Is “Falling Out of Love” The Deathblow to Your Marriage?

Editor’s Note – this post is read between 30 and 80 times each day. We’ve received four or five series’ of correspondence about the content, and others have quoted and posted it in various internet venues.  I’m reposting it because there might be something of value for you to pass along to others.  The topic is a timeless one, and we hope there are still people who can find the information useful. Thanks.

Just over a year ago, I was sitting in a meeting room in the Edmond Public Library. Across from me was a friend of a friend of a friend who had been referred to me for a class assignment. He had agreed to a one hour interview over the topic of his in-progress divorce proceedings and questions related to seeking help before he and his wife finalized the process.

I felt protective of him in some ways because all the walls of the room were glass and our activity was visible, although not audible, to the other people in the library. However, he seemed to be holding up pretty well emotionally, even as we worked through some of the more sensitive questions. His face began to change and contort, however, when he related “the ending discussion” with his wife. He recounted that every time she brought up a problem in their relationship and stated that ‘she wanted out’ he had countered with a way they could fix the problem.

But then she ‘brought the hammer down.’ She told him that she wasn’t in love with him anymore, and hadn’t been for a long, long time. “And when she said that,” he recalled quietly, “I knew there was nothing I could do. You can’t change someone’s feelings. It was over.” He paused and stared at the table for a few moments. I asked him if he needed a break.He looked up, as if snapping out of a deep thought sequence and smiled. “No, no…we can go on. What’s your next question?”

I followed that meeting up with four other interviews over the same sequence of questions, in the same way. Three of the other four included conversations where one or the other partner had “fallen out of love,” and the knowledge of that phenomenon became the precursor for ending their relationship. In some ways, it seemed that the conclusion of that particular interview series was this: You can get through a lot of problems in a marriage, but if one of the spouses declares they are no longer in love, it’s over.

Or is it?

At least two different data sets indicate that couples who at one point in their marriage “wanted to get a divorce, but decided against it and ended up staying together,” are glad they did years later. The Oklahoma Baseline Survey on Marriage published this finding: Of those respondents who considered their marriage to be in serious trouble at some point (34%), 92% said that they were glad they were still together (OSU BSR, 2002). So, although there is some evidence that people who may have fallen out of love dug in and are now making it – there is much to be discovered in this painful area of marriages on the brink. In this next section, I will cover some information on the falling out of love process, options for the consideration of staying together regardless of feelings, information about why some of those feelings experienced might even be sending you false signals, and then information about approximate timelines for ‘re-falling’ back into love.

Information on the Falling Out of Love Process

It is important for couples to understand that the “falling out of love” process can be personalized to them; it’s not just others and there IS information that can help describe what they are experiencing. Dr. Joanni Sailor of Cameron University used her dissertation to research this particular process in 2006. Here is a summary of the phases she modeled after extensive interviews with eight people who responded to a newspaper announcement inviting participants to discuss falling out of love with their spouse:

1. Gradual decline – Some individuals describe the falling out of love process as a gradual one. Sailor wrote, “Time mask(s) subtle, almost imperceptive changes of gradual decline.” Tiny problems turn into small ones. Left unattended, they become medium sized issues and the initial committed relationship begins to crack and become vulnerable to other problems. The protective factors erode away and leave partners open and susceptible to attacks that would have earlier been easily averted. Therefore, one of the two findings of the disconnection process is a very slow and gradual process that happens over a long period of time.

2. Pivotal Moment – Another process, however, was also articulated. It was a different process where those interviewed described a very personal illustration over a specific interaction noted as “a pivotal moment” in their falling-out-of-love process. Sailor writes, “Pivotal moment represented an easily discernible, easily identifiable instantaneous revelation in which there is unquestionable knowledge that the romantic love for one’s spouse has vanished. The perceptions and descriptions of ‘pivotal moment’ were intense and did not diminish with the passage of time.”

3. Change in sense-of-self (self-preservation, guilt, feeling like failure) –Another pervasive finding was that those who were involved in the ending of a relationship experience intense changes in their own sense of Self. They felt guilty or depressed; they grieved, felt like a failure, wanted to take all the blame and then switched and wished to blame everyone, etc.

Those who are in the middle of this process feel flooded with an abundance of intense emotions and very often completely change the way they see themselves. This can be further complicated by other things going on during the emotional separation process as described in the next bullet point:

4. Contempt/anger/hatred – Not only are there intense negative emotional floods directed toward themselves, but there are also equal emotional floods directed toward their spouse. Extreme feelings of contempt, disdain, anger, hatred, and – in some cases – even fantasies about their death, frequently occur. Therefore, not only are those who are going through a relationship disconnection unhappy with themselves (and possibly seeing themselves in a distorted way), they are unhappy with their partners and very possibly seeing them in an equally distorted way.

I spoke with Dr. Brandt Gardner of Oklahoma State University about this issue. We mulled over the fact that falling out of love is, as described by some, the peak level of the emotional pain threshold. That’s probably because pain creates a flooding of protective factors, including hormones and other processes kicked in by the endocrine system. When this happens, some of these endocrine processes serve as specific catalysts to embed memories, especially if that pain is accompanied by surges of adrenaline. What happens when there is such a great amount of emotional wounding is an experience likened unto any other trauma, then the hippocampus (responsible for short-term memory) experiences actual nerve damage brought on by cortisol flooding.

What this means in layman’s terms is that during the whole “falling out of love process,” there is actual distorted emotional memories being created.

These distorted memories, when embedded by floods of adrenaline, end up – in essence – being emotional brain scars…and take a long time to heal.

Now – let’s flip over to the “falling IN love process” for a moment. The experience is amazingly complex and sort of like being on drugs. The unconscious is at work; couples get their greatest needs met from a partner who seemingly is a perfect fit, their bodies are flooded with cortisol creating a natural high; interestingly, females testosterone levels spike (making them feel a little more virile and aggressive) while male testosterone levels are lowered (making them feel more docile and amicable). Between the two entangled in the wonderful thing called Love, all of Nature’s blessings are being showered down over them in a rainstorm they probably wish would never end.

That’s quite a difference to the falling out of love process, isn’t it? It’s almost as if, to coin religious phrases, falling in love is Heaven, and falling out of love is Hell. And both are accompanied by a range of bio-socio-emotional processes that almost seem bigger than the individuals involved.

But all this information begs a few more follow up questions. If we know what happens to people when they fall in love, and we understand (to a degree) what happens when they fall out of love, WHAT do we know about couples having a chance to RE-fall back into love?

In beginning my research on this particular question, I checked some public message boards. Several have posted this question: “Can a person fall back into love with their spouse?” The answers cover an entire spectrum from YES to NO, but frequently you see this type of response: “If it was ACTUAL, REAL love… then you never actually fall out of love with them.” I’m sure I saw this advice on the sitcom “Friends” several times over the years.

This advice, however, is FALSE.

The feelings of connection I’ve seen described in my therapy office over the past ten years beg to differ, and offer altogether a different perspective. The perspective I’ve seen is, surprisingly, the Un-process of Sailor’s findings. Some couples fall back into a romantic love connection gradually. They’ve described the process taking up to two years from their “out of love” feelings to their “back in love” feelings. Other couples have experienced a “pivotal moment” of falling back into love.

One person in my office recalled that when they witnessed their spouse stepping up in a big way and protecting their family from a perceived threat, that became their pivotal moment and their romantic feelings began to return. However, all couples state that they have to undo the feelings of contempt, mistrust, and isolation. They had to actively work at “turning toward” each other when they had been shutting each other out for such a long time. And mostly, all had to take a risk. They had to take a leap of faith that went exactly and expressly against how they felt emotionally in order to achieve what they recaptured. None of them, when taking that risk, were sure about how it might work out…and most took the risk because of someone other than themselves: their children, their family, their connections with collective friends, etc.

So – can you fall back into romantic love with your spouse once you’ve disconnected from them emotionally? Yes. Will it always happen? I have no idea, but assume (because I’ve witnessed it) that some relationships are irreparably damaged and the individuals that make up those relationships are so hurt they are simply unable to take the steps necessary to heal. Remember, there is more than just attitude at play here…there is biology and physiology and certainly other family or friends involved as well.
So what’s the summary here? I think there are some clear messages:

1) To those of you who are or have fallen out of love – it’s a hard, painful process and there are many levels to the journey that got you to that place.

2) To those of you who wonder if you can fall back into love – it MAY BE a hard, painful process and there will most certainly be many levels involved on that particular journey as well.

However, it can happen. And reconnecting in a romantic way with a spouse is reported as a highly treasured attribute to many long term marriages who state they are ‘so glad they dug in and stayed together.’ But…only YOU can know yourself, your limits, and whether you have emotionally what it takes to risk stepping out on a journey that seems completely foreign, uncomfortable, and probably will be many times painful before it gets better.

It could be one year. It could be two. And unfortunately, sometimes it will be never. But…if you are ready to take the risk, I wish you the very best, and am offering this tool to help you find a therapist to help guide that process if that’s what you choose.

Good luck.  And, if you’re in the middle of this “falling out” process, and DO “fall back in…” drop us a line when that happens.  It would be nice to hear your story. Thanks.

[kelly]

Kelly Roberts, M.S., LMFT (aka Red Dirt Kelly) is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and AAMFT approved supervisor.  She studies marriage and family policy, and marital interventions at Oklahoma State University. You may reach her at OSU here:

kelly.m.roberts@okstate.edu

***

For those of you who would like to hear a “real life” story, I received the following narrative as a response to this post in November of 2011.  I hope it will lend a “real life” perspective that could be helpful for you…RDK

Dear Ms. Roberts,

I read your blog post (article?) about falling out of love with interest. At the end of the post, you invite readers to respond to you with their own experiences with falling out and back into love. If you’re serious in that invitation, I’d be willing to share my story with you. My husband and I separated back in 2006, due in part to me falling out of love with him. We ended up deciding not to go through with the divorce and to get back together. I gave us a 1 year “trial period” to work it out. My line of thought at the time was that we had loved each other once, and I believed we could love each other again — so for the sake of our son, I should try. I knew if it wasn’t for our son, I wouldn’t have even tried — I would have just walked away and written it off as another learning experience.
We are now approaching our 11th wedding anniversary, and we’ve never been more in love. What’s most fascinating to me about your article is that, in the time between our separation and now, the strength of our love for each other has waxed and waned. At one point, in 2009 (when we experimented with polyamory), I even thought that this time, I really had fallen “out of love” and there was simply no way to bounce back and heal from our relationship mistakes. But re-committing once after “falling out of love” had taught me that it is, in fact, possible to fall back into love. That a relationship can be not only salvaged, but even become stronger and better in the face of incredible personal and lifestyle changes. So even though I didn’t think it was possible to heal from that particular relationship mistake, we decided to try our best. Part of what helped us to succeed in overcoming that particular low spot was the knowledge that we’d come through “falling out of love” once before.
Thank you,
~ L.

95 thoughts on “Is “Falling Out of Love” The Deathblow to Your Marriage?”

  1. Hi ,
    I’ve been with my husband for 9 years been married for 4 .. I have two children one of which is his .. Last year I talked my husband into an open relationship.. It worked for a bit .. We dated others and had sex with others .. I was lookin for something I was missing in my marriage .. I thought I was ok with the open marriage we never took anything to heart and we were still very happy with eAchother .. But then I found him . I found the guy I had been looking for .. He was sweet , and generous , he spoiled me so much showered me with love , very helpful, and caring , he offered me the world in only two weeks .. We said we loved eAchother we had such a connection.. I promised my self I would not fall in love with anyone else cause I loved my husband .. And I planed on staying with him .. I was so close to leaving my husband to be with this other man .. But I thought about it and desided to give my husband another chance to show me he wanted me and loved me enough to keep me .. We closed our relationship since then but he can’t get past the part where I told him I had fallen out of love with him .. But I told him I wanted to fall back in love with him .. But we both had go work at .. Cause I feel like things have always been one sided before ..

  2. Hello,

    I am hoping you have some advice for me on my situation. My boyfriend and I have been together for 8 years; lived together for the last 7 years. We have been happy and in love through a lot of turmoil. He has a sexual addiction and I repeatedly found evidence that he was meeting random people for sexual encounters. I discovered that this was happening due to him having extremely low self esteem, so I found a couple counselor for us. She verified that he has a sexual addiction. We saw her three times, then she said she needed to see my boyfriend by himself. She said she would be bringing us back for couples counseling and that I could attend his session any time I wanted to. I was happy that my boyfriend was getting help.

    In November 2013, I was upset due to my boyfriend still evidencing old behaviors of acting out within his addiction. The counselor got aggressive with me, raised her voice. That session was pivotal for me as I knew something was seriously wrong with her. I asked my boyfriend, for the third time, to consider switching counselors. He said she was helping him. Soon he told me about a support group this counselor ran for people who used to make a lot of money, but had not since the recession, and were having difficulties with that. My boyfriend started to attend this group weekly and go out with a few of the men in the group afterward. I was happy he was making friends. Shortly after this appointment the counselor told my boyfriend that she would not be able to see us for couple counseling. No explanation was given.

    By March 2014, I felt my boyfriend had completely detached himself emotionally from me. During this time, I was still desperately seeking solo counseling for myself. Our couples counselor had told my boyfriend that he needs to be celibate for at least one year, which I was supporting. I would do anything to help him with his recovery. But I was feeling myself falling apart emotionally and mentally, because he had emotionally abandoned me. I asked him, twice, if he had a lover. He denied it. Two weeks later he admitted that he is not in love with me. I was shocked and devastated. I had been mostly supporting him financially, as well as his daughter who came to live with us. I had stayed with him through a lot of cheating, and other chaos.

    In May 2014, I knew my boyfriend was acting out again. I just did not know with who. I came home early to find him in bed with our couple counselor. Now things began to become clear to me. All of the time he was spending away from home. He would go to a “counseling” session and be gone for 4 1/2 hours. He had been taking his cell phone into the bathroom with him, which told me he was texting with someone he did not want me to know about. He had been defensive and overly secretive for a month. When I discovered them together, I told him that he had just ended our relationship. I said I would be moving out, as I would not stay in a position to be hurt like that again. He broke off the relationship with our counselor that day, and has had no contact with her since, to my knowledge.

    At this point, he understands that he was the victim of a predatory therapist. That she crossed a line in many ways, and put her own needs above ours, as her clients. He sees that, but is confused by still feeling “owned and controlled” by her. He feels love for her, as well as anger, betrayal, and confusion. Mixed with shame. He says he cannot live with what he has done. He loves me so much, but is still not in love with me.

    Yesterday I told him that I am having second thoughts and am willing to consider moving toward reconciliation if he is committed to that and makes his recovery a priority. He says that he is, but is afraid I am changing my mind due to being codependent. I do not believe I am, as I am active in CODA and S-Anon and simply believe that as long as we genuinely love one another, the relationship is worth working to save. Since the day I discovered the affair, my boyfriend has been sleeping in our guest room. We agree that this arrangement will continue until he feels he is in love with me again, or at least fully committed to working on our relationship.

    He was under that terrible therapist’s influence heavily for about a year. It seems like his view of me got skewed, and that he was not seeing our relationship clearly either.

    Do you think there is a decent chance he will come out of this fog and be in love with me again?

    Thanks.

  3. Hi i just found this site and figured the advice of an outside party, any outside party would be awesome. I am 23 yrs old and have been with my wife for 3 years and we just got married about 7 months ago. Due to school and work we have had nothing but problems throughout the course of this last semester. We finally were able to get to the core of these problems and really take a good hard look at our relationship. Over the years she has always said things to me like “this doesn’t feel right” or “this should feel different” when referring to our relationship. She even said them on our honeymoon and and our wedding night. I always tried to “fix it” or make it better and eventually i realized i simply gave up and stopped trying and was harboring a lot of resentment about the fact. These thoughts originate from a relationship she had years ago that was more of a dream than reality. She fell in love for the first time in venice when she got to live there for 3 months, no job, no worries, and though she doesn’t have feelings for that guy anymore she was still looking for that experience. She finally realized this and has “grown up” as she puts it and was horribly apologetic and has started dedicating her all to us and to me. The other factors we have been dealing with were sex and and simply a lack of seeing one another. She is an extremely emotional person and had been having breakdowns nearly once or twice every week at the beginning of the semester though they have finally stopped. In a given week i only see her for a few hours. We have so little in common its disheartening and there is this constant sense that no matter what we do i will never get to be my whole self with her and maybe we made a big mistake.
    To top all of this off i work as a CNA at an assisted living facility and i was always paired up with this other woman and over time working with her we became really good friends. As i got to know her better she started telling me about her abusive past and her current abusive relationship. I have always had this inability to stop myself from helping people when they ask for it and slowly i started trying to help her and as months went by she grew healthier. She left her abusive bf, she stopped cutting herself and started appreciating herself and being happier and all of these things. It made me feel good to know that i helped and i think that was a big deal for me. Well this was taking a toll on my already strained marriage because i was focusing my emotional attentions on another woman instead of my wife, though not in any sexual or relationship type way. This was the straw that broke the camels back and sent all the other things flying to the surface. … Now as time has passed and everything is out in the open i have found that without meaning to or realizing it i fell in love with my coworker and have fallen out of love with my wife. I feel terrible because i am emotionally cheating on my wife and she is giving her everything for us to heal and i dont feel the strength or want to give my everything. I feel like i gave all i had before and now im just tired and i dont feel connected to her. At the same time this other woman has everything in common with me. She can even tell if my mood changes. If im fine and then i get anxious ill suddenly get a text from her saying “are you ok? are you feeling ok? Whats up talk to me” and thats a weird connection i have never had with anyone before, not even my wife.
    When i look into the future i have realized that picturing a future with my wife seems extremely difficult and unfulfilling while a future with my coworker seems full of possibilities. I feel like a failure on all fronts and that no matter what i do i will hurt someone.

  4. Hello me and my husband of 11 years are split cause he is no longer in love with me. 3 months ago when he told me we would fight like cats and dogs he could even be in the same room as me. He was also having an emotional affaire with a girl 10 years younger. 3 months ago when all of this hit me I was passed anger and frustrated. so I did a lot of research look up a lot and within 3 months of learning where I went wrong we no longer fight we enjoy each others company.We have a better relationship now but he still sometimes tells me I don’t want you to think that cause we do all theses things that we are getting back together. I have always been up front about where I stand with making it work but he don’t want to cause he is not in love. is he saying this cause he is trying to convince himself are is there no chance?

  5. My wife and I have been together for eight years, married four. We met at work and fell in love. We built our lives together and were so much in love that we became known as the love Birds. We were blessed with a beautiful baby girl two years ago who was born on our second anniversary. To me that just confirmed that we had a special kind of love. We did have some problems but I thought that we could work through it. We have a twenty-three year age difference between us but that never really came into play. The main issue is, I have a habit or problem that when I wanted sex and she didn’t I would masturbate. She caught me the first time and told me that she did not like it, even hated it. I didn’t take her feelings serious saying that all men did it. Well over the years she caught me a few more times and it would cause major fights. I didn’t see that it was pushing her away. Well it did and that along with some other smaller issues pushed her out the door. She told me that she needed space to figure things out.
    I did everything wrong from that point. My wife is my everything I am madly in love with her and was shattered when she left. Couldn’t’ eat, sleep, think clearly and tried to convince her to come home. I put our business out to a handful of people after she told me not to. I would not give her the space that she needed. She told me that she didn’t feel the same about me, that she has fallen out of love with me. But she never said that she dose not love me. It took me awhile to get my head together but I have. I am now giving my wife space. We talk every day mostly about our daughter. On the days we each have her we make it a point to share pictures, and we let each other talk to our daughter. We are both police officers and we will often talk about whats going on with the job. I am no longer putting pressure on her but keeping everything upbeat and happy and working on myself. She said that she wants a divorce and I have told her that I do not, and that I believe that we can work this out and be a happy loving family. When she left me I took a very hard look at myself and came to realize that I was a very selfish man and that I was wrong in many areas. I was completely broken. So I am in therapy for my compulsion and have joined a support group of men for support. I have turned my marriage over to God. I am not a very religious man and have not prayed for many years. I accepted Jesus as my savior many years ago but fell away and losing my wife has turned me to call on my higher power to help. I truly believe in my heart that my wife and I will work this out and with the changes in me we will be happy. I know that my wife really loves me she is hurt and angry now.
    I just wish that she would seek help with what shes going through and maybe open her heart to the possibility that she can fall back in love with me. I want my wife back more than anything but I also know that I am a good man and would meet someone else, but I want my wife because I know that we can work.
    This site has given me hope that we will work it out.
    Thank you

  6. Our story is, like most stories here, incredibly sad. We met 13 years ago and fell in love mutually at first sight. We ha lots if common friends, we enjoyed being social together we even share the same birthday. We moved in together the next day an were engaged a month later an married the next year on the day that we met. The next few years were a whirlwind. We quit our jobs, moved to Costa Rica and just basically lived for te moment. We then moved back and settled down and our love affair remained as vibrant as ever. She got a job selling reverse mortgages and I got back into entertainment. Her job took off and soon she was extremely successful and making a lot of money. I on the other hand was having a tougher go of it. Although I had been incredibly successful in the past I was having trouble attaining the status I had enjoyed when we met. However during this process I had one project that was a potentially life changing possibility. I threw everything into thinking this was the thig that was going to provide for my wife the way she ha been providing for me. The years passed. We had our daughter 7 years ago and a son 3 years after that. We bought a home in a nice area of Los Angeles and we seemed very happy. But the finances continued to deteriorate in spite of her success because I wasn’t holding up my end of the financial bargain. But the project was progressing nicely, at one point two years ago we actually launched and were wonderfully received. At one point my wife and I were worth 11 million dollars on paper. But paper doesn’t pay the mortgage and my actual earnings weren’t great. They weren’t terrible, actually decent for most people, but they were inconsistent and not enough for us to keep from going into debt. And then the bottom fell out of my project. The money never funded and the whole thing looked like it was going to die. I spent a year trying to save it making no money and our financial situation came o a head. It was during this time, I came to find out later, that my wife started to fall out of lie with me. She didnt say anything, and in fact we seems to be as in love as we ever were. There were signs that I missed. She stopped making me a collage of the year for Christmas which she had done for over a decade. She stopped wanting to go to church which is something we always liked even though we’re not overly religious. Perhaps I was lying to myself durin this time because the reality was too tough to deal with but I honestly can’t look back and say that I thought we were in serious trouble.

    So this brings us to last fall in 2012. The project got back on its feet and I started making money again. She seems overjoyed with it and we were happy. The kids were growing and life started to feel a little easier. It was short lives however and the money again dried up. Her job took a financial hit at the beginning of the year and we were soon starting to discuss selling the house. It was incredibly tough. In started to feel the strain and I could tell she was worried. On the day the project finally took a nosedive she was in New York on a business trip. I remember telling her that the project appeared done and we needed to sell the house. She was despondent. It was that night that her boss seduced her or maybe she seduced him but regardless she started an affair. She claims that it started as a texting thing. But looking at records I could see that it was much more. Over te next 4 months she texted with him over 4 thousand times. He was married as well with two kids. He was rich, powerful an apparently just as unsure about his marriage as she was with hers. She spent the next months, with his help, reassessing what she wanted out of life. Upping her goals for er future and convincing herself that I couldn’t help er achieve them. But on te surface she was the same loving wife and mother she’d always been. She never talked about any of this with any of her friends, her family and she never attended any counselling. She just poured everything into the other guy and their romance continued behind the scenes. Around July 4th she was on a business trip an they consummated their relationship. She returned and still carried on as if nothing was happening. A month passed and she was discovered when my brother looked through her phone because she had something to him that made him think something might be going on. I confronted her and she broke down. She said it was like a drug that she couldn’t quit. She’s been miserable for years and didnt know how to deal with it. She didnt mean for into happen. But she begged me to stay and forgive her which i readily did. We seemed as happy as could be expected and I thought we could get through it.

    The house closed, we moved to another city just north of here and seemed set on rebuilding our lives together. But he kept contacting the other guy. We spiraled and everything came crashing down on Labor Day weekend. She told me wasn’t in love with me anymore and that she was in love with the other man. She can’t rebuild it anymore. She doesn’t have respect for me and she wants different things now. She says she loves me and our family but that there is no way to repair what’s been done. Too many years of doubt and fear. She sees her life with this other man too clearly, he’s also getting a divorce to be with her.

    I read your article and indeeply want to believe that a decade of a really amazon love affair and two beautiful children can somehow keep it together but she’s giving me no signs of caring at all. Is there any hope? Or is this the end?

  7. Hi Kelly,
    Thank you so much for your research on this topic. I am in the situration too. My husband announced to me several weeks ago that he isn’t in love with me any more. I am heartbroken, but behaving bravely because we have a 9 year old daughter. We have been married almost 25 years. We have been through a situation similar to this twice before — both initiated by my husband. Recently, his mother passed away after a long, sad illness. His father passed away 15 years ago. My husband had a diabetes scare 2 years ago, and transformed himself through diet and exercise. Both my daughter and I have changed our lifestyles to support him in his efforts. On top of that, he’s coming up on his 49th birthday. It’s a lot. He’s a loner kind of guy. Very much a homebody. Does not encourage friendships with other guys, but he is well-liked at work. He’s just very private. He doesn’t have anyone to talk to except me. He seems so lost. I can see that he should get some counseling, and he’s asked me to attend marriage counseling too. Great! Right? Only we live in Albuquerque, NM and don’t have anywhere to go for help. His employer has offered limited assistance. And since I am now looking for work I don’t have any resources either. Do you know of any counseling center in Albuquerque that we could contact? Possibly someone who’d be free or sliding scale? I’d appreciate any help you can offer. I’d like to save my marriage, once again and make it to that 50 year anniversary.

    1. UPDATE: The disintegration of my almost-25 year marriage continued until early November. My daughter and I looked at a home close to our family home that my husband was interested in moving into. We all thought it was nice, but the sadness was palpable. That night, my husband couldn’t sleep. When I woke up for the 2nd time, I joined him in the living room. It was 3 am. It had sunk in that he was going to leave us. I accepted it. And because I accepted it, I wasn’t trying to talk him into staying, or blaming him for anything that had come between us. But I was confused and asked for his reasoning. He stated that he didn’t want to hurt us (either myself or my daughter), he wouldn’t abandon us financially and intended to continue to care for us, he planned to be part of our daughter’s life on a daily basis (that’s why he wanted to live so close to us). With all of that, I really didn’t see what would be gained by moving out. When I asked, again, thoughtfully and with concern, he said that he felt like he had failed us. He was so disconnected to all that was going on in our lives. He just didn’t feel like he cared about anything. He felt like he was dragging us down with him and he thought that if he left, we would be happier without him. I was incredulous to say the least. I refused to belive that he had never been happy and called him on it. I wasn’t angry about it, but I did tell him it was bullshit. I then reminded him of all the moments together that we shared when he was ecstatic, joyous, crushed, happy and bitter. Oddly enough, he didn’t remember things that way until I reminded him. He was really confused then. And I told him it sounded like he was depressed. As if his brain had rewritten events in his life until everything was washed with a dull gray. So the update is that he saw his doctor, got a therapist, was diagnosed with a seratonin deficiency and is now taking medication to treat it. Two months later and he is a different man. I am happy to report that we are happily together, sharing joy with our daughter, and he has recovered SO MANY memories that he had forgotten. My daughter is having a little difficulty getting used to a daddy that is playful, funny, silly and loving. But I’m just happy to have the man back that I felll in love with 30 years ago. THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL if you are courageous enough not to hurl recriminations, blame each other, and struggle through the difficulty. Of course, none of this would have mattered if he hadn’t been able to make a connection in his mind that told him he was depressed. Thank you for your site. The information here gave me hope and the courage to talk to him straightforward and make sure he got help.

      1. Hi, Trish:

        Wow, what a process you …and your entire family…have been through! I have to say, I’m really grateful for you checking back in. AFter reading so many stories that entail such pain, it’s really good to hear a voice from down the road a bit. I’m happy for you and the LIGHT at the end of that tunnel you are experiencing. I’m glad you took up some courage from here, and possibly other places, and am elated that you are experiencing a positive outcome!

        Best wishes – – to ALL of your family, Kelly

  8. My wife and I have been together almost 6 years, I can’t say I fell out of love with my wife, but we had a big moment of “what the heck”. I had a few beers and was talkin’ with my friends, and something came out of my mouth that I did not expect. Basically proclaiming love for one of my exes from 15 years prior. I didnt really profess my love as much as just said that I still loved her. My wife overheard this and we erupted into a battle the likes of which has never taken place between us or in our home ever before. She yelled, screamed, called me a cheater, she threw things at me and left notes taped everywhere with what I had said. to me it seemed we were destined for doom. 5 hours later, after a long night, and no sleep, I received text message instructions of what it was I had to do. moving into another room of the house, was among them. Instead of throwing myself on her mercy as I had been over the last 18 hours, I gave her space, and time, by the time she got home that evening, we were having a quiet dinner, together. We went to bed, together. and while it has not been too long since this incident happened, I still remember the feeling I had when she sent those words of ” move into the upstairs bedroom, I don’t care which one” I was sick, I was physically ill for almost 3 days from the fight, from what I had done, and from the thought of losing my wife. I wont say it’s back to perfect, but I will say I have fallen back in love with her. I think that night, those words, things we said, were all just waiting to come out, and now that it was out , we could move on. I no longer take her or her love for granted. it’s not something that will always be there no matter what stupid thing I do or say. with one bad night or one wrong word, my world could be destroyed, and the woman I adore would no longer be by my side. I have gained a whole new admiration for her, considering she told me she did not feel that there was anyway for us to ever heal and move on from it. I am greatful that we have and were able to. It’s odd, but I am seeing her again the way I saw her when I was first “courting” her. she was that one unreachable relationship that I worked so hard to get, and once i got it, i just got comfortable, and once I got comfortable, it was almost as if, I just didnt care. I have learned to be humble, and have learned that I am not the only person in this, we are in it together, and she deserves love and respect 10 fold, for not only putting up with me at my bad times, but for being the strong woman she is and loving me despite my faults.

  9. I have a very sad story but will try to make it brief, for I find myself skipping over the long drawn out stories. My wife and I have been married for five years, we have two wonderful boys, three and one and a half years old. She has been a challenge to live with from day one. Not the friendliest or the easiest to read. In fact, I gave up all my hobbies and friends, slowly but surely, over the course of our marriage. So we have not been in a good space for quite some time but I loved my family and was willing to do anything to make it work out. I kept thinking it was going to get better as the boys got older. I truly do love my wife with all my heart. So this is where I am ashamed at what has happened. I was pursued by a business colleague, telling me how wonderful I am and how lucky my wife is to have me. I dissuaded her with an email and a lunch just to state, nothing could happen between us, I was married with two kids. Make a long story short, my wife and I were still not emotionally connected or intimate for quite some time so I became drawn into this other woman’s words. We exchanged emails and texts and I was being drawn into a fantasy of being appreciated and wanted, unlike how my wife was treating me. We ended up seeing each other for five mins each week, just so she could see I existed, as she put it. We ended up hugging and kissing a few times but never had sex. I told her we could not have sex if we were ever to become a serious couple ourselves one day. My wife found some emails of this woman professing her love for me and immediately she wanted to separate, leading to a divorce. I know what I did was horrendous and I can’t even justify it to myself, now that I have had time to really think of the consequences. I have moved out of the house and we don’t really talk anymore. She started to soften a little, inviting me over days at a time to be with the boys and many text messages, all kind in nature. However, she abruptly changed her behaviour to being down right mean again, not allowing me to be in our house and saying. “Don’t you get it, I am not in love with you anymore.” This really hurt, especially due to the fact our three year old was present, when she was saying this to me. I hold onto the hope that she will have time and space and realize, for the sake of the children and the sake of our future to come back and reconcile. There is no alcohol, drug or physical abuse in this relationship, only this one time vulnerable affair. Please give me guidance.

    1. she was mean not giving you what you deserved you are a great parent she cant take that away from you
      leave here to realise how mean she was to you and she basically pushed you into the arms of your new lady friend your wife created what happened
      be happy love your children pets have a great time and let her realise in time she lost u

  10. Hi.
    I’m after some advise on my difficult situation. I am married and have been for almost 5 years.(together for 7). I’ve been previously married and have children to my ex wife. I have a 12 month old to my current wife. I love and adore my wife however we have had serious marital problems for the last 9 months. My wife and I approximately 3 years ago began talking about a sexual fantasy which we both fantasised about. I put pressure on her to act this fantasy out for almost 3 years. She did fantasise as well but was hesitant to go through with it. Approximately 9 months ago my wife met a male to act out our fantasy, through a friend which was partly initiated by me. One thing led to another and they began a sexual relationship which I agreed to. I wasn’t aware she was falling for him in an intimate way until I worked out how intense it was. I caught her out on a number of occasions. This has affected me mentally in a big way(anger, depression, anxiety, trust) it came to a head around feb and as a result, she ended her relationship with him. I am pretty sure it has ended, however as a result we fight and argue a lot. When we fight, we both blame each other for what it has done to us. She believes i did not respect her putting pressure on her to act out the fantasy and i can see where she is coming from. i believe the fantasy took over my live. i do love her and respect her. I become nasty verbally towards her. She is over my nastiness towards her and I don’t blame her. I moved out about 6 weeks ago because of our issues and within two weeks she told me she missed me and wanted me to come home. Since then we I thought were travelling ok. She told me she wasn’t happy and was struggling to get over what this has done to us. Told me she loves me but is not in love with me. She told me I was her everything prior to this happening and I truly believe that. I once again got angry and verbally put her down in a nasty way. She doesn’t think she can get over what has happened and find the love and affection towards me she had prior to this. It seems we will be separating at this point. We did have an amazing relationship prior to this last 9 months. We were in-separable. she does like me regret what has happened. i know this had caused massive anger issues with me and am getting help for this. I do want to get through this for the sake of what we once had and the sake of our child. Is this marriage salvageable or do you think it is over. Will time apart help? would love a response.

    1. Wow – your story sounds just like mine and my husbands. My husband had the same fantasy, and for 5 years I refused. We were actually both virgins when we got married, so of course this was absurd to me. Then one day, I don’t know what happened, but I was tired of him always bugging me about it, so I went out and slept with another man. And another one. The second one I eventually fell in love with. I think my husband could tell, because he told me he didn’t want me to see him anymore. So I told him I wouldn’t … but I still saw him, I couldn’t stay away! I felt for this man in a way I never did for my husband, and it made me question my love for him. Though my husband’s fantasy, I’ve become the person I’ve always loathed, and I hate myself for it. But now that I’ve fallen for this other man, I feel like there’s no turning back. How am I ever to love my husband again? I still resent him for his stupid fantasy. If he hadn’t mentioned it to me, this would have never happened, and we’d be a normal married couple. I realize I’m also to blame, but would never have even considered cheating had he never mentioned it. I feel guilt everyday, resent my husband everyday, and long for another man every. single. day. It’s completely tearing me up inside. I’m depressed. I don’t know what to do .

      I haven’t told my husband the full extent of all this, and don’t intend to – unless I’m completely sure the marriage is over and I’m ready to leave. I just don’t know how we’d recover if I was completely honest.

  11. Sorry for the very long message… so we’ve been together for over 9.5 years, living together for a year. Always been best of friends, no arguments, no fights, no drama etc. Travelled the world together, each of our families love us, share friends, shared values and morals, and have purchased and worked extensively on a house together for our future.

    8 weeks back I spot something isn’t quite right with her and I get the bombshell that she isn’t that happy, thinks it would be best to split, love but not in love with me now and has lost the little buzz for me. The next night she moves to the spare room and everything is now awkward and tense. My whole world is completely turned upside down by this.

    I am completely and utterly devestated by this and would do anything to fix it. She is a strong minded girl and doesn’t seem as effected as I am.

    Following the discussions we’ve been having (mainly me starting them), a few things have come to light. She has been a bit peeved after moving in thinking I was taking her for granted – I am naturally laid back and she is slightly OCD about cleaning. I often did cleaning, made beds etc but it would not be to her standard so I tended to not do it to avoid drama or her doing it again. We work different shifts, and often instead of being at home alone I enjoyed the freedom of being away from my parents and went out with the guys from work – not excessively though – and she saw this coupled with me not pulling my weight as treating the place like a hotel and she has allowed it to fester as opposed to getting it off her chest.

    We’ve never had issues with each other going out individually and no jealousy issues but it seems this coupled with the above has allowed us to grow apart. I did go out after Xmas networking and hunting a promotion, which with free beer I missed my train and got home the next morning. This led to a bit of a discussion and some emotions came out. But since then no arguments etc. and I apologised profusely for it but I was hoping to get promoted so she could be a ‘lady of leisure’ we have always joked about.

    I am also fairly shy and reserved, pretty rubbish at giving and receiving compliments (to be fair I always have throughout the 9.5 years). This girl is absolutely stunning both inside and out, funny, caring, understanding, and is my world. As little as I may compliment I do so in my own ways and never changed how I feel about her, and am so genuinely in love with her and love everything about her.

    We’ve fallen into the comfort zone, and slightly mundane zone with the house… and not hanging out enough has meant things have become stale. I said it is fairly normal for teething problems when couples move in. And this is the first stmbling block we’ve ever had so we should look to step up and overcome it.

    We had talked about having children (she wants 4 and I want 2!), having a small intimate wedding and growing old together. We always talked about doing the right thing – getting jobs, getting financially secure, getting a house, getting engaged, married and then having children. She has since said she didn’t know where she stood and everyone else is getting engaged, married etc. I’m devestated by this as I wanted us to be secure in the house, and had planned an elaborate trip for a proposal, thought of how I’d do it and what I would say.

    I’ve taken everything she said on board and it has completely destroyed my confidence as my whole being has been picked at piece by piece by her – minute petty things and habits that were not important are now heightened due to her feeling like this. I told her she has completely broken me and I am a bit of wreck at the moment / cannot switch off from what is going on.

    Having taken everything on board, changed for the better, suggested ways forward I don’t know what more I can do. Living as we are at the moment is torture and we cannot understand / beliee how we got to this point. She agreed she handled it badly and shouldn’t have let things fester to this point and even some of the issues (hair gel on the wrong shelf, splashes of water when cleaning) she has acknowledged as being mad and petty reasons. I’ve held my hands up to whatever she has said and taken it on the chin, although again I’m broken by it all.

    She has taken me being laid back as complacent and taking for granted, when I was keen not to push her as she works a demanding job and I appreciate everything she does both at home and work. I’ll hold my hands up to being not great around the house, but she has priorities for cleaning far greater than I do.

    One thing I should point out is her very / borderline too close relationship with a guy at her work. From what I’ve seen, she has bottled up the feelings about our relationship, and instead seen the fun with this guy (they got on very well), his compliments and attention, diverting attention from home and possibly began to question things with us. She has always been one of the guys and has lots of guy mates so I’m not sure how much to read into it. She swears nothing is going on, but from what I can tell the emotional connection that we used to have is there with this (taken, in a relationship and with child) guy who has in my opionion over stepped the mark in his comments to her.

    I’m trying more than her it seems and I’m struglling in all areas (work, home, friendships) at the moment. Life is on hold and as far as I can see falling apart in front of me. I love this girl more than anthing in the whole world. She has said the same about me but fears the damage may be done.

    We’re currently ‘seeing how it goes’ which is not going great. We kiss and hug, although she feels slightly cold and I seem to initiate more than her. I’ve suggested taking baby steps, move back into our bedroom, do some fun actvities and have dates. She is reluctant to sleep in our bed and have intimate moments (even a snog) as she said it doesn’t feel right at the moment.

    How do we get things back on track, get the spark and love back and get our lives sorted? Please any advice would be much appreciated.

  12. My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 year, but have known each other for about 8 years. Just a few days ago he broke up with me, saying that he loves me but is not in love with me anymore. This broke y heart, and now i find myself hurting more than I ever have in my life. I have tried everything to understand why he has fallen out of love, but he just says that it’s just how his heart feels, and that he knows that this is what’s right, and that I have to trust him. I don’t feel like this is fair to me, because I have asked him for a chance to prove that I can make him love me again, but he says that you can’t change how you feel, and he doesn’t want to lie to himself. We haven’t had any problems, but he claims to have been feeling this way for months. I just want to know if there is anything that i should try to do to save my relationship. He is my soul-mate and i truly believe that, but i need to convince him. Please help me save my relationship!

  13. I commented on the last posting as it shares an incredible similarity to my own situation. Maries for 10, together for 12, 2 children. But my situation is the opposite. My wife has fallen out of love with me. She needs space that I really want to give to her. But my heart is broken. I cannot rationalize a way to not hurt so bad that I get dizzy and feel like throwing up. We are two very different people. But recently she has changed and I saw this coming and became insecure. I have a deep spiritual love and desire for her that I can now want to control. Being away from her is breaking me apart, but being near her like this is crushing me. I have asked her to stay away for a little while so we can both deal with what she is feeling. we have gone to counseling several times before and it has worked for us but she becomes a focal point and draws back. I have asked her to stop drinking and smoking pot so she can think more clearly but she did not take this well. She has depression and takes medication that is inhibited when consuming alcohol. she has probably socially smoked pot 10 times in her life until the past 3 weeks and now wants it to be part of her life. I know she is struggling and she believes our relationship is the cause of her unhappiness. I have always tried to make her happy but have often been told that sometimes she just gets depressed and there is nothing I can do for her. I have grown accustomed to wait it out and am afraid that that may have put us where we are. she is the light of my life. I cannot be “not in love” with her ever. I am very worried about her. her self medicating I am afraid is going to depress her even more than she already is. I know alcohol can make take the edge of stress off but I also know the long term affects with ssdi is a counteraction that increases depression. I feel that if she can somehow put a hold on this self destruction we can really look into our lives and I can take her feelings more to heart and try to be strong enough want whats best for her. She has told me and I believe that there is not another in her life. I am seeing a counselor on my own and it is helping. This is just so difficult. Do you have any advise that can help someone like me not feel so much heartbreak and disappointment. How do people hold themselves back from someone they are so drawn to?

  14. I fell out of love. Married for 9 years and together for 12. We have children. My husband wants to try, but I feel just so shut down. We have always been different. I love him, but just “not in love”. No one else in the picture. I can’t eat, sleep, or feel calm. I want to cry all the time. I feel so guilty for feeling this way. I wish I could flip a switch, but i cant seem to locate it. He admits that he has never made an effort to consistently put aside time for us. I am happy when I am with friends and I have become social again. Perhaps it fills a void. He does not like this. I just want to run away right now. I need space to figure myself out. We have marriage counseling set up.

    1. Anna we may be able to help each other. I have been married for 10 years together for 12. We also have children. Your story sounds a lot like ours aside of the counseling. we have done it several times and she no longer wants to try. she wants to be separated from me. It has broken my heart and left me deeply hurt. I have a very deep emotional love for her. Your story almost mimics mine exactly. she has become social recently, and yes it hurts to see her enjoy someone elses company but not mine. She needs space. We are very different. being different is not necessarily a bad thing. open your mind and allow Yourself to not feel guilty for what you feel. It is almost exactly what my wife is going through with me. your not alone. I have never cheated on her, we do not yell at each other. I do not know your husband, but the guilt you feel is probably because he still loves you as you once did him. Look deep into his eyes and try to have a real conversation about what you feel, both the good and bad. If he looks back deep into your eyes and opens his heart listen to what he is saying. I tried but was shut down. If you need someone to speak to who is not your husband but may be feeling what he does and might be able to offer a male perspective without being hurt or offended, please feel free to ask. I can sympathize for both of you and hope you both stop hurting.

  15. hi,
    my wife and i are now seperated, our two year anniversary is nest minth we have been seperated for two moonths now. she told me the reason for seperating was she is not in love with me anymore. i was devastated. we were so in love at one point nothing could come between us and then this happened out of nowhwere. we still live together and sometimes she comes to cuddle in my bed at night but no sex and barely and touching just spooning. today we had our first kiss in months it was great. she tells me she wants to start completely over as if we just met to see if she can find her love for me again. she tells me she really wants to be deeply in love with me again but its not fair for me to lover her so much and not get the same from her in return. i do not know what to do we have our first child on the way very soon some one please give me advice on what is happening.

  16. Hi there
    Ive been married for 2.5 years, and dated my wife since 2007.
    She gave birth to our daughter late 2012.
    About a month ago she came to me and said she needs space and I got angry. A mix of emotions all came down on me. I was stressed and pretty angry at the same time and yelled before leaving.

    A little history on me. I currently go to school full time, have a full time job and a daughter along with two dogs.
    She works from home and takes care of my daughter.

    The day after I left I came back to talk and she said she wants this to work. A week later we sat down again and she says she loves me but is not in love with me. That we both deserve to be happy and she wants to be head over heels in love. She loves me as a father but not as a lover should. She said our marriage has turned to a friendship.

    I am emotionally hurt.

    I come from a family who didn’t show love to me. I have a mother who complains about everything. Naturally I complained about everything, wether it be on the road or whatever.
    Every time she would want to talk about us I always shut her down.
    I regret everything I have done to hurt her in that sense.

    She says that I don’t show her that I love her. I quickly started doing that over the past 2 weeks and she says it feels unnatural. She laughs when I try to be sweet to her and it’s frustrating me.

    She says there is an extremely tiny string of hope in her that it will work. I already made an appt to go to a counselor today for my stress and anger.

    She also says that 99.9 percent of the reason she hasn’t called it quits is because she cares for me andddoesn’t want me to go back to my old environment I usedkto be in with my mom.

    Am I being too romantic too quickly?
    She is also willing to go to a counselor with me.

    Forgive me if my post is all
    over the place but my emotions are completely out of the norm.

  17. Hi there
    Ive been married for 2.5 years, and dated my wife since 2007.
    She gave birth to our daughter late 2012.
    About a month ago she came to me and said she needs space and I got angry. A mix of emotions all came down on me. I was stressed and pretty angry at the same time and yelled before leaving.

    A little history on me. I currently go to school full time, have a full time job and a daughter along with two dogs.
    She works from home and takes care of my daughter.

    The day after I left I came back to talk and she said she wants this to work. A week later we sat down again and she says she loves me but is not in love with me. That we both deserve to be happy and she wants to be head over heels in love. She loves me as a father but not as a lover should. She said our marriage has turned to a friendship.

    I am emotionally hurt.

    I come from a family who didn’t show love to me. I have a mother who complains about everything. Naturally I complained about everything, wether it be on the road or whatever.
    Every time she would want to talk about us I always shut her down.
    I regret everything I have done to hurt her in that sense.

    She says that I don’t show her that I love her. I quickly started doing that over the past 2 weeks and she says it feels unnatural. She laughs when I try to be sweet to her and it’s frustrating me.

    She says there is an extremely tiny string of hope in her that it will work. I already made an appt to go to a counselor today for my stress and anger.

    She also says that 99.9 percent of the reason she hasn’t called it quits is because she cares for me andddoesn’t want me to go back to my old environment I usedkto be in with my mom.

    Am I being too romantic too quickly?
    She is also willing to go to a counselor with me.

    Forgive me if my post is all over the place but my emotions are completely out of the norm.

  18. My partner of 13 years and I are best friends and enjoy many activities together. We do not have children (fantastic dog though) and we are lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time traveling, talking, socializing, etc… I am deeply in love with him.

    In the beginning of February I had returned from a trip and we fought – he indicated he was not excited for my return and was unhappy in the relationship. The next day I asked him what did happy look like and he replied, “I don’t know – I am not miserable”. That said – the last year has been pretty brutal – we are beginning to deal with his father’s health, I had major health issues (resulting in 4 different procedures/surgeries/multiple appointments), his work has been pretty problematic over the last 7 months, he is approaching 40, one of our closest friends separated last fall (husband left her and is now a constant presence in his life as a ‘bachelor’), and we have stopped doing some hobbies that we used to do together. He indicated a willingness to work on the relationship. We have been, and at the end of April for my birthday he gave me a great card indicating how much he loved how well I understand him and that this is true love, looking forward to another year together, etc…

    Yet two weeks after the card we had another ‘discussion’ no argument really just a brutally honest painful discussion that he is not sure he is in love with me and that he has questioned it for a long time. I asked if he would go to counseling (which would be a huge step for him) and at that time he said yes. I began to go and always offered him a chance to go with me. So far he has not gone, yet he does ask with interest what I do there, etc… He has spoken to me about resentments that he has towards me that have built up over the years. I have apologized for these. He has indicated he is uncomfortable with our relationship as he feels he is putting himself in something similar to his parents (i.e father dependent on his mother). We have talked openly about different things he would like to explore to wake back up our sex life – I indicated a willingness to try. He continues to engage with our relationship in terms of making plans with me, hanging out as a couple, spending time with our respective families as a couple. We still talk well and play well together and hug each other and kiss (peck) daily. I traveled to see friends and he could not go because of work and he surprised me by attempting to get the day off to be with me (he couldn’t get it off though). That entire day he indicated he really wished he was with me and that was only 10 days ago. However, somehow when I came home I started to lose some of my optimism that we were getting over the hump and moving towards each other again.

    He no longer says “I love you”, he’ll reply with a “I love you too” when I say it, and he basically has not initiated sex in the last month. That does not mean that we are not interacting – but I initiate and it is usually not full intercourse. He has never been over demonstrative in public with affection yet that has definitely declined as well.

    I love him – he is an amazing man, I see him trying and I definitely have been. Yet I wonder if it is too late. I honestly believe we have a tremendous relationship and communicate quite well, we are and always have been gracious to one another, trying to please one another and saying the “thank you/please” etc… . I have recognized that there are times in the past that I did not listen fully and definitely without realizing attempted to control, etc… I have openly acknowledged these to him and am working on it.

    Not sure what advice I need other than honesty in terms of thoughts on our situation and potentially actions I should/could take to help us find our way back.

    1. Hi, Linda:

      What I’ve noticed about your message is that YOU are doing a great deal of the functioning for your relationship. You initiate, you suggest, you go to counseling, etc. You must feel a great deal of pressure to find a solution. In fact, you were the one who found this article and painstakingly wrote out the information about your relationship struggle.

      Since this is the internet and we’re typing (not talking in person, or Skyping…) I’m going to cut through to a core suggestion. My suggestion to you is to invite your husband to switch places with you. Invite him to initiate sex, to make contact with you, to think about the relationship. Tell him you’re stumped and you need his help. Ask him if he’s willing to step outside that “son of a dependent man” and be the champion – – the opposite of what he might have perceived his dad to be.

      Tell him that you’re so sorry things aren’t going well at work, and you wish the struggles (health, etc.) over the past few years hadn’t been as great. But tell him you’ve received advice from a relationship expert to let go of your own anxiety and concern, and love him “even more” by allowing HIM to find a solution. Tell him you’re going to love him in a way that feels risky to you – that feels un-natural and scary. And, tell him you’re willing to take that risk for the benefit of the relationship.

      Then, ask him to be the one who speaks – – and tell him you’ll safely listen. Ask him to woo you, and to come up with an idea for the two of you to consider to help your relationship. Finally, tell him that – when he asks for sex, you’ll respond, and that you’ll be waiting. But, he’s going to have to be in charge. Tell him that you love him so much you’re going to touch his hand every night – to let him know you are not abandoning him, that you want your relationship to work, and that you’re open to sex. BUT, that you invite HIM to make the move. Tell him you’re going to try this for two weeks…that the ball is in his court.

      Then, Linda, you’ll need to do something to manage your anxiety while you wait on him to function for the relationship. So – write, exercise, pray, cook, draw, think…but make sure you don’t take too many trips. Your presence around him will be very powerful because you’ll be there, loving him silently.

      Now – IF this works, then you need to talk about what was different for him and help what worked KEEP working. However, if it doesn’t, then ask him if he wants you to take the role back. If he doesn’t want to be in charge of fixing the relationship anymore, then ask him if he’d like to take your counseling appointment by himself – without you – – and see how that goes.

      This might sound weird, Linda – but it’s grounded in theory and is my best advice for you right now. Thanks, Kelly

      1. Thank you for your very fast reply. I cried reading that because it does feel very scary yet something I probably have to be brave enough to attempt to do. He did just initiate a fun trip for us at the end of this month so perhaps (here’s hoping) we can do this for the next couple of weeks and then end with a relaxing/reconnecting trip. It’s good you put in not to take too many trips as my first instinct was to find somewhere to go during that time period.

  19. I’m so happy to come across this website and your article after a very hard past few days in my marriage. My husband and I have been married for 2 years, together for almost 8. We’ve had our ups and downs throughout and have always come out on top. This time, I’m terrified we won’t. Life has gotten in the way of our relationship, mixed with him having a hard time adjusting to getting older and his recent admittance of an infidelity during a bachelor party, he has also said he loves me but is not “in love” with me.

    We both think it’s a mixture of the issues he’s dealing with getting older and he’s adamant about wanting to work through this. We both want what we had again, we both still love each other and have sought family members who have gone through similar situations for guidance, but it’s still hard for me to make this step. To make this huge leap of faith that things will work out and we eventually will be happy again. I’m scared it may never come and it’s making me apprehensive to enjoy anything together because I’m afraid it’s all going to be taken away. It’s hard to sit here and hope for the best. I just want to fast forward through this uncertainty and know.

    I really don’t even know what advice I’m looking for here, but some would be very helpful. I’m scared to loose my husband that I still love so much.

    1. Hello, Victoria:

      Well, the good news (if there CAN be good news in receiving a bad message from your husband) is that you are fairly early into this process of hearing about your husband’s feelings. I’m so sorry that you had to hear what no spouse would ever want to hear…and that you might be feeling rejected and hurt right now due to his report of both the bachelor party and the “out of love” issue.

      It sounds like your husband had some problems even before you got married related to commitment, fidelity and understanding what a mature, trust relationship really is within a marital relationship. However, there is always time to grow through that – even at this late stage in life.

      Do you think your husband would be willing to go to couples therapy with you to work on your relationship? And, if so – would he be willing to agree to a certain period of time before calling it quits in the marriage? The reason I’m asking about this is because it DOES take time for feelings to rekindle, and for a couple to work out the core issues they had to get to this spot in the first place.

      If you need help finding a resource for therapy, please let me know. My very best wishes are being sent your way –

      ~ RDK

  20. Thank you for the article. I’ve been having a rough time and would appreciate any advice. My fiancee and I have been together for about 5 years, but the last 18 months have been long-distance. When we met, we were both in graduate school, and from day 1 we just clicked, and we were inseparable. We had our ups and downs, but we always got by, and we were very, very happy. He finished school a year and a half ago, and decided to take a position in a different city. I still had 2 years or so before I finished my degree, so we agreed to do long distance for that time, then I’d move to the new city so we can be together again. I had some reservations about the distance, as I’ve had long distance relationships fail in the past, but he convinced me that “it was meant to be, so it will work out”.

    We immediately went from seeing each other 24/7 to almost never seeing each other at all. We see each other once every few weeks, but right away something didn’t feel right. We chatted every day, but I sunk into a deep depression as soon as he left. I’m supposed to feel excited and happy when I see him, but I never did; he always felt like a stranger to me during our visits. I began to detach and withdraw emotionally, and eventually physically; my libido took a nosedive and we stopped having sex several months ago. I feel physically awkward and uncomfortable around him. I can barely stand to be touched. Add to this the stress of trying to finish my degree, and the uncertainty of the future of my career, and my whole life seems upside-down; what I once felt so certain about I no longer do.

    After 18 months of being miserable, I feel totally detached now. I’ve completely fallen out of love with him; I’ve lost that spark. I’m not sure that if we were in the same city again that I would fall back in love with him, so I’m unsure of what to do. It’s not that there are other men, there aren’t, I just feel completely incapable of loving anyone right now. I know that my depression and stress from work and finances are exacerbating everything as well. I’ve been completely honest with him but I’m wracked with guilt; I don’t want to hurt him, especially since he claims the distance has only bolstered his love for me. I want to be able to get back that happiness that we once had, but I’m doubtful and scared. In any case, I still have ~6 months left for my degree so we can’t be together again at least for that time. We had our whole future planned, but now I’m not sure what I want or what I need, or even what’s good for me. We have been both be fighting a lot lately, and lashing out at each other because we are both hurt and confused. I have suggested taking a break but we aren’t really sure what that would actually entail, and he says he’s “not sure” how he would react to a break, and seems to feel that to him, that’d be the end of it. He wants to spend a longer period time together, a week or so, to try to reconnect, but we’re both so emotional and volatile right now that I’m not sure this is a good idea. Even if we don’t take a break, and I eventually move to his city, how could we begin to rebuild? How do I just fall out of love with someone? I’m hurt and confused, and I feel betrayed by my own emotions (or lack thereof).

    1. Hello, Abby:

      Well, distance is one classic issue related to feeling emotionally disconnected to someone. But you’re not just dealing with distance. You’re dealing with stress over completing school, financial strains from the school and perhaps other things, and adjusting to a very big difference between what your earlier relationship looked like to what it looks like now.

      It’s normal for couples to have “dynamic life cycles,” meaning – when they first get together, they “look like” newlyweds – they are enmeshed, slightly chaotic or flexible, and very intoned to each others lives. It’s also normal, however, for that dynamic to level off after a while and evolve into more mature interactions, with open discussions, history and shared experiences as part of the foundation.

      The difficulties you’ve experienced internally, in terms of your feelings of intimacy, libido, depression, etc. could all be symptoms of the combined context you’re experiencing, but you could also be unclear – now that you’ve lost your emotional connection – about how to proceed. I think it’s very important that not only do you plan time together to discuss your issues, and try to gain perspective, but to visit with a couples therapist WHILE you’re together. If you are both up to putting all your decision-making on hold for six months until you complete school, then that’s a good start (agreeing together is a good start), but having a clear expectation of what the plan would be after that point is something that needs to be managed. You could manage that together or in therapy. However, please recall that less-stressed individuals enjoy connection more, and that healing that disconnection could take quite a while.

      You haven’t abandoned each other, but your your hearts/heads may feel that way – and you may both feel very anxious about the others feelings as well.

      Good luck with finishing school, getting together a planned, intentional meeting (hopefully with therapy) and sorting things out. I’m very sorry you’re struggling like this.

      ~ RDK

    2. Hello Abby,
      I wanted to reply to your post because I think that you and your mate seem to be, individually, in two of the hardest life places you can be. If you met in grad school 5 years ago, I’m guessing you’re getting a PhD and he probably just got one. Having gotten a PhD and then taken a job, I can say that the two hardest years of my life were 1. the year I finished my dissertation and 2. my first year as a tenure track prof. If that’s where the two of you, the problems you are facing are life cycle issues at least as much as interpersonal stuff, and I think recognizing that could help both of you stop lashing out at each other. You are not each other’s worst enemy. Instead, your individual lives are hard right now. And, to top it off, each of you recently lost your number 1 supporter (each other).

      One suggestion that might help is, instead of spending your rare time together in one of your houses, agree to meet somewhere that is neither of your homes. Go to New Orleans, or meet in Chicago for a week. Yeah, it’s costly, but break-ups are too. The reason I suggest this is that my husband and I lived apart for one year, and it was really hard on both of us for me to spend time with him in his space, because that’s what it felt like–his space, not mine. I didn’t feel like an equal. When he came to visit me, I felt a strange reverse pressure–to entertain him, or be something more than just his mate. I found it difficult to integrate him into the albeit not very fun life I was living without him. Both sides of the equation were hard.

      Just one last note (and this is no reason to stay in your relationship in and of itself, it’s just a matter of perspective). Single people at the dissertation stage or the first job post post-grad degree have it no easier. Believe me. I’d honestly rather be fighting with my mate than going down the slippery substance abuse slope I saw a lot of my single friends do in the final stages of their grad degree and/or their first year of post-grad work.

      Don’t take a break from your relationship. Give your relationship a break. It’s probably a small part of the difficulties you both are going through right now.

      been there, got thru it

  21. My husband and I have been married almost 18 years, been together for 19. We have a 17 yr old son. Almost two weeks ago, we were sitting in our front room, and I asked him if he still loved me. To my horror, he said, “No, I don’t love you.” I am devastated. We have had several talks, and he told me that he had fallen out of love with me about eight months ago, but didn’t tell me because he didn’t want to hurt me. I moved my stuff out to my dad’s house, and was completely miserable. Two days later, I asked if I could come home. He said he never told me to leave, but it’s pointless for me to have to sit at home every night looking at him, knowing he doesn’t love me. We’ve both made mistakes in our marriage. I hate our house, and I let it go into foreclosure, and he holds that against me. But the house is falling apart, and we just cannot afford the repairs. Besides that, he told me that my spending too much money made him harbor ill feelings towards me. Our sex life is non-existant. I sleep in a recliner while he sleeps in the bed. He stopped kissing me before work, when he came home from work, or at all. I told him that I love him and I want to fix what’s wrong. He just keeps saying that he’s never fallen out of love with anyone and he doesn’t know how to fall back in love with me. Then last nite, he told me that a wife is supposed to support her husband, and that every time he had a dream, I shot him down, and said he would fail. I never did. He wanted a motorcycle. I did tell him I didn’t want him to have one because he drinks a lot, and I didn’t trust him to stay sober. He got his motorcycle in Sept., and two weeks ago, came home so drunk that he nearly laid it down in the driveway. The other dream he has is to go to various events, smoke briskets and such, and sell his food. He bought a crappy hillbilly looking trailer smoker for $600. He’s never gone to any events and done any smoking because I do have a fear of failure. He can’t cook without getting soused. And this last Sat., he rode to a Harley dealership with some “buddies”, and came home on a 2013 Harley that cost over $16,000, and we’re in active foreclosure. Back to last nite…he blames me for everything: spending too much money, letting the house go, not wanting him to get a bike, not supporting him in his cooking, just everything. He said there’s just nothing there. He doesn’t want to kiss me, hold me or have sex with me. Last weekend, I followed him to bed and came on strong, and we did have sex. I think that’s an important part of getting back to where we were. I’ve started grabbing him and giving him kisses. But, he says it was just sex, and there were no feelings of love for me, and he kisses me back, but there’s nothing. He broke my heart, and I want so badly for him to love me again, but he doesn’t seem interested in trying.I asked if he wanted a divorce, and he said he wasn’t going anywhere, so we’re living together separately. I have major depression problems, and have attempted suicide before. I know he won’t go to counseling. I can’t live without him. I love him and I need him. What do I do? I have cried all day, every day for two weeks, although I don’t let him see me. He feels bad for not being in love with me. He says he loves me, but not in love with me, and that we get along great as friends. I want to stay and try to fix everything I’ve done wrong; I just don’t know if I can.. I’m beyond sad, very depressed, confused and desperate to get him to love me again. My world revolves around him. Someone needs to tell me what to do. I don’t know how much longer I can take this sadness and heartache.

    1. Hello, Karen:

      I’m sorry it’s been a while for me to write a response to you. I’m also extremely sorry for the pain you, your husband, and most likely your son are all experiencing through this difficult time. I’m going to write in a very direct and honest way because I don’t think sugar-coating messages is a very good start.

      My first thought is your son. It’s a very common dynamic for a couple to get together, get pregnant (or not) and marry early. Then, when their first, last, or only child reaches the age of completing high school, the marital relationship ends. Many times, one person in the couple will state that they were “just staying together for the child(ren)” but that puts a huge deal of pressure and sadness on a child when they look back and question whether or not what they grew up with was “real” or genuine. So, I would suggest that you both spend some time checking in with your son to see how he is doing through this difficult time.

      Secondly, I have a couple of messages for you. First, I want to encourage you to reconsider using sex as a tool to “get your husband back.” Even through many couples connect intimately through sex, the relationship you have with your husband is really conflicted right now, and sex can be considered manipulative. Also, you may regret having sex later and feel used because your husband has stated he doesn’t have romantic feelings for you right now. I don’t want you to sink deeper into a depression because you feel the only way you can get your husband back is sex. That’s not going to work. However, there may be a couple of things that will.

      First of all – it seems like you two have extreme and distressing financial issues. My wish for you would be that you both (TOGETHER) go to a non-profit credit counseling program. Almost every city has one, and they’ve helped millions of people get out of debt, take charge of their finances, and begin to feel in control again. Couples who are in financial distress are almost ALWAYS in relationship distress as well.

      Next, and ONLY after you have visited with the non-profit credit counseling program, should you begin to work on your relationship. There are quite a few FREE resources to help with that very thing, but you’ll have to send me your city and state in order for me to help you find them.

      Finally – please tell your husband that I understand you BOTH are in extreme distress and depression…and that I’m sorry he’s felt discounted by expressing his dreams to you, then felt a failure when you were concerned about the outcome of his investment. What I WOULD suggest is that if you agree you could make extra cash by smoking meat and selling it at events MIGHT work, you should help him with a trial period. Try 1 or 2 events, then evaluate whether or not you feel it was helpful and you netted some extra cash.

      Karen – I’m so sorry that you’re feeling down, depressed, and desperate. I DO hope you find help with your relationship AND your finances and that you and your husband can try to rebuild your relationship – both for the two of you, and for your son.

      Sincerely, RDK

  22. After 6 plus years together my fiancée just left me. He has been suffering from depression and withdrew, lowering my already low self esteem which caused a lot of fights in our relationship in the last two months. He has not yet been treated for depression, yet we know he has it. There has been a lot of pressure from our families o make the engagement official by him buying me a ring which he cannot afford because of his sucky job which he hates, and because his rent is too high. So he is under a lot of pressure and really I was the only thing he was able to take out of the stress equation because he is so overwhelmed. He tells me he loves me but isn’t in love with me anymore, yet I have seen sparks of him in between the depression episodes in the last two years. He says he doesn’t love me and doesn’t want to hurt me, that he doesn’t deserve me. He said that we grew apart, which is really not true because we still enjoy the same things and like doing things together. We can even finish each others sentences and know what the other is thinking. His libido is seriously low yet he says he is still attracted to me. He wants to see me Friday because he just wants to hang out. he broke up with me over the phone. I know he still loves me, or at least the actions in between the depressive episodes suggest, but I am searching for guidance. Everything I read about depression points to his romantic feelings being dulled by the depression. What do you think? Do you have anything to offer in regards to me having hope?

  23. I so need directions and guidance. I have been married to my husband for five years and 6months, just two months ago, he decided to end our relationship (marriage). This came as a surprise for me because i thought everything was great between us. We always have had a great connection, we laughed alot, enjoyed cooking together, travelling and doing things together. He has always been a social person while i enjoyed quiet times at home. This was never a problem. However, after he called it quits- he mentioned that he had over compromised alot of himself in the relationship- though it was his own choice, he felt that he had lost himself along the way.

    The second reason, was also about not being heard- we hardly fought, but when we did fight he would feel that i would question him and not really listen to him, while for me it was merely trying to understand where he was coming from. Though i now understand that i shouldn’t have done that and just listen- but often we would later talk about our issues and concerns after a fight and we would be ok. So i would think. But for some reason i feel that this was not so for him.

    For the past year i have been struggling with health problems (was recently diagnosed with bipolar) and he has been focusing alot of his time on his studies (PHD) and the stress that comes with it- so it was tough for both of us. I know with bipolar brought with it its own issues and we both tried to deal with it, but we didn’t have any professional help to help us together as a couple- so i guess we failed. We thought we could deal with it on our own. I was wrong- because it pushed him over the edge.

    But for him to just end our marriage has taken its toll on me. I have been thinking lots and have questions that i need answers and guidance.

    I have asked him if he wants a divorce- he said that he is happy with the current arrangement (he has moved out- we are separated). He also said for him to focus on himself and for me to focus on myself. He also said that he doesn’t want our marriage anymore. What do i do? Because i still want our marriage to work out- i love him. I told him this and he is aware of what i want.

    I have suggested for us to try and work on our marriage but he doesn’t want to. He said he doesn’t have the love or the will to try and make it work. I suggested for us to talk to someone professional but he is not keen. I am out of options except to just let him be, but its so hard emotionally and mentally. I feel that if i don’t try hard enough then i will lose him forever, and if i do keep on trying i will push him even further.
    I am helpless.
    I dearly love him so much, and thought he was crazy about me too. He is such an amazing soul.

    1. Dear Victoria:

      Wow, it sounds like you both are experiencing quite a lot of stressors. I’m so sorry for the things you and your husband have experienced, and hope very much you find yourselves in a better place sooner rather than later.

      I want to tell you right up front that being in a “separated” situation with no clear goals, nor clear idea of the framework for your marriage is not a good idea. Human beings are unable to stay “in limbo,” and this will not end well for either of you if you continue in this situation for a long period of time. One, or both of you, may do something extreme or hurtful because you’re simply tired of waiting.

      However, your message provides me with a small bit of insight into where your husband is emotionally right now. It appears that he’s weary and doesn’t feel he has the time to focus on your marriage right now. It also seems like he’s “checked out” and isn’t open to solving some of the marital issues through counseling.

      Therefore, the only option you have right now is to tell him clearly and exactly what your bottom lines are. You could tell him…

      1) Just how long you’re willing to wait before you move on with your life and file for divorce;
      2) Or, you could tell him that you’re really not okay with the current situation between the two of you – and that you are inviting him to try at least four sessions of marital therapy in order to feel like you tried to heal your marriage before ditching it;
      3) Or, you could tell him the areas you know where YOU had issues – for instance, trying to solve problems instead of listening; withdrawing instead of participating in some of the activities he likes, etc. Then, you could tell him that you are willing to work on those things if he will work with you.

      If you set a bottom line, invite him to heal your marriage, and wait until your deadline, there really isn’t anything left to do but learn from this particular relationship. I’m so sorry for the sadness you’re feeling right now…and I DO hope that he is open to one of the options I mentioned.

      Good luck, Kelly

  24. I wish I knew if I had really fallen out of love. I believe so, but I wish I knew for sure. I have been married for 5 years, and was in a committed relationship for 6 years before we got married. I have a 10 month old son and I believe my marriage is over. We are on a six month trial period, failing which, we have decided to mutually part ways.

    He has been my best friend for 10 years and my decision to end this long journey with him has been solely because, I am sure I have lost my friendship with him. Yes, there has been pivotal moment, rather events and Yes, I have also been going through my own personal failures at career and childhood demons of failed marriage of my parents(who still are together). But I think the reasons to the failure in our relationship has been prolonged long distance relationship(2years), during which we both have changed so much that it is hard to find any bit of liking, admiration for the new person/stranger I am living with.

    Is it possible to find love again for the person who is no more the friend I was deeply in love with once?
    Inspite of knowing that we want different things in life, is it possible to find respect for the other’s path?

    I haven’t just lost my marriage, but my most cherished friendship, the person who was my absolute sure choice to be the father of my baby. I think I have fallen out of love because he is not the person I fell in love with. Is it possible to find that love back?

    Thank you very much if you decide to answer, and even if you don’t, thank you for listening.

    1. Hi there, Charu:

      Long distances and time away from each other can be create critical issues in a relationship. You are both growing in different ways when you are apart, and when you come back together it’s hard to reconcile the “new” couple.

      I’m very sorry for your experience, and I’m also sorry for taking so long to reply. I’ve been working on my doctoral degree so stepped away from this post for a while.

      You have a very long relationship with your husband and much invested in order to leave without really giving your marriage a shot. Yes, you can rebuild – but I want to tell you that it could take up to two years to genuinely feel better and heal again..to feel like you’re in love with him, AND that you have your best friend back.

      In this message I suggested a tool to find a therapist. I hope you are willing to give it a try. I DID listen, and I DO hope your relationship gets another chance to rebuild. And, I’m very sorry for your troubled feelings of loss related to your marriage and your dear friend.

      Sincerely,

      Kelly

  25. My husband and I have been married for 1.5 years after dating for 2 years. We started having occasional disagreements before the wedding and the fights became more frequent and intense after we got married. There was no real issue rather than very different expectations about the new life together. Both of us were very headstrong but I was more temperamental and said things several times that upset him including asking for divorce which I did not mean. He mentioned to me that our fights were affecting his feelings but somehow I refused to listen then.
    Our life together has been cold and stressful for a year now. My husband travels overseas a lot for work and when he is back he prefers to sleep over at his office. He tells me that he still cares about me but does not love me anymore and we should break up because he realizes that he is not fit for marriage and just wants to be alone. Now he spends a lot of time at work, with his friends now and hardly gives me any time or attention. I still love him and told him that I want to try to keep us together. I truly regret the things I said that hurt him and think I need to grow up from that. He refuses to let me try and becomes very irritable around me, which makes it very difficult for me. After trying to keep cool for a few days, I break down again because of his reactions. I don’t know if he would ever have affection for me again and whether I should keep persisting through this.

    1. Hi, Sophie:

      It sounds like you might be in an “H” shaped relationship. http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2010/09/alphabet-relationships-what-a-h-and-m-shapes-mean/

      That means, it’s possible you both are more independent than inTER-dependent. I would imagine that the only way your relationship is going to weather this storm is if you are both willing to “give a little of your views and of yourselves” in order to stay together. This will take sacrifice, maturity, and agreeing together on goals that may not clearly be exactly what you OR he want, but can get you both in the general direction.

      I’m very sorry about the irritability, the distance, and the probable loneliness you (and probably he) are experiencing.

      If I were you, I would suggest you do this – ask for a meeting. Tell him in the meeting that you are NOT okay with breaking up. That you’re willing to own your part in the rocky start, and the rough years you’ve already had within your marriage. You want to give the two of you a shot and you’d like to seek help. Also tell him that you are not going to try to pursue him, nor will you continue to break down to him because you know that won’t help.

      Rather, I suggest you tell him that you’ll wait for a couple of weeks and you hope to hear from him. That you are STILL fighting for your marriage, but you’re fighting silently – and that by leaving him alone, you’re giving him space to understand that you really mean it.

      If that doesn’t work, then you will have exhausted the “breaking down option” and the “giving space” option. And, then it could be time to think about grieving your relationship. You can’t MAKE anyone change their mind…but you can do things differently to give them the space to really consider it.

      Good luck – – and take care, Kelly

      1. Dear Kelly,

        Thank you so much for reading my letter and responding to me. It really helped to have some guidance.

        Your descriptions of the H-shaped relationship very much fits where we are now, but while it may work for my husband (he always says that he feels most at ease being on his own), it is the source of unhappiness for me. In many ways, the fights that we had stemmed from this mismatch. I was looking for a relationship that is M-shaped and was not getting it. Unfortunately, I just feel that my husband will never agree to change his ways.

        I asked to talk to him about 10 days ago before he left for a trip and told him clearly that I would not give up on us. Expectedly, he refused all of my suggestions. He has been in touch with me regularly during this time, but just for casual updates. In contrast to how he was before, he has not told me that he loved me or missed me for a year now. I do not really know what to expect when I see him again. All the rejections and sadness are wearing me out, especially when I have a full time job and a part-time study program to pursue. I do not want to give up entirely yet. I am aware that “fighting silently” is not easy but I am really starting to wonder if happiness has to be this difficult.

  26. Dear Kelly,

    Thank you for this article. It was a good read in a time where I am seeking as much information as possible.

    My wife and I have been together for 8 years and married for over 4. We have a son that is 3.5 years old. My wife and I went through many issues very early in our relationship up until about 6-7 months ago that cause her to put up a wall and shut herself out to me. (These were not infidelity issues, no physical violence or even a ton of fighting at all actually, it was mostly just my lack of being a loving and affectionate husband to her, for making some bad comments, and for what she deemed to be picking my parents side in arguments between them two). We went to counseling initially at her request and I slowly but surely started to make progress. I then started law school and had to leave my work in order to do so (instantly putting more pressure on her and draining our finances). Plus the fact that I wasn’t around much at all due to school and the pressures that come with that. So our problems and her need for affection that I wasn’t able to give got worse.

    I was mostly oblivious to this because I was so engaged in my studies. So when she told me that she was thinking about a divorce at the end of the semester, I was shocked and hurt obviously. I asked her if she would restart counseling with the therapist and with our pastors at church. We did and things got miraculously better. For 1-2 months. She even told the therapist in January that it was the happiest she had ever been in our marriage and would give a rating of 10 if she had to rate it at that time. But we were warned that it might be a honeymoon phase and that we would have to keep working.

    Unfortunately, in mid January, I had to start school again. So I was gone again. Then in February, my wife, who handles the finances advised me that we had ran up $14,000 in debt since I had started school. I asked her why she hadn’t told me before it got so bad and she said that she knew we were doing good and didn’t want to ruin it. So I told her that unfortunately our lives were about to get a lot more boring. I had to go find a part time job, which I did and am now gone most nights after school and most friday and saturday nights in order to help pay down the debt. Nevertheless, I am rarely home when my wife is and if I am, she is usually asleep.

    My wife began to somewhat pull away over the last month but I knew that the semester was almost over and told myself that things would get better once the semester was over and we could really start to work on things again. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it that long. She told me 2 days before my last final exam that she wanted a divorce. She said that she wasn’t happy, did not want to go to counseling, and was 100% sure. I instantly flipped out and took my ring off and set it on her nightstand and said that she was quitting on our relationship and did not realize that she will be taking half of our sons life away from me. That she didn’t realize the ramifications of this decision. She justifies it by saying that she doesn’t want our son to grow up in a family that doesn’t love each other, and that he will be better off in the long run. I personally don’t see it that way. She herself comes from a divorced family and has struggled ever since I have known her with the divorce of her parents. She doesn’t seem to want to entertain the idea that it’s possible for us to stay married, get help, get happy, and have our son in a loving home. She also told me a couple days ago during our one and only serious talk since then that she worries that it would be hopeless to try again because she doesn’t love me anymore, has no spark, is bored, doesn’t want me to touch her, hug her, kiss her etc, and that doesn’t see me being gone all the time as part of the problem because she doesn’t even miss me when I am gone. I asked her why she told the therapist that she was at a 10 in our marriage, if she doesn’t think that we can be in love again. She said that she thinks it was just lust since she was finally getting the attention that she had always dreamed of and that it wasn’t really love. I think it was, but nonetheless I told her that lust can and does develop into love, but she said that the 1-2 month period was just not sustainable because life, work, pressures, always come up that will get in the way.

    It has been a week now. I have struggled mightily, sobbing throughout most of the day, but not when I am around her thankfully. I have reached out to everyone I know, including her family and friends, our pastors at church and am meeting with our therapist today. Her friends and family have told me to let her go. Pastors haven’t met to talk with her yet so they have no advice yet but they have told me not to give up. Hopefully, the therapist has some good advice for me today. I have put my ring back on and have told my wife that I do not want the divorce and that I will not give up on her or our family. She put her ring back on for a few days but has went back today to not wearing it. She has even started patching up picture holes in our walls and taking pictures down. She is wanting to sell our house.

    Unfortunately, the signs and her words say that she is done, but I don’t want to lose our family. Having my son ask me why mommy didn’t come to my nieces birthday party on Sunday and why Mommy and Daddy aren’t sleeping in the same bed has absolutely killed me.

    1. Dear Justin:

      I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to tend to your message. I realize after reading it that you were feeling very desperate and sad, and I apologize for my delay in responding.

      When I read through the narrative you shared, I couldn’t help but think: When they work on things, improvement happens. When they neglect the relationship, it falls apart.

      The second observation I made is that you both hide things from each other. You hide (or, at least it seems you do) the feelings about why you’ve chosen to attend law school. She hides the fact that you were racking up debt. You hide from the finances so you don’t have to think about them. She hides the fact that she’s starting to “slip away again.” And, you hide the feelings you were experiencing the day you wrote your letter to me.

      I also noted with interested that your wife is using language that is common when people have experienced an attachment wound so deep it affects their physiological and emotional response to another person. She’s using the term “love” as power to make a decision about whether to stay in or out of your marriage – – as if it’s out of her hands.

      Do you feel that same “nothing” when you touch her? Sometimes both spouses feel it – sometimes just one.

      I would encourage you both to think about a couple of things: first…long-term versus temporary issues. Your school is temporary, your marriage is long term. Her feelings of “no love” might be temporary, but your child’s life is long-term. Her personal unhappiness could be temporary, but these decisions right now could affect the both of you for the rest of your life. And, your “ignoring issues” could be temporary, but will need to change long term if there is still to be hope.

      The last thing I would reflect on is the fact that you both seem to be more open with others than you are with each other. Since you have nothing to lose, you might request a few meetings with her and be completely open. Also – if she changes her mind and decides to try to stay within the relationship for the benefit of your child first – that’s progress. Research shows that when people look back years later, 85% were glad they stuck with it.

      My dear Justin…you’re hurting, and I’m so sorry. It seems the BOTH of you are working very hard to help your family, and may have felt you lost your family because of it.

      Take care, Kelly

  27. Dear Kelly,

    I know that you respond to a lot of similar stories (though no story is the same). I acknowledge the fact that myself, and everyone here, desperately want you to push a button and make everything okay again. I also acknowledge that this isn’t possible, but I feel like I am dying on the inside.

    My fiance and boyfriend of 7.5 years came to me a week ago and told me that he wasn’t sure he wanted to get married anymore. He said he was scared that we “have different things we want to do with our lives” and bases it on the fact that we have different hobbies and interests. He says that he is sick of feeling guilty for not wanting to do the same things.

    I’m no fool. I know that every day you make the conscious decision to stay with (or move on from) your spouse. Love isn’t an overall state of being, it’s a rollercoaster with the choice to get off at the next stop. I wouldn’t be marrying him if I didn’t already accept what he feels are “flaws”. The fact that we come home to each other and cuddle and tell each other how much we love each other every day is enough for me. So many other people do not have that in their relationship, and I can totally get by without dragging him along to a play in order to have it. And I have said as much!

    He also says that he doesn’t feel in control of his life, and that all of his big decisions – getting engaged and married – have been steered by not wanting to disappoint me.

    All of this came out of the blue. I had never been happier – I thought that we had never been happier. We had everything planned out. Get married, get a house, eventually have a child. Now he’s left the house and we’re on a temporary break and I’ve never felt so torn up and lost and alone. He says that he’s been feeling this way for quite a while. When I tell him I want to fight for and work on our relationship, he says “I have been for a long time.” But he never said a word to me. I had no idea he was feeling this way.

    I guess my question to you is, how is it best I approach him? We communicate every few days; he says that he appreciates that we can talk. I am reasonable and I know that this is just as hard on him as it is me. But I definitely get the feeling that he is ready to tap out without even giving me the chance to make things better. He says he cares about me and he loves me, but I got it out of him that he’s not sure if he’s “in” love with me. He says his heart is not in it anymore.

    I want to help him recognize how great our relationship is. We work so well together. I want him to remember the things that made him fall in love with me. I don’t know how to do this without being desperate and pushing him further away.

    Push your button, please?

    1. Hello, Samantha:

      Isn’t that why they produced those Staples Office Supply Commercials? To feature the “Easy” button? Ugh – if only life WERE that easy!

      I’ve picked up on a couple of items I’d like to share with you. First of all, I would like to strongly recommend to the both of you that you read Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott’s book, ‘Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts.” The themes in that book are especially fitting for the two of you – it talks about being happy with yourself, before you get into a marriage only because the other person is filling parts of you that you lack. A relationship can’t maintain that kind of pressure. I also talk about the “interdependent” relationship in this post: http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2010/09/alphabet-relationships-what-a-h-and-m-shapes-mean/

      Secondly, being able to feel that you can be free, and fully realize your own potential and happiness is the best and worthy goal of a strong marriage. In other words, this is actually a fixable problem, and now at least you (or HE!) have identified the issue. Some people break up because they are just unhappy, but don’t understand why. He was very brave to tell you about his doubts, and you are very brave to sort them out and allow him to share them with you!

      Finally, this won’t be an instantaneous fix, but this issue CAN be fixed. I would also suggest (if you are readers) reading “The Dance of Intimacy” by Harriet Lerner. It is an excellent book about how we interact as couples, and how we become very unhappy because we’re stuffing what we’d like to say.

      If he is willing, please attend a few couples therapy sessions. It will provide a safe place for you to sort out any other remaining issues, and explore where you are in life. I think, too, this is an excellent venue to articulate couples or marital goals (short term, med range, and long-term) and talk about how you can appreciate what you EACH like, as well as sacrifice some time and energy to support the other in the occasional name of making your relationship work.

      Good luck Samantha – I’m so sorry you’re feeling shocked and hurt by this situation, and do wish you the best going forward,

      Kelly

  28. My son ‘s wife left him after being married 11 months but together 7 yrs. She said she needed a break but went and got an apt with a 1 yr lease. They have a son together. His heart is broken. I don’t know what to do for him but be there. She told him about a week later she didn’t love him anymore. All she does now is go out to the bars when my son has the baby, which he has most of the time. I think she has met someone else. They are both in their 20’s. He was 21 and she was 17 when they got together. Is there a chance they could get back together?

    1. Dear Charline:

      I’m so sorry you are hurting for your son’s painful situation. That must be heartbreaking to see this happen to him, and to their little family.

      Yes, you CAN be there for him, but you cannot manage this situation for him…he must be the one that does that type of thing.

      There are options he has:
      1) Tell her that he’s not okay with this break-up, that he wants to try and save the marriage, and invite her to therapy to try working things out for the both of them, AND for the benefit of their child;
      2) Tell her that he’s not okay with this break-up, and that he can see that she’s struggling with things. That he sees she is acting out in ways that she might have missed earlier in her life and he understands the need to have freedom. However, people can be free AND be married – and he’d like to try and figure that out together.
      3) Or, if she doesn’t budge, then he needs to start working on the best way to continue to be a very good father, since it might be that he offers a little more stability than she right now. If she refuses help, he can do nothing to save their marriage…but he can do something to get support for himself. I would recommend him working with a therapist for at least a month or two even on his own – this will be a hard loss for he and for the child if they were together for a long time.

      Again – I’m sorry you have to watch your son go through this painful situation. Best wishes in providing a secondary stable place for him, and for your grandchild…

      Kelly

  29. well i am going to start off by saying i met my beautiful wife in 2008 we dated 3 1/2 years before getting married in feb 2012 like every relationship has its and downs and bumps we will worked thru them. so since i our marriage we stopped doing the things we were always used to doing except date night every friday :) so here i am thinking nothing was wrong until last month where my wife met someone on feb 11th and feb 16 told me she wanted a divorced..i was shattered empty emotionally physically mentally empty and lost.. so in the coimg weeks we have talked for hours and hours days at a time but all my wife could do is look at me deep in my eyes and cry and say im sorry. in the coming weeks she said she fell out of love and she grew apart .now not only am i fghting her from not letting me see her 3 kids i supported for 4 1/2 years. se wrote me this letter in hoc of 2012 which makes me think everything in the letter WAS ONE BIG LIE…

    Baby I just want to tell you that I love u . I want you to know how much u mean to me and the kids. I know our life together hasn’t been percent but I still want to keep going. I want to keep trying to make us work. I vowed for better or for the worst I won’t give up . And I forgive u . I really hope that u can forgive me too.you are my best friend , my lover ,my partner and the love of my life and that will never change. I hope you know what u mean to me and the children .You are the only stable man they have ever known you are more of a father to them than their own.and for that alone I will do whatever it is I have to! You are more of a man then any other man I know. You took on such a great responsibility and for that are worthy of my respect .i want you to know that I forgive you and I trying to understand what happened to us I know I wasn’t perfect and that I have hurt you .and for that I’m truly sorry!! I don’t know how I could have hurt the man I love so much :( and from this point on I PROMiSE to never hurt you or do anything that causes you pain or hurt or doubt. I want to be the best wife to you. I want to be your best friend I want to be your lover. I want you to be confident I would never judge you or make fun of you for what u feel or think or want. I want to know your dreams and thoughts. Sometimes I wish I could jump inside of u just to be close to u. I feel like there is a wall between us and I want to tear the wall down!
    I wish that you would trust me enough to geek what u feeling and thinking .i want us to be solid. I don’t want us to fall apart . All the hurt I’ve dealt with my whole life and still dealing with hasn’t been enough to BREAK me . Yes I’m hurt yes I’m sad yes I’m scorned but our love in my eyes is stronger then the hurt . I know that your also hurt and sad but I also know we are strong people and we can DO THIS . I know we can pull and make it work . I just hope that you have the want to go thru this to get past all the pain . I hope you want to be with ME. I hope that u will want to love me and make love to me . We got married to share our lives we are one now and I like to hope that despite all of our problems you are still on the same page as me . I hope that in your heart that you want to be the man I want and need . I need to feel free when I’m with u uninhibited . I feel like I shouldn’t have to fight for your attention or touch and your passion for me . Yes at times it’s there but alot of the times it’s not we are still newlyweds ! It feels like we been married 10 yrs
    We need to find our happiness together (as long as that’s want u want ) we need to build our family together. Baby we are a family we have a family and we as a couple show all 4 of our kids that families who love each other stay together and work for what they want . I want us to be a strong family all of US. I will do whatever I have to! I will trust u again and love u more . And be the best wife I can be . I just hope you will do same for me
    I love you Anthony
    she never gave me any signs of not be happy never sat me down to tell me anything was wrong but atfer i was served with divcore papers i told some of my friends and for some crazy reason she had told me friends she was unhappy before xmas wich the letter she wrote me was in the begin of NOV.
    well its been 7 weeks since she told me she wanted the divorce and not only has she stoped having contact with me but the man she met on feb 11 has been staying in out home for the last 3 weeks
    HELP HELP!!!!

    1. Dear Ant:

      Oh my goodness, you have an incredible amount of pain in your writing. And, it appears that your wife has experienced, at least on some level, an incredible amount of pain in her own life. By her letter, it seems that she doesn’t really understand or know what a stable relationship is all about.

      I cannot advise you through this venue about the extreme particulars of how you should move forward. However, I can tell you this: If this gentleman she is seeing is actually coming into your home, that is really not okay. And, if there is to be any healing or a reconciliation of your relationship with her, she’ll have to break it off with him, grieve the loss of that relationship, and then agree to commit to working your own marriage out. And, you’ll have to agree to that as well.

      In terms of the children, it depends upon the relationship you have established with them whether or not a court would grant you visitation or access. Usually, it’s only grandparents or family members who have had a long-term, established relationship with the children that they’ll put forth in a court order. However, it could be that if you DO get a divorce, your wife might agree to some level of contact with them now that you have established a relationship. Unfortunately, if you didn’t adopt them, the only complaint you would have would be the monetary and parental support you provided for the time you were together.

      One last thing – if you co-own the home, or own the home, I believe you might have legal recourse to have the gentleman removed from your property by a law enforcement officer. You’ll probably have to speak with a non-emergency number at the police department about that.

      It seems to me that the only chance you have of saving your relationship right now is that if you tell her: “I’m not okay with this. I don’t want a divorce. I want to stay married, and I want to work on having the type of marriage that is healthy and good – for us, AND for your children.” If she won’t agree, I don’t think you have any other choice but to leave that painful situation and start healing yourself.

      At some point, if you DO leave and end up getting a divorce, I would certainly recommend you seeking some professional therapeutic guidance or assistance to help you heal from this pain, and to help you prepare for a future relationship that has a better chance of lasting.

      I’m very sorry for your painful situation – – Kelly

  30. A week ago my husband of almost eight years broke down and told me that he isn’t in love with me anymore. If that wasn’t devastating enough, he told me tonight that he’s not sure if he ever felt that way even when we got married. He is totally blaming himself for all of this and says he’s broken and there must be something wrong with him. He tells me it has nothing to do with me and it is all him. But the thing is….it does have to do with me. He is the love of my life and I just don’t know what to do. He says he loves me just not in that way and that I don’t deserve this and that I’m a wonderful person, wife and mother. But what does that do for me if he doesn’t really love me?

    We have been married for almost 8 years, together for 11. This is my second marriage and his first. I have a son from my previous marriage but honestly, my husband has been more of a father to him then his biological father was.

    We are starting counselling next Friday and he is thinking about getting separate counselling for himself. I’m glad that we are taking those steps. I want to save my marriage. We haven’t had the problems some of your other readers have mentioned. Neither of us has strayed from our marriage, we don’t have horrible or even frequent fights. We have had some issues with intimacy but those have been related to illness.

    I can tell he still cares about me and my son and says he wants to find out whats wrong with him. But, his thoughts keep going to the “dark side” and all the what if’s if he doesn’t get through this and isn’t able to figure out what is preventing the intimacy. Those thoughts seem to consume him at times.

    The only positive thing that has come out of all this is our communication has significantly increased. I’ve been able to open up to him about things in a way I never could before and vice versa. And when we talk about what is happening we hold each other and cry. It is just so confusing for me. I’m devastated and can’t stop crying but want to believe that if there wasn’t something between us he wouldn’t care the way he does and he wouldn’t want to work so hard to figure it out.

    We still have 6 days until our first counselling session. Can you give me/us any positive thoughts and/or suggestions about how to get through until then or anything?

    I love my husband more then anything and I can’t imagine us being apart and not growing old together.

    Thank you.

    1. Dear Devastated:

      Well, after reading through your note a few thoughts came to me. First, I’m sending my sympathies to both of you. Disclosing a problem is a huge step, and although you all are feeling an incredible amount of sadness, pain, confusion and possibly fear, I am glad to read that you are talking. It sounds like that was something your relationship needed very much.

      Secondly, I’m encouraged that you’ve already set up counseling. That is also a large step that some people never take. But you’re right…sometimes just ticking the clock along until the first session can be excruciating!

      So, positive thoughts or suggestions about how to get through until then. Here we go…

      1) Regardless of how you’re feeling, because emotions can really swing high, low or heated during this times, think of each other like something rather fragile: be gentle. The more you are gentle, kind, and regard each other as attuned as possible, the easier it will be to get through your days until your first session.

      2) If you need something “to do” until the session, you might begin thinking about goals. Making a list of what you’d like to see be different in your relationship will be helpful. After you write your first list – rewrite it until you can boil it down to no more than three main objectives. If you go in with a long laundry list, that might be more overwhelming to each other.

      3) Remember that this is therapy for the both of you. “Editing” your contributions to therapy won’t help at this point. Spending some time encouraging yourself to be brave enough to say what you feel is needed is important. I’ve seen couples get down the road for six or seven sessions before disclosing a key piece of information that could have moved the process along. So, remember – nothing can be gained by keeping secrets at this point.

      4) Finally, I would suggest that both of you – if possible, write down 3-5 elements about the other that you really appreciate. If you give each other one “appreciation” element/note each day until your session, then it might be a helpful tool to soothe some of the raw emotional edges you’ve been developing since he disclosed his feelings. Saying something nice to each other doesn’t mean that you’ve healed – it just means that there is something of value about the other person that you’re able to know and count on in spite of this time of crisis.

      Okay – that’s about all that comes to me at the moment.

      I wish you and he the very best as you try to get through the next few days, weeks and months…Kelly

      1. Thank you for your advice. I really appreciate it.

        Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse in the last two weeks.

        Despite our first counselling session on Friday, where we both promised to be 100% honest with each other and the counsellor (and I thought had gone well and understood where we stood), I discovered text messages on his phone on Saturday where he was texting an ex girlfriend (but the name for the person assigned to the number was a male friend) from 20 years ago and talking about how “crazy” he is about her and she saying she and her kids miss him etc. Not only was he cheating and lying to me about it, but he was really trying to hide it by disguising the person by using a guy friends name. All the while telling me that he loves me, planning our future and telling me we will be together forever. Previous to this I didn’t think I could be any more devastated then I was……I was so wrong.

        I confronted him about it. He admitted that they have been friends on FB for three years (which was something we agreed not to do) and that they had previously met a few times and talked. He claims that nothing started until a month ago and that it has nothing to do with what is wrong with our marriage. That his problem with our marriage started long before anything with her and that he sought her out to talk with someone about us.

        He claims that there has never been any sexual relationship with her and that they have met a few times in the last month but most of the communication has been through texts. My heart is completely broken. He’s “crazy” about her but he loves me but isn’t “in love” with me. I’m beating myself up for being so blind. My former husband cheated on me and it took me a long time and a lot of work to work through that and then get to the point where I could have another relationship and longer still to love, marry and trust this man. I honestly believed I knew him. I don’t know when he could have had the time to see her and her children unless he took time off work that I am unaware of. He was always home on time for dinner, didn’t go out at night and was home on the weekends.

        He continues to claim that she has nothing to do with us, but, how can she not. He claims he needs time to sort out his feelings and that he has a hole inside of him. He’s not sure if he wants to work on our marriage and he doesn’t believe you can re-invent feelings that are no longer there. He first claimed that what he has done with this woman was not cheating. I told him that just because they haven’t been physical doesn’t mean it isn’t cheating. He’s been cheating on me in his heart and his mind and that is all that matters. And he’s doing it with someone who cheated on him when they previously had a relationship. He has since apparently come to the realization that it was cheating. Of course, she knows all about the fact that he is married. I honestly don’t understand how 1. he could cheat on me 2. cheat with someone who cheated on him and 3. cheat with someone who knows he is cheating on his wife and is ok with that?????

        He has his first individual conselling session this week. We are currently quasi-separated. He is now living downstairs with his father in our separate in-law apartment and my son and I are living upstairs. I made the decision to ask him to move downstairs. My heart is completely in shreds and my emotions fluctuate from wailing desperation and wanting him to calling it quits with her and fix himself so that we can fix our marriage – to pure, unadulterated anger to everything in between.

        Some moments I want to fix things, others I never want to see him again and still others I wish we could go back in time to whenever he believes things started going wrong and change it so that he came and spoke to me about his issues right away.

        I don’t know what my future holds at the moment. I’m trying to take things day by day, mostly minute by minute. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. My whole world revolved around this family, this marriage and this man that I loved. I saw our future together so clearly. Three weeks ago I had what I honestly believed was a pretty good marriage to a man I loved deeply and who I believed loved me just as much if not more. And now it’s all gone.

        I’m trying to move forward with the belief that we are done. I’m joining a support group and getting individual counselling. I’m trying to fill my days with work, my nights with friends and trying to rediscover who I am and that I deserve so much better. I’m actually having a much more difficult time then it sounds. This just happens to be one of the very, very, few good moments that I have had. My son keeps reminding me that I promised him I won’t loose myself with all of this because he needs me. For this reason I will keep getting out of bed in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other until I can do it for myself again.

        Thank you again for your suggestions. I hope that someone else is able to read them and use them and that they continue to fight for their marriage. I honestly believe that if you have fallen out of love and that is really, truely the situation, that with a lot of work and commitment from both parties you can come out the other side with love. For those of you in that situation, good luck! I wish you all the best in love and life.

        1. Dear Devastated:

          I’m so incredibly sorry for all the emotional energy you’ve spent on this whole situation. It appears that thinking logically when in the middle of this difficult time isn’t something that comes easy for your husband – or – for you if you feel you’re vacillating back and forth. That’s actually a sign (on your part) that you’re transitioning into a new place…please go back and forth (ambivalence) before moving toward and settling into a new place.

          I would imagine that if you and he cannot work things out, it would be a very good thing to consider different living arrangements so as not to continue involvement in such close proximity – however, every couple is different. I’m glad that you are finding support, and I’m glad for you to have a son in order to keep taking one step each day.

          I will say, in case reading this helps someone, that nothing good can come of flirtatious online connections: if your relationship is strong, it will hurt the current status; if it’s weak, it will strike a horrible blow to a struggling situation. Online boundaries are so important!

          Thanks for writing – and thanks for checking back in.

          Very best wishes for you and your family,

          Kelly

  31. I have been married to my husband for almost eight years. We both came into the marriage with a lot of “baggage” from previous relationships, but we were in love and determined to make it work. We had normal arguements and disagreements, but then I “got sick”. That is how we refer to a gestational cancer I got while pregnant. I ended up miscarrying and going through chemo and treatments for eight months. Neither of us knew how to handle this situation in a mature way. We never talked about our fears or concerns. We just carried on and pretended like everything was okay. This was the start of our communication problems and we never were able to get back on track from this point.

    Over time we lost ourselved in work and we are both very successful in our careers. He had said that he is no longer in love with me and is having an affair with a co-worker. The affair has been going on for two years, but I have only know about it for the last year. I have pleaded, begged and cried to get him to see that our marriage is worth saving, or at least try to save it. He said that he is not in love with me, he is in love with the other woman, and that it is time for us to move forward. In July, my husband is moving in with the other woman (who have 3 small child and is still going through her divorce process). We are planning on starting the divorce process in January 2014 for finanial reasons.

    Do you think there is any hope in us finding love again when my husband CLEARLY has no desire to be with me?

    The only reason I ask is because I really love him and I know that we were in love at one time. Life hit us hard and we did not know how to handle it.

    Thanks!

    H

    1. Dear H:

      I have been interviewing those who are going through the divorce process for quite some time. What I know is that the closer you get to the final, physical separation, the harder it is to reconnect.

      Therefore, I will tell you that while there is hope for you and your husband to find love again, there is scarcely little or non-existent hope if the other person is in the picture. Human beings are not good at all trying to emotionally connect with one person when they are still connected to another. They’re kind of like dividing cells…if they’ve already divided and attached to something else, they cannot manage the attachment to another at the same time.

      My only comfort to you is this: If you tell your husband – – “I am not okay with you leaving. I want you to disconnect from this other person, her children and that dream you have with them, and stay with me. I am willing to do whatever I am able to heal our relationship if you agree to that…” then that’s all you can do. You can’t force a human being to do something they don’t want to do. No matter how much you WANT them to do something, they just simply may not. Therefore, if you’ve been honest with him re: what YOU want, that’s really all you can do. If you plead, beg, act in inappropriate ways…it just makes the leaving easier. If you act peaceful, clear about what you want – it will make his leaving harder.

      However, In terms of filing for the divorce in January 2014, I would strongly suggest you confer with an attorney to make sure this is wise for you. If he leaves, and if he starts a family, then you two are still collecting assets together for another six months prior to the divorce. I cannot see how this would be a wise move…but that is up to you.

      I’m so very sorry for the loss of your relationship. My hope is that he accept your invitation, leave the family and return to your marriage to heal. However, it really doesn’t sound like there is much hope left in this particular situation.

      Regretfully,

      Kelly

  32. Hi Kelly,

    I have read your blog with interest but still feel I could do with some guidance! My wife and I have only been married nearly 2 years and have a beautiful little 2 year old girl who I absolutely adore and would do anything for. However, I have felt over the last six to eight months that I have “fallen out of love” with my wife. We get on very well as friends and believe we are great parents together, but she can be and has been very controlling of my life and uses a lot of emotional blackmail. We were only together a few months before she fell pregnant (accidentally) but we decided to become parents together and got married soon after our daughter was born. Sad to say this was more for financial reasons rather than borne out of love and desire to get married. I feel we married to soon and this has now become an “excuse” to remain in a relationship. Through my own weaknesses and the emotional blackmail I became scared to confront my wife on any of my feelings and become stuck in a seemingly black-hole of despair on how to be happy again. I started to see a counsellor who really encouraged me to express my feelings to my wife which I did (and she took surprisingly well) and now we go to counselling together. The trouble is, I still don’t feel “love”. I’m so scared to leave or do anything drastic as thoughts of not seeing my daughter day to day are too difficult to contemplate. However, I don’t want her to grow up in this situation. I realise how I feel is not fair on my wife but I still feel so trapped and unhappy I’m at a loss on what to do!

    Many thanks

    Tom

    1. Dear Tom:

      First, I want to make sure you hear my “congratulations” for opening up and sharing what you’ve been keeping on the inside with your wife. Secondly, I do know that there are many regrets you might continue to mull over in your head related to “what if we had not had a child,” or “did we decide to get married to early” etc.

      However, grieving those losses of independence and feelings of having chosen a partner differently is just part of your healing journey. In terms of your main question “I started to see a counsellor who really encouraged me to express my feelings to my wife which I did (and she took surprisingly well) and now we go to counselling together. The trouble is, I still don’t feel “love”. I’m so scared to leave or do anything drastic as thoughts of not seeing my daughter day to day are too difficult to contemplate. However, I don’t want her to grow up in this situation. I realise how I feel is not fair on my wife but I still feel so trapped and unhappy I’m at a loss on what to do!” – – here are my thoughts…

      Every person needs a different amount of time to fall back into romantic love, and restore the emotional feelings of connection with their partner. For those who have had large attachment wounds with their partner and genuinely feel “out of love,” the most often cited amount of time is 1.75-2.5 years. That’s quite a long time when you only have been together now in marriage for two years. It may “feel” like an impossible amount of time. I can’t know what your tolerance level it.

      However, the other thing that you need is some “opposite circumstance” of what began to tear apart your relationship. You’ll need a great deal of time being vulnerable with your wife, trusting that she will allow you to be open, and experiencing what it feels to NOT be emotionally blackmailed in order for those feelings to return. The faster you can “undo” what damage that was done, the faster you can (your brain/psyche) begin to experience emotional reconnection and feelings of being in love.

      Whether or not you are willing to put in that amount of time and effort is very personal to ONLY you…I can’t know what you’ve already been through, so I don’t know if you’re willing to invest that level of work. However, I can tell you that for those who DID, they by and large are very glad they made the sacrifice.

      Very best of luck to you – – Kelly

  33. My husband and I have been married 20 years. A few years back I started going out with friends and having girls nights. He had a really hard time with this and i told him that I didn’t want to spend all of my time with just him. Now because of me saying that to him we are having problems . He told me he loved me because i was the mother of his child but was not in lobe with me any longer. I love my husband very much and it want that I didn’t want to spend all of my time with him I know that we can’t because of work, etc. The time that I didn’t spend I wanted a girls night out. He told me that because of me saying that to him something snapped and he hurt but no longer does and that he has a wall up. I feel I am to late to fix the damage I have caused. We both want we had before this comment but I don’t know where to start. If there is anything we can do please tell me.

    1. Hi, Tamara:

      The incident you’re describing is a “defining event,” something that is interpreted as painful and become “the” reason for the emotional detachment felt. A twenty year marriage is quite an accomplishment, but there must be some portions of your relationship that are problematic. Some possibilities could be: 1) trust; 2) problem solving (working together to get your needs met – time with your friends, as well as his needs met – safety and comfort within a committed relationship); 3) problematic dynamics that were learned as you grew up in your own families of origin, or … something else.

      You have several positives on your side in this situation. First of all, you BOTH want what you had before. That’s a huge deal; many times one person does NOT want the same thing, and that’s where couples have to start. Secondly, you’re pretty clear about when your husband started feeling detached, and when his wall began going up. Sometimes couples will go for years so that they’re unable to pinpoint where to begin on repairing their relationship.

      What the two of you may not have at this point is the whole story. Couple relationships need ongoing nurturing and work – and this gives those involved the dedicated time to work through things below the surface. It sounds like you both need to begin working right away to identify the core reasons for the hurt that happened, identify what you want your relationship to look like again (or – maybe a little differently than before?), and you probably need someone to guide you through that process.

      I would strongly suggest you both get in to see a couples/marriage & family therapist right away. The short amount of time you spend working with a professional who is trained to work through these issues will pay off in the long run. Sometimes it’s very difficult to see problems when you’re right in the middle of them. If I were you, I would invite your husband to attend between four and six session – – long enough to describe the problem on both sides, set goals on what you want to accomplish, and begin making changes toward accomplishing those goals. If after those four or six sessions you see you’re making progress, then you probably need to continue doing what IS working.

      If that therapist just doesn’t seem to be the right person, this gives you enough time to switch to a professional that might be more suited to your needs. I think within 2-3 months of focused work, you should be able to see the possibility of having your original relationship back, restored and healed. Please let me know if you need help finding a therapist in your area who has had good success with couples in this type of situation.

      Take care, Kelly

  34. Hi Kelly:

    I have written previously. My wife and I have now been separated for 2 1/2 months. She told me she had fallen out of love last summer. She has felt this way for some time. We have been married for 35 years, in our late 50’s.

    We are in couple counselling and individually. What I’m frustrated and confused with is that since she left ( staying close by at a girl friend’s house) she wants to date on the weekends, trying to re-connect. We have spent at least one or two days on the weekends since separating. Sometime just the two of us or visiting with our grown children, and grandchildren. She doesn’t stay over and intimacy is limited to leaning on me if we watch a movie at home. Which I’m thankful for. She has been calling the shots about seeing me. But come Monday thru Friday – it’s back to work and no to little contact. She needs her space and I leave her alone., and she tells me she appreciates that.

    It just seems strange to disconnect from me M-F only to want to date and attempt to reconnect on the weekends. She told me she wanted a divorce more than once, and that it was over prior to separating. In couple counselling when I spoke about not trusting her emotions and confused about her intentions – she claimed that those words were in response to something I said or did at the time.

    My wife is a big time people pleaser and not to sound judgemental (having shared the blame for our problems) she seems to display many codependency symptoms. She only recently told our two grown sons of her separation after I recommended that it was the right thing to do. I know that was very difficult for her, but she kept kicking the can down the road., and I found the need to keep covering for her when they called homeand she was not there. Any thoughts on the this type of separation???

    Thanks,
    K

    1. Hello, K:

      Well, I’m not sure you need too many more irons in the fire in terms of helping professionals. However, I do think that sometimes people have a terribly hard time feeling like any progress (either forward OR backward) can be tracked because there is not a concrete set of goals and objectives for your couples work.

      I would suggest that either the two of you and your two individual therapists get together to identify and document clearly what needs to change – and HOW you would measure that…OR, clearly what needs to take place in order for you to complete your divorce process.

      Goals usually include: trust, emotional security, emotional closeness, a vision for the future, … and more

      Objectives are more personal – how you would measure trust would need to be articulated between the two of you within the safety of your therapy sessions.

      You’re right – a structured separation is horribly difficult to navigate. I am very hopeful that you can begin to clearly articulate how to get “in” or “out” very sooner rather than later.

      Kelly

  35. Wow, I really needed to see that I am not alone. I met my husband 28 years ago and it was an instant attraction. We became good friends for about a year before we began dating. We dated for two and a half years before getting married. In many ways he was a way out from an unhappy situation which I guess was a mistake in a way. Despite that, we were happy and in love.

    Our married life has definitely been one of stress. We lost everything with Hurricane Andrew. We dealt with him turning to alcohol as an outlet for work stress. We dealt with him losing his job and the bankruptcy that caused. We moved cross country to restart life and were still happy.

    The worst thing we have had to deal with, is the serious medical issues. Our children have had. We have 4 kids. Our eldest was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 16. Our son was born with a serious congenital heart defect that has required him to endure 3 open heart surgeries and it is believed that him being on bypass 3 times caused him to develop epilepsy.

    I have felt like he has “another woman” in the form of work. Work has always come ahead of me. After Hurricane Andrew hit, he left me and our 8 month old infant to check on work. When we had to board up for storms, I would have to do the work myself. When our eldest was diagnosed with cancer, he was working in another city and I was alone dealing with 4 kids and this new diagnosis. He had not seen a single seizure with our son for about 3 years and when he did, it freaked him out. I told him “welcome to my world.”

    I knew that we were drifting apart, but he had no clue. I sat him down and told him that I wanted to go away, just the two of us. Well that never materialized, partly due to my becoming pregnant with our fourth child. Anyway, the rift has continued growing and now I don’t even want to talk to him since all conversations turn to him and work. No matter how many times I tell him I don’t want to talk about work, he cannot help himself. He also seems to have an issue distancing himself from his responsibilities as boss to husband and father. Even the kids complain about that.

    Well now I am reading about falling out of love. I can’t help myself but I am trying to understand my feelings. I am a strong believer of “till death do us part” and will stay in this farce of a marriage for the sake of my children. I am attempting to better myself by watching my diet and getting into shape as well as returning to college.

    Not sure why I chose to respond to this but for some reason I chose to. Please forgive any typos since I’m crying as I post this. Crying and blaming allergies has become my new mantra. Thanks for reading.

    1. Dear Karla:

      When family therapists talk with spouses who are raising children, one of the first things we try to do is normalize the stress raising a family can cause. However, what we couldn’t normalize in a hundred years is the stress you and YOUR family have experienced during your marriage.

      Any major stressor, like Hurricane Andrew, is enough to drive some couples apart. However, when you pile on top of that story: bankruptcy, one child with medical challenges, and ANOTHER child with medical challenges, then you are not just dealing with stress any longer. You are dealing with trauma. Your trauma is the pain and loss of watching your children suffer medically, the pain and loss of a husband who has distanced himself from the closeness a family can offer, and the pain of losing your community due to the hurricane and financial collapse (and regeneration).

      HIS trauma is feeling he needs to support you and your four children, regardless of what intimacy he is giving up right now, feeling somehow responsible for your previous financial situation, losing his community from where you moved, and the pain of watching your children suffer medically.

      You both have COUPLE TRAUMA as well. Your stress, and his stress, have created distance and barriers to being able to connect on any level other than “triage level” – just dealing with what you have right in front of you; just trying to get by day by day. It seems almost impossible for him, and very difficult for you, to imagine what it would be like to have one weekend together. To have each other in a room together without anything between you…to be “naked and vulnerable” with each others feelings and thoughts.

      I’m SO sorry for what you – what you BOTH – have experienced thus far. I want to let you know that your feelings of distancing or disconnecting (falling out of love) are normal for the amount of stress you’ve experienced. So, I want to encourage you to print this message off and give it to your husband.

      You BOTH need to find time to breathe – to sit quietly for a time – and to get reacquainted. I would suggest that you set aside time for each other to LISTEN to the other. 30 minutes for him to really share with you about his work – and you just listen and try to understand. Don’t cut him off. Then, 30 for YOU to really share – and, he needs to listen, resisting the urge to break away or cut you off.

      I also think you, in general, need respite – individually AND together. This is positive modeling for your children. When you show them that it’s important to regenerate their reserves,k you show them how to live in a healthy way. If all you show them is stress, they learn to live in a stressful way.

      Very best wishes in working through all your co-trauma to hang on to, and regenerate your marrage.

      ~ RDK

  36. I’m in a desperate situation and would like some advise and input. I’m a 57 yr old man married for 8 years to my wife who is 47. We have been together for almost 12 years.
    I have recently found out that my wife fell out of love with me but still loves me. Over the years I admit I started taking things for granted and not giving her all the attention, sexually and emotionally. She was spending more and more time away from the house doing activities she enjoyed such as coaching, baseball and took on a second job during tax season, which has made for many long days for her. I’m the house husband, she is the soul provider of money but it worked and still does make her life easier and she says she appreciates everything I do.
    The manner in which I found out she fell out of love with me was a total shock and utterly devastating for me. We were in bed one night spooning, me behind her with my hand on her breast ready to go to sleep. She was using her cell phone at that time and I thought nothing of it since she gets many texts from family, friends, and parents of the kids she coaches. She may have thought I was asleep or had my eyes shut but I witnessed her texting a coach, 10 hrs away from us, in a very explicit sexual manner. I got up at that point and she asked me “ok what’s wrong?” So I called her out on what I had seen. At that point she told me that she loved me but was no longer in love with me and that she was going to tell me. She told me it was a decision that just hit her suddenly one day. I was devastated. I cried and begged and pleaded to her I didn’t want to lose her. Her emotions were lukewarm at best in replying she no longer wanted me as a husband and didn’t want any binding relationship with anyone.

    As things progressed I tried to be more attentive. We ended up in separate bedrooms for now. We still have sex but she doesn’t want to kiss at all. She keeps saying thank you to me for having the sex. She freely admits she still flirts with this guy and is about to go to a function on a weekend with 2 of her friends soon. She says this guy will be there as well. She denies ever having a physical affair with anyone and I tend to believe her but am not sure. She says at this point there is no reason to lie. She says the texting is more of a entertainment thing and has no intention of having sex with this guy. We talked a bit about that and she said “why do you think I am bringing my friends with me?”

    For now we are in an “open” relationship simply because I just still love her to death and would do anything for her. I was the one to suggest it only because I can’t live without her. If anything should happen, that open relationship will be one ended as I have no plans on seeking anyone. I don’t think I could ever find anyone that I could love as much as I love her.

    My question to me is if it’s fixable or not. I struggle with this daily. I have seen a doctor and he put me on a low dose medication for a 2 week duration. He told me I should seek counseling but with my wife not willing to do so I see no reason why I should go alone, if only just for my benefit.

    I’m dieing inside and trying to put up a good act for now. I’m lost and confused.

    1. Dear Wolf Spirit:

      The question you posed after explaining the situation you are in was: “is this fixable?” First, let me say that I’m terribly sorry you are experiencing this pain. Feeling as if you are dying inside is very descriptive of a person who is feeling quite desperate. You’re right – injury to your relationship is an extremely painful thing.

      After reading through your situation, it appears to me that your wife is feeling emotionally detached. It’s curious that for some reason she remains physically attached, because many times that’s not the case when couples begin distancing. That particular part of your story (continuing to have sex, but refraining from connecting acts such as kissing) makes me wonder if you may begin to feel used or exploited at some point.

      My second thought is this: your doctor made a good suggestion. Regardless of whether or not your wife is willing to go to counseling with you, it could be helpful to have someone to support you as you sort this problem out. Many times, when humans are in pain, they begin to make missteps that cause even more problems. Meeting with a therapist, even for just a few sessions, might help you feel less lost and confused.

      My third and final thought is this: if you’ve invited your wife to attend couples therapy with you, and she’s very clear about NOT wanting to go…or very clear about NOT wishing to heal your relationship, there really isn’t anything you can do to change her mind. You can’t make a person “want” to reconcile, or heal a broken relationship. What you CAN do, however, is make sure and do healthy things around the house until you all decide (or not) to move into separate residences. For example, if she has already detached emotionally I would seriously consider what you and/or she is gaining from still having sex with each other. Could that just bring on more pain? Another example, if she is spending a great deal of time explaining her feelings to you about where she’s going, or the fact that her text messaging doesn’t mean anything, I would seriously consider setting a boundary with her about what you are willing, or NOT willing, to talk about. I’m not sure any good can come of you openly discussing her relationship with another person. I would suggest that you think about what your bottom lines are right now – what are you willing to do with her or talk about with her? What are you NOT willing to do, especially in light of the fact that she expresses no interest in reconciling.

      If, however, she changes her mind and accepts your invitation to attend therapy, then you can begin to talk about rebuilding your relationship in those sessions.

      I’m so sorry you are hurting, and I DO understand that you love your wife very much. However, I just want to make sure that you are thinking about some degree of support, protection and healing for yourself during this difficult time.

      Thanks, Kelly

  37. My boyfriend and I have been together for 3+ years, and had been living together for six months before he dropped “the hammer” by saying that he “only loved me a little” which soon became “I don’t love you at all anymore (romantically).” I didn’t know what to do. He originally wanted to work it out, but I sobbed all day. When he came home again, he decided he just wanted out. Completely. Less then 24hrs later, this was retracted into the limbo of just being “on break” and needing “space”… I was delusional before, but I soon came to understand exactly why he wanted this –

    1. I was in a depressive rut, and had stopped wanting to improve the situation.
    2. We had no space from one another. I felt trapped in the situation due to the fact that I couldn’t help him financially (after just losing my job), and he felt stressed by having to provide for both of us.
    3. We were living “two different lives” in a single apartment, and no longer acted like a couple. He felt that I had been holding him back from a lot of opportunities that we’d said we would do, but never did.
    4. Due to my depressed feelings, I rebuffed any of his attempts at affection or support, and thus made him feel like he could no longer “make me happy.”

    Basically, he can’t be my only reason for living. That’s too much.

    He says that he still wants to work things out, and has reaffirmed this multiple times… even though it seems he has been hit harder by this whole situation then even I have. He says he doesn’t know if things will work out or if he can fall back in love with me, but he’s willing to give it “100%” after the break period is over… even willing to go to therapy sessions with me to work on our communication issues (him not speaking up about what bothers him, me talking people into a corner rather then give them time to respond). He even still comments on things like living together again in the future, remembering how happy we were before, and whatever, so I don’t think his heart is completely absent from this.

    He says he is willing to look back on our progress six months from now, and decide whether or not things are worth continuing. It is just so hard for me right now, even though I was the one who wanted to move out. I want to show him that I’ve honestly changed and win back his love, but all the pressure is on me at the moment… I’m worried that I’ll make a mistake or try too hard. What should I do? We were completely happy for more then two years, and he even said he thought I would be the one he married one day… We thought we were soul mates! So, along with giving him all the space/no contact he needs right now, how do I handle everything else? Please help!

    1. Hello there:

      Wow, it sounds like you are really feeling desperate…not only to try to do the right thing, but to deal with your thoughts about the relationship and about your structured separation. I’m so sorry.

      I would suggest that you start going to couples therapy, with or without him now. Don’t wait until your separation period is up. I put some resources in that post so you can look up a licensed and qualified/trained couples therapist. I would make sure to ask the therapist if are willing to work with only you for a while until your boyfriend is willing to join you.

      I think it’s admirable and insightful that you both have learned some things about yourselves during this particular crisis. For example, you are already thinking about other ways to manage your anxiety or energy other than pushing or backing him (or others) into a corner. And, if he is the one who revealed to you that he keeps things inside rather than sharing – potentially to the detriment of your relationship, then that’s progress as well.

      What I would suggest to you is this: when you are ready to invite him to your sessions together, make sure and own your side. Simply tell him that you would like to invite him to join you in accomplishing some clear goals for your relationship. Further, I would suggest that you tell him that you’re going to work on your part, even if he decides not to attend right now. And, finally, you could ask permission (if he DOES decline) to re-invite him in a couple of weeks.

      If you leave the choices up to him, it will help him feel safer to make his own decisions.

      Good luck to you – I hope you feel relief very soon,

      Kelly

      1. After I moved the rest of my stuff out, I didn’t speak to him in any form for two weeks. I met up with him yesterday, and we inevitably talked once again. He basically said that he was also suffering from a severe depression due to his school situation (he feels he should be graduated by now) and his guilt over that, his weight, not having a job, and all of that on-top of all of this with me. Basically, our depressions didn’t mix well together, and the lack of communication pretty much fueled an inevitable blow-up. He says he can’t even fathom going on a date right now, because he feels completely “undateable”. However, he says he really does want to make this work, because he remembers “how good we use to be for each other.” I said that right now it’s important that we continue to communicate semi-regularly, and perhaps only hang out once a week… but the priority should be getting our own individual lives straight again. I recommended that he go to talk to a professional (which I am also planning to do shortly), and remember to keep the past in the past so that he can move on without continually agonizing over old mistakes. I reminded him that tons of people care about him, and are there to support him. I guess what he said about me is true for himself as well – you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself. His body language was still hesitant and distant, but not to an extreme degree – he’d smile when I’d smile, he seemed to stare at my lips fairly often, and although I wasn’t all over him – he still accepted a hug both in greeting and goodbye, and we still sat fairly close to one another. It’s definitely not the same, but… I don’t know. What do you think about this?

        Even though it seems like a simple, point-blank solution (both of us get independent and couples’ counseling), I’m feeling a lot of grief over this whole situation. It’s so complicated now when it use to be so easy to just be together… I think he is worth it, and the relationship is as well. I don’t want to just give up like a lot of people have been telling me. A lot of them say “He doesn’t love you anymore, so it’s over!” or “If you’re on a ‘break’ then that’s really just a break-up.” As it is, we’re not really on ‘break’ anymore, but it doesn’t feel like we’re truly back together either. I feel like we’re gonna be in this months-long before we really see any progress towards regaining what was. How long should I invest in this without progress before I move on? If we’re going slow with this, how slow is acceptable? How accepting of his hardships should I be before it becomes unhealthy to just continue to wait around? Since he can’t give me 100% right now, how long should I hold on before I start expecting him to give me that amount of effort once again? I know that nobody really has these answers – not even he does – but I just feel uneasy. How many people have gone through something like this, and ended up in a healthier, stronger relationship because of it? I’ve only heard of it ending in disaster, and that’s not what I want at all. How can I express my support without being seen as pressuring?

        1. Hello, Diane:

          What I noticed in your message is that you recommended he begin attending counseling, and then you said you’ll begin shortly. I’ll be very straight with you – it’s always easier to try and fix others, rather than ourselves. You have lots of sadness, hurt, and sorting out to do. And, I’m not sure I can help you know the answers to “how much is long enough” questions. Those limits are personal; they are yours and yours alone. I will say that I’ve learned the average to rebuild an “out of love” relationship tends to be around two years. At that period, many couples report feeling healed and certain about their futures with each other.

          One other thing – your friends are your friends for a reason. They are sticking up for you and your feelings. However, even though their advice is very well intended, it might not be the best for you to hear right now. I DO hope you get in and begin sorting these questions out with a therapist right away – – therapists have a way of fading out the voices of friends and amplifying your own voice. Further, they will help you define what you believe limits and milestones/markers can be for assessing whether or not your relationship is taking positive steps.

          I would say that if you begin with a therapist who avoids goals, run! Helping you clarify what your goals are for this process is essential!

          Good luck, my dear – my best wishes are with you – –

          RDK

  38. I have never written on sites or blogs before but I am glad to see there are others in my similar situation.

    My husband and I met in high school and have been together for 20 years, we are both 36 and have 2 beautiful children. To make a long story short, my husband emotionally abused me for many years and I felt and still feel pretty low and worthless. He also always made me feel so replaceable as if any moment someone else could just enter the picture and take him away from me.

    I would plead with him for years to show me he loved me for what was on the inside but he never seemed to be able to. I got more and more resentful over the years even though he would occassionally change but always reverted back. I got to the point where I would tell him that if things did not change it would be too late one day because I was getting really tired of feeling the way I did in hopes that he would change. He didn’t change and I gave up on us… Because of our children and the fact that I didn’t feel like I would be valued by anyone else so why leave, I stayed with him in the marriage. I fell out of love and lost emotional connection with him at least a year ago.

    I unintentionally met someone online a few months ago who made me feel validated, understood my pain, understood me, liked me for who I am on the inside and built me up, made me feel good. For the first time in my life I felt important to someone for more then just my looks. I got the courage up and decided that I did not want to live like this anymore and be treated the way my husband treated me. That was almost 4 weeks ago, and I told my husband that I am not in love with him, I haven’t been for quite some time and I have no emotional connection or feelings for him.

    Apparently at that same time my husband had an “epiphany” and is a changed man. The sad part is that for the first time I think he is sincere. He has admitted to emtionally abusing me, not loving and appreciating me for the person I am and vows to spend the rest of his life showing me his love and devotion to making me see my value, etc.

    The problem is, what I wanted for 20 years and couldn’t get is now in front of my eyes and I can’t accept it. I don’t want it and he doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of what his words did to me. I don’t know if I can or if I want to forgive him. Everyone tells me I need to give it time and try to fix my marriage, but I can’t seem to find the will to do it.. I have started seeing a counselor, had one session so far to try to help fix me so I can try to see what I really want. To complicate matters, I can’t get my mind off of this other person, I am so sad because I can’t have something that made me feel good for the first time in my life.

    The only reason I would ever consider trying to work on things is for my kids, but even then I don’t have a desire to. My husband is willing to do anything to make this work but I am just not sympathetic to him.

    How do I know when it is really over? I am so emotionally drained, my mind can’t focus and I am just so sad and confused. Any advise is appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Sad and Confused

    1. Dear Sad and Confused:

      I’m sorry its taken me a couple of days to respond. I’ve actually been working on research related to this topic at night!

      So, “how do you know when it is really over?” It certainly seems like you’re exhausted from this situation, and have no energy reserves. And, I can tell you that most all people in your situation feel that way. They go ahead and begin the divorce process because their souls are begging for relief and they feel like somehow that’s going to finally allow them some peace. And, on top of your exhaustion you probably feel frustrated and angry because you have/had been asking for your needs to be met – and your spouse is only now responding to that request.

      I think every person has their own limit. I can’t say: “If you have met criteria a, b and c THEN you know it’s over.” It’s too hard to understand or know the capacity of individuals and their limits. However, I can tell you a few things:

      1) Sometimes people DO only stay together for the benefit of their children but then later down the road are able to repair their relationship. Others try that and then end up getting a divorce anyway when the children leave home, which then leaves the kids in a puzzled and frustrated state because “their parents’ relationship was a lie, and they’re not sure THEY can trust marriage.” (See Paul Amato’s research out of Penn State)

      2) Research DOES show that over 80% of couples who had planned on separating, but for some reason didn’t, are glad or very glad they stayed together 10 years later.

      3) And, if you’re feeling disconnected from your husband emotionally and physically, that CAN heal but it will take time. It takes some people up to two years to rebuild trust and intimacy in a wounded marriage.

      So – – the one thing I can tell you is that you will remain disconnected to your husband until you have stopped your online relationship with the other person, and grieved the loss of that relationship. And, regardless of framing the relationship as “unintentional,” every choice we make online is our own choice. The faster you own that, the faster it will be to help move you forward in grieving the relationship or leaving your husband. YOU are responsible for YOUR part in the relationship – – and that’s all you can manage. You’re tired because you tried so hard for so long to manage both sides of the relationship. My best advice is that if you decide to work with a good marriage and family therapist to repair your relationship, you strongly consider setting the goals of 1) achieving a balance of meeting needs, and having your needs met; 2) processing and grieving your “old” relationship; 3) defining what your “new” marriage would look like; and, 4) learning how to feel trusting and secure with each other.

      Good luck – it’s not easy. And, I DO wish you the very best during this difficult time – – Kelly

  39. Me and my wife have been married for 27 years we are both 46 years old . She recently told me that she had fallen out of love with me. I was devastated and had not seen the signs. We both work shifts and sometimes dont see each other for a couple of days. On reflection I have noted that we both seemed to be depressed about the amount of debt we are in, neither one of us have actively done any thing about this. I also believe that my wife is going through the menopause. She has started going out a lot with friends and getting drunk, she has never done this during the past 27 years and keeps saying she wantsto run away.
    I have managed to get her to speak to the doctor about this and hope that falling out of love with me I is linked to going through the change.

    1. Dear Neil:

      While it’s possible there are hormonal or medically related issues related to her emotional connection with you, you mention one of the greatest stressors in couplehood: debt. You also mention another very common challenge to a committed relationship and that is varying work schedules. My husband and I have also experienced both of those stressors and we went through a period of intense challenge because of them. It appears your wife’s behaviors lend to the picture of a person needing release from what she feels is restrictive or burdensome. Every marriage is hard, and I hope you and your wife might agree to trying a few sessions of couples therapy – even spreading the sessions out in order to try and manage the cost – or at least attend some debt counseling together. Small accomplishments in the money area can lead to small accomplishments throughout a marriage. Your wife is obviously in pain, and you won’t be able to hold your marriage together by yourself. I wish you the best in the next few weeks, and do hope you’ll find a time to talk openly to her about getting help – not just for her unhappiness – but for your relationship. Good luck!

  40. My wife and i have been married for 22yrs. About two weeks ago she told me she hates my guts and has no feelings left for me as a partner. She said, “I love you as a person and care about you”. I’ve been reading alot of blogs and different sites looking for someone in the same situation as me. She thinks she will not be able to love me again and wants to go our own ways, respectively. We have both talked to a L.C.S.W. separately and she sees no need to go together, as it is her belief that we see the counselor only because she cant find a way to explain the way she feels.
    We have had ups and downs in our marriage. I am a very sarcastic person and say things, not meant to be hurtful, that are taken as hurtfull. She has kept all these feelings inside her for many many years. She has felt some relief by talking to someone, as she has never shared these feelings, memories before. Now that she has gotten it out of her system she is sleeping better and seems to be happier. She doesn’t even seem to want to try to fix things and i am having a hard time understanding why, after all we have been through. We also have two children, 10 and 14.
    I dont know how to proceed and the counselor i’m seeing seems more interested in fixing me and isn’t worried about addressing my relationship with my wife. I don’t know why i picked this forum to dump this all out, just don’t know what to do anymore.
    Thanks,
    TLF

    1. Hello, TLF:

      Sometimes, a “forum” is a relief – just dumping seems to help process all the build-up of what is obviously a very painful situation. I show a link on my article to the AAMFT Therapist Locator, and to the “marriage friendly theraspists” website. I would strongly suggest that you seek out a licensed marriage and family therapist who attended an accredited program, with some degree of experience who deals with conflicted couples and relationships.

      You’re right – “The Relationship” needs to be “the client” if there is repair to be had. Most therapists will take the approach of “discernment counseling” if your relationship is really in rough shape – – trying to help you two figure out to:

      1) Do small things to improve the situation right here and now until you can better sort out whether or not to stay together;
      2) Decide how to separate as best as possible;
      3) or, Decide to make intense changes in order to stay together and make your relationship work.

      If they’re not talking with you about this (or, if your wife won’t go…) then you can still work on your relationship, but it will be work that is “only in YOUR control,” and that can have nothing to do with how your wife responds.

      I’m very sorry for your experience. If you have a hard time finding a professional, please e-mail me at the address in the article and I’ll help guide you to someone.

      Good luck – RDK

  41. The “out of love” feeling is so real it scares me. I’ve been with my husband since I was 19 and now I’m 36, two great kids later, the house, the family vacations and we’re surrounded by family and friends that love our love. But something happened… My husband entertained 2 women on his job one earlier in our relationship and one within the past 2 years. I do believe by the grace of God I interjected before anything got to hot & heavy with both of them. Also my husband is an “ogur” and I’m “easy going” so needless to say after 15 years within the past 5 I began to feel resentment and to top it off our sex life is boring and the affection is nonexistent. I do take responsibility for my share as well. However, two months ago I engaged in an affair which was hot & heavy and this lead to me resurfacing these feelings that I’m missing something… Of course I want a separation and he doesn’t. I’m so confused that I started seeing a conselor . She’s okay and she even gave me an assignment to try before I decide to separate (because I’m so confused). I’m trying but I think that I have so much resentment & this out of love feeling I don’t know what to do or feel like giving my all…

    1. Dear “Out of Love” ~ I’m so sorry that you’re in such a difficult emotional place. What you’re speaking about is “working on discernment” about whether or not to stay in your marriage. Because you and your husband have both stepped outside of the boundaries of your relationship, it might be much a more productive process if you invited him into your therapy sessions. What happens when one person goes to the therapy and the other doesn’t, is that the person in therapy gains a head-start in the emotional processing of the problem. This actually hurts the situation in some ways because you have the benefit of thinking things through without discussion your true feelings with your spouse. And, without hearing his true feelings as well. If repair of the relationship is to be in the picture at all, that’s what will need to happen – you both have trust wounds now, and you’ll need to build the trust back before feelings come back. And, he’ll need to learn how to be softer – while you learn to get a backbone and say what you really feel. Whatever you decide, I do wish you the very best in sorting your pain and frustration through. My very best regards, RDK

      1. Thanks RDK… I actually originally started with the couples therapy idea but ended up going on my own. I definitely think it will help.

  42. My son is having problems in his marriage and has been talking to me frequently. I have become emotionally involved because I feel so bad for him and feel his pain. Anyway to cut a long story short I got so frustrated with them both that I mailed them, not a very nice email. Instead of supporting him I pretty much attacked them. He is really ticked off now and wont speak to me for which I cant blame him. I have apologized to both of them, she accepted but I havent heard from my son. I have been sick with worry for him for several weeks now and I just dont know how to deal with this or what to do. I know I have to wait for him to come back to me now and thats fine as I can do no more after apologizing, more than once. However if he does start to talk to me again I just dont know if I support him. How can I do this – I need to be there for him but he still has to figure out his own life. He is 38 years old and has a five year old son.
    Please help!

    1. Dear LPP,

      You sound like a genuinely worried mother who really cares for her son and his family. it also sounds like you are aware of missteps taken in the past and would like to be prepared for future opportunities and potential healing.

      I’m not going to take an incredible amount of time answering your specific question. What I would rather do, is recommend a very important book for you to read. Please go to the library now and check out Harriett Lerner’s Dance of Anger. Read it slowly, and do your best to absorb this very important information she has to offer.

      if you still have questions about the right thing to do after reading this book, I would be more than happy to respond to a follow up question.

      My very best regards, Kelly

  43. Thank you for a very informative article. I am trying my best to cope with my wife of over 30 years and her “falling out of love” with me. In my case I have found that my wife has gone from the ” I love you, but I’m not in love with you”, to “I love you, but I stopped liking you”. I can add that her emotional detachment has taking years to manifest and that we are both in individual counseling. At times it’s been my experience that she has been confused by her feelings. This often can send mixed messages to a hopeful spouse who truly wants to save the marriage. Sometimes a comment may be perceived to be more positive then how it was meant. A la wishful thinking. Really understanding, and listening to your partner is key, but at times a partners emotions can be so complex it may cause some setbacks. Real honest communication without filtering is essential but sometimes trusting the messages we send depends on how well we know ourselves. In my situation I too have felt I have been putting in most of the effort despite my wife returning home after a brief separation. I have told my wife about taking that leap of faith, that risk you touched on in your article. This came from my own instincts. But, I feel, any form of advise coming from me can cause resentment, or resistance. So at times I’m damed if I do, damed if I don’t. For me the waiting is the hardest. The lack of intimacy can cause resentment. My wife has always been a very giving person and I fear part of her conflict with me is feeling bad about leaving, upsetting the family, what our children will think. Menopause certainly hasn’t helped. So she is at the crossroads and I wait. She tells me she is no longer angry, and it’s not about the past. But I’m not so sure. Not sure she has forgiven me for my past neglect. She believes that I have changed for the better, being attentive, loving and giving. I once thought that getting her to believe in me was all I needed to do. Now the sad part is it may not be enough. It’s been an emotional roller coaster to say the least.

    1. Dear K – what a struggle you are both experiencing! After reading your note, I began to wish that you two might consider seeing a therapist together to go through a couple of sessions of “discernment counseling.” http://www.cehd.umn.edu/fsos/projects/mcb/couples.asp Discernment counseling is a process whereby clear expectations are set for couples on the brink, and lessens the torture of ambivalence that is so pervasive in these situations. If it’s not available in your area, I think a therapist could still review the model and at least guide the two of you through it as an attempt to unstick some of the feelings you both have. Best wishes – and, I’m very sorry for the prolonged misery you two are experiencing. – RDK

  44. After reading your article I feel like there is still hope but Im not sure if ‘hope’ has been what has killed my relationship. After falling madly in love with someone who is 9 years younger than me, the 5 years we have been together have been solid. We were so together and never once questioned we would split, until last year when the other half cheated on me and I found out. They said they wernt sure if they loved me anymore and the spark isnt there. They said they didnt find me attractive anymore but cared for me alot. I took it like a brick to the head and probably made all the mistakes people say not to make. We decided to try and spent the next 8 months arguing about trust and feelings etc. We split up fully in April but continued to try and see each other and spend time. it came to a head this weekend where I was told that Ive changed, they have changed, we dont want the same things anymore and there is no feelings there anymore. Im not sure what to do now. I am trying to face the thought of moving on, but when we are spending time we get on so well its hard to now say we cant see each other or contact each other at all.

    1. Dear Sophie: It sounds like you are both in a real state of ambivalence, stuck on your decision-making process. Your experience sounds tedious, energy draining, and very painful. I’m so sorry about all that you have experienced in your relationship. I mention in the article that there is a “TherapistLocator” resource, and I would encourage you to seek out some counseling if you feel that you aren’t able to sort this out on your own. Even if you and your committed (or formerly committed) partner are not sure you’ll stay together, you might attend therapy together – it could benefit the both of you. Good luck to you. Very best regards, Red Dirt Kelly

  45. Thank you for this article. My girlfriend and I have been together 3 and a half years, and she recently asked for a break which lasted only about 2 weeks. We reunited and things seemed great, but then came the big blow, about two weeks after the break she told me that she is no longer in love with me and wanted to break up. We eventually reached an agreement that we would stay together and take things slow. It has been about a month now, and I am not sure how to interpret the situation. She is distant, does not make any effort to really contact me, spends almost all her time with her friends, and when we do see each other, it’s awkward. We have stopped any physical contact. For the most part of our relationship, we were happy and inlove, this that happened is so unexpected and I am not sure how to deal with it. She also said on the day she wanted to break up, that she didnt think that she would fall inlove with me again. And now I am wondering if she really wants to make this work, because I am the only one putting in any effort.

    1. Dear Sassy:

      Most of the time, when your relationship is in this particular spot, it’s good to have a discussion (with a therapist if needed) and work on one of three options: 1) dissolving the relationship; 2) repairing the relationship; or, 3) working on things in the “here and now” that will make things better for the both of you until you can decide on working toward numbers 1 or 2.

      A person should never feel they are the only one putting in effort…that’s a lonely feeling.

  46. An interesting read that I really appreciate. I’ve been married with my wife for 3 and a half years (dated for 4 years prior), and I’ve fallen out of love. We’ve had issues for a couple years now, but as someone who doesn’t like to stir the emotional waters (especially those of my wife, because it really does pain me to see her saddened), I hid my emotional issues for too long. A month ago, I started sharing my actual thoughts, and she is now aware that I don’t love her the way a wife should be loved.

    She has been working extremely hard to put a smile on my face. Writing love letters, striving to increase the quality of our sex life, and trying to change different aspects of her own self; she’s certainly trying to earn my affection. With each attempt, instead of feeling love for her, I feel sad that our situation causes her so much pain, and that I don’t share the same feelings she does. If there’s a chance to fall back in love, it’s become very clear to me that it is going to be a long and difficult process, and could very well be futile at that. No kids in the equation, and I’m really struggling to decide whether further trying to recover the relationship is worth the risk and effort.

    1. Dear Rob:

      Your struggles are certainly not common, nor is your pain born alone from many others…yet, each marriage is a unique story. I’m extremely sorry that you two are going through this process, and I understand that it must give you a deep amount of empathetic response to see your wife trying so hard to restore the element of romantic love you feel is lost.

      I will say that you’re right – most couples I know are 1.5-2.5 years to restore/repair what they feel was lost. Many times it grows back slowly, but more frequently, it happens when the couple with one emotional foot out of the relationship sees the other champion their marriage or take heroic steps – showing a degree of safety and boundaries for the other to come back toward.

      Good luck with your process. I’m sorry for the pain you’re feeling right now and hope that you find your way through this unfortunate situation. ~ Kelly

  47. I’m currently attempting to save my marriage through counseling. My wife told me 12 weeks ago that she is unhappy and no longer in love with me. I was destroyed! I’m madly and passionately in love with my wife and willing to do anything to keep her. She still has doubts that we can fall back in love and often times seems to be disgusted by my presence. However she tells everyone that “I’m a great guy, great father, lover and a handsome man.” I pray constantly that she finds happiness and true inner peace however I’m not so sure if that will help us. I think she is just going through the motions so she can tell our children she tried. Now that I’ve read this blog, I’m at least hopeful that we can do this. I had to admit to her that about five years ago I hated her and had to force myself to stay (during a counseling session). There were times I had to put on a big act to keep anyone from knowing how I really felt but it payed off. I fell much more deeply in love and much more connected to her. Now she’s in the same boat but doesn’t believe it’s repairable. She sees only the immediate and not the long term. She just can’t imagine the feelings she currently has are only temporary. I just keep asking for prayers from my friends and family and hopefully this will help as well. I will update this later once we get into counseling a bit deeper.

    1. Dear Doug:

      It’s true that someone who is feeling emotionally disconnected and “out” of romantic love with their spouse generally never can believe they could feel connected again. And, it does seem extremely unlikely – but too many people have experienced the same journey back. It CAN happen. The only question is – can those who are involved in this kind of pain give what it will take to repair?

      I want you to know that I’m hoping the very best for you and your wife. I am hoping that you will once again BOTH have connected and supportive feelings at the same time, and that you’ll look back on what you came through with resolve and a new hope…together.

      Good luck, RDK

  48. Fascinating. So often we think of love in purely emotional terms that we forget all about the biology and chemical influences at play. And to realize that traumatic life events (both emotional and circumstantial) can introduce brain scarring, which can give us distorted views of each other, WOW. Thanks for sharing this!

    Also for the affirmation that at some points in life it is an act of deliberateness, that what happens in your relationships is what you choose, not just the easy stuff. I think this would be great reading material for newlyweds as well as married veterans! XOXO

    1. Thanks much, Marie – yes, I learned a great deal just researching that piece. And, I agree about the premarital reading…premarital developmental stages are fraught with unrealistic expectations. To lay some foundational work for realistic expectations during that time might be very useful.

  49. Thank you very much for this! I am in the midst of “falling out if love” recovery after my fiancee, my girlfriend of seven years, revealed that she had been struggling with generalized doubts about us for some time, in nearly complete silence about those worries so that there was little we could do as a couple to address the situation (“there wasn’t anything to be done; it is what it is”). It’s been about a week now and, though she says she firmly believes that there’s no way- nor was there a way- to “fix” our situation, she has agreed to keep an open mind for our future (at risk of sounding utterly naive, I truly, truly believe her). The coming months will be a tribulation, but we will be remaining in contact and I will definitely be asking her out again sometime in the future, well after our present situation has passed and we have by and large moved on. This has given me some hope yet, though I’ll be moving on for the time being (it’s clear that now is not the time). Perhaps one day she’ll be receptive to the idea of reconnecting, that you can indeed reconnect at all (our spark definitely vanished gradually, not spurred on by any abuse, neglect, family problems, etc but, rather, that we took things for granted and did not really “date” one another for a while, a problem I had recognized yet she herself doesn’t think was ‘it,’ though she can name nothing else whatsoever as a possible cause). To her, sadly, relationships are very, very cut and dry, either/or situations, hence the silent denial of her doubts and immediate defeat following her acceptance that dhe did have doubts. Here’s hoping for the future (though, of course, I’ll have to do what is right by me in the end).

    Thanks again!

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