It takes two people to save a marriage but only one person to get the ball rolling and ultimately recruit their partner. Here’s how to make a start.
A Reader Writes…
My wife said the phrase almost three weeks ago that she doesn’t love me. Now she said this in our very first counselling session a week ago and also said that she loves me and cares for me but isn’t in love with me and doesn’t have those feelings for me or the spark.
Suggestions? Book to read first, second, etc.
Now we are still in the same house together right now and can occasionally have a conversation but usually very brief. If we try to talk for too long it tends to lead to an argument or I really get upset and don’t know how to express myself.
I am feeling a lot of pain right now and I do want things to work, but I think she has already made up her mind to move on. Everything she says suggests just that point. She says lets go to counselling to communicate for our two boys (6 and 8) but it won’t change how I feel about you.
So all this after being married just shy of ten years and being together for 12 years. I don’t get it and don’t know if I ever will.
What suggestions do you have?
You are still in shock after hearing that you wife doesn’t love you, so I’m not surprised that you feel de-skilled, confused and bewildered.
The first thing to say is that you can save your marriage all on your own – even if your wife says she’s made-up her mind. Lots of people think it takes two – and it does ultimately – but to get the ball rolling, it only takes you. So don’t ask for reassurance or is there any hope. (That just comes across as needy or clinging and that is the opposite of reigniting the spark). Don’t have agonised arguments about what went wrong – just start fixing the problem today (and let tomorrow take care of itself).
So what do you do? Basically you know what the matter is. She’s told you a thousand times beforehand but you’ve either discounted her opinion (because from where you’re sitting it looks different) or counter-claimed (‘If you think that’s bad what about what you do.’) or thought ‘not that again’. Ultimately, you haven’t listened or made her feel heard. (There’s more about truly listening in ILYB and especially in Help your partner say ‘yes’. Imagine, for a second, that everything she says is true. A horrible thought, I know. But, with this new insight, what would you do differently?)
So why is she so determined to leave if all it takes is listening? You’ve probably promised to change or try harder and it’s all slipped back into the same old groove. So you’ve not only got to start changing but keep changing – even though she will not believe that it’s a real for weeks or probably months. (She might even be angry or obstructive – why didn’t you do this earlier – but just keep going.) Tough I know but if you’ve still got enough love left to start changing yourself – rather than waiting for her to join in and ‘try and save your marriage’ – that’s all you need.
Two things that you MUST not do
1. Use the children as blackmail
No woman wants to break up her kids home, making her feel guilty puts you in opposite camp (and you’re the bad guy). You need to be on the same team asking: How can we sort this out? Complaining that she isn’t taking her wedding vows seriously is falling into the same trap.
2. Make grand gestures like a romantic trip to Venice
This makes her feel that she can be bought off. It reaffirms her idea that you’re not taking her seriously and want to sweep all the problems under the carpet. She’d still have to deal with her everyday misery when Venice is long since forgotten.
I’m sure you have the strength of character to make this work. Start reading, start changing and keep strong and you will get wife to fall back in love. Good luck.
Finally, you asked for a reading list (and in which order):
- My wife doesn’t love me any more (Step by step, I take you through why she’s fallen out of love and how to fight back)
- ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you’
- Help you partner say yes
- Learn to love yourself enough (You need to feel better in yourself and deal with the devil voices in your head)
Craig smith says
Need help I live my wife very much she loves me but not in love with me what to do
Andrew G. Marshall says
Read my books ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you’ and ‘My wife doesn’t love me any more’. You will find not only that you’re not alone but there is a path back to sanity.
Hi Andrew, I have read lots of posts on your website and also ILYB and How can I trust you again? – my situation is that my wife has had an affair (We’ve been together since we were 18, married 12 years) , she says she has been very happy with our life together (and 2 kids) but when she looks back she feels like for a long time (years) she hasn’t wanted to have sex with me (even though we have been having sex all throughout our marriage).
We both agree that in hindsight our sexual relationship wasn’t quite right but neither of us said or did anything, for my part, I convinced myself that she had a low sex drive, and that is was normal for a long relationship to loose that ‘spark’ and was at least happy that were still having sex.
We both agree that pretty much every other area of our life is great and fulfilling although we don’t argue much or do much separately, which I now know from reading your books are red flags.
She has had a very hard time choosing between me and her affair, she feels like there is a lot to lose here and a lot of love, but that she also might love him and could possibly have a great life with him. At the moment she has decided to stay in our relationship and cut off all contact with him. This has made her very upset, which of course also makes me upset/angry. I feel like she could change her mind at any moment, and moreover don’t feel like she is ever going to want to be intimate again.
We are able to talk about all of this, and still hug etc.. which makes us both feel like there is a lot of love between us. Ideally she would have moved out on her own to think, but with 2 kids it wasn’t really an option, financially or otherwise.
We are trying to let time pass, it’s only been 2 weeks since she stopped seeing him, but I’m worried it’s only making us drift further apart. How should we try and reintroduce intimacy? If she doesn’t want to then why/how can we stay together? I can’t live in a marriage without intimacy, however well we get on. I want her stay in the marriage because she wants me, not just because it’s comfortable and for the kids etc…
Any advice greatly appreciated!
Andrew G. Marshall says
First off, I want to offer my sympathy for everything that’s happened and my congratulations for discovering the root of the problem and taking it so well. Next, I want you to be patient. Two weeks is nothing. She needs time to grief the loss of what, for her, was an important relationship. It is natural that she will be angry about having to ‘give him up’ and it’s perfectly possible that it will be directed at you. (If you’d like help coping in this difficult period, look at my book ‘Wake Up and Change Your Life’). When do you restart intimacy? There is no easy answer to that beyond: when she’s ready! And I can’t predict that. However, I would suggest speaking with someone to discover what wasn’t right with your sexual relationship at the beginning. It could have been some unhelpful myths about sex – that need to be challenged. It might be that she needed more foreplay. It might be that you were so gentle and tentative that she became impatient. I don’t know but talking with a third party would help understanding…. if you see a sex therapist (assuming you’re in the UK Relate has many and I have two in my team) they will help you break down what’s wrong with the sex and slowly rebuild it in a way that is loving and restores your bond (rather than going through the motions). There is more sex in my book ‘Have the sex you want’. Good luck
Hi Andrew, thanks for replying. Unfortunately things didn’t work out and she has decided she needs to keep seeing him, and so we are in the process of separating. We are living as separated at the moment in our family home, taking alternate nights to go out; she is going to move out mid December. She has had the occasional ‘wobble’ when talking about the reality of moving out, but this doesn’t lead to her saying she’ll give him up, so ultimately she has to go. I do feel a bit like I’m pushing her into his arms and into this new life, but frankly she is the one making this choice, not me. The strange thing is things are still pretty amicable between us, probably because I’m letting them be, and in the end we are going to have to co-parent together so we might as well remain ‘friends’. I suppose the reality will really kick in when she moves out. Do you think we should avoid all unnecessary contact, to give me time to ‘move on’? Although at the moment I do still feel very strongly about her, I am slowly beginning to question why I would want to be with someone that is hurting me so much. I have read Heal and Move on, in preparation for the next steps! Do you have any advice for managing the separation, and the transition from husband and wife to co-parents? Thanks again.
Andrew G. Marshall says
Keep talking and keep the lines of communication open.