My husband, whom I’ve been with for 14 years, and married to for 10 years, recently told me he has fallen out of love with me over the past two years. We’ve suffered five pregnancy losses (two ectopic, three miscarriages) in the past 3 1/2 years. Until we started trying to have kids, and up until the last three miscarriages, he said he was head over heels in love with me. Currently, he is attracted to two women he works with, and one woman in particular that he’s had an emotional affair with, who kissed him once at an after-party for work. This “kiss” almost cost him his job, as people from work saw it, and he’s also her boss. I am humiliated, as I work for the same Company, and everyone knows. We are seeing counselors, both individually and together, as he has been honest about absolutely everything, and came to me to tell me this, and wants help. He says he thinks he’s going through a midlife crisis, yet he’s only 37… I trusted him so much, until that “kiss”, and now I don’t know what to believe, even though he was the one who told me about the kiss, etc. I want to believe him, and trust him, but this is the hardest time of my life. He wants this to work, but can’t understand why he also wants to be single, and says that the other women are just symptoms of what he’s feeling, and that he doesn’t really want to be with anyone he has been attracted to. He is still intimate with me, on the advice of our counselors, as they said he needs to associate our sex life with fun and not with grief, as it had been so hard to lose all of the pregnancies, and they feel he associates the losses with me. Is there any hope here???
Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Let me begin by saying that in your situation, as you’ve already discovered, there are no “simple answers”. I’m fairly certain that whatever I say to you will still fall short of the true help you need, so the best thing you can do is continue seeing your counselors.
About where you are today:
There are 11 words married women never want to hear from their husbands: “I love you… but I am not IN love with you.” What exactly do they mean? It can be so frustrating to hear that, especially coming from a man you’ve spent more than a decade with. Well, let’s take this “statement” apart and see if we can find what he’s really trying to say.
1st part: I love you…
2nd part: …but I am not IN love with you
A believe the distinction here is the “in” word, because there’s love, and then there’s being in love. One is romantic-sexual, while the other isn’t. The bottom line? This is about romantic-sexual desire. So this, as your counselors have already pointed out, isn’t about lack of love. This is about lack of romantic-sexual desire.
So the question now is, what ruins (or blocks) romantic-sexual desire?
Well, here are some key factors (mentally check how many he might be dealing with):
What do all these have in common? Answer: They are all unloving thoughts.
So, I believe the phrase “I love you… but I am not IN love with you” could also be reinterpreted as, “I love you… but I am also holding a lot of unloving/unforgiving thoughts about you.”
And, as your counselors pointed out:
When one experiences a repeated pattern of unhappiness, it’s easy to become superstitious about what’s causing it. Many people tend to look around for a common denominator and make that the culprit. It’s like a baseball player who strikes out time after time, and then determines that every time he struck out was when he was wearing red “Fruit of the Loom” boxers — now, he equates strike-outs with red boxers (and throws out all his red boxers).
Was it the boxers? Of course not, but it’s still a powerful association.
Think about it. Over the last few years, in most of HIS worst moments of unhappiness, who has always been there? You. That’s right. Like your therapists have indicated, he’s created in his mind a powerful (and self-defeating) link between sex with you, and unhappiness. Although it’s NOT TRUE that you’re the cause, this association still has power to drive him away.
And another thing:
When our unloving thoughts overshadow our loving thoughts, we experience a state of unhappiness. And since being unhappy is a state most people go out of their way to avoid, this is when they begin to look for certain ways to escape — and things like infidelity, flirting and emotional affairs begin to look attractive.
The truth is… affairs never solve the problems they’re intended to address. This is because you can’t lie, cheat or fake your way to happiness, because one of the fundamental conditions of happiness is truth.
Here’s my advice to him:
Regardless of if you guys stay together or not, he still has to heal his grief, deal with the disappointments and forgive the past. Trying to escape the problems of one relationship by starting another never works.
What will allow him to move past? Only one thing, as far as I know: He must embrace true forgiveness. This is the process that will allow him to let go of the past, hurt, hate, anger and disappointments and therefore begin anew. For more insights on this process, have him read my article: The Astonishing Power of True Forgiveness.
Here’s my advice to you:
- Switch your attention from trying to save the marriage to re-igniting hope. There’s an old saying: “Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist.” And the only way to ignite hope in someone else… is to light that fire of hope in yourself.
More good news about hope:
You only need a portion the size of a pea. It only takes a hope so small that it seems almost insignificant. This is the way hope works — it may be the size of an acorn, but it can grow into a mighty oak.
Remind him why there’s hope for a beautiful future together. Why there’s hope for a life that’s more rewarding. Why it’s IN this relationship that he’ll have the most hope of finding happiness in life. You’ve got to help him reconnect to that vision. He’s got to feel it again. He needs to believe in “you and him” again.
- Recognize that this isn’t about lack of love, as much as it’s about lack of faith. Somewhere along the line (consciously or unconsciously), he began to believe in something that drained him of his romantic-sexual passion, as well as his faith, hopes and dreams for the marriage.
How and why this happened is understandable.
When a person has had repeated failures, it’s easy to begin to believe they’ll always happen. And yet, that’s not true — it only takes a single moment for success to sneak back through the door… but you must leave the door open to it.
Your job then is to…
- Support him through his grieving process. It might even help to remind him that he’s not lacking love — just a little faith. With the help of your counselors, let him know you have faith in him, that you know he’ll eventually come to terms with what he’s feeling — the anger, the guilt and even the unloving feelings.
- Refuse to give in to doubt. Refuse to give in to fear. And above all (and in the words of Winston Churchill)… NEVER, EVER, GIVE UP! Let him know you’re willing to fight for your relationship all the way to the weeds if you have to.
It’s my opinion that people don’t fall out of love. In fact, the falling into love is endless… but we can block our loving feelings with unloving thoughts. It’s these unloving thoughts that need to go — not this relationship.
- To reignite the spark, go back to the source. Love and sexual desire don’t always come attached like Siamese twins. They are more like ice cream and apple pie — they go well together, but can also be enjoyed separately. So, the big question is…
Once someone loses desire and passion for another, can it be rekindled? My answer: Absolutely! Because passion, romance and desire are states of mind. And because they’re states of mind, they can always be rekindled, reawakened, and aroused.
How do you inspire his desire? Begin by asking yourself these questions:
- Who would you be IF you weren’t married to him?
- How would you dress tonight IF tonight were your first night together?
- How would you act IF you didn’t have a history together?
Then go back to being that person. Get back to the way you were. Reclaim your girlish sensuality. Add back a sense of mystery and adventure. I know you’re highly creative and intelligent, and if you set your mind to this task of winning him back, then nothing will get in your way. Don’t let competition scare you away. You have no reason to run. You have the home court advantage.
As I said, your situation brings with it no easy answers. But at the end of the day, it all comes back to this: You must find a way to re-ignite his imagination about what’s possible for your future together. You’ve got to help him believe once again that being with you is the BEST possible decision he could make.
It’s as simple and as hard as that. For some further reading on rekindling the spark, read my article: The Power of a Passionate Wife.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!