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My Wife doesn't love me….help please!

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  • #118382
    James
    Participant

    I came across this website looking for people who have been in my situation and can can provide me with some much needed hope that what I am doing will eventually work and payoff. While I know there are no guarantees knowing that it is possible will give me the stamina to continue….because right now I am at wits end.
    The story:
    I’ve been married to my beautiful wife for 16 years. From the outside looking in we have the perfect life. Two beautiful little girls, now 9 and 6, a nice home in good neighbourhood, and two successful, albeit stressful careers. In July of 2015 on our annual family vacation my life was turned upside down, when after an argument, my wife told me she no longer loves me. At the time I didn’t know how serious this was or how long it had been going on, and thought I could fix it with some hard work and loving attention – it’s now October 2016 and my wife is suggesting separation… We always had a good life and were never physically abusive and hardly ever had loud, long lasting arguments. We just drifted apart. Looking back on it I can see the signs. We devoted our lives to our kids activities and our careers leaving nothing for us to keep the flame going – ie regular “date nights.” Our parents live in different cities so we didn’t have the easy babysitter option available either. Both my kids were diagnosed with hip displasia, and while in the grand scheme of things their are much worse ailments, we had to put a metal brace on our daughter for 8 months straight. Because she was already walking, she screamed when we put it on and it took a toil on us emotionally. My wife also went through a period of depression, that she sought help for, when maternity leave ended for our second child. I admit that during this time I didn’t know how serious the depression was and this is one of the main reasons why she says she doesn’t love me…I wasn’t there for her in her time of need. I also wasn’t happy with my job at the time and bringing that home with me. Also our nine year old was having trouble with friends at school and it was breaking our hearts to see her struggle. All of this led to an unhappy marriage for about 3 years for my wife. I didn’t know don’t this at the time and it is only looking at it in reverse that I see the mistakes I made. I was always looking at the future…if we just hang in there it will get better. I wasn’t living in the present and I was slowly getting depressed like my wife 3 years earlier.
    When she told me she didn’t love me I knew I still loved her and I wanted it to work. For the past year and a bit I have been a wonderful caring husband and father. I help out with the chores more, I cook meals and I pack the lunches. I’ve also tried to treat my wife like gold. I’ve taken my wife on meaningful dates that I know she likes. For her birthday I took her to Las Vegas to run in the Rock’n Roll half marathon and I’ve just tried to be the best husband I can be…because I know deep down that I love her with all my heart and we have two wonderful kids. She admits I’m now everything she wants in a husband…but still no love. The best she has gotten is brief glimmers of feelings, but that is all. We’ve had some ups and downs throughout the past year, with the down periods primarily because I am hoping for her feelings to come back and I start to get depressed and ruminate often, worrying that it’s to late. This causes me to spiral into a depressed state which sets us back. We’ve been seeing a marriage counsellor since June of 2016 and while it’s helped somewhat, I’m not sure if it’s working enough. As more and more times go on with no feelings of love and passion the more scared I get, and the viscous cycle continues. The final thing is that in August of this year my wife decided to take an executive MBA course. This has been a dream of hers and because I wanted to show that I support her and I thought it might bring us together (It would force her to rely on me) I said yes to it. I believe I have really stepped up to the plate in helping with the girls while my wife is studying most evenings. She has had to lean on me more but still no feelings. On Saturday things came to another head when I planned a really nice date night that involved shoe shopping, a haunted house (we like that kind of thing :)), and a nice supper. During the shopping it was ok but I started to get depressed. There was no romance, no passion. In the car going to supper I said she seems to have more fun with her friends than with me. This got her thinking and by the end of the night she was crying saying she doen’t know what else to try. She asked me if we should try separation, maybe she will miss me and finally get the feelings back? From everything that I’ve read this is an awful idea and rarely works. Last night, for the first time in 16 years I slept in the downstairs bedroom…We talked in the morning and we both said we’re not ready for it to be over but, in some ways I think she thinks it is. She sees how depressed I’m getting and doesn’t want to hurt me. She doesn’t want me to feel how she did during her depression. We talked about it and I’ve agreed to seek professional help for my depression.
    My question to the people on this board is has anyone gone through this and come out the other side a happy and loving couple again? How long did it take and how did it happen? Was it gradual or was there an event that triggered the feeling? I’m looking for some much needed hope and wondering if anyone can offer any. Thanks for reading.

    live in the same city as us, which meant very few babysitting opportunities.

    #118419
    Ninja
    Participant


    @jhumber

    Don’t give up!

    I am the father of two girls myself and have faced a similar struggle.

    I will write back shortly (yet today) when I have the right amount of time for the right words.

    Chin up. Talk soon.

    Ninja

    #118420
    Peter
    Participant

    Change happens slowly then all at once. Meaning that we aren’t usually conscious of all the small little causes behind the effect that we notice.

    Come across the following “Past, present, future, all co-existing, in different dimensions, with different rates of vibration. No that that has anything to do with your situation.

    Anyway I think or feel that our experience of love occurs on different planes of dimensions, each with a different “vibration”….

    When I hear someone in a relationship uses the words “I don’t love you anymore” I’m never sure what they mean. I suspect if you ask your wife what she means she might not be able to tell you.

    My observation has been that even for two people who really love each other, and all the “vibrating” planes, mentally, spiritually, physically (life’s demands, taking out the garbage, shelter, security…) LOVE sometimes require that the relationship end. The Calling to Become requiring separation in order to be realized.

    We can’t usually articulate that calling and so use the words “I don’t love”

    Likewise when love in the relationship becomes one dimensional, perhaps physical life demands of taking out the garbage, providing a home, security, paying the bills we lose ourselves. In such a case the statement “I don’t love you anymore” is really the statement “I don’t see myself anymore”.

    That probably not helpful… what am I saying…
    I think before you separate both of you need to take ownership of what it means when you use the word love, your relationship to the word love.

    Sadly sometimes painful separation is required in order for us to Become and become more conscious of our relationship to relationship and love.

    Sorry.

    #118421
    Ninja
    Participant

    JHumber –

    Let me try to help – as I’ve been in a very similar situation.

    When things seem so confusing and out of control it can feel like you’re driving at night without any headlights. Frustrating – and frightening. Take a second to hit the pause button and “unpack” the issues – because there are many that you’re dealing with all at the same time.

    Your girls
    While my wife and I have been blessed with two healthy daughters, I have heard (both in reading and personal friend’s accounts) that having children with special needs (of any level) places a huge amount of stress and strain on any marriage. Most marriages end – and the children who already are challenged have an even tougher time. So, no matter what, I would suggest that you stay together for the sake of your girls. Remember, children thrive on consistency. They need you both – at the same time. Also, see an “added point” a couple paragraphs down.

    Depression
    As I’ve said in other threads, depression is real – and it can hurt and cripple. At least you both are acknowledging that you’re suffering from it. My wife suffered from it years before we met. This led her to a life of promiscuity, feeling of worthlessness and extreme sadness. Seeing a skilled therapist helped her navigate through it. And she has been on medication for it for years and it seems to have helped. A lot. I believe that we all suffer from depression to a degree. But some much more than others. Look into having it treated.

    Love her – unconditionally
    You and I seem to be very much alike – nice, hard-working guys who love their wives and want it to last. But I’m noticing you’re expecting something in return for your kind everyday tasks, trips, date nights, etc. It’s natural, especially for men, to expect something in return. “Doing chores, making meals, packing lunches … but still no love.” That’s rough! I too have been there. My wife has referred to herself as the “Ice Queen.” And when your kindness isn’t returned, it simply causes even more frustration, sadness and depression. The answer isn’t easy nor simple to follow, but it’s the best one I know: unconditional love. If you love your wife—truly love her—then love her even more than you love yourself. This is love – without conditions! And it’s rare. But when you place her best interests before your own, you are “adding” to what you’re giving. Meaning, no strings attached. And, hopefully over time, she will pick up on this. But it is tough. At times you will feel lonely, depressed and like you’re not getting a return on your investment. Short changed. Not what you signed on for. And all this is very “anti-modern man.” She’s trying to “give you an out” by suggesting separation. She wants to see if you’ll bail on her (part of her depression). Very kindly refuse it. Tell her that you’re in her corner and you’re never giving up on her – whether she feels love for you or not. Tell her that you have enough strength and love for you both. Tell her that you love her without expecting anything in return. Tell her that you love her unconditionally.
    My wife picked up on this sooner than I had expected. And things are much better. So, it does work!
    Added point: your girls need you to not only be present in their lives (24/7), but they also need to see you as an example of a man who loves his wife unconditionally. This way, they will know what type of man to look for later in life. And they are watching you (and absorbing) more than you could ever possibly realize. So, as an added “incentive,” do all this for your girls.

    Be strong. Write back. I’m here for you.

    Ninja

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 10 months ago by Ninja.
    #118431
    anita
    Participant

    Dear jhumber:

    This is what came up for me as I read your post: you and your wife are Waiting for her feelings to come back, feelings of passion and romantic interest in you.

    I think this is the wrong thing to wait for as it keeps the two of you prisoners. And what if these feelings do come back? Are you not going to be anxious about these feelings disappearing again? After all, these feelings have proven to not be dependable-to-stay.

    Feelings change, for everyone, and for me as well. You asked: ” has anyone gone through this..” I believe everyone in a relationship goes through a change in feelings, as feelings, like the weather, change. It is the nature of feelings to not remain the same. And so, to expect feelings to stay the same is no realistic.

    If it is the lack of romance and passion that is the problem for your wife (and not ongoing anger and repulsion), then why not accept it and value you for your efforts, feel empathy for you for how hard you try. I think it is endearing, simply seeing how hard you try.

    Empathy can go a long way, empathy and respect.

    anita

    #118436
    Amanda
    Participant

    jhumber,

    It could be possible that what makes you feel love and loving (getting the girls’ lunches ready, planning a romantic date) or “acts of service” isn’t the same thing that makes your wife feel loved.

    Have you considered reading “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman? While I believe he is a man of God, the topic of religion isn’t pervasive in the book. It gives practical advice for those seeking to reignite love (or fill their spouses “love tank”) in their marriages, along with stories from couples over his several years of counsceling.

    While I believe that sometimes separation may be for the best of both involved, as anita seems to insinuate above, it is clear that you aren’t ready to give up on your marriage. But waiting for feelings to come back won’t be successful if that’s all you’re doing. Work is what’s required now. If you’re wife is willing to go to therapy, she may still want to work on it as well. I applaud that. Keep us informed, whatever you choose.

    Best wishes.
    Amanda

    #118503
    Ninja
    Participant

    JHumber –

    Be careful – you’re getting some slightly conflicting counsel here.

    Some may feel that your personal happiness is the most important thing. I would suggest that you keep working at this for your sake, as well as your wife’s and daughters’. Marriage takes work. Anything that is worth anything takes work. It is my personal belief that we live in a world where, if we’re not happy, it is easy to cut bait and move on. And, sometime separation and divorce are necessary – but only when all else fails (cases of abuse, etc.). I truly believe you and your wife are far from that juncture. Far.

    And, you have two daughters. Not only did you sign on to love and cherish your wife for better and for worse, but you owe it to your girls.

    Stay strong. Show your wife how much you love her by fighting for your marriage.

    Ninja

    #118504
    James
    Participant

    Thank you all for your comments. This is the first time I have ever opened up on the Internet before. I am going to go home tonight and try and love my wife unconditionally with no expectation in return. I think this will be easier said than done but it is the only way this has a chance. Peter, thank you for your comments on change happens slowly, then all at once. I think I have been expecting change too soon and then get upset which causes my depression and scares both my wife and I.(creating a vicious cycle of despair). I am going to change my approach and expect nothing for a long time and just create positive moments with my wife. Hopefully small changes will happen over time which will lead to a big change a year or two from now. Ninja, you are right, might girls are worth it for me to continue to try. I’m wondering if anyone has come out the other side from this and can tell me about the journey?

    #118511
    James
    Participant

    Thanks this has really helped. You mention that it worked for you. Can you give me a sense of how long it took for you to work things out with your wife? It’s been over a year for me and it seems like an eternity.

    #118515
    Ninja
    Participant

    It does work. I am here (on Tiny Buddha) because I too have experienced probably the worst year of my marriage. But I learned just what I shared with you; that in order to rescue my marriage I had to put my wife before myself.

    But you know this. You asked about timing. : )

    Let’s see. About early August, I started this effort with a book called ‘The Love Dare.’ It’s a wonderful 40-day exercise that’s Christian-based. And it helped me greatly. You can pick up a copy at any Half-Priced Book store. Certain exercises in the book let your wife know what you’re up to (e.g., you leave her a love note one day, etc.). So, my point is, my wife became aware that I was making an effort. And our marriage was in crisis, big time. I had reason enough to attack her for things she never told me about her past. Real sordid things. But the book taught me about unconditional love. It changed my life. And our marriage. My selfish side (the easy reaction) wanted me to attack her, find out more and more, and make her “own up” for not telling me things earlier. And I did that for awhile (pre-book). But, as you can guess, that only made her defensive and pushed her farther away. The book taught me how to shower her with love — even when she had none to give me in return. And, I felt she didn’t deserve it! It taught me selfless love. Consistency is the key here. If you do one thing and she feels that “string are attached” then you go back to square one. And I did slip. I’m human. But slowly, little by little, over these past few weeks/months she has come to know that I am simply loving her. With no strings.

    So, to answer your question, in about a month or two, and it’s getting better with each passing day.

    But I don’t believe you’ve actually started yet. Your wife has to know your true intent: to fight for you both and keep your marriage alive and intact. Right now, she sees you as doing nice things. She may be suspicious that you want something in return or will be mopey and depressed if she doesn’t reciprocate with love and affection. Tell her, “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. Your life is more important to me than my own. I love you just for who you are. And I expect nothing in return. And even if you don’t feel the same way right now, I’ll always be here for you … and our girls. Always!”

    This is laying the foundation. Then, consistency is the key. And, as another guy who’s been there, it will seem like an eternity. But the moment you make peace in your heart that she may never come around, she might. Mine did! But again, you have to accept the fact that she may never come around. Be at total peace knowing your doing the right thing — for her and your girls.

    Again, be strong. Take this one day at a time. I’m here for you. And am happy to help you navigate through this.

    Your strength will come through knowing that you are being the man of the house and doing the right thing.

    Peace to you.

    #118574
    manbuddha
    Participant

    Unconditional love.
    Good to know that it is alive and working. Ninja, I am just too happy to hear that your relationship is getting better.
    James,
    I am confident that the same will happen for you if you continue as Ninja suggested. I’ll second the 5 Love Languages recommendation that Amanda gave too. People interpret acts of love differently.
    Also, doing it for the children is okay. But also, do it because you are a man that gave his word. You made a vow to love someone no matter what. Your word is something to stand on.

    I am proud of you already for two things:
    1. Accountability – you admitted your mistakes that may have brought you to the current situation.
    2. We are not telling you anything that you didn’t feel already. You already wanted to stay and to continue loving your wife.

    Well, I just wanted to log on and encourage you.
    All the best!

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 10 months ago by manbuddha.
    #118603
    Ninja
    Participant

    Always great to hear from you, ManBuddha! Thank you for your support and wisdom.

    James, I believe you’re now in very good company. ManBuddha is very insightful.

    Your road ahead might be filled with mixed feelings of frustration, loneliness, depression and possible anger. But it won’t last forever. Don’t succumb. You will slowly grow in strength and become a shining example of a loyal and loving husband. The key to unconditional love is to remain selfless, and not fall to feelings of selfishness.

    We are here for you. Please write back as often as you need to. I’ll get the alerts in my email and will respond.

    #120438
    James
    Participant

    Hello again, just an update on my situation. Things were going ok for a while. I have started seeing a counsellor (one session so far) and it helped. I do realize that I need to change myself first before my wife will love me. I started keeping a journal and focusing on things day by day. Things were going ok for about 10 days and then I had a relapse on Sunday where I started to feel really sad again. No major event triggered it it was just little things and I feel like I’m not getting anything in return from my wife. I know I have to be selfless but this is really hard and I’m questioning whether I have the stamina to continue for as long as it takes. My life is really stressful right now. I’m currently on a business trip and get home tonight and then my wife leaves for her MBA on Thursday returning on Sunday. I’ve reads a couple of books by Andrew Marshall which have helped: “I love you but am not in love with you” and My Wife doesn’t love me anymore”. I’ve also spent time on the website “Withmyexagain”. Both say I should still have hope and it is possible but I’m afraid my sadness will keep coming back and ruining things.

    #120447
    anita
    Participant

    Dear James:

    You wrote that you know that you have to be selfless. I disagree with the strategy to be selfless as a way to get your wife to love you back. I think trying to be selfless will take you farther away from being loved, by anyone.

    If you’d like to explore the ways to be self-more, let me know.

    anita

    #120448
    Jessy Mae
    Participant

    Hello James,
    I’ve been the wife waiting for my husband to show his love for me, and then doubting it was real when he did. And then wondering if I still loved him, while knowing deep down that I did. Give her time. It’s not easy. This world likes to make it seem like everything happens fast and easy, and it’s just not so. Relationships are always complex and it doesn’t matter if you’ve been married for years or are just trying to get to know someone for the first time. I love the advice from Ninja. Follow that. My personal feeling is that your wife does love you but her feelings are on ‘Numb’ right now. Love is multi-facited. I don’t know how else to put it, but I’ve been there. I’ve been in that place. My husband gave up and divorced me when I left him, and that isn’t why I left. I wanted him to keep fighting for me and our marriage. He didn’t. I’m still single, and he’s remarried with a new baby. Just because she’s talking separation doesn’t mean she really wants that. Keep doing the little things everyday. They add up. Yes, you have to love yourself, but don’t wait for that magical moment when you realize you do. Depression is a part of life. Don’t let it run yours.

    Speaking of depression,something that may help, and really helped me when I was going through some serious depression, is listening to motivational books on Audible. Not about relationships, I recommend ‘The Power of Ambition’, by Jim Rohn, or anything by Joe Vitale, Tony Robbins, Zig Zigler or Earl Nightingale. My personal guru is Grant Cardone, but he’s mostly sales stuff – but listening to him changed my life. His attitude is catching. Check out ‘Be Obsessed or Be Average’. And listen to him, don’t just read the books. It’s more powerful hearing these gurus speak. My favorite place is while driving or flying. Hearing the passion these guys pour out really helps. I went from having a hard time with life, to being a top performer in my job and feeling good about myself and life.

    Your wife will see the change in your attitude. It may peak her interest as to what caused it. You’re not at the point of no return yet, and if you keep working at making things work, I doubt you ever will be. You’re a train going through a dark tunnel right now, but there is a light coming. Just keep chugging down the track!

    I’m pulling for you, we’re all in this together.
    Jessi

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