A Reader Writes…
About 3 months ago, my husband of eleven year told me that we was very unhappy and wanted passion. Over the last few years the sex had slowed down a lot. So I started doing everything I could to have as much sex as possible, surprise him in the shower, etc. He seemed very happy with this. I thought things were getting better but when we spend time together I feel that his mind is somewhere else. When I try to give him affection outside of sex he pulls away and says I feel like a friend or a sister.
I read your book ” I love you but I’m not IN LOVE with you” It really helped me and made me feel optimistic about turning things around. I’ve also been seeing a therapist. My husband and I both hate confrontation so we have been avoiding talking about things. I tried to take the advise from your book and start arguments but he walks off. Last night I brought up our problems and said we really need to talk about them. He agreed. There was crying and some shouting involved. He seemed to have his mind made up that the marriage won’t work out although he wishes it would. He has not had an affair and there is no one else but he is tempted. He refused to go to therapy with me.
I told him about your book and asked if he would read it for me as one last gesture before deciding. He says he doesn’t have time to read it. So I started talking about the first chapter and the stages of love and how people really can get those feelings back. That’s when he said ” what if those feelings were never there to begin with?” I asked what he meant and he claims that he never had that “spark” with me. He says he loves me but he never felt any passion and that he thought I was the type of person he wanted to be with and that that was the grown up thing to do. He said all the relationships before me were very passionate but the women had problems and were not intelligent and had no ambition.
He liked that I was different so he convinced himself that it was enough to have all the other things but a passionless relationship but now he wants more. I thought we had passion in the beginning– maybe not as much as I’ve had with some other people but it was there. He does not agree. Now everything I believed to be true feels like lie. The last eleven years of me being happy and thinking he was happy were not real. Is it time for me to give up on the relationship? I’m in so much pain and don’t know what to do.
You would be amazed how often people say ‘but I never felt that spark.’ However, they have been together twenty plus years and have several children! Over time, they have grown to love each other or respect, friendship, shared interests and children is enough to bond them tighter than many love matches. In many ways, this is much better than the incredibly passionate relationships (often verging on the destructive) that burn themselves out after a couple of years. In other words, the size of the spark does not determine the success of the relationship!
Having said that, I often meet people – normally men – who are depressed and in their dark moments fear that they have never been in love or are just the buttoned up types who are strangers to their emotions (not just passion but anger and joy too) and who under report all their feelings.
Next, there are those that find intimacy difficult and challenging (normally their parents fought constantly, got divorced or lead polite but separate lives). They still want to be close to someone but fear it too. So they fall for women who are not available or not suitable – and hey presto, they are ‘safe’. Alternatively, they chose someone available and suitable but hold themselves back – and hey presto, they’re still safe.
So although telling you ‘I’ve never felt that spark’ is an incredibly cruel thing to say, it’s more about him than you (so please don’t beat yourself up for not inspiring it). Just because he wants to rain on the last eleven years, does not make your experiences and happiness suddenly not valid or real.
So should you give up? Most definitely not! I would definitely fight to save this relationship (but not by giving him sex – unless that what you’re truly want for yourself, rather than to please him). In a nutshell, you need to change the way you communicate and begin to discuss your problems (rather than sweep them under the carpet). So read ‘Resolve your differences’ – although the low-conflict section is from ILYB – it’s not about picking fights but being assertive (see Chapter Three). I would also look at ‘Help your partner say yes’ as that explains how to stop what isn’t working and finding alternative ways to communicate.
I’m not promising that he will have the strength of character to stick at it and sort these problems out, but even if he doesn’t you will have learnt a lot from trying, taken charge of the situation (rather than slinking away) and found a more balanced view of what happened.