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My Wife doesn't love me….help please!

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  • #120454
    Ninja
    Participant

    James –

    I’m glad you wrote – been thinking about you.

    I’m sorry that you’re hitting this tough, lonely time when you want something in return.

    I can empathize – because I’m there, too. And I know how hard it is to muster the emotions to feel good about yourself when the one person who promised to be your soul mate isn’t encouraging – in fact, her not encouraging is discouraging. I know. I know. I know. And it’s hell. And while my wife and I have made positive steps, we have some ways to go ourselves. But it is far from over.

    Here’s something that I recently discovered that has significantly moved our needle in the right direction. My wife and I have been married more than 23 years. It occurred to me how much different (and younger) we were then – and so was our marriage. So, marriages change, shift, weaken and strengthen over time. Like Jessi wonderfully said, “you’re going through a dark tunnel right now.”

    When you and your wife first fell in love you were different people, too. But with years, children, stress, jobs, children’s medical issues (a big one for you guys), etc., those old incredible, sugar-coated feelings for one another waned. You are no longer discovering new things about one another. And you’re depressed. And depression is nothing to take for granted.

    What helped with us is that instead of worrying about if my wife liked me, I focused on liking myself. I put energy into becoming a 2.0 version of my former self. I took up running. I started painting again. I didn’t ignore my wife and children. In fact, when my wife was busy or not interested in doing anything with me, I took my girls on “Daddy Dates” – to the movies, hiking, Saturday breakfast at some unique diner, etc. This is key: I found my happiness outside of my wife. But it didn’t mean I had to end my marriage. On the contrary, I realized that the more I kept pursuing her, the more she withdrew. So, I changed my actions toward her to “acts of service” – which is her Love Language. Oh, it’s hard. I desire her a ton. But if I channel my energy and attention elsewhere, the contentment fills the void. And, it’s quality time with my daughters – time well invested for any dad.

    Of course, the “Pursuer—Distancer Dance” is nothing new – couples fall into it without much though. Here’s a great article on it, and additional tips on how to break it. (Ignore the fact that the examples they use have the genders flopped.)

    How To Break Out Of The Pursuer-Distancer Dance

    Build back your confidence. And believe me, there’s nothing women find more attractive than a guy who’s genuinely confident. She’ll notice – eventually.

    Again, I’m going through this sh#t, too. Write back. I’m here.

    Wishing you peace tonight.

    Ninja

    #120462
    James
    Participant

    Thank you all for your comments of encouragement. It is very helpful. Anita, any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Jessi, I will keep going and I’m going to get an audible account set up and listen to some of the authors you suggest when I run. Ninja, I will continue to work on finding happiness outside of my wife. I love the Daddy dates idea and will try it when she is away this weekend. I agree about the “building back confidence”. My wife has even told me she wants to see me for who I am, not a sad and depressed individual. For a while (10 days) I was doing ok and then it all sort of unravelled…. All of your positive comments have given me a boost to continue though. I will continue to take it day by day and see what happens, focusing on improving my self and becoming happy for me and not just for my wife. I have my second counselling session tomorrow and I am looking forward to it. Ninja, I’m so sorry for your pain too. It’s so hard but I know we are both doing the right things and I do have “hope” that things will work out. I’ll write back. You have a peaceful night too.

    #120468
    Jessy Mae
    Participant

    Hello James,

    Glad to hear you are doing better. I wholeheartedly agree with Ninja on connecting with your girls and focusing on them while building your confidence. There is something about the unconditional love of your child that has a way of mending the hurt. Looking forward to hearing an update from you in a week or so. Have a great week!

    Ninja,
    I love everything you’ve said – it’s men like you and James that give me hope that men really do want to make things work and not give up when the going gets tough. That hasn’t been my experience, but something I’ve always wanted. I know that it might be slow going, but I’m sure your wife truly appreciates what you’re doing and while it takes time the building blocks you’re laying down will strengthen your bond.

    Just remember that coal would stay a lump of black rock without pressure – its the pressure that makes the diamond!

    Peace & Love,
    Jessi

    #120471
    anita
    Participant

    Dear James:

    I re-read and studied your thread carefully this morning. My reply to you is long. It starts with key quotes from your posts, my comments, then my analysis and ending with my suggestion of what you can do to revive your relationship with your wife and maintain the marriage:

    “I’ve been married for 16 years… In July of 2015… my wife told me she no longer loves me.” – she told you that a year and four months ago.

    “(I).. thought I could fix it with some hard work and loving attention – it’s now October 2016 and my wife is suggesting separation…”- the hard work and loving attention didn’t fix it.

    “Looking back… We devoted our lives to our kids activities and our careers leaving nothing for us to keep the flame going – ie regular ‘date nights.’… For the past year… I’ve taken my wife on meaningful dates that I know she likes….On Saturday…I planned a really nice date night… There was no romance, no passion… by the end of the night she was crying saying she doen’t know what else to try”- date nights didn’t fix it.

    “… 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)… She has had to lean on me more but still no feelings.”- her dependence on you to make a dream of hers come true didn’t fix it either. Neither did you helping more with household chores.

    * The result of all your IMPRESSIVE efforts for her is: “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”.
    * The result for you is “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…”

    Back to the recent Saturday: at 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?”

    Later you wrote: “I am going to try and love my wife unconditionally with no expectation in return… 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 wife has even told me she wants to see me for who I am, not a sad and depressed individual.”- I believe this is another strategy that will not work because as humans, it is not our nature to be selfless on the long run, as a way of life: we are not saints; we are humans. (One can take a ride on the “high” of selfless sainthood for a while but the crash will follow, again and again).

    My analysis: during the long, long challenging times for her, around her depression time and long after, the two of you didn’t communicate, didn’t talk. But conversations did happen, in her own mind, and lots of them. She was… kind of doing the talking for the two of you. She considered separation many times, talked herself into it and out of it many, many times. When she finally talked to you about it, it was after a lot of talk she already had with herself. In those talks she had with herself she decided that separation is the thing to do.

    This is why all your efforts didn’t work out- she has not been OPEN to loving you again. She has already decided that she wants separation before July 2015.

    I think she is prolonging the marriage in fear of hurting you, of you becoming more depressed than you are. And I am sure there are other factors, the children, finances, and so forth.

    Paradoxically, you think that becoming un-depressed will make her love you. I think you being depressed is keeping her in the marriage, out of concern to you, guilt. If you are no longer depressed, it will be easier for her to leave the marriage.

    My suggested action on your part, in hope to heal and maintain the marriage: talk to her, ask her if what I suggested is true, if she has already arrived to her decision before July 2015. Ask her if she is staying because she is concerned for you being depressed and getting even more depressed. She may not answer honestly at first, out of lack of practice, discomfort, guilt, so patiently encourage her to be honest. Ask her in a gentle, non accusatory way, assuring her you’d rather have the truth, that you need her honesty, and that you will welcome her honesty, no matter what it is and that you can handle it. By inviting her honesty, you will do the one thing that wasn’t tried for so many years. This honesty, openness, the acknowledging, facing the truth, you and her being on the same page regarding what the truth is- and it is your only chance to breathe life into this relationship.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 10 months ago by anita.
    #120473
    Alien incident47
    Participant

    Best thing I see is for you two to move on , she is struggling to find the once love she had for you but it’s not their. She misses what you once had, sees the man you are , but can’t find it heart to love you anymore. You tried and put effort to bring back the love but it’s not their in her heart no feeling. A relationship takes two not one . As for her bout with depression, she blames you for the reason, but you were their for in the only way you knew how, that is taking care of the family and doing your best to be there for her when you could. And maybe she uses that as a reason for feeling the lack of love for you but maybe it’s something else inside. Maybe she need to find more meaningful tasks in her life that this is not what she wants anymore. Your love and marriage was good, and she knows that, it’s why she is still around, but it is not the life she wants with you, she doesn’t love you . I know it hurts but it’s time to move on shake hands and agree you two had a good run together, and be at peace with each other.

    #120485
    James
    Participant

    Thanks Anita, I asked my wife this morning about the separation. Yes, when she originally told me in July of 2015 that she no longer loves me she had had thoughts of separating and was leaning that way. However, what she didn’t expect was my response to keep working on relationship and see if we could make it work. She said it really surprised her. She has seen the hard work and acknowledges it. I think my problem is while I have made a strong effort to work on our relationship my constant cycles of happiness followed by bouts of sadness have been really draining on our relationship. I honestly don’t think I’ve been patient for longer than 10 days and have to “check in” with her to see how she feels. It’s only been a few months since I started reading and researching about this and I now know that this was one of the worst things that I could do. Every time I “try” she admits that it is nice but she is anticipating a period of depression. It was her birthday yesterday and on the weekend I took her out to have some fun and didn’t bring up our relationship once and at the end of the night she said she had fun and it had been a long time since we had fun. This was good news but then on Sunday afternoon I got sad again and perhaps undid the positives of the night before. I know I need to accept that it likely won’t work and I have to work on finding happiness for myself and not seek happiness from my wife. To try and deal with this I am now seeing a counsellor and I am hoping that this will help me become a happier person. If I am a happier person, and I can sustain it, then I am hopeful anything can happen. This is something that I haven’t tried before so I feel good for doing something differently. At the very least I will be happy :). I reread my original post and while there were a lot of good things that I tried to do (dates, surprises, thoughtful moments etc.) there was always a heaviness hanging over the house and a sad expectation from me that things would get better soon. This was emotionally draining on everyone in the house and was a vicious cycle. Maybe me getting help will change things, maybe not. But I have to try or I will regret it for the rest of my life.

    #120487
    anita
    Participant

    Dear James:

    It may be tough to become dependably happy with the pressure that if you won’t succeed- your marriage will be over. How can you be happy when there is a threat hanging over you: if I am not happy, my wife will divorce me?

    Your bouts of sadness/ depression are not separate from your relationship with your wife. How can you heal your depression as if it was not connected to the relationship; what if your depression has a lot to do with the status of the relationship?

    anita

    #120502
    MRW
    Participant

    James,

    I am the wife that may not love her husband anymore.

    As I think and write, I keep coming back to my struggle with vulnerability and trust. There have been times when I opened up to my husband about something important to me and I was met with judgment, dismissal, correction, or a lack of listening. Those moments severely eroded my trust in my husband to provide me “emotionally safe” grounds for sharing with him. Why should I bare my soul to someone who is likely to stomp all over my feelings? (I’ve come 47 years by relying almost exclusively on myself for my emotional needs, so to cut him out is no big thing for me – it’s comfortable in a perverse kind of way.) I have done my best to communicate to my husband about how he treats me and so far success has been intermittent. In my mind, I’ve given him all the answers (through verbal conversation and the sharing of articles that pertain to what I’m needing or how things have gotten this way for me from childhood) he needs in order to figure this out and he still hasn’t. I *want* to love him again, I just can’t right now because the trust is so broken.

    I have no way of knowing if your wife is feeling any of these things. I simply wanted to share a little of my story with you in case it sparked something new that you and the others posting here haven’t already discussed.

    I want the best for you and your wife!

    B and E’s Mom

    #120540
    XenopusTex
    Participant

    People have this belief that everything can be fixed. Doctors and medical equipment dealers cater to it with life-support machines. Clergy of various stripes cater to it by claiming that their particular dogma will fix, save, etc..

    There’s a saying: It’s all over but the crying.

    Unfortunately, some things simply can’t be fixed.

    You can’t “make” somebody love you. Love is a personal choice that an individual makes. Trust me, there were times when I truly loved someone and it wasn’t reciprocated, and it really hurt.

    You can change your approach to things, but ultimately, it’s up to the other person to believe or not believe. To love or not to love.

    My thought is that both parties are experiencing depression because each of you are looking back over the years at experiences, etc. and missing what was. There are also the children, which are a complicating factor.

    Based on what has been presented, it appears that the marriage is basically dead with whatever outward displays being the relationship equivalent of say the autonomic nervous system’s final death twitches.

    #120550
    Jessy Mae
    Participant

    James,
    I disagree that it’s over and I think your marriage is worth saving, for both of you. As I said before, today’s world gives up too easily and seems to forget that while being selfless is hard ultimately it can make you happier because you are seeing her needs met. That is how men are made up. It’s what makes them happiest. But I also think that, as one of the other posters said, the trust is broken. I think that may be where some of your sadness is coming from. You can’t completely trust that she is going to be there for you no matter what happens, so after a particularly good day you may fear it isn’t enough and it brings on the sadness/depression. I stand by what I said before about listening to motivators. It’s impossible to feel bad listening to them, but you must do it daily for at least 30 minutes for it to really start changing your thinking. From what you said about your wife being surprised about your efforts, she never really wanted to leave, like me she thought that you didn’t care.

    The frank conversation you need to have with her is this: Honey, I love you and our girls and I don’t want a separation. I know that you love me too although you may not be “in love” with me right now. That’s okay. But you and our family are extremely important to me and I will do everything in my power to make you and our girls happy. I know I’m not perfect but I’m trying to be a better man. I really do appreciate you and how patient you’ve been with me over the past years. Even if you don’t fall “in love” with me again,know that I will always love you, even if that means letting you go.

    Don’t be too quick to listen to those who say it’s all over. She hasn’t left yet, there is still hope. And the fact that you’re trying and want this to work means there is still hope. You’re never going to go back to the kind of relationship or marriage that you had before all of this, but a different one. You are different people now. You are not the same as when you first met or married. People and relationships change and evolve over time. It doesn’t mean you can’t reconnect. She’s still there after a year, and she had a great time on her birthday with YOU. Think about that. Appreciate that.

    Ultimately being unselfish IS being selfish because it means your happiness too. That is what people seem to forget. Would you be truly happy or would she if you were no longer together? It doesn’t sound like it to me. Especially considering her response to your question about separation. She doesn’t really want to leave.

    For yourself, you are a good man. I think that you may be feeling a sense of failure as a husband because of how your wife was feeling a year ago and it has contributed to your overall unhappiness. Don’t make me kick you in the pants! You’re still there, you’re still trying and she sees and appreciates that. You are NOT a failure. You DIDN’T give up. You are much STRONGER then you know.

    I’m still pulling for you!
    Jessi

    #120554
    Ninja
    Participant

    James –

    I would be very cautious here. While I’m certain that everyone is responding with the very best intentions in an effort to help you and your family find peace, you are definitely getting a broad spectrum of direction here.

    I agree with Anita that this is a great opportunity to invite a renewed sense of openness and honesty into your relationship. Rekindling healthy dialog can be the basis of rekindling a relationship.

    While some of the advice here is solid, I will say this: your relationship is not dead.

    There are several hopeful signs that your wife does care:
    – She admits that you are now everything she wants in a husband
    – She has cried in front of you
    – She has said she was surprised by your positive efforts, fighting for you both

    If your wife had been expressing apathy and indifference, then I would be worried. Believe me, if I thought you should end this I would tell you to do so. I have suggested this to other people in other threads. But in your case, I too have a saying, “It’s always the darkest before the dawn.”

    Also, your two girls are more than “complicating factors.” They are your girls. You owe it to them to give this everything – and you are! I know, there have been—and will continue to be—major peaks and major valleys. And it can be pure, frustrating hell. I’m there, too. My suggestion is to follow Anita’s advice and be as open and honest with your wife as possible. Also, follow your counselor’s guidance. Don’t try to “find happiness” all at once. Maybe someday. But take it day by day – and set an earlier goal of simply finding peace. And lowering the tension and frustration level in your home will help everyone – including your girls. Big time.

    Lastly, if you belong to a church, you may want to consult your pastor. This is entirely up to you. But as I too am experiencing a similar crisis with my wife, I cannot imagine how we would be getting through this time without the support of our church family and our faith. In fact, my pastor has connected me with an elderly gentleman (not a pastor) in our church who is now my trusted mentor. I’m not preaching here – I’m simply sharing as it is far more than “catering to dogma.”

    Be strong. Wishing you peace today.

    Ninja

    #120558
    Ninja
    Participant

    Jessi’s note must have come in as I was typing mine. I just wanted to acknowledge it here, and say that I wholeheartedly agree with it – every single word.

    Ninja

    #120612
    James
    Participant

    Thank you for all the comments. I do have hope and I know it’s not over yet. I also know I have a lot of work to do on myself and I am getting support for that now. Reading the responses you have all provided has also helped me so much. Now that I am getting help I don’t feel as alone as before. I feel like I finally have some much needed support! I will focus on the good in my life right now, because their is still a lot of good, and I will take it day by day. I’ll spend lots of time with my kids and just live in the moment. Whatever happens happens, but I still do have hope. Jessi, I agree my marriage is worth saving! Thanks again for the support. James

    #120616
    anita
    Participant

    Dear James:

    You are welcome. One point connected to my first post to you: if she cares for you, has empathy for you, wants and acts so to promote your well being, continuously- that is love enough.

    Regarding the romantic kind of love, the tingly, sparkly, glittery type- I believe it shouldn’t be mentioned again for a long, long time, not by her and not by you. You need not be a prisoner to :”she-loves-me/ she-loves-me-no”t and to “Do-you-love-me now? How-about-now?” It is not fair to you and it is … insane, really: even if she gets the sparkly feeling again, how long will it last? It is like chasing glitter, you can’t hold it in your hand for keeps.

    anita

    #120634
    Jessy Mae
    Participant

    James,
    I’m so glad we have been able to help you through this. Ninja has some great points, and I whole hardheartedly agree with what Anita said in her last post. The sparkly romantic love is really fleeting – Hollywood and the world makes it seem like that is real love, but its not. Real love is much less glamorous but all the more special. It’s what truly connects us to each other. Romantic love entices and attracts but unless there is truly something lasting to further connect you it will not, it cannot last.

    Instead of worrying about the romantic spark try doing something a little different every now and then like sending her a naughty text out of the blue. Even when my ex and I were fighting if he sent me a flirty text or said something way off the wall, like “I can’t get over how amazing your ass looks in that dress” it would bring me out of myself and I would laugh. I don’t know how your wife is, some women get even angrier with stuff like that, but for me it gave me security that even though we might be fighting he still loved me. And gave me that little tingle of, ‘ he still thinks I’m hot, after all this time’. It also made me less angry. You’ve got to laugh with each other and remember how to flirt! Googly eyes over dinner above the kids heads, make her laugh. Gets me every time, she can’t be all that different. And laughing with her will ultimately make you feel better about yourself too.

    And Ninja, since I know you’re reading this too, take the above advice. Laugh with her, if you’re not already doing this. Just keep trying it. She’s going to find you crazy and silly and wonder if you’re insane, but think about this guys, what if there was another man trying to get her attention. What would he do? Do it first. Do it better. You have the advantage of the home court. Use it. She doesn’t want the other team to win, not really, she wants you. She chose you. Think about the crazy stuff you did to get her attention when you were dating. It makes her feel sexy and wanted and laughter really is the best medicine. I hope this helps and makes sense.

    Have fun flirting with your wives!
    Jessi

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