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.
I have the same marriage–I never had spark, never climaxed either. We have been married for 18 years. I thought it was me just being a ‘difficult woman to please’, but I climax alone, all the time. My bedroom suggestions never went over well either, and were sneered at, actually. Again, I thought I was asking too much. He NEVER told me he loved me or that I was pretty in any way, shape or form in bed. I was never turned on by him; I tried sooo hard to convince myself that it isn’t the most important thing, and that just enjoying his general company is. Well, now that I am older, and his ‘general company’ has diminished since he has no interests anymore, I don’t have the ‘passion’ to fall back on. Moral of the story; to be in love means you LOVE being with them intimately too. If not, then it’s just ‘love’ and not in love. Break up right away and don’t waste time. Therapy does not give you chemistry. Ever.
Andrew G. Marshall says
I am sorry to hear about your problems. It sounds really tough. I agree therapy can not give you chemistry but it can help a couple talk (so he would hear your bedroom suggestions as the helpful advice you meant them to be taken as). It can help to remove the issues that have build up between a couple and allow the love to return. In the meantime, I wish you all the best with what you decide to do next.
I have just started the process of moving out after my husband of four years told me, twice, that he does not and never has loved me romantically, but married me out of a feeling of obligation.
He has a porn addiction, which has wreaked utter havoc on our marriage. He prefers porn and ‘taking care of his “needs” himself’ to me. He’s never been sexually interested in me and has hardly been able to be with me in that way.
He’s extremely immature and selfish and I have struggled getting help from him for even the most basic of responsibilities, like blowing leaves or mowing the lawn. Between the constant rejection, and feeling like I adopted a 10 year old rather than got married because ALL of the responsibility for everything was always on me…and the fact that he WILL NOT try to put in 110% to quit porn and etc. (He’s always half-assed any therapy, counselling, or groups I’ve talked him into going to).
It seems he just doesn’t want to give it up and he doesn’t care enough about me to stop emotionally damaging me and destroying our marriage.
I am so bone-weary and have been affected so negatively in every way by this marriage.
Now he tries to say he ‘does want me to come back and does love me, but has never been passionate about me and doesn’t know if he ever will be.’
It feels unfair and like a slow emotional death to wait around more years for a maybe. ‘Maybe he’ll finally love me’ or ‘maybe he’ll finally treat me right and not use porn and not be so selfish’ of ‘maybe one day he’ll be passionate about me’.
That is not something, given his personality and how unwilling he is to sincerely work on/put effort into this marriage, that I am willing to wait around for at this point.
We haven’t had any good times, hardly – he makes me feel crazy because he’ll say something ‘brutally honest’ as he puts it, trying to place blame on me for one thing or another (usually problems of his that he doesn’t want to take responsibility for) and then re-cants the words later. I never know what to believe. Words or actions? But for the first time in four years his ‘I don’t love you’ and his actions FINALLY. MATCH. UP. I don’t feel like I should ignore that….all this being said, and sometimes I wonder why BUT I do still love him. A lot of it has been killed by being treated as such a low priority for years….
Any advice is welcome. I’m at my wit’s end.
Andrew G. Marshall says
I think the most important part of your post is that your husband is an addict. Please always put this at the forefront of your mind – especially when you start to criticise yourself (I’m not attractive enough) or you listen to his self-justifications for his behaviour. Addicts blame other people (because they can’t look at their own failings). It is not that he doesn’t care enough to stop damaging you. He is an addict and that’s what addicts do. Read about the partners of sex addicts and it will be like looking into a mirror. You have tried to help him but he is not ready to accept help and my mother would say: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. So what next? If you have had enough, please end the marriage. If you still are not ready – join one of the groups that support the partners of sex, porn, love addicts (and maybe he has secondary addictions too like alcohol) Most addicts have more than one way of covering up the deep seated problems – which stretch right back to their childhoods. The groups will help you feel less alone and help you understand if you are in danger of being co-dependent. This is where the partner of addicts put all their energy into ‘saving’ the addict – and get a high from when it seems to be going OK – and are too busy to sort out their own lives. I hope this helps.