If your partner says “I love you but, I’m not in love with you” or “I want a divorce”, it’s not surprising that you’re full of panic or despair and asking “is there hope?”
A thank-you letter to inspire and show it is possible to save your marriage
Hi Andrew – I read your book five years ago, after my husband of 26 years told me that he wanted to end our marriage.
I discovered your book by chance in a book shop – the title left me in no doubt that it would be worth reading! I wanted to say thank you for writing that book – it changed everything for us – it gave me an insight into the situation, I didn’t feel alone in it either and best of all it gave me the tools to change my perspective about the situation – the paragraphs outlining how to manage conversations and seemingly simple changes had an amazing, almost immediate effect.
Now, five years later we are happier now than we have ever been and able to relax and communicate much better and we are both looking forward to a long and living future together and our recent 30th anniversary was a true celebration and this was very much due to your book – I am very grateful to have just discovered your website, enabling me to thank you.
I am in a privileged position in that I am able to make someone’s life a little better through my work and I wanted very much to let you know that you have profoundly affected mine.
Is there hope? It depends if you can answer “yes” to these four questions
1. Are you prepared to be the big one?
If you have kids and they’re fighting or squabbling with friends, with each blaming the other, do you ever ask: can you be the big one? So rather than waiting for the other person to make the first move, you decide to make things better. I know it would be lovely if your partner stepped up but perhaps he or she doesn’t have the skills or is in such a bad place it’s not possible.
2. Are you prepared to change?
In thirty years of working with couples, I’ve always found the problem are six-of-one and half-a-dozen of the other. Of course, your partner might have done something horrible recently but if you take the frame back (and consider a longer view) how does the picture look now? What is your contribution towards this dark place? Are there things about yourself that you’d like to change or to approach matters differently?
3. Are you prepared to put in the work?
It’s easy to put your hands up and say: I’m no angel. But what is harder is to take a long look at yourself and identify specific areas to work on. Reading one of my books will give some suggestions. It’s better than making broad promises like “I’ll try harder” or “I’ll be nicer” which are hard to sustain.
4. Can you be patient?
It takes time to change and show your partner that you really mean it. Unfortunately, you’re hurting so bad that you want a magic solution to make everything better today or, at the very least, an admission from your partner to try. However, magic solutions—like booking a romantic trip to Paris—make your partner think you’re not taking the problem seriously. Asking for reassurance, makes your partner feel that you’re “putting pressure on me”.
My top tip is to keep a diary and write all your fear in there (instead of burdening your partner). When you read a book or a blog about turning round your marriage, you can put the best ideas in your diary (as it will help you turn good intentions into actions and provide inspiration when you’re down).
So be patient and review your progress every six weeks or so. Your diary will help you monitor your progress.
Why not post your positive experiences and cheer someone else up who has is having a tough day and asking: Is there hope?
Lizzie Taylor says
It’s lovely to hear that this couple have stood the test of time and turned their marriage around, and five years on are happier than ever. I wonder how many other couples could survive the tough times if both people were prepared to put the hard work in.
I’m speaking from my own experience here, my husband gave me the ‘ I love you but I’m not in love with you talk’ 18 months the ago, when I was 3 months pregnant with our second child. I wish I had found Andrews wonderful books back then, and they would have been a huge help. After ‘working at it’ but not really changing anything or tackling the underlying issues, my husband moved out 7 months ago, to ‘clear his head and have some space’, leaving me with a 4 month old baby and a 3 year old. Despite my efforts, and implementing the many helpful strategies covered in Andrews books, I suspect it is ‘too little too late’ and the cumulative effects of not putting my husband first have caused, what my husband feels, is irreversible damage.
The brick wall I hit every time is ‘my feelings have changed ‘ and it has gone from ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you’, to ‘I don’t love you’, to ‘I’m not coming back’…..
We are a classic I love you but couple, and the pressures of 2 children and building a new house have taken their toll. I just can’t understand how he can walk away from us. When do I accept it’s over and how long gone do I keep trying, even when he has said he’s not coming back. He’s not even prepared to spend kid free time with me e.g. walking the dogs on the beach.
We have had couples counselling with Relate but all that appeared to do was assure him he can be a better dad away from us. He assures me there is no one else but of course it doesn’t stop me thinking. We still get on well and he comes round to see the kids 2 or 3 times a week so I can go out for some ‘me time’.
So I guess I am asking when do I stop trying? is there any hope and can feelings reappear? I’m prepared to be patient and put in the hard work.
Andrew G. Marshall says
Keep the lines of communication open and as time passes he could have a less black and white attitude to the future.
Hi Andrew, my partner and I have been together 10 years. We went through some difficult times in the last 2 years. I had a very severe health condition that left me house bound for 3 months that takes about 3 years to recover from completely. I am much better now but for a while it changed the person I was and I had depression and anxiety as a result. It was difficult for us both to deal with and we stopped communicating as we should have, I got the ilyb confession from him 11 months ago. He had a brief emotional affair with someone at work. After 6 months of working on our relationship we finally got to the point of ‘ I do have feelings’ and ‘ I do love you’ thank you so much for your book otherwise I would have been completely lost. Although we are in a much better place I still have moments where the pain of ilyb pops back in my head, I am scared that something difficult may happen again in out lives and he may want to leave again. How long do these fears take to go after the recovery from ilyb ?
Andrew G. Marshall says
I’m really pleased that my book has been helpful. On one hand, I think your fears are natural after what you’ve been through (so I would not be worried) but I think they are also telling you something. Would your communication be good enough to be able to talk fully and negotiate a way through something difficult or painful in the future? It sounds like you need to do a little more work to cement in the changes. Have a look at my book ‘Wake Up and Change Your Life’.
My husband had the ‘i love you but i’m just not in love with you’ talk with me 8 months ago. He said he wanted to end our marriage, there was no point in trying and did not want to discuss it. I later found out he started seeing someone else the day before. We separated after 2 months and then he said he did love me and wanted to get back together but then a couple weeks later said he was unsure again. This has been carrying on for months, whilst he is still seeing this woman and also contacting me. Now he says that he is ready to talk about our marriage but I am apprehensive that he will change his mind again or that it will lead to nothing. I very much want to work on our marriage, but I feel like I am stuck and I can’t work on it until he makes a decision to commit to working on our marriage.
Andrew G. Marshall says
It is not unusual for someone exiting an affair to yo yo back and forth between their partner and the lover – but this is not normally because they ‘love’ the lover so much but their fear that the marriage is beyond repair. Fortunately, you don’t need to wait until your husband realises his mistake to start working on yourself and changing your half of the equation that brought your marriage to ‘I love you but…’ If you change and my books will show you how, the patterns in how you communication will change (and you’ll stop falling into the same holes) and your husband will start to believe that he won’t be returning the old relationship (which for whatever reason left him alienated) but a new improved one.
Myself and my (ex)partner have been together six years and living together for nearly 5 years. We have the usual complaints of being busy, work, dogs, house etc and have just been plodding along, however things have not been as blissful as it used to be. We have recently done some renovation work that has been extremely stressful and caused tension, however, I naively thought that once everything was settled, we could start getting back to “us”. However, back in July my partner told me he was no longer in love with me and wanted to separate. I immediately went onto the defensive and started to discuss finances and me moving out, and I know it was in the hope of shocking him, however it didnt, he still wants to separate.
I have done everything that I shouldn’t do, asked him to reconsider; tried to make him feel guilty, tried to make him remember the good times; begged him to work on the relationship and explain to him how things could work if we try etc. But as time has gone on, he has become more sure of his decision. I have tried backing off but as the time gets closer to me moving out, I can feel the relationship slip further and further from me.
We are still living together, but separately and I have used this time very wisely and self reflected and seen where I need to make changes, however, he has not used the time to do the same. As far as he is concerned the decision is made and he is just trying to get on with things. I move out in a few days and he is adamant that this is what he wants and he does not see us ever getting back together. He feels that there is nothing that can fix it and he has no fight in him to try. He also says he no longer has any attraction towards me. He feels incredibly guilty about the situation and I feel this may be stopping him from working on any other feelings he may be experiencing.
I have read your ILYB book which I found very helpful, however how much hope do I have in a reconciliation if he is so sure that his feelings cant change and I am moving out?
Andrew G. Marshall says
There is hope if you listen to him and keep the lines of communication open…. and its seems, sadly, that you will have to move out. If he’s up for meeting up and spending some time together, I would arrange some dates. Keep everything light and whatever you do DON’T mention his feelings because the more you bring them up, the more he will say ‘I can’t change them’ (and you’re back to square one). If he wants to have nothing to do with you, that’s sad but it’s OK too. Give him some space, without the fear that you’ll leap on him and he might start to miss you and call you. (But don’t keep calling him to ‘see how he’s doing’ as this will keep him switched off). In the meantime, you can work on yourself so you don’t fall into the same traps all over again. See my book ‘Wake Up and Change Your Life’. Finally, I know this is depressing and painful, allow yourself to feel these emotions, get plenty of support and be kind to yourself.
Thank you for your reply Andrew.
I just bought two of your books and now I wish I would have found them weeks ago because they’ve given me insight. I don’t see anyone with my situation on here, so I don’t know if I should have hope. My husband and I have been together for 23 years and married for almost 5. He told me in August that he loved me but wasn’t in love with me anymore, he is done with our relationship, he wants to be alone to work on himself and be totally free, doesn’t want to be married because he has no use for marriage, and I killed it by not being a partner after we had a confrontation about his new 23 year old friend. 30 minutes after telling me he wanted a divorce, we got on the subject of his mom’s death and he started crying. As I comforted him, he said “this is why I don’t really want a divorce!” then he went from flat out wanting a divorce to suggesting a long separation headed towards divorce that could give us time for “course correction” and he said he did have a smidgen of being “in love” with me in there but it was mostly gone. We talked about things for a couple of days and then he said he felt better because he worked out many of our issues in those talks and that things looked good for us (we wouldn’t divorce). He still wanted me to stay at my mom’s for awhile to give him space so I did, but we still talked and saw each other – he initiated this contact, not me. He spent the next one and half to two weeks telling me he loved me and that we’d “get back together.” Then he hung out with his friend one weekend and she supposedly told him that she only wanted to be work friends though they immediately started talking again that evening. Two days later he told me he absolutely wanted a divorce again and he’s stuck to it this time. He swears this has nothing to do with his friend. He swears they don’t talk about us (something weird considering I confronted her asking her if she was having an affair with my husband the night before he told me he wanted a divorce the first time – you’d think that would have spurred a conversation! She didn’t respond to my confrontation and they continued texting like crazy and hanging out like nothing happened) and he swears neither of them having feelings for each other. He said he still wanted to be friends after we divorced because he likes having me around and that maybe one day in the future, we’d get back together. When I expressed confusion over that he said I was misinterpreting because he was only saying he’d be open to the possibility of getting back together with me in the future not that he wants to or that we would. But then he even mentioned that he had a thought once about proposing to me properly this time if we’d get remarried in the future! If I bring this up he says he wishes he never told me that and it was only a thought. He still has moments of softness where he said we don’t have to file for divorce right away, we’ll have relaxed moments where we laugh or seem to enjoy each other’s company, and he’s had moments where he’s been affectionate with me (spontaneously pulling me up to lay on top of him while he watches tv on the couch, putting his hand on mine while I touch his chest while we’re in bed, we’re still having sex and two times have been more “connected” than before I found out about his friend because he was looking at my face and into my eyes, he’s randomly bought me my favorite drink and a gift) but then he’ll suddenly pull back and tell me I’m imagining things or misinterpreting his actions or thinking there is more there than there is because I’m too hopeful. He’ll be mean and give short, terse responses to anything I say, he’ll up and leave the house saying he can’t stand being near me and he doesn’t even want to talk to me, he won’t look at me, and he’ll be very distant. He still swears he’s just friends with this girl and that I’m making her a scapegoat for our problems if I suspect anything though he takes great pains to hide his phone from me and rushes out to see her when she texts. He, a 42 year old married man, sometimes goes out drinking and gets drunk his 23 year old “friend” and her 23 year old friends until 3am but he refuses to believe he’s having a midlife crisis. He told me he only has sex with me and has moments of affection with me because “it’s easy since we have history” not because he has feelings. Whenever I try to talk about things he gets progressively more negative about our relationship. He says he has no positive feelings for me left because I ask too many questions and he’ll say he’s going to fill out the divorce paperwork and file it as soon as he can. He keeps seeing things more negatively like saying he was unhappy and thinking about divorce since the spring, and then he amended that to the winter, and then he changed that to the past year, then it became 2 years, and now he’s saying he hasn’t been happy since 2011 (when our house flooded) or even earlier and we never should have gotten married. Last night he was angry with me telling me he wanted to file for divorce as soon as possible, he doesn’t care about being married (but he’d consider working on our relationship if we were divorced because he’d still divorce me even if he loved me again) and he wants to move out to get away from me, but this morning he woke up and hugged me. He pulled me on top of him and we were intimate. He actually looked in my eyes and smile at me a few times as he got ready for work. He was really nice and happy. Before he left, he hugged me and wouldn’t let go when I let go. He had a very stressful job, his mom died, that job became more stressful, then he quit to go back to school and we plunged into debt, and then he found a lower paying but fulfilling job that couldn’t cover bills. While he worked the stressful job, he would bring that home to me and take it out on me and just be mean. I think that he transferred that negativity from his job onto me and now everything else has exasperated it. I became depressed because of all this. He blames all of this on me being depressed and anxious because he says I wasn’t being a partner then. I believe he’s having a midlife crisis and that we could get through this. I still want to work things out because it’s worth it when it’s good. He won’t listen to anything I say and I can’t get through to him. He says he knows he can be happy with me again, but he’s choosing not to be with me because he wants to be alone. I don’t know what to think or do or how to handle this. What do you suggest or think about our situation in regards to there being hope?
Andrew G. Marshall says
I hope the books you’ve bought are ‘My husband doesn’t love me and he’s texting someone else’ and ‘It’s not a midlife crisis, it’s an opportunity.’ Yes, I do think there is hope but please, please, please stop asking him if he loves you. He doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. He changes his mind five times a day and trying to keep track of this is driving you insane and PUSHING him away. Wait until he brings up the subject of love. When you’re feeling helpless and hopeless, open up one of my books, read and learn ways to tackle this differently (because your old strategy isn’t working!!!) It seems that money is a large part of the problem – and he’s distracting himself with 23 year olds to shut this out. So what can you do about this? Could you get a job? Could you get extra hours? Could you start a huge savings plan to reduce your budget. These sort of ideas will make him feel he’s not in this problem alone.
I’ll try to keep it short: married 23 years, 2 kids and I got the bomb of ILYB talk 6+ weeks ago. We’ve had a good marriage in different respects but in hindsight it was just functional—little real communication and a sexless marriage for many years. Husband told me on ILYB day that he is having a 6 month affair and is ‘in love’. He works one week out of the month far from home and met her there. We immediately started therapy the following week. Years of negatives coming out. Husband is ‘undecided’ which relationship he wants but as he’d have to move to be with the other woman (married, with minor children and under and other issues he’s told me about)- which he considered doing-he is ‘beginning to realize that isn’t going to work’. Also mused that “seeing someone a couple times a month for a few hours is not a real relationship” but then will also say he’s afraid to let it go. He indicated once here at home and today in session that he wants to see things through with me and try to get our marriage back to where it was in the beginning. But also today he said he can’t think of ending it over there as he gets sad and he knows he’ll go into a very deep depression and that the affair is ‘still there/ongoing’—I’m assuming texts, emails or other forms of electronic communication. But he has also stated he has zero desire for me and doesn’t think he’ll ever get it back; he expressed similar doubts in session today. A couple of days ago I saw him pining over her pictures and that was like a mini bomb to me and I have been questioning everything since.
I’ve read and reread ILYB, Husband doesn’t love me and is texting someone else, HCIETYA and Midlife Crisis books and I’ve found some very helpful tips that I’m implementing–especially ‘don’t panic/stay calm’. However I’m coming to a point where I’m not sure how much longer to hold on here. I feel no desire for him either, but I know if we put in the work it can come back. But HE doesn’t know that and is highly negative about that ever happening and as I do Not want to live without sex for the rest of my life I’m feeling a very big sense of ‘why am I even trying’. He’s so wrapped up in the epic feelings with the other woman that I’m wondering if I need to take myself out of this situation and let him go.
Is there any hope? In particular, hope of not only saving the marriage but rekindling desire when we haven’t felt it for so many years? Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I’m seeing positives with him going to therapy, working on some changes and stating he wants to see things through with me, etc. But with these “in love” feelings he has for her and his seemingly fierce unwillingness/fear to end that relationship PLUS (especially) the ‘I have no desire for you’ has really got me thinking this might be a done deal here.
Andrew G. Marshall says
I hear ‘I have no desire’ all the time and see how it feels like a slap round the face for their partner. So it comes as no surprise to me that your husband has said it too…. I have several responses:
1. I wouldn’t expect him to have any desire. He is angry with you (for a million reasons) and he is full of guilt (towards both you and the other woman). He is grieving the potential loss of the OW or you (because he knows he can’t stay in this place forever. So anger, guilt, grief and throw in shame – does that sound a sexy combination to you? Neither does it to me.
2. I don’t know if we can make this work + and I’m worried whether my desire will return (which is a nicer way of putting it) are just two random thoughts. He has millions a day. You have them too. Just because he had them today, doesn’t mean he will have them tomorrow. So what? Today I thought it might be nice to go to Mexico for Christmas, doesn’t mean I will do it.
3. Honest communication means telling each other the ‘bad’ things as well as the ‘good’ ones. It’s much better than saying nothing to avoid the complexities of our feelings. So for me, as a therapist, it’s good that he’s saying all his doubts rather than trying to convince you everything is OK (which is nice in the moment but undermines trust when he can’t deliver his sweet nothings)
4. You can’t change his feelings but you can work on how you cope with yours. So when he says something negative, you can take it with a pinch of salt. Say tell me more or just listen. Nine times out of ten, he will row back. Sadly, in my room, I see lots of people over-react and throw in the towel rather than taking a few deep breaths, listening, asking questions and seeing what happens.
5. Remember he has intense “in love” feelings AND he knows it will not work.
Finally concentrate on yourself and how you’re doing, and spend less time worrying about him.
Thank you for your reply. So far except for bomb day and a few instances after I’ve managed to stay calm and ask questions but it has been a master class in patience. Supposedly the affair is over as of a couple of days ago (I have no idea if that is still true) but from our conversation I have no doubt further contact will at least be attempted. From the things he has said she seems to have a shocking amount of influence over him, which is another reason I’m having uncertainties about whether we can pull through this.
May I ask for clarification on #5? I do not quite understand what to take from that.
I have just purchased “Wake up and Change your life” for some help in surviving this and being stronger as I am in fact not coping well. I know I need to concentrate on myself but I’m still reeling and hurting quite a bit. I’m looking forward to tips from this book. Thank you again for your reply.
Andrew G. Marshall says
Your husband is expressing two different sets of feelings: 1) I am attracted to another woman AND 2) I know it won’t work out. The AND is important because he holds both of them in his head at the same time…. It’s easy for you to focus on one or other end of this (by putting a BUT between the two statements which makes the second half stronger). The result is that you either feel hopeless – he loves someone else. Or you feel hopeful – he knows it won’t work. This yo yo is exhausting and although the middle position is not brilliant, it reflects the reality. It will keep you calmer and able to listen to him – rather being overwhelmed.
This is called contemplative thinking and I explain more in my other book ‘It’s not a midlife crisis, it’s an opportunity’.
So what should you take from point 5? Don’t rush to conclusions. Ask lots of questions. Expect more uncertainity. Focus on yourself and coping with a horrible time.
My partner and I have been together for 10 years. She broke up with me a couple of months ago a little after our anniversary and a few weeks before our wedding. She seemed excited about the wedding up until we had a terrible week leading up to our anniversary and she then told me she suddenly lost all emotional connection to me, but that she still loved me.
I’m better able to understand how this happened now. I’d been very needy for a while and relied on her for my happiness. I made her feel needed, but not loved. She was also really looking forward to our 10 year anniversary, and the tension we experienced leading up to it must have crushed her hopes that I can make her feel special and appreciated.
Anyway, I didn’t handle it very well initially. I freaked out. I cried and begged and tried to have long, tortured talks that she didn’t want to have. I tried to do all these romantic gestures that she said were all too little too late. When she rejected them, I lashed out.
Finally, I moved out after a month to give her space and we’ve had limited contact since then. Sometimes I’ll reach out to her and sometimes she’ll reach out to me. These interactions can be weeks apart.
I realize that the process of reconnecting will be a slow one and I have to be patient. Even if these interactions are very brief, I try to keep them light and positive so that she doesn’t feel pressured about our relationship or getting back together. She was very clear when we broke up that she sees no future for us.
My problem is that for the past several months (especially since we broke up) she’s been establishing what seems to be a very deep emotional connection to her boss. He’s a very sweet and thoughtful man. She told me she didn’t want anything from me for her birthday so I obliged. I sent her a text and gave her a call that day. Her boss was the first one to tell her happy birthday (I sent my text at 5:30am – I bring it up because she made a note that he was very proud of it) he brought her breakfast, he had his family throw a surprise dinner for her, and he bought her a cake. She was very overwhelmed, especially about the cake. She was amazed that she never told him how important cake was to her on her birthday and he just knew to get it for her.
As you can imagine, I felt very envious when she told me this because I wanted to make her feel special that day. I want to make her feel special now. I want to do grand, thoughtful things for her, but I don’t, not only because she doesn’t want me to, but because I know there’s no quick fix to our lack of connection.
I’m terrified that while I keep my distance and take it slow, this guy is sweeping her off her feet. That my efforts to be loving are overshadowed by his. That she may think I can’t be as thoughtful as he is.
I don’t want to smother her and I’m being mindful of our situation, but is that enough to make her feel loved? Can she still see that I love her?
On a positive note, I had lunch with her yesterday (this is when she told me her birthday story) and while she declined my offer to take her out after work, she said “I love you” for the first time in more than a month as we said goodbye. She may have meant “I love you as a friend” but it’s a good sign, right?
Andrew G. Marshall says
Look at my book ‘My wife doesn’t love me anymore’ it will help you understand more how you reached this situation. It sounds, however, that you are doing OK at a difficult time. Not smoothering her is a great first step, next you need to become stronger so that she will be able to rely on you to be the strong one sometimes. Have a look ast my book ‘Wake Up and Change Your LIfe’ because it will help you work on yourself to become the sort of man she has always wanted.
Hi Andrew. Your videos have been great and I am certainly going to buy your books!
My situation is a bit different…it’s a long distance relationship (USA- UK). Only a year and a total whirlwind of infatuation, deep love and lots of fun. We saw each other every 6 weeks. We spoke about marriage and all was good.
Alas, her love for me has now gone. We spent the last month together and it was a real struggle/ I kept checking in with her feelings and yep, as you said it made her feel pressured. She says ‘i look at you, so handsome and lovely and loving to me, why am I doubting this and so unhappy and sad’. We had a cloud over us all month and no fun.
She is very intelligent and loves deep conversation and dabate. I am more happy go lucky and hate any type of discussion that could instigate an argument (so I always shut it down and stonewalled such discussions out of fear). We have now broken up for one week and I have reflected deeply on how I never communicated or complimented her desire for deep conversation. I am working on myself by reading all the news, and listening to the audiobooks she suggested we listen to (which I never did).
She cares about me deeply and loves me deeply but feels we do not communicate properly and therefore in her heart knows our relationship is not right. She says we are too different in our communication which has filled her full of doubt over me which she has decided to be her truth. She would like to stay friends and is coming to visit me in one week, for a week. We will see a therapist, if only to have a greater understanding of why it ended and how we should proceed as friends.
I, obviously, want to try to win her heart back (although I realise my situation and desire for her love is laughable given the duration of the relationship and distance between us. …but love is still love).
If it ends, so be it. But I would at least like to do my best.
Lines of communication are still available (but my pride and fear of loss stops me somewhat).
Although massively stacked against me, is there any hope or advice?
Andrew G. Marshall says
I would focus on learning and understanding. Look at my book ‘My wife doesn’t love me any more’ and see about the Fulsome Apology. It might spark a new conversation and who knows what would come out of it. Either way, you will have learnt something useful for this relationship or the next. Good luck.
I recently bought your book “My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Any More’, and I think it’s wonderful and inspiring. The problem is, I fear I’ve found it too late. I see all the advice is aimed at people who have only just been hit with the bombshell, or just been told in recent days or weeks. My partner and I split up coming up for a year-and-a-half- go now, and have been living apart since that time (her back with her parents, me with mine, despite us both being in our early forties). I have a son from a previous relationship who I travel to see every weekend and my partner didn’t like this and especially my son’s mother and felt I put them before her. It became a circuitous argument that got worse and worse. We have a wonderful 20-month old girl, who was only 4-months old when we split up. I had thought the arguments over my son would get better when our baby was born, but in fact got worse – and finally got to the point where I moved in with my mother as our arguments (never violent or aggressive; but loud and slamming doors etc) got so bad I worried it would harm the baby. I intended it to give us breathing space but my partner took it as my walking out on them (I didn’t, but I did need a time-out as the stress was making me ill) but we both stood our ground and were pig-headed which unfortunately stopped us getting back together. I see my ex 3 to 4 times a week as I come to her parents to either collect or spend time with my daughter (I’m still really close and friendly with her parents, but they don’t get involved), but our contact can be very business-like/cordial i.e. “I’ve put such-and-such in her bag”, though occasionally light-hearted in terms of sharing a story about something our daughter did. I try often a warm smile and eye contact or a bit of humour, or ask if she’d like to join us for a while, but to no effect. I’ve tried occasionally (6 or 7 times) in the past year and a half to really engage emotionally with her but she is completely shut down in that respect. (I made all the mistakes you mentioned in the book: telling her several times ‘I still love you’, texted at Christmas when I was absolutely distraught with depression to tell her I had phoned Samaritans). We had an argument just before Christmas which turned into a two way blame-game and set everything back even further . After reading your book I tried a different tack today and apologised to her out the blue. When she said ‘What for?’ I said, “I’m so sorry you felt unheard and unacknowledged all those times, and that I should have done so much better and I’m sorry that I never showed my love for you as much as I should have and been more tactile, and all those things you’ve wanted to say to me I just want to hear you now and listen and acknowledge and make you feel heard”. She started to cry and said some of the stuff and I acknowledged and I even avoided the ‘Yes, buts…’ I had always done in the past. And told her I’ve been working really hard on myself and learning about relationships and where I made mistakes and should have done better. She said that’s really good, but we’ve left it too late and they might be useful in my next relationship but it’s come too late for us, I loved you so much but I don’t feel like that anymore. I love you in that you’re my daughter’s dad now, but that’s it. She says she doesn’t really have all the stuff to say to me anymore for me to acknowledge as she’s got them all out with her counsellor and her friends over the past year and she’s ready just to move on with her life and I should be too. The words devastated me all over again but I kept quiet and just nodded. (I cried when I was on my own).
The pain of seeing her several times a week is unbearable (as is the pain of not seeing her) as I still love her dearly and when I’m out with our beautiful daughter I yearn for it to be the three of us making memories and feel I can see clearly now all the ways I should have been better at the relationship but I’m learning it all to late.
I know it’s unlikely after all this time, but is there still some kind of hope – could the techniques in the book still work for me even after this time? – or should I finally give up?
Andrew G. Marshall says
Congratulations on the apology and I am pleased that it cracked her cold exterior and showed you the pain inside. So could keeping up with the techniques work? It is impossible to predict partly because I don’t know how hurt she is and partly because I don’t know how determined you are. So where do you start? Firstly, realise that she is not going to put aside all her hurt without feeling very sure that you are really changing. Read some of my other books…. I would recommend ‘Wake Up and Change Your Life’… so you improve your communication and don’t fall into the circular arguments again. I would also consider getting a counsellor too because it will underline how serious you are. Keep up the occasional light hearted suggestions that all THREE of you do something together. Finally, keep on giving the message that you are not asking to get back together again but if the new you and the new her (from your different counselling) could find a new connection. Give it six to nine months and decide what to do at that point.
Thank you for taking the time and consideration to reply.
Unfortunately, shortly after writing my first message I had a moment of weakness and broke down in front of my ex, essentially begging her to reconsider us and saying I want her to take a leap of faith on us and trust me and that I would work so hard to do things right and make her feel cherished. I started crying heavily in front of her and our toddler daughter (and her parents were in the next room) and it was just probably excruciatingly awkward for everyone as she didn’t feel or show the same emotion. Shortly after that I also sent her an email too.
The upshot is that she texted me saying that she heard the things I said but she is not feeling it or doesn’t feel it’s worth the risk and asked me from now on just to pick up our daughter and go out on the days I see her after my work (on days after work when it’s too late in the day to take my daughter out I will have a coffee and a chat with her parents and play with my daughter and feed her her dinner at theirs) and also to back off and give her space. I am aware that a crying man is probably the single most unattractive sight in the world to a woman, but I have so much emotion in me about this that it’s so difficult to keep it from crashing out in front of her every so often. I’m crying every day, sometimes several times a day and I don’t know how to stop – I’ve never felt so much in pain, depressed and lonely in my life before and it’s overwhelming. Unfortunately I’m very, very good at hiding it from my family, friends and colleagues – virtually no is aware I’ve felt deeply unhappy and at times suicidal over the past year and a half.
It’s the going from the fact that she used to completely adore me to now feeling nothing (or even just annoyance toward me as if I’m something she can’t get off her shoe) that I’m finding so hard to cope with. Or when she goes on holiday with her mum and dad to somewhere special that we all used to go together as a family (e.g. we used to all go to Liverpool several times a year to visit her sister and do all the Beatles stuff) but doesn’t seem to miss me being there – I find this gutting, and almost feel angry about it, as when I go anywhere we used to go I feel completely lonely there without her. I’m always living in the past, remembering special moments like trips or her telling me she was ‘utterly in love’ with me and I don’t know how to stop this. I’ve tried thought-stopping but it doesn’t work.
I’ve tried every kind of tack when having contact with her – light-hearted, casual, seeming indifference, giving a compliment etc – and every kind is met with the same disinterested demeanour. When I gave her a compliment on how she was looking she tutted and rolled her eyes. I honestly don’t even think she would care less at the moment if I told her I was seeing someone. She picked up our daughter from mine this evening on the way home from her work and could hardly get away quick enough. It breaks my heart to admit it but I think what she feels for me now is the worst combination I can think of, which is indifference possibly even with some distaste. I feel she is ready and probably actively looking for a new relationship, and the last couple of days I’ve saw her dressed for work she is wearing much shorter dresses than she every did before and quite (to me) sexy boots. I hate to admit it, but I think I’ve reached the point where I’ve lost her and there’s nothing I can do about it and I’ll have to let her go. I think in truth in her head she’s moved away on long ago and I’ve been left behind and look (and feel) ridiculous.
I’ve desperately been avoiding admitting to myself that there’s no hope left, but I can’t go on any longer stuck in this loop of fantasising in my head that there’s a chance for us (I’m constantly daydreaming of us spontaneously kissing or hugging and getting back together) only to come crashing back down to earth every time I’m met with utter indifference or coldness on contact and yet again crying my eyes out realising it’s over, only to start whirring up a new wave of daydreaming about us an hour later. It’s exhausting excruciatingly painful – I’m effectively breaking my own heart several times a week.
With a heavy heart I’ve ordered a copy of your book ‘Heal and Move On’, as I don’t think I can go through this cycle of hope any longer. I’m still deeply in love with her and she has moved on. If I’m truthful I’m writing this in the hope that you’re going to say “There’s still hope/a chance, there’s a strategy you can use to turnaround her complete indifference!”, but I know deep down that turning around indifference in someone who’s seemingly moved on is virtually impossible, no matter how much I love her.
At the moment I just feel incredibly alone and lonely )something else I’m really good at hiding from the world). I just hope I can heal and move on in some way – though I fear doing this with someone who I have to have contact with over the bond of a young child, when she is indifferent and cold towards me, and while I still love (and completely fancy) her is more than what’s left of my emotions is going to take. Particularly when she finds someone else. If you have have any particular advice for someone in this kind of situation I’d be really grateful, but I know it’s a big ask.
Andrew G. Marshall says
I know you are hoping that I will give you some hope. And I might but not just the sort of hope that sets you day dreaming that somehow it will all be OK (and you will live happily ever after). That kind of hope is just setting you up for a crash when it meets cold hard reality. So what kind of hope am I offering? You are learning about yourself and you are speaking up: ‘At the moment I just feel incredibly alone and lonely )something else I’m really good at hiding from the world)’ If you carry on listening to yourself and learning, you will grow and become a stronger person who is standing on solid ground rather than day dreams. So that’s my hope…. you will use this experience as the jolt to grow and transform yourself. (As well as Heal and Move On, I would suggest Wake Up and Change Your Life.)
My husband told me in January ILYB. We have been together for 20 and married for 14 years and have 2 kids 14 & 9. We live in Germany, he is German and I am English. The last couple of years our relationship has become very platonic, with very little sex. We both kind of ignored this fact. We have a very good relationship, lots of outings with the kids and friends and family. My husband has a very long list of things he wants me to change about myself and says I should do the same. I did not listen to him enough and am not very good at talking. I just hoped things would get better soon. To be honest neither of us made any big efforts to change our ways. He had an affair 2 years ago and says he is back to that state of mind now. He started chatting online a lot with several of my girlfriends, which I found a bit odd. I don’t know if he has anyone else. I was really shocked when he said he wants us to separate. I feel very hurt that he does not want to work on the relationship. He wants us to carry on a platonic relationship, no love, living in the same house because he does not want to hurt the kids and wants to help me with my father who has dementia etc. At the same time he has been looking at flats. We went to counselling last week and we talked about what we could both change – I should talk more and be more encouraging of him and he should look at his (over 500 long) list of things he wants me to change about myself and try to be more tolerant. I am trying my very best not to panic and to be patient and talk, but he does not agree that he should make any changes. On the one hand I don’t want him to leave the house because it is a chance to talk and repair things, and the kids will be extremely hurt. I really want to work on myself and repair this. And I want him to be open to working on our relationship. On the other hand, the kids know there is a big problem (why is daddy sleeping in the spare room) and I do not want to commit my life to living with him in a platonic relationship. I am holding back a lot right now from telling him to go. But is that just my anger. I just don’t know what to do. Should I agree to living as brother and sister?
Andrew G. Marshall says
Great that you are doing couple counselling. There is a lot to talk about – but be aware that it will take time to sort this out. So what should you do? Yes, you should agree to live like brother and sister for the time being. Notice those two key words. FOR THE TIME BEING. This is not a long term solution. However, it buys time to get to the bottom of the problems, improve communication and sort out the sex issues (which are EXTREMELY important to men). Not because we are sex maniacs but it is one of the few socially approved ways for men to get intimate. So what should you do? Start by reading my books, I love you but I’m not in love with you, How can I ever trust you again (because it sounds like you did not sort out the issues after the affair but papered over the cracks). I would also consider joining my infidelity support and training group, so you do not snap in a weak moment and tell him to go. Andrew G. Marshall’s Infidelity Survival Training and Support Group