust that I will change and be good enough for her. She still loves the guy and says that she is trying to forget him but can't and doesn't know if she will ever stop loving him. We are presently interacting as friends and live in the same house with our daughter. Different bedrooms. She took up drinking because of what happened. She had never drank before!
When we argue, she gets mad because I ask her to decide. She says that she cannot tell her heart to decide, and I understand that, but what I mean is that if she really wants to give our marriage a chance like she said then she needs to decide to let go of connections that she has to the guy. Such as interacting with people that are part of his circle, like his sister. How am I supposed to believe that she wants to give our marriage a chance when she tells me that she would love to hang out with his sister? That sounds contradictory to me. In any case, I know I should not bug her with "well you need to decide" when I see her depressed because of her missing him or when she tries to be around him or people he knows but what else can I say? I don't know if she has convinced herself that she will never forget him as well. She always tells me about her mom that supposedly has been in love with this man for almost thirty years and can't forget about him. I don't want to quit on our marriage, especially because I love her and I need to repay for all those years that I made her feel alone (not consciously on my part).

Harsher still is her telling me that our sex life is unfulfilling, that I don't know how to touch her or kiss her the right way. And she also believes that she doesn't know if I can make her feel good that way. I don't know if that is a direct result of her not feeling an emotional connection with me, a sence of intimacy. I feel our marriage is a disaster but I'm not going to give up without a fight.

Like I said, now we are just trying to live life amicably. I don't know how long it will take for this to turn around and every day it hurts more and more. At the same time, I'm taking care of myself and worrying less about a possible divorce.

Do I have a chance and if so, what do I need to do?

Thank you for your time.

Joel, there is no question you have a chance. You do. But to get there, you need to stick to one goal, re-establishing a close relationship with your wife. It can be unbearable not to know the outcome, and the route there is not a direct one. The more you pay attention to the ultimate outcome, the harder it becomes to stay present with today's next step.

Here are some daily steps you can take. Buy yourselves a guide to good sex and ask your wife which ideas sound interesting to her. Maybe discuss two or three each time over a month or two. Listen for her reports of any accomplishments, compliments, promotions, or awards and give her some active, constructive feedback. Find five ways to remind her of your love each day. Turn some of them into daily habits. And look for lots of opportunities to share positive emotions: funny or uplifting movies, getting out in some awe-inspiring nature, listening to music, or participating in group movement like the Wave or line dancing.

Set yourself a time limit (which you can change no sooner than a week before it arrives) for waiting for her yes. And then forget about her decision and focus on living the relationship you hope for, one tiny step forward at a time. If one thing doesn't work, be prepared with two more to try instead. The best thing that could happen is for her to forget she's trying to make such a big decision and join you in living married life together with a smile.

By the way, your wife's behavior with this other man was truly rude and obnoxious. But if that's not the sort of woman you have known her to be for the 13 years leading up to this one, it's likely she was in a lot of pain and feeling trapped to choose to behave like this. As you feel your pain and fear while working through this, let it bring up your compassion for the pain and fear she felt, not resentment.

Hi Patty,

I apologize if this post is all over the place, I am not very eloquent.
I have been married for 25 months. Prior to this my wife and I dated for 7 years except for a rocky one year period in which we broke up due to my not being around as much and not treating her enough like a girlfriend. Our two years of marriage have been wonderful (or so I thought). Also I did notice warnings signs of things I could be doing better, it was not until my wife dropped a bombshell on me last week that I realized how emotionally deprived I have been making her and how I have not been speaking the love language that she does. I was not giving her enough time (via wasting time on the tv and computer), was not compromising with her on certain things, not showing her enough public affection, not being spontaneous enough (and being too routined) and finally not dressing up for her and taking her out and continuing to date her well past our wedding date. Maybe I was speaking the wrong love language in thinking that cooking and cleaning for her and providing for her was enough. I absolutely adore her, I love her and need her and I genuinely believe that she is the warmest, nicest, and most beautiful woman on this earth. Her bombshell destroyed me and I resolved to immediately start doing all of the things I should have been doing in the past. This immediate reaction led her to a feeling of numbness toward the relationship. She does not believe that my efforts now are genuine or that they will be lasting. She believes all of my thoughts, feelings, and actions recently conveyed as a means to improve things and create a relationship stronger and more promising than at any point in the past are not genuine at all. She thinks I sound rehearsed. She has asked for space and has mentioned her thinking about moving out (but not the thought of acting on it). She still wears her wedding ring but won't sleep in the same bed as me. She was responding back with "I love you" when I said it to her up to two days ago but I haven't had the strength to try it again. What am I doing wrong? Yes I want to give her space but I also want to prove myself immediately. I don't want her to move out, I want her to try to work this out with me and go to counseling as a last resort if we must but I just want her to try. She said she will try but she doesn't want to be fake around me and that she currently feels numb to the entire situation. I am not sleeping at night and killing myself with anxiety while waiting on things to improve and it has only been 6 days! She has NOT mentioned the word divorce once and has not said the word separation, I hope that is a good thing however as I've said, she mentioned moving out, mentioned space, and mentioned needing time.

What should I do? Also, is it a good idea to ask for help from her sister or close friend (even if the close friend doesn't know about our situation yet)?

I am willing to do anything and everything Patty - as I said, I adore her so much, I've only every considered spending the rest of my life with her but I am scared of losing the chance to prove it.

Thank you so much

My husband and I have been together for 25 years, married 21 with 2 children (19 and 16). We have had our ups and downs much like any other marriage, but I love him with everything I am. About 5 weeks ago I felt like he just was not happy. I asked him if he was happy and he told me that we were both miserable and he feels like he can't make me happy. He is a very quiet person and does not open up much, to go along with this I feel that I have been depressed (especially since the oldest moved out to go to college) and pushed him away because he wasn’t showing any affection to me. After agreeing to try to work on the marriage to see what would happen he finally told me there was someone else and that he loves this person. I was complexly blindsided and told him to get out. The next morning he returned so we could talk to our 16 year old about us getting a divorce. After we talked to her my husband and I talked a little more and I told him I felt our marriage and our children deserved another chance. He said he would so that I could never say HE didn’t try. So he went to cut things off between the other woman. She didn’t like that too much and was stopping by the house and calling him wanting to know how he could love her and do this to her. When he would talk to her he would on speaker with me there. Just recently he has told me that he has not felt the connection between us for a long time (he loves me, he just doesn’t feel the connection we once had).
It has been 2 weeks since this has happened and we are trying to work things out. I feel like everything I’m doing is just annoying him. One night he said it’s been two weeks and I feel no different toward you. How can he feel anything toward me when he still thinks bout and loves this other woman? We talk every night in bed about ideas of things to do to try and get his feeling of connection back to me but I feel like I’m drowning. We are going to counseling in a little over a week but I’m worried we won’t make it that far.
I am totally committed to working this marriage out. It is all up to him now. Is there any advice about how to make him love me again?

Roy, this sounds like a really scary place to be right now. But be patient. It takes a while to turn a marriage around. As Harriet Lerner wrote, anger is a dance. When you change the steps or lead a new turn, your partner is going to try to keep dancing the old pattern at first. If you take this as criticism instead of a muscle memory and wait too long to try the new move again, you will never change the dance.

It sounds like your wife is pretty clear about what makes her feel loved. It's not those great things you do for her (although I am sure she is grateful for them and would miss them terribly if you two divorced); it's your time and attention that make her feel loved. And while you're doing those nice things for her, you're feeling like you're loving her but she doesn't feel the love because she's missing out on together time because you're doing them.

Unless this is a second marriage, it's quite possible she not only wants more of your undivided attention but also wants you to *want* to give her that undivided attention and feel loving while you're doing it. It takes a good bit of experience with love to realize a husband is loving his wife when he's doing what makes him feel loving, not when he's doing what makes her feel loving. But you are in luck! Because one of your Love Languages is Acts of Service, you can treat speaking her Love Language as one of those acts. Instead of cooking and cleaning *for* her, you can do it *with* her -- or schedule it for times when she's not around.

I don't recommend turning to her sister or friend for help. They are her support system for a difficult period in her life. If she feels they have divided loyalties, she'll have a harder time navigating these shoals. She'll be more likely to take a rash move.

You might, however, turn to some of your married friends and set up an impromptu double-date or two. Choose men who will be comfortable with your public displays of affection toward your wife. One who has deliberately worked on improving his relationship with his wife, maybe gone through counseling with good results, would be an excellent choice.

I am not a fan of compromise. I hope you'll read some of my posts on Finding Third Alternatives or read Stephen Covey's book, The Third Alternative, so you can offer your wife something even better than compromise. There's something crazy about agreeing to accept less than what we want on the condition that it makes our spouse equally unhappy. Compromise ought to be saved for use as a last resort only when you can't do better.

And I hope I don't sound like a broken record, but my most heartfelt advice is to start living the relationship you want to have and stop talking about the one you have now.

Maryanne, I strongly urge you to stop talking about ways to reconnect (especially right before you go to sleep) and start experimenting with ways of reconnecting.

Healthy marriages have at least five positive interactions daily for every negative one. Ending your day with a big batch of dwelling on what's wrong is driving up the number you need. Put your energy into finding more positive interactions and creating new loving habits.

If he feels he's frustrated and unhappy because he can't pull you our of your depression, try doing something about your depression: pills, talk therapy, strenuous exercise, yoga, less sugar, whatever works for you. If one doesn't work, try another.

If he still loves you and has ended his affair, there is a chance the affair was not the first step out the door but a sanity-saver [of the ill-advised and unlikely to work variety] so he could bear to stay until your depression lifts. But now he's hurting someone he cared about in order to take a last shot at not hurting you and your kids even more. If you can find it in your heart, treat him the way you'd treat a friend whose heart was recently broken by someone you're actually glad is gone. Just skip the mani-pedi.

And please read my reply to Edward (up above on this page).

Hi Patty,
I have been with husband since I was 23, now 34. married nearly 3 years. Last year we were having upsetting arguments because he wanted to work abroad and I wanted to buy our own place and eventually have a baby. We just couldn't talk without getting very emotional/heated. In October he told me he wanted a separation. After a lot of upset I went to stay with my mother before Christmas. Towards end of January we met, and realised we still missed each other and loved each other still. He pleaded with me to come home. So I did. However, I felt I came back to make a real go of it, but he held back emotionally. He refused to go away with me for a weekend even. So we've had dates during this time, but no real getting away from it all. For the past 3 weeks he has been withdrawing emotionally and this week, after getting back from a business trip he told me he is so unhappy and he can't live with himself for the pain he put me through during the separation last year, and he has fallen out of love with me and can't get the love back. He says that I will never forgive him for breaking up with me and it will always be there so we can never move forward together. He has been so tearful and anxious all week, so I thought perhaps he has depression - he had this in his early 20s before we met. He told me I saved him back then from his sadness - but he feels it is coming back. He agreed to a marriage counselling session but won't agree to go for any more sessions as he doesn't want this dragging out. So I have organised one session for Monday evening, but he seems to be just paying lip service and is now pushing for a break up again before we even get to the counsellor. It is so painful to have been asked to come home, and now 6 weeks later to be told he cares for me so much but he feels there is something missing. I am at a loss as to how to act. He keeps wanting to talk but I don't know what to say to make him realise I truly love him and its not just because I'm frightened to be alone. He seems to think the only way is to separate for good as he can't bear to see me crying and in pain due to his rejection. I am resisting having him move to the spare bedroom because this is how it all started before, and am trying to talk to him calmly. But to be constantly told that he doesn't think he can fall in love with me again and there is no other way but to be apart is so painful that eventually I break down and cry. Am I just torturing myself? How can he care for me and yet not wish to make an effort to fall in love with me ? He is starting to say that one of us must leave again. I just can't bear the thought of losing him again.

Emma, this sounds like a miserable and frustrating situation.

Before you left, you were both emotional and had heated discussions about a major life decision. Since your return six weeks ago, he's been less emotional but you've been angry at him again, because he didn't want to go away for a weekend or longer. Then he goes away on a business trip and comes back wanting to talk and getting turned down, saying there is something missing, letting you know he doesn't believe you will ever let him forget the mistake of separating, and asserting that it won't ever get any better so you ought to end it right away.

I can see two possible back stories. One is that he was having an affair, it ended in January, and it started up again on this business trip, but this is not where I would put my money if I had to place a bet. I think a much better guess would be that you have no clue how important respect is to men or even what they mean by it. (I sure didn't at your age.) And he has no clue what you're looking for on your weekend away, which I would guess is to have him focused only on having a good time with you and not all the other things that compete for his attention or keep him anxious. And neither of you has yet learned how to handle such a huge disagreement as move overseas vs. buy a home and have kids.

How fast can you read? It would be great if you learned a bit about respect and how its lack interferes with the cherishing you're looking for -- before your Monday appointment. I would suggest either How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Pat Love and Steven Stosny for the scientific research view or Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs for the Biblical view. Both come up with the same recommendations, and they really make a huge difference in a marriage.

Download either one of them to your Kindle or the free Kindle reader for your computer and start reading immediately. You will both get a lot more out of your first counseling session if you understand the hot buttons that come with male biology.

Then, after your Monday appointment, come back and read my posts about finding Third Alternatives or pick up Stephen Covey's book, The 3rd Alternative, because it really is possible to find a way to satisfy both of you instead of fighting over decisions like the one that pushed you apart.

And if he still wants to separate after Monday's session, try not to worry. It's not over yet, as long as you are learning new ways to relate to him.

Patty, your compassion, insight and generosity in answering all of us who want to save our relationships is truly extraordinary. Thank you.

After 12 years of marriage and two kids (7 and 10) my wife, whom I love totally, told me she has been unhappy for a long time and wants a divorce. Of course I am floored and devastated. She's sure she has no feelings for me and that she married the wrong person. She was willing to go to marriage therapy with me "to make sure" divorce was the right thing to do, and we went to a few sessions, but she really wasn't an active participant and neither of us thought the therapist was very engaging, so now we've stopped.

We both took the 5 Languages of Love test and we have the same two languages - Quality Time and Physical Touch. We had a lot of that before the kids came, but once we had our wonderful kids, we transferred all attention to them at the expense of our relationship. I think we both did this, but I take full responsibility -- I could have avoided this if I had been more awake to her needs.

Here's my problem and question: She doesn't want those things from me now - she says it is too late and it just makes her mad if I try to touch her at all (she won't even shake hands with me) She will sit down to talk with me if ask, but doesn't want to go out and spend quality time with me. I see that she wants some space and so I have backed off (we're still living together), but it feels like we're going backwards, reverting to old bad habits -- it's a cold place when we only talk about the kids or scheduling and there is no warmth to share or build on. How do I start building the bridge back to her, how do I act around her in a positive and loving way if she doesn't want it and how do I avoid having this transactional and cold atmosphere just confirm what was wrong with our relationship (or by her reckoning, wrong with me)?

Thank you for your help.

Thank you, Loren. I so appreciate the opportunity to help.

That is a great advantage you two have, sharing two Love Languages. Here are a few more things you can try:

(1) Interview every therapist in your area and find one who fits better. Start with any on this list: http://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com/ -- they understand that the odds of happiness for each of you and good outcomes for your children are truly better for fixing a non-violent marriage than starting over. This forces them to learn more ways to help make a marriage happy again. You go first. If you think you've got a good one, tell her something you've learned and ask her to join you at least once.

(2) Pay attention to Barbara Frederickson's Love 2.0 findings: the emotion of love comes in frequent, brief moments of synchronously experiencing another positive emotion. If you want your spouse to feel more in love, then avoid withdrawal, anger, negotiations, tears, etc. as much as possible.

(3) Remember that defensiveness is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (divorce), according to John Gottman's very thorough research. When you learn your wife has been unhappy for a long while and thinks you are the wrong person, it's hard not to feel defensive, so line up your supporters. Have people available to listen to you blow off steam and to brainstorm new ideas, and be sure they know your goal is to stay with the woman you love, not to prove her wrong. With their help, you may be able to stay more open to hearing why she's unhappy and look for Third Alternatives. Remember, she's been trying to solve these problems a lot longer than you have, and she wants out because she's exhausted every angle she can think of. Defending your actions doesn't create any new options; it just dwells on the old ones.

(4) Check to see if your parents, siblings, or friends might take your kids for a week so you two have more private time together. Consider a vacation for the two of you where there is lots to do, lots of group activities, and multiple dining choices. All of them give you time to unwind and greater chances of synchronous positive emotions, even if you're at opposite ends of a yoga class or in different rafts paddling like mad through the rapids. And be sensitive that Physical Touch feels like love to her, so she's likely to avoid it until she begins again to feel "in love" with you. You don't want to mess with her Love Language by demanding or imposing touch.

Let us know how things work out, Loren. You are always welcome here.

Dear Patty,

I took your advice and read the Emerson Eggerichs book before the counselling session with my husband on Monday night. It made a lot of sense. In the counselling session my husband made it clear he only wanted limited sessions together to make sure we have a good ending to the relationship. I didn’t want to object too much so I made it clear that I wanted to understand how we went from our beautiful wedding in 2011 to him feeling to disconnected from me that he says he isn’t in love with me – I don’t want to take these mistakes into any future relationships. The counsellor picked up on my husband’s intense anxiety to separate immediately. She told him he needs to centre himself and control it and be adult about the situation. She looked at our interactions and considered why he felt intense attraction to me when we were separated, but as soon as I moved back in he started to lose it again. We both got a lot out of the session. That evening he showed tenderness and even regret, but said he could not go back, he had to see this through and end it. Tuesday evening his anxiety was through the roof again, and things got out of hand with frightening arguments and out of character behaviour from him trying to force the separation issue without giving me a proper chance to make arrangements to move out. He has now admitted that he is battling inside with a sadness and that he is frightened will take over, he knows he is depressed. Thursday he had individual counselling and he was so calm and loving to me that evening – still maintaining he is ending it, still maintaining we need to discuss divorce. He made dinner for us. I told him the stress is getting to me and I was feeling panicky so I will pack some things and go to my mother’s on Sunday and stay there for the week. He said he would sleep next to me instead of in the other room. I am very confused – he couldn’t wait to get away from me, he insists he needs a timeline for divorce, yet he comforts my anxiety by sleeping next to me. Monday afternoon we have another appointment with the couples counsellor but the agenda is to discuss endings. I will be moving the rest of my things out of the apartment on April 7. He is insistent it is for the best, and since this is the second time he has thrown separation/divorce at me in the space of 6 months I want to show he hasn’t got me on a piece of string and just get myself out of this unhappy situation. I do strongly feel that our issues could be resolved and he is acting impulsively. He said he wants to stay friends, he wants to be able to meet up for lunch, he wants me in his life, but he is so set on permanent separation.

Emma, that is so sad. It does sound like you have a good counselor. And perhaps a husband with commitment phobia, whose fears of losing himself (to his own feelings of commitment, not to your actions or demands) would be calmed by your plans to depart.

Depression is treatable. You might want to propose (in front of the counselor) a temporary separation, with no permanent plans until his depression is under control.

Hello. I found your blog after a search on feeling no connection to your spouse anymore. Unlike many of the comments here, I am the person who feels this way, not my spouse.

We have been together for 16 years, and married for 13. We have 4 children together, ages 3-12. We got married when I was 19 and he was 20. We had an intensely passionate dating period. We connected on such a deep level, we couldn't keep our hands off of each other, and we couldn't stand to be apart.

When we got married, I had a horrible reaction to the birth control pills that I was taking, and I ended up getting pregnant just a month and a half after our wedding. This altered our relationship drastically. We experienced the loss of a job, having to move back in with family, and other stresses. But really, the first six years of our marriage was a mess because he was emotionally abusive to me. If the house wasn't up to his expectations when he got home (even after 3 kids), he was angry with me. If dinner wasn't ready when he walked through the door, he was angry with me. If dinner was even slightly overcooked (again, 3 very small children), he'd throw the entire plate and food into the sink with disgust. I lost the passionate partner, and gained an abuser.

It took me six years of living like that (and yes, there were wonderful times in between...not all was bad) before I gave him an ultimatum. Either he changed, or I was done. I was tired of feeling like my worth was tied to how well the house was cleaned, how good dinner was, and how often we had sex. There was no romance anymore. It was slow, but change *did* happen. Over the past 7 years, he has reverted to some emotional abuse at times, and still has a horrid temper...but overall, changed in positive ways. Last year we discussed divorce due to feeling like we were fighting more than we weren't, and never fully resolving things. One of my most recurring issues is that he puts very little to no effort into maintaining our relationship. That's my job. As is everything else in the home. For a very long time, I seriously didn't believe that he would be very sad if I died...because he didn't give me any indications that I was still the love of his life. I felt like more of a friend whom he could sleep with.

I have been in school for 2 years, and am finishing up my bachelor's degree in Psychology with the intent of applying for PhD programs in the next year. Slowly I have felt decreasing degrees of connection with my husband, and I think I have pretty much flatlined now. I have no libido (due to hormonal issues, I have dealt with low libido for years, but was willing to meet his needs regularly), and in the past few days I don't even really want to hug or kiss him. I want him to leave me alone. It's as if suddenly, someone cut the string that has emotionally connected us. I'm tired of trying. I'm tired of making concessions for the lack of effort on his part. I'm also exhausted. I am working part time at a domestic violence shelter, I am going to school full-time, and I have a small home business on top of all of this. I started going to see a therapist a few months ago, to work through lingering issues with my parents, and that has helped to identify what I'm feeling in terms of my marriage. I still feel like I am only worth what I give, and give, and give, and give.

I am at a place in my life when I am finding myself. And I feel suffocated, and need room. I just don't know how to tell this to my husband without him thinking that I want a divorce, or that I have found someone else (GOD NO!). I just need space to be me, without being tied.

Any suggestions/recommendations?

You two have been through a lot, Christy. That's young to start raising children and having to move back in with family probably increased the stresses. And hormonal issues, including your reaction to the pills, surely affect your feelings.

But space won't give you back your deep connection, and it won't make it any easier to go after that connection when you're done needing space. It just moves the pain from one of you to the other, which will cause him to withdraw, too.

Because you are studying psychology, I want to send you to a few authors with some interesting answers for you.

First, if you are still dealing with parent issues, it is likely those issues actually drew you to your husband and made you feel so connected. This makes him the perfect partner for a full recovery. Harville Hendrix researches and writes about this topic.

Second, the connection you're looking to regain (and I'm so glad you have the good sense not to look for it in someone else's arms) requires daily contact. You can read more about this research in Barbara Frederickson's Love 2.0.

Third, back when things started going so horribly off track and he was getting angry over your efforts at home, he was probably starved for respect. As a young man with fewer relationship skills than you, he unlikely had no clue what was going on, and there is no reason you would, either. But something really important was most likely missing from his relationship with you, and he was building up resentment over it and showing his resentment in ways he probably picked up from his parents (see Harville Hendrix again).

I am pretty sure he needed more appreciation for stepping up to the plate and supporting you and the children, and his way of handling his dashed hopes made it less and less likely you would give it. Patricia Love and Steven Stosny co-authored a book about research into this area. Emerson Eggerichs wrote one before theirs that drew on Bible quotes rather than research but offers some excellent suggestions for dealing with the problem. I love his analogy of the air hoses. When he got angry with you, he stepped on your air hose and you behaved as a woman will behave when starved for love. One of the first things we automatically do is to stop offering the feedback that tells men they are respected, which is like stepping on their air hose. And a man's automatic reaction to the panic of getting no air is to stop treating you like the love of his life. It's in our hormones, and most of us run into this at some point. You two have dealt with a lot of it.

Because you work in a domestic violence program, I trust you have the sense to step out of range of any harmful reactions from your husband to the stresses in his life. But you may want to try a few changes in the way you deal with him. You may discover he's been trying to maintain your relationship, but by giving you the things he would want, having no clue what you really want. And you may discover he has not noticed much of what you've done to maintain the relationship, because you're offering love and romance instead of respect and trust.

Right now, as you approach a degree and look forward to a graduate degree, his relationship with you is under great threat and he's likely reacting in unproductive ways. This doesn't mean you back away from your dreams or from him. It means you lean in and find new ways to get close again. It means you help him feel a bit safer through this transition that you're leading.

It also means you are going to face new disagreements, so I heartily encourage you to learn more about how to Find Third Alternatives on this blog or through Stephen Covey's book on the subject. You both need some changes in your responsibilities, and you'll never find them as long as you think I do it and you do it are your only two options.

You've both been through some very hard times together, but soon you're likely to have more money and less demanding parenting responsibilities and fewer issues with your parents, which means a chance at that intensely close and loving relationship again.

By now, even your husband must be rather tired of his anger, so the two of you might want to consider one of Dr. Steven Covey's Compassion Power Bootcamps, either in person in Maryland or by phone from your home (best done while your kids go visit a grandparent or friend for the weekend). You'll get as much out of it as he does.

I am really glad you wrote, Christy, because I think seeing things through your eyes could help a lot of the men reading this page whose wives are feeling your pain. I hope that some of the resources in this reply help you avoid putting that man you connected so deeply with not so long ago through the sort of pain and longing they have expressed here. While I can really relate to your desire just to withdraw, what I hear suggests you have a very good shot at recapturing that deep understanding of each other. When things are bad, getting to zero is tempting, but getting north of zero nourishes you a lot longer.

Hi,

I am looking for help. My husband and I have been together for 9 years and have 2 boys. 7 weeks ago he went to work one day and never came home. We have our share of arguments every 6 months but hadn't had one recently. He told me he needed some time to figure out what he wanted he was unhappy and didn't want to make a rash decision out of anger. I reacted out of emotion, crying saying I would do anything to fix this for our family as I didn't see this coming. He said I was pressuring him and didn't want to talk. We went to counseling once where he spoke of divorce and the counselor said she could help lead us there if that's what we wanted. He wouldn't go back with me after that and started going alone. He wouldn't meet me after that, won't come over the house when I am here. Basically refuses to see me. He sent me a text a couple weeks ago that he wanted a divorce he was done and had made his mind up. Whenever he brings up divorce I tell him I love him and am not ready for a divorce. He sent me a text again yesterday telling me he wants to be honest with me that he saw an attorney and filed. That it's over. I stood firm and responded. I am not ready to talk about divorce. We ended up meeting last night because we both wanted to make a schedule for the boys. We ended up just having a couple drinks and talking about life for an hour or so. When I brought up making a schedule he said we will just take it week by wek. I said I didn't want to be served and have a judge tell me when the boys are shared he said if that's his decision I have to respect that. I said I didn't want another woman in their life. He said if that happens down the road I have to respect that and we have to do what's best for the boys. When it was time to leave we hugged and I told him I loved him very much. He said thank you I appreciate it. I said you don't? He said you know I do. I said can you give me a kiss on the cheek or anything and he said we have to take baby steps. He told me he has a lot to think about. I ended up just getting In my car to leave and he sent me a text saying he's sorry he knows this is hard. And that was it. I'm so confused. I love my husband so much and I am so upset and so over this hurt. I want this man in my life I don't care if he comes home tomorrow or a month from now I just don't want to spend my life without him. Please help

Taylor, your situation sounds very frightening. He's right; it will take time, and you will have to figure things out one week at a time. But have hope, and be sure you read this post and the article it links to: http://www.assumelove.com/2009/08/i_dont_love_you_anymore.html

Hello

On march 19 my wife told me she doesn't love me anymore, everyone told me to give her time but she is still the same, she wanted me to stay there till I had money and then find somewhere else to live, but that was killing me so I had to find out if she is seeing someone else and she was, so I left and moved out, do I wait things out and hope it doesn't work out with this other guy or should I move on we have a daughter together and I want her back so bad, what should i do?

How sad, Stephen. No one else can make such a tough decision for you. It might help to know that very few pre-separation affairs turn into long-term relationships, but they can be quite intoxicating at first.

Do what you can--in positive, not blaming, ways--to keep your daughter out of that relationship until the dust settles, especially if you're going to try winning her back. There are lots of ideas for doing that in the comments above yours.

You are going to have a lifelong relationship with her because of your daughter. While a month must feel awfully long to wait already, it's one of 216 months in raising a child to 18, one of 338 to the average age at which she'll marry, one of a lot more until your grandkids are grown.

Problem is she has known this guy longer than me and because he was married then but he he not married anymore I feel I have no chance at all, I know we have to communicate together because of our daughter but is it alright if I don't see her for a while as it hurts to much and don't think I have a chance since I found this out

Stephen, only you can decide how much of the pain she's inflicting you can put up with.

But I can tell you men are generally lousy at guessing whether they have a chance or not. Don't burn any bridges until you are sure you don't want her back.

Thank you patty means a lot

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

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