- Marriage

Can You Stay In A Marriage When You Know Your Spouse Doesn’t Love You? Should You?

Many wives truly want to stay in or save their marriages. However, they are dealing with a husband who doesn’t seem to love them in the way that he used to. Often, he is not at all secretive about this. His lack of affection can be fairly obvious and worse, some husbands will freely admit that they are no longer “in love” with their spouse, (although some don’t leave immediately and agree to stay temporarily.) This can leave a wife wondering what she is supposed to do with this information. Knowing that he’s not going to leave tomorrow can be comforting. But knowing that you might be sentenced to a life without love is not comforting at all.

One might say, “I’ve suspected that my husband isn’t in love with me for a couple of years. I am an optimist and I always hope for the best. But I have eyes. I am fairly observant. A couple of years ago, my husband started to openly stare at other women. He would ignore me or barely listen to me when we talked. He stopped making an effort to spend time with me. I braced myself for him to seek a separation or divorce. When he didn’t (and when things didn’t get any better) I finally confronted him and said that I didn’t think he loved me anymore. I sort of expected for him to deny it to try to save my feelings. But he didn’t. He admitted that he loves me, but that he hasn’t been ‘in love with me’ for quite a long time. Then he said he didn’t plan to do anything about it for the time being because of our kids. He said he would never even consider a separation or divorce until our kids are grown. This doesn’t make me feel much better. I mean, I also feel strongly that we should stay together for the kids, but I am not sure if I want a husband who isn’t in love with me. My friend said I shouldn’t stay and that I should just cut my losses. Is she right?”

I can’t answer that question, but I can give you some things to think about. I was separated for a while in my own marriage, in part because my husband had lost some feelings for me and we had some issues that divided us. Most of our friends thought that we were going to divorce because even though I was making what I thought was a valiant effort to save my marriage, my husband just wasn’t into it. At the end of the day, however, we did reconcile and I truly believe that we love each other very much, but it was a long process where I had to make strides with him when I was able to do so.

Why Feelings Can Change: The point that I am making is that feelings wax and wane. If you put attention and effort back into your marriage, you sometimes find those feelings coming back. I’ve seen countless husbands who’ve claimed to no longer be in love with their wife eventually find their way back to their loving marriage again. So, I wouldn’t just write your husband off. Feelings change when the circumstances change.

Setting Up The Transformation: Since you know that your husband likely isn’t going anywhere, doesn’t it make sense to try to repair and prioritize your marriage so that perhaps the feelings will come back? I don’t want to insinuate that this is solely your responsibility. It isn’t. But sometimes, it’s useful to take an honest look at your marriage and ask yourself what might be contributing to your husband’s feelings. If you can address those things, it’s often a good start to setting up the circumstances so that the feelings return.

In my own case, I was constantly trying to analyze my marriage and tear down what I thought wasn’t working. This did more harm than good because my fragile marriage was just not in any state for this. So I started very small. I just tried to interact with my husband in a positive way and laugh when we were able. I kept my goals very modest – to have good interactions and then to gradually schedule new interactions. I tried to turn down the pressure and to keep things low key and easy. Slowly, gradually, this gave us a comfort and ease that allowed the intimacy to begin to return. Once we felt bonded again, only then did we tackle our toughest issues.

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