A Reader Writes…
I am currently more than halfway through I Love You but I’m Not in Love With You and I am finding the book exceptionally helpful. Here’s my current situation. I have been with my partner for almost five years. We had a breakdown in the relationship around November of 2011 and in February of 2012 right before getting married I was unfaithful. I developed an inappropriate friendship with a co-worker. There was never sexual intimacy but we did exchange kisses and spent time together on a couple of occasions. This devastated my partner.
Initially, the other woman kissed me and it was awkward and on another day I kissed her. Again very awkward. A few days later I told my partner and she decided to forgive me. We postponed getting married for a month but right after getting married the situation at work continued. The other woman was very persistent and just because my partner and I got married, it didn’t mean that our issues were resolved. At this point I knew that I loved my wife very much and wanted to work on my relationship. I was very honest with the other woman and at the same time I wanted to protect my career.
Shortly thereafter my wife confronted me and I was honest. At first she didn’t want to forgive me because she feels that I was unfaithful twice and that I took time away from our family to be with someone else. But she did say yes to forgiving me and working on our relationship. We did counselling a few times and one day out of the blue, she no longer wanted to go. She never communicated with me how she was feeling but I could tell she was changing and I in return made matters worse because I started to panic. Then almost two months ago in a heated and emotional argument she dropped the bomb, “I love you but I am not in love with you anymore”. That was followed by her admitting that she was done and had nothing left to give me or the relationship. She also told me that she was done with putting up with my bad temper and admitted to allowing me to control too many aspects of our relationship and the upbringing of her biological daughter.
Since then I have made a few mistakes. I went into shock and fell into a deep depression. I had some suicidal moments and my anxiety was through the roof. I found it difficult to concentrate on anything (still working on the concentration) and was barely eating or sleeping. I also discovered that alcohol brought out a different side of me. I went through a point that I no longer cared about life. This pushed her further away. However, I am currently seeing our marriage counsellor alone because I am committed to working on myself and learning all that I possibly can from this process. I have also found ways of coping since I do not have family in this state what so ever. I work out and am starting to create somewhat of a social life.
I can’t say that things are not slowly getting better. We do communicate on the day to day things and co-parent but the discussion about our relationship is completely off limits. As a matter of fact she gets angry and lets me know each and every time that her mind is not going to change. She also told me that the more I push the more I push her away. Last weekend she agreed to have lunch with and it was nice. I figure that if I can start creating small moments outside of the house in which we can reconnect then it is a good thing.
We are still living under the same roof but sleeping in separate quarters. Since we are both women we don’t care about seeing each other naked or if one of us is using the bathroom the other comes in, it’s not an issue. Sometimes I think this behaviour is not typical of someone who is just “done” but I can’t go on that alone. I also crawl back into our bed from time to time and hold her, she lets me and some times reciprocates. We haven’t kissed for almost a month but do give each other a peck on the cheek and a hug in the mornings. Are these good signs or is she just being nice?
She did tell me a week ago that she has a wall up and will not be vulnerable with me. Trust is obviously a major issue. I know she still finds me attractive because from time to time she will tell me that I look beautiful. I know she cares as she checks up on me if I am out at night but I am terrified of the unknown. I can’t read her at times. Sometimes she shows up unexpectedly before I go out and I take this as a good sign, but then when I see her the next time around she is completely withdrawn. Is this a defence mechanism?
We have begun to separate our finances and have discussed me moving out in the future but nothing is concrete. Nor does she entertain my conversations about getting a new place, etc. My close friends tell me that she is punishing me or testing how much am I able to put up with. That she wants to know that if she’s worth it to me that I will stick around. But I think it’s more than that.
Since all of this happened I have managed to get a grip on my life and understand what happened with us. I know we were too codependent on each other and lacked individuality. We moved in a month after meeting each other and took on way too much. We even relocated to a new state before our second year anniversary. She also does not like to argue and I on the other hand am very opinionated and passionate. I now know she has never felt heard and often times had to put her feelings aside to deal with me. I am committed to working on the things that I need to change and have already begun doing so.
My question is, now that I am learning and changing how do I bring her on board? Is there still hope for us? I love her more than anything. I am deeply regretful and saddened by the fact that we are where we are but I also see that we could have an amazing relationship if she were just willing to try. It breaks my heart to see her so distant and cold. She says it’s a gift and that she never knew she could be so cold especially towards me.
I know that I have to continue to try without looking for reassurance but this is the most difficult part for me. I find myself waiting for her to call and obsessively looking at my cellphone. I don’t know what the right amount of contact is during the day and what isn’t. When I should or should not call her. How do I make her miss me? I also struggle with giving too much. I want to make her comfortable but I am not sure that it’s working. How do I know that she’s changing her mind or that deep inside she’s struggling with her decision?
Congratulations on getting a grip on your life, cutting down the drinking and beginning to turn things round. Much as we’d like to be able to ‘save’ our relationship with one dramatic move, but as you’re discovering, it takes time and patience.
I know you are writing to me for reassurance that there’s hope – and I’m happy to give it – but when you’re anxious please don’t pester your wife for some sign (because as you’ve also found it just pushes her away). Please look for some other coping strategy, like reading a self-help book (I have several to suggest) or putting your thoughts in a diary or phoning a friend. However, please don’t push it onto her. In fact, apologise for keeping on bringing it up, explain that you’ve decided to not mention it until she does (when you’ll be happy to discuss).
I would also like you to concentrate on changing yourself – rather than monitoring her for signs that she is changing. For two reasons, it will stop you trying to second guess her but more importantly: YOU CAN CHANGE YOURSELF but now her. So in answer to your question, how can I make her miss me – you can’t! However, by working on yourself and changing the way you respond to her, you can influence her.
So what changes should you make? The first and most important one is to listen to her – even if she’s telling you things that upset you or you disagree with. I know you want to convince her it will better or that the other woman met nothing but trying to change her mind means not taking her feelings seriously and you’ve got to take all her feelings seriously (even the negative ones).
So when you’ve finished ILYB, please read How Can I Ever Trust You Again? which will explain what she’s going through after your infidelity and how to build bridges. Please look out for My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Any More as this will provide more information about how to recruit her to help save your relationship. Finally, let me recommend another book which is written for gay men but my lesbian clients find helpful too (as it talks about growing up different in a heterosexual world and the impact that has on your psyche). It’s called The Velvet Rage and is by Alan Downs.
Photography by Chris James Dade.