A Reader Writes…
My husband of 13 years (but together for 25 yrs with 2 teenage children) has told me that he doesn’t love me any more.
This came about 6 weeks ago when I said to him that I wasn’t feeling very loved. It hit me like a brick. For the previous 18 months I felt we had been getting on really well. Our sex life was fantastic and although we had limited time together due to him working abroad (home 2-3 weekends a month) we enjoyed each others company. In June this year we sold a house abroad (we had lived there in the past but it had been a holiday home for the past 4 years). He believes this was the catalyst to deciding our relationship was going no-where. He blames me for wanting to move back to the UK but says he has dealt with that now.
I am devastated and having difficulty coping and many of the feelings you discuss in ILYB I relate to. My husband says he wants to continue to support both me and the children but wants us to stay friends. We still sleep in the same bed when he is home (currently every week so we have time and opportunity to talk) and we have continued with a sexual relationship. But he is adamant he does not want to try to find a way to save our marriage. He wants to develop a new life. He says there is no-one else but he has met someone who he likes but has not taken it further and he says he won’t take it further at present.
When asked why he does not love me he cannot say why (we have been very open and honest about our thoughts and feelings since the ILYB speech) but there is no real knowledge as to why. I suggested that we go to Relate so that we can explore the past together in order to make some sense of it. I also hope this will help him really decide whether our marriage is over. He feels really guilty and sorry for the pain I am feeling and has agreed to explore our relationship in counselling.
He keeps saying to me that he doesn’t want to give me any hope but wants to support me through this. The children are unaware, mainly due to him being away from home all week and my exceptional acting skills. Only limited family and friends are aware and are giving us both support. We do not want to tell anyone else until we have a plan. My husband has said he will find somewhere else to stay when he comes home but that will involve telling the children or he will sleep here on a sofabed.
I have to still have some hope he will change his mind to try to work at our marriage. I have been very emotional with him and he has comforted me. He had panic attacks a few years ago when he was unemployed and supported me when I had one last week. So he says he cares for me deeply and I am his best friend and he doesn’t want to loose that. What I am asking is am I being too hopeful that counselling will help our marriage even if he says he doesn’t want to try and can I really be friends with him if we do break up?
I’m glad that I Love You but I’m Not in Love With You has helped. I will start by making a couple of general observations about your letter and then answer your questions.
Firstly, it is not unusual for men who have detached and moved from ‘I love you but’ to ‘I don’t love you any more’ to have a potential woman in the sidelines. This is often the catalyst that makes them speak up (and although it is easy to obsess about them, they are just a side show). Secondly, it is good that you are both being so open and honest with each other. That will be helpful for the painful and difficult months ahead.
So are you expecting too much from counselling? To be honest, probably yes. My guess is you’re looking for a magical bullet to make him see the light. Counselling will often just amplify the feelings – and make him more determined to leave. Plus if you’re not seeing a lot of ‘ILYB’ plus ‘I’ve fallen out of love and want a divorce’, you probably don’t understand the bigger picture and cannot support the person who is terrified of being left or the person who is terrified of staying (and being stuck in a marriage that isn’t working).
I cover a lot of this in my book My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Any More where I stress the importance of coaching to help the person who is trying to save the marriage from letting their anxiety become overwhelming and thereby push their partner out the door. Although it is written for men, the plan works equally well for women.
Your next question is can I be friends with him if you split? I don’t know about friends but I would hope that you could have a business relationship (in the job of bringing up your children.)
Whether he decides to stay or go, my advice is the same—improve communication. (You need it whether you are partners or co-parents). Ultimately, we detach from a relationship because we feel we can’t ask for what we need. I call this being assertive. I explain it in Resolve Your Differences and I always recommend Help Your Partner Say Yes in these circumstances too. There is much more about assertiveness in My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Any More.
So basically, this can be turned around. However, it takes time, good communication, being prepared to look at yourself honestly and change, rather than expecting your partner to change and a dash of luck.
Photography by Chris James Dade.
Andrew your writings and advice have been the most “real” for me and so apreciare your approach . I am struggling horribly as had myvworkd uprooted a few months ago when my husband of 27 plus years told me has fallen in love with someone else and feels we must have grown apart. However my children in their 20 ‘s and I both know that we have had an amazing relationship . Certainly know that may have started to drift as both busy helping others but never saw it as a problem. My kids saw the genuine love and respect for each other . But am afraid see the manipulation , obsessive calls of the one and constant work hours together. Angry that could not get him to step away and focus on us. Has become unusually agitated , angry at world, and frustrated that kids and I as well as family aren’t supporting . Family has tried to reach out to no avail . When kept choosing that person finally told him if did must leave. Has been with her now for 6 weeks and very limited contact . Looks tired and stressed , lost wait and has been sick. Kids are not responding to his few attempts to reach out as made point he needs to step back and get counseling or no contact . I know bigger picture of changes in his life with stress on job , parents Illness , kids grown , etc . See this controlling person as perfect timing in perfect storm. Crazy thing is we have always been so close and taken good care of each other . Not his personality at all . However she seems to be provoking small past situations that might have hurt his feelings and blowing them up. I can’t get his attention and determined in that direction. Can he just forget our snaking memories , best friend conversations , close relationship with kids,? Love him with all of my heart and know not a bad thing to refocus in a new direction . Willing to try but no encouragement there. But literally this person consumes his every hour of the day now so he doesn’t see it as she convinces that he is only one that can help her. She is pushing him now to next step as also needs his financial support . I have spent the last 4 weeks just focusing on working out and my mental health. He has told me he feels he needs to file for divorce . His world around him sees that he is too sucked in to see the whole picture . I am devestated and want his heart back . Totally unheard of that not reaching out to kids now . Please help me understand if can still have a chance for him to see before divorce becomes final. Can he just forget us? How do we get him to see thuscwhen not listening ?
Andrew G. Marshall says
He can’t just forget you, but he is feeling consumed with guilt about what he has done (and switches off all his emotions for fear of being overwhelmed by it). He can’t cope with your kids – perfectly natural – anger, so he has walked away because he can’t cope with that too. If he is looking so bad since departing, he is probably having second thoughts about the OW but does not want to upset her, feel even worse, so he keeps his fears (that he’s made a big mistake) by pleasing her. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s spent his whole life pleasing people – his mother, you, his children and he’s suddenly snapped. That’s why he is acting so out of character. Read my book ‘My husband doesn’t love me and he’s texting someone else’. You might also like to join my internet Infidelity Support Group. Infidelity Survival Training and Support Group
Hi Andrew. My husband told me a few months ago that he was unhappy and if we didn’t fix it now then we’d get a divorce. I asked him what he needed and all he told me was that he wanted to feel like he could hang out with his friends (which I never said he couldn’t, but he thought that I wanted him to choose them or me), be able to go out running, and wanted me to trust him more (he wrote a girl, when we were engaged, telling her that he had a hardcore crush on her in high school. Then another time he deleted messages from a girl that we worked with). So my trust went out the window. I told him that I’d do all of those things and that he’d need to be patient with me on the trust one. So during this time, I’ve kind of was in panic mode. I encouraged him to spend time with his friend. I reminded him to go out running. I still struggled with the trust, because he writes a girl from work (who he’s the boss of) and it’s not always about work related things. I’ve gotten to the point where I absolutely hate her, because she keeps texting my husband. She even got him to like her Facebook pictures because she wasn’t getting enough likes (which she should be asking her boyfriend). I’ve told him that it makes me uncomfortable and he just said that I think too much about the importance of likes on social media. But, a couple months after he gave me the ultimatum he told me that he loves me but is not in love with me anymore. And that he wanted a divorce and he’s not willing to go to counseling, because he doesn’t love me that way anymore. We’ve definitely had our challenges in our marriage. And I’m definitely to blame in some things. I just don’t want this to be the end. He told me that he feels like I didn’t give him enough attention and he would try and prove his love for me by bringing home treats from his job. But now he says he’s not willing to give anymore. He feels like he’s given 100% and he can’t do it anymore. Also, during this time I was pregnant with our daughter and it was a very tough pregnancy. Over this time, I have learned some things that he said he didn’t feel good about. Like how he felt like he couldn’t open up to me about work (because if he even mentioned the girl’s name, then I’d freak out), or how it really hurt him when I would say that I didn’t think he loved me or our family. I didn’t think I said those things very much, but I did feel them, so I was being honest. He also said that he hated having to force me to talk to him. I felt like any time I’d tell him how I felt he’d get mad, so I stopped saying how I was feeling. He says that he doesn’t think we have anything in common. He likes watching basketball or any sport, I like to do creative things. But I always tried to do things with him that he enjoyed (we went to a couple basketball games and a hockey game). But he never wanted to do anything that I wanted to do like go see a play or take a couple’s painting class. I’m worried that he’s seeing this girl from work, because he’s been working later and later (it always made me mad that he’d choose work over us). He says he’s not seeing her and that he feels like I don’t respect him, because I think “so lowly of him”. I just don’t know what to do. I want to save our marriage, but how can I do that if he’s completely checked out? He already found a new apartment, but he can’t move in yet until September 10th. Do I have any chance? He’s my best friend. But, lately he’s been treating me like he doesn’t care at all. I don’t have a job, because I was a stay-at-home mom, and he’s barely even helping me financially. He split everything in his bank account with me. And I’m supposed to live off of less than $2,000. He even asked me to pay half of the rent, because he can’t afford it since he paid the downposit on his new place. I feel like I’m being used. He’s not the man I fell in love with, yet I still want to fix this. Is there something wrong with me? I would appreciate some help!
Andrew G. Marshall says
He is deep in affair brain – even if he hasn’t crossed the line from an emotional to a physical affair – by this I mean he is justifying and rationalising his behaviour (so he can live with doing things which are against his values). So I would take everything he says with a bucket load of salt. I doubt he is receptive to changing at the moment, but to understand what has happened to him and your options look at my book: My husband doesn’t love me any more and he’s texting someone else.
My husband and I have been married for only two years but we have been together for 8 in total. When we met he was still married to a women he had not seen in over five years before he met me. He stayed married to her for six out of the eight years we had been together and it broke my heart. I helped him to get his life together by helping him be able to see his other children, I was the provider while he went to school, but that marriage tore me apart. I stopped affection and I stopped opening up to him. We were essentially just room mates. I was stressed and I carried the finances burden of everything. He felt as though he did t have a say so in anything that went on but I felt as though he truly didn’t help or intercede as I needed him to. He tried to show me love but I dismissed it because my heart was already broken. We separated after I found out he was talking to a person he had a past relationship with. During this superación all I wanted to do was fix what had been broken during the first six year of tour relationship. He felt I wasn’t supportive emotionally nor was I supportive when it came to him trying to launch his career. Emotionally I was absent but I supported him how I thought I could. He cane home and I thought we were going to work on things. I began to open up more emotionally, cater to his needs more, and tried to spend time with him more. But then he began to stay out all night, hang around those that were younger than him, have women texting and calling, hanging out with single or newly divorced coworkers, bought an expensive car. Then he came home and asked for a divorce. I was devastated. I thought he was just going through a midlife crisis and shunned it off. We stayed together but he name more distant from me and the kids. He would lock himself in the bathroom and just listen to music or watch videos. I tried to spend time with him as much as I could but I eventually felt as if he did really want me around so I stopped impeding on his space. He decided to move out two months ago. He did tell me that he had met someone else but that he was just talking to her. Well that has turned into going to see her in another state, telling her he loves her on social media, and much more. He has me blocked from all social media but cousins see his social media all the time so they let me know. He tells me that he is not in a relationship nor is he trying to be in one until his gets himself together. He says that he wants a divorce so that he can heal and move forward. He also says that he feels that we need to close a chapter so that we can start a new chapter and become like we were in the beginning. He tells me he misses the me he met and when we argue or he feels like I’m controlling then he tells me that this is why he won’t come home. He no longer wants to be bonded to me in anyway accept for our daughter. But he still want us to communicate and talk. He got mad when I bought a house without him, even though I tried to talk to him and we talked about it before he left, he hormas when I put our fighter in Girl Scouts, he gets mad at everything. I try to communicate with him but me me e picks up the phone more masses my texts. He won’t even tell me he is in a relationship but I he continues to talk about our future just not as a married couple. He feels that if we do remarry or are I another relationship it will be on his terms and not mine. He even has a whole day planned for our divorce day. He wants us to go out to eat before we file and drinks afterwards. I’m not sure what to do or even if he is going through a midlife crisis but I’m tired of the mixed signals and deceitfulness. I don’t want a divorce and I want to be a better wife to my husband. I’m confused. Please help.
Andrew G. Marshall says
When he locked himself in the bathroom, he might have watched videos but he wanted to chat with another woman. My guess is that the new relationship started before he left home. So why are you getting mixed signals? He is trying to keep his options open. He has a fantasy about how to resolve your marriage (with his strange ideas of divorce day and a list of how the new marriage is going to be). He is also actively pursuing his new relationship. It is impossible to do both things properly but sadly with affair brain, he can’t think clearly. If this marriage has any future, you need to be able to listen to each other, talk about your hurts and negotiate a better way to be together. But notice I say negotiate rather than demand, it has got to work for both of you. Sadly, he is probably too much in affair brain to be able to do this properly. So I would keep the door open to talking but not expect much that makes sense at the moment.
How long does affair beau last and wants me to file? I don’t want to but he is adamamt about getting it done so that he can grow and move forward. He blames me for everything wrong in his life and says that our relationship has been his worst even though I was there through everything.
Andrew G. Marshall says
Blaming you goes with the territory of affairs (rather than owning his half of the collapse of the marriage). How long does the crazy part of an affair last? That’s hard to answer because it is down to how much it is fed and whether the fantasy of this person being perfect meets the cold light of day. If you are hoping he will wake up and realise it has been a mistake and want to come back, it could take a long while and he might decide not that you were the ONE after all but look for another ‘perfect’ partner. It is amazing what some people will do to avoid working on themselves.
Do you counsel via Skype in the US? How can your counseling help my situation?
Andrew G. Marshall says
I don’t personally do Skype sessions but my team does. Go to private counselling and fill in the enquiry box. How does counselling help? For couples, it helps them communicate better, understand each other and find a way forward that is acceptable to both of them. For individuals, it helps them listen to themselves and discover what is truly important – rather than going round in circles.