Why Your Wife Wants to Leave You


Usually, I write for people becoming distressed over their marriage. Recently, though, I have had an unusual number of comments from folks blindsided by a spouse who wants out. In this post and the one to follow, I tackle the question of how to avoid being blindsided.
If your wife is saying, “I love you, but I am no longer ‘in love’ with you,” your marriage is not over yet, but it could be soon.
Here’s a checklist of causes:
She’s afraid of you. You’ve become a bully. You might hurt her or make her feel like dirt at any moment, usually while you’re drinking, doing drugs, or crazy angry. [Solution: rehab, therapy, anger management classes, or Dr. Stosny’s Boot Camp] She has unmet needs she expects you to meet and you’re giving them and her the cold shoulder. [Solution: invite discussion of those needs, show you care about them, and help her find Third Alternative ways to get them met that don’t conflict with your needs or call for abilities you don’t possess] She’s full of resentment over something you did or didn’t do in the past. [Solution: tell her your relationship matters a lot to you and ask her what you can do now to get that relationship back on track] She’s full of resentment over getting stuck with what feels like a lot more than half the work. [Solution: look together for Third Alternative solutions to reducing the work needed or the amount you can do] She longs to feel cherished but she feels taken for granted. [Solution: even though she’s probably treating you with disrespect and a lack of trust, try doing some of the things you did initially to win her heart and watch how fast that changes] You speak only one Love Language and she’s grown really tired of translating it into her language. [Read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages and master a second language] You broke your wedding vows and cheated on her, even a little, risking her self-esteem, body image, physical health, financial and emotional security, and ability to trust your words or integrity. [Prepare for a long road back if she’ll have you, and go read DearPeggy.com for starters] You’re messing with “her” babies, whether you’re their parent or step-parent. [Solution: look for Third Alternative solutions to your differences about how to raise them or how they should behave around you] You’re so busy being a good provider or a good dad or a lost soul that you two no longer experience the emotion of love several times a day, that delicious bonus emotion felt in your chest when the two of you resonate with a shared experience of joy, amusement, awe, comfort, elevation, or better. [Solution: make time for it, be present for it, look into her eyes, smile, keep her safe and resentment-free, and do something enjoyable for a few minutes several times a day] Anger and resentment are the culprits in most of these. If they lead to withdrawal, don’t mistake this for an improvement. Deal with them head-on and you can find your way back to “in-love” with almost any wife who loves you.

About the author

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.


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  • I think this is good, however, not even 50% complete. I wonder why the spouse who is willing to stay is taking most of the blame. If you just look at it analytically they ARE the one more committed to the relationship…because they are not leaving. Just as often it’s the cheating spouse who leaves, not the one cheated on. I agree that we should look at ourselves each and every day to make sure we are giving our spouse our best and thinking of them first but most often then not it’s the one who’s pretty soon looking to get their leaving ticket punched that is the one that needs to read this list and for those of you who just got left or who are coming up to that I get it it, in a lot of marriages you are the one that does care.

  • I agree those thinking of leaving (for whom I usually write) also ought to read the list, Anonymous, but I don’t see this list as the spouse who is willing to stay taking most of the blame.
    Very few of us are narcissists or sociopaths. Most of us make mistakes in marriage simply because we are human, and we make even more mistakes in reaction to the mistakes our spouses make.
    For most of us, it’s a trial and error learning process. Many of us don’t get it right until our second or third marriage, after hearts are broken, families disrupted, savings decimated.
    Several times a week, I get comments from men stunned that their wives have walked out on them, searching desperately for a way to get her to come back. Their pain brings me to tears. I always wish I might have reached them a month earlier, when they could have made a different choice in response to a wife’s mistake, because it’s harder once she’s broken her bond to him.
    I get such comments from women, too, and my next post is for them.

  • We have friends who are miserable in their marriage/lives. They are intelligent, kind people who entered marriage with childhood wounds that left them both feeling a bit deprived. When they were unable to get pregnant they went into deep debt to adopt two children -though they were young and there was no emergency to adopt. They have never gotten out of debt and now in their forties do not have a penny in any retirement fund and live on a thin budget.
    Daily pleasures like $5 lattes seem more pressing than contributing to a 401K. Without the funds to indulge in the pleasures they see as basic to life-eating out and shopping – they are chronically unhappy. The kids have picked up on this global feeling of deprivation and are needy and demanding, making the parents feel even more like running away from the situation as much as their marriage.
    Both of them work 30 hours per week and dont work summers/holidays so theoretically they could work more and earn more. But they are so miserable that they don’t have the energy for more work, and spend their free time numbing out via computer games, food, alcohol, etc. They are staying together but feel hopeless about having a happier life.

  • I doubt knowledge of how to manage money would help them, Susan. They are both throwing money at childhood scars and surely blaming each other for not making enough to feel secure in spite of these two black holes.
    They are perfect candidates for an Imago workshop or Imago therapy to address those childhood wounds together.

  • Patty! Thanks for offering such great solutions. They will hopefully help prevent husbands from being blindsided by a wife’s declaration that she wants out. Prevention cannot be overstated when it comes to a good marriage.

  • I really love how you offer several solutions based on specific concerns, Patty. It’s amazing how many times I’ve heard of The Five Love Languages and never purchased a copy. Perhaps it’s time. I think CJ speaks in Pirate or Squirrel. I hope Chapman has some suggestions for that!

  • Hi I hope I’m not to late for advice my wife of 6 years told me last week she wanted a divorce because she feel not appreciated and wants to know what it feels like on her own and then she tells me she loves me but is not in love with me and wants to remain friends then she finally tells me she has been talking to another guy and wants to see what happens there we are still living together because neither of us really have anywhere else to go I have been trying to do more but with the other guy in the picture is it already too late I love her with everything I am and have tried expressing this but to no avail please if there is any advice that might help I will do anything. PLEASE

  • Jeremy, have you tried asking her what would have to be different for her to feel appreciated? If not, try it. Listen closely to her answer. Instead of arguing with her if you feel she’s wrong, paraphrase what you heard and ask if you heard correctly. Then ask her if there is any more.
    Ask for details. If she says, for example, “you would thank me,” ask her if she prefers her thank you with flowers or kisses and if she would like it front of others or in private.
    If she argues it’s too late, there’s no point in telling you, ask her to share with you anyway, so you won’t ruin your next marriage, too, because you would want to find someone just like her if you can’t have her.
    Look her in the eye as you ask and while she answers. Find points to agree with, and touch her arm or knee lightly as you tell her you agree.
    You will learn what she wants and at the same time make the sort of real human connection that feels like “in love.” It includes eye contact, touch, smiles, and feeling understood. If you like, you could end this discussion with an invitation to join you in one her favorite activities: dining out, walking on the beach, dancing, whatever she really enjoys. Even if she turns you down, an invitation at a time when she feels cared for and understood will have a positive effect. It might also raise the bar for the other man she’s talking to.
    And although you make no mention of it and it probably does not apply to you, if you have ever neglected her or hurt her because of your drinking or drug use, get help getting clean right now, before she’s made her decision final.

  • I have been married 32 years. Less than halfway I discovered I fell out of love with him. I still love and care for him. He is the father of our children. I searched God’s answers for years. I even performed sex when it disgusted me. I tried for 30 years to maintain and support him, our family and home. He lacked interest in mine and the childrens needs and was primarily content providing his own wants and needs. He is piggish, constantly making a mess, leaving it, unconcerned how it would affect me after trying to maintain cleanliness and order. We live in the community of his family, whom are well respected. His mother controlled the majority of family activities and her needs and desires were more met than my own. I was the major bread winner and was expected to handle all matters concerning the home. My husband does not work and hasn’t in almost a dozen years. I can’t account for his time when I’ve been at work all day. Appears he sleeps, reads, walks the great outdoor enoying the nature, animals and his majority time spent listening to music and playing the guitar of which he is gifted. Plays in a band. Loved in the community. After 30 years trying with no luck to accomplish my own desires buried under all the responsibilities, along with the scolding that came with the display of displeasure, I was done! I told him, I love you but I’m not in love with you anymore. He doesn’t want to accept it. I’m unable to leave due to finances. And I don’t wish for him to loose the family home. I’ve been waiting for finances of other joint property we are selling. I wish for him to keep the family home and I purchase another home of my own. How do I make him understand and remain friends? Our relationship is not healthy for me. Our children are grown having children of their own. Now, since my confession and acceptance of our relationship issues for well over two years now, I’ve discovered an interest and bond of love with another man and don’t want to loose the chance of his love. From a perspective of a woman saying exactly what this thread does, being her, I hope too, your support.. Thanks for listening and your feedback.

  • I am sorry. I do not have any suggestions on how to make divorce any easier. It is almost always a long and painful process. The average length of time from that first “I’m fed up” until the actual divorce is six years.
    If you are picking up after and financially supporting your husband, I can understand why he might not want you to leave. If he’s had sixteen years of a relationship in which his wife was out of love with him and disgusted by having sex with him, but the community loved him, it’s unlikely he would even care if you told him you are already working on your next relationship.
    I would argue that it is he who is unable to leave due to finances. You are free to leave, free to discover whether removing his sloppiness and selfishness (and his community standing) from your life leaves you happier, free to take the risk that a man with an interest in a married woman will be interested in an unmarried woman.
    You are also free to stop loving him, whether you wait for the property sales or leave today. For men, the foundation of love, the essential part, is respect. He surely stopped feeling loved the last time you offered him any, unless he learned to Expect Love and works at savoring your respect for his guitar-playing abilities.
    I am so sad that the two of you are facing this, and I wish you both the best of a terrible situation.

  • Hi. i am a mess…
    My wife of 6 years has told me that she is not sure if she wants to stay with me. She said hat for two years she has been afraid of me, but could not tell me.
    I have some problems with my childhood growing up, and wish she would have told me so I could have a chance to fix things. I dont know what to do. I have never hit my wife but she says that I have been emotionally abusive. I told her that I want Therapy and I want a chance to work things out, but she says that she is afraid she will not ever feel the way she used to. She has been staying at a friends house for the last week.Please help me. I love my wife and never want to lose her and have said this many times.

  • I think the list IS rather one sided, and DOES make it sound like SHE is leaving for good reason and the reason is HIM. I think this attitude is prevailent too, when men and women seek councelling. In many cases, I’ve heard the wife get VERY infuriated with a councillor who dares suggest she even has a PART in the marital breakdown. My brother’s wife expected that the councillor was needed for my brother to hear from SOMEONE ELSE that the reason their marriage was failing was ALL his doing. And she got what she came for – the therapist was a man hater. My brother said “New therapist – or I quit”. So they got a new (More balanced) therapist who saw both sides of the story – but she dared suggest that the WIFE had a hand in the problem. So the wife stopped the therapy. Just as it takes TWO to make a successful marriage it often takes two to allow it to crumble. I admit my problems in my marriage freely and openly and acknowledge that anyone married to me has to take some bad with the good – but there is a lot of good. I don’t drink, or smoke, or gamble. I don’t cheat. I may get upset or yell from time to time, but I am not controlling or physically abusive. I work hard, and I try to balance career, work around the house and family life. But now, her attitide is that my “problems” will always ruin everything, so no matter how hard I try to make something good, she is just WAITING for me to fail. It’s as if she has already decided that I will ruin everything. Well, I don’t hate ANYONE enough to look back on decades of marriage and hear my partner say “Yeah, well, it was alright but you ruined everything all the time.” I think I might just let her walk out the door and see if the next guy works as hard as I do in all areas of married life. I think compared to most men (especially those we know) I work extremely hard and am extremely dedicated. I think as much as I love my wife, I love myself to say “You know what? If I’m not good enough for you, I’ll see myself out and you can go on and do yourself better.” She is “deciding” right now whether or not she wants to divorce me. For me, I never thought marriage was about deciding whether or not we were going to try and make this work. I thought thats what a wedding ceremony was for. For women these days, marriage is just a big $50K party to make her feel like a virgin princess… and we all know in 99% of cases, she is neither.

  • Been together for 5 years. Moved in only after 8 months of dating. It was at this time I began to feel like I should of stayed single. Got married 10 months ago and moved to another country because of a job opportunity. We came back to our hometown for the holidays and I want out. Finances are not an issue. He is perfect on paper and great with his family.

  • Thanks Patty. I’m okay now. I spoke with my husband about it. I’m just someone who loves change and to evolve with my husband and when I don’t see things progressing, especially when we agreed upon plans, I get upset. I hear that married couples feel like roommates after awhile, for me I don’t want my marriage to regress back to when we were just dating. I need to see positive changes happening to better ourselves.

  • My wife recently told me that she has never been attracted to me. That she loves and cares about me, but there has never been anything physical. We have had sex about once every 3 months for the duration of our relationship. (except for when we were trying to conceive) She also said, that she knew this going into the marriage and while trying to conceive but never said anything because she “hoped” to one day acquire these feelings for me. 10 years later she’s upset, sad, full of resentment, and deciding whether or not to leave. I will add that she experienced childhood trauma and it’s always in the back of her mind.
    Somehow I thought everything was OK. Sure I wanted more sex, but being with her and being loved by her out-weighed those needs. I always worked hard at the office and around the house. I always thought I was the “best husband” ever. Since our child was born we haven’t gone out as much, but we still found a little time for fun. I always complimented her cooking and her projects, said thank you every time she did something for me, told her what a good Mom she is, always made time for a hug and kiss before bed, before work, after work and “just because”.
    Now, I’m just shut out. She won’t talk about the situation much, she’ll quickly cover herself if I walk in on her changing, she is pleasant to me but very withdrawn. I love her, I don’t want her to leave, I don’t want my child to experience this, but I really wish she would make up her mind. Living in limbo like this is heart-wrenching.

  • My wife of 20 years has decided she is no longer happy in our marriage and does not love me the right way.
    My suspicions were that there was something going on behind the scenes.
    I found out that she was in contact with an old boyfriend from about 30 years ago, when she was a teenager, texting and talking to non-stop.
    Two weeks later I also found out she had an affair with someone we know in the community.
    I actually saw them at the hotel leaving and confronted them.
    Nothing hostile on my part at all and I called the other guys wife to tell her.
    She trivialized the affair to me.
    Obviously this has turned into a major mess. I am being blamed for the affair because I wasn’t meeting all of her needs. She is angry with me since I told the other wife.
    There is little to no trust and suspicions on both sides.
    My wife was becoming increasingly paranoid and was on the edge emotionally.
    She has started to knit pick me on things that she never would before. Attempting to find justification for her actions I guess?
    Recently, 3 weeks ago, we separated to defuse the emotions.
    No a lot of conversation has happened since then. I have been to a therapist a couple of times alone to work on me.
    None of our family is aware of what is going on.
    We have two boys (10 & 20) and have had a successful life overall. The boys are living with me while she is away.
    I have attempted to remove as much burden from her as I can. I work full time, taking care of the boys, taking care of the house, the logistics, and anything else I can think of.
    What should the next steps be?
    I made it clear I wanted to reconcile. I am still telling her I love her, kiss her, and compliment her as I have always done.
    I love my wife and want to help us find the way to a new starting point.
    We have had so much in common and spent much of our time together and as a family and now she does not recognize any positive parts of it.

  • Paul, you might not want to push her to make up her mind quickly. This sounds less about you and more about her and what’s rumbling in the back of her mind or a hormonal change in her body or even depression. Encourage her to get an annual checkup and to see a therapist if she’s willing. Continue being your lovable self and give her some time.
    When you get a chance to ask about her resentments, ask about them without any self-defense. See if you can find a way to help her get what she’s missing. She’s likely to state them as what you are or aren’t doing. This is not the interesting part, so don’t worry if she’s right or wrong. Find out why it matters to her. It will seldom be the reason you imagine. And it might take affirming whatever she says first to coax the rest out of her.
    For example, she might say, “This is just so unfair!”
    Nothing to work with there. So you say, “Sounds like you feel you’re getting the raw end of the stick. I really do want better for you. Can you say what is the most unfair part?”
    She adds, “You get time to unwind when you come home from work, but I don’t!”
    Now you can say, “That does sound unfair. Let’s come up with a Third Alternative that gives us both some time to unwind. Would that be OK with you?”
    If she says yes, you can add, “Before we start, is there anything else about this that’s unfair or bothering you?”
    This is where you often get the real meat, if she says something crazy like, “Yes. It’s unfair that just because you get time to unwind, that’s what you think I want, but I just want some time to myself.”
    Now you can ask, “A little every day, like I need, or a bigger chunk of time, like a couple of hours on the weekend?”
    Huge resentments build from very minor irritants. You may discover she’s furious at you every time you come home from work because she desperately needs some alone time before breakfast or wants to go walk a meditation maze on Saturday mornings, and your unwinding time (not that I know you actually need or take any, but it will be something this small) reminds her of something she cannot yet fit into her life, and it makes you look downright ugly, even though it has nothing to do with you.
    And now, if you are at all creative, you can work with her to redesign your days to put her in a great mood when you walk in the door.
    Resentments in a marriage are like rust on a car. You can fix rust early with a few minutes of effort and $10 in materials, or you can fix it later for $450 and three days in the body shop, or you can wait until you fail inspection and it becomes a crisis. And not noticing the rust can be very costly. Your car just failed inspection, but it still runs. Get to work!

  • James, what a sad story, and what a common one this time of year. The holiday season is prime time for cheating, and the new year is when many couples consider divorcing and starting over. It’s tempting, until you realize that we are usually wrong about the source of our pain and will likely face the same problems with another partner who does not love our children nearly as much.
    Despite all the pain, many get through this and thrive again as couples. I hope you two will be one of the couples that does.
    Where to start? First, don’t accept blame for her affair. That was her violation of her own integrity. But don’t believe her breach of your trust overrides the pain that led her to decide not to honor her vows any longer. That pain is still there, and it must be dealt with, too.
    Just because she believes you are the cause of her pain does not make this true. But the pain is a problem you both must address and somehow remedy to rebuild your marriage, so any discussion of who is causing it will get you nowhere. If she knew how to remedy it without your help, she would have.
    A great resource for anyone dealing with infidelity is http://dearpeggy.com. There is so much there, and it has helped so many weather this storm.
    Men and women see relationships differently (see http://loveandrespect.com for more info). People with different Love Languages (see http://5lovelanguages.com for more info) see relationships differently. People with different Attachment Styles from their toddler years see relationships differently (see http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201307/how-your-attachment-style-impacts-your-relationship for more info). These differences are what gets us into problems, but they are also why we are able to help each other grow through these problems and find new answers. Your therapist can probably help you figure out which of these shape your views and how to see through your wife’s eyes if you can identify the differences between you.
    I also recommend the lengthy comments sections on these two pages of the Assume Love blog: http://www.assumelove.com/2012/04/one_last_stand_before_divorce.html and http://www.assumelove.com/2011/05/should_i_stay_married_for_the.html

  • My wife says she is not happy and not sure if she wants to stay married.
    There has been issues throughout our marriage of 26 years. As of now she has been visiting family out of town for the last ten days. She did not want to spend New Years with me or even be here with me. I have done things in our past that that has hurt
    her. I have acknowledged those to her and has ask for her forgiveness. Over the last several years, I feel I have truly searched myself to be a better husband, father, companion and person.
    This is not a easy thing to do. I give my wife a kiss every morning before I leave to go to work. I will call everyday at work just to see how her day is going. Sometimes I make to time during the work day to join her for lunch. I cook twice a week, do the laundry, and help keep the house neat. I will even surprise her with washing her car. I also take time out to spend with her. I have purchased gifts. I tell her I love her.
    My wife struggled for years with her weight, self esteem and insecurities to which I’m partially to blame. Through all the arguments, fights and disagreements I never stopped believing in her or us. I have tried so hard to be patient, more understanding and more caring and it seems her attitude never changes. Within the last six months my wife has lost her weight and has gained more confidence. This is what I always wanted for her. But with that came more hanging out with the girlfriends and coming home late. It seems with each day the stronger and more confidence she gained, the less time we spent together,the less respect, the less appreciation and the less she did around the house. We’ve tried counseling in the past was unable to continue the sessions. We’ve purchased “Dont sweat the Small Stuff” and even Dr.Phils “Relationship Rescue”. I have read them both several years ago. She has never opened the books.
    I’m not perfect and she has her faults also. I have accepted responcsibilty for the things in the past I have done to hurt her. I feel like I have really tried to make things work. I love her and I want us to be together forever. I know there is a possibility of this not happening. I don’t know what to do.

  • Maurice, I am so sorry for your pain. It sounds like you have tried a lot of things to improve your marriage and gain her forgiveness for the hurt you have caused her. There is one you have not mentioned, so I will recommend it to you.
    It goes like this: “I love you and value our relationship more than you could know. I know that I have done things in the past that caused you pain and might have given you the impression it does not matter this much to me, but it truly does……What can I do now that would restore this relationship of ours?”
    And then you must be silent while you maintain eye contact. When she speaks, listen without speaking until she’s done. If she goes on for a while, you can throw in a few words to encourage her to go on. If she says there is nothing you can do now, you can ask, “Are you sure? There is nothing, nothing at all, that I could do or change to make you feel at peace with the commitment we made to each other 26 years ago?”
    If you get an answer, it is likely to surprise you. After all, you have done an exhaustive search and experimented with a lot of options already. So be very careful how you treat her request. It is a most precious gift. Hold it gingerly in your hand as you ask her to tell you more about it, until you know, very specifically, what would make a difference for her.
    Very often, such requests are much more minor (to us, never to the requester) than we could have imagined. But even if hers is not, it is well worth considering how you could give her what would change everything for her.

  • Help. I have been married for 5 years and my wife and I together for 11 years. New years went horribly wrong. An attempt to bring back a moment in time that my wife enjoyed so much with me backfired horribly. It all started from some he said she said stuff from a bartender mistaking what was going on telling my wife’s friend which made me blow up because the info was completely wrong. I was falsely accused and went into defend mode drunkenly. I completely shattered her heart. My wife really holds on to the past. I was still recovering from an incident 2yrs ago that she misunderstood the meaning. I only know because every current argument the reason for her not doing is that moment she took conversation wrong. Now she wants to seperate which is of course is last thing i ever wanted. I meant she was my forever. We’ve had many arguments that I’ve started. We’ve done counseling in past. The counselor said we should be able to be open and honest with each other and let each other know how we feel. I believed that to be true but it wouldn’t work with my wife. Its been downhill ever since trying to establish understanding. Like most men say I felt like I was doing the responsible husband and father thing. I was trying to make her happy using her love language but would fall of due to life struggles and would assume my marriage is too strong we would get through anything. I figured if we could get through to where my wife had a full time job and we had more funds to go out and enjoy life more everything would be ok. We have a daughter I love to death. I got lost in past and noticed my wife only seemed to take me serious when it became an argument. I started off trying to talk to her gently resolving issues what seemed over and over until I couldn’t take it anymore and it became arguments. She is very sensitive. Its seems issues against her she steps back and it hurts but she never fully returned. So how was this counceling method supposed to work I always asked myself. In counseling she wanted me to be home more and spend more time with her. I always had outdoor projects at home. I would be in the garage and come in and spend rest of time with her. I stayed up late with her and only got 4hrs of sleep everyday. I thought that was quality time. Then my wife always wanted to wake for intercourse. For awhile I would do it but it was beating me down. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t understand I had to get up in 4hrs or less sometimes and needed sleep. Why couldn’t we start earlier while im next to you? She only wanted it around 1am and I had to wake at 4am. This also became my argument. But there are alot more things wrong that I considered small and normal marriage problems but for her it always seemed way bigger. Even a simple conversation she could take way outta context leaving me scratching my head, “how did that happen?”. I’d say same thing to married friends to see where I went wrong male and female, they all understood what I was saying or meaning everytime. My wife always took it the wrong way and had them scratching there heads.”Why is she taking it that way?” They’d say. This always made me nervous talking to her but im supposed to resolve issue our marriage and she to resolve hers with me. I changed and am now in the house but now she was gone. Im with our child and she was always gone. She had to part time jobs and I paid all the bills and kept up with the house. I just wanted her to cook or just pick a bill and be consistent with something. Now she had all these other things she was doing outside of work and not spending time with me and missing out on our daughter. This angered me and we’d argue.I felt I changed and was here for awhile now, but she was gone. She respond i didnt change when i wanted her to. I had been changed for long while.I’ve tried cooking and being ok hoping she’d kick in but no. But new years she broke and I had broke. Afterwards I realized I still want it to work. She had left for a few days and came back. She started cooking faithfully. I had only wanted on thing from her and I thought she was trying and now I was so excited and wanted to do everything and anything to make her happy just from one thing. Finally all the arguing and now she’s doing it. I said thank you. She respond “im trying”. I was so happy. For the first time I had hope and could see our future again. Three days later she said she wants to seperate and we’d still be a family. I have been crushed ever since. I have been expressing how much I love her, trying to do things she loves, just make her happy. Just says she loves me to death but no matter my effort I get same results. We will still be a family just in seperate places. She cries and says she loves me so much as I do her. I believe love to be strong over everything but she says she doesnt know if she can feel the same for me anymore. She still here and I have been showing her everyday even doing things I would not normally do to make her happy. Not just temporarily, I have to get over issues with myself that prevented me from doing. To me she is very worth my change. Yes I wish I should’ve done it earlier but I was naive. She asks me “why, why now?” I respond, because I love you and dont ever want to lose you, you are my everything. I never thought It would come to this. I thought our love was stronger and have been blind. Help please. All im doing is trying very hard to save our marriage. It cant be too late.

  • Hi, Chris. I am so sorry for the pain that brings you here. Lots going on here. Let’s see where I might help.
    I think you might find How to Get Your Wife or Husband to Love You Again helpful. You should also read the comments, especially my replies, on One Last Stand Before Divorce for lots of ideas on how to hold on through this stormy time.
    Before you ask the folks at work again whether your wife is in the wrong for misunderstanding your intentions, go read The “Isn’t My Spouse Awful?” Game. Asking them just builds resentment.
    Instead, use your knowledge that she takes what you say the wrong way to remind yourself to explain your intentions when you might be misunderstood. Most couples find they understand the same words or actions differently, so neither of you is at fault here, just human. If you still find yourself misunderstood (or reminded of a long-ago misunderstanding), make the first words out of your mouth “I love you” or “I value our relationship,” not any version of “you’re wrong.”
    Speaking of resentment, I would also encourage you to read The Worst That Can Happen. And one more to help you choose the right thing to say as you find your way through these very rocky shoals: In Case of Emergency.
    You two need a Third Alternative for her middle-of-the-night sexual urges. That’s a solution that makes both of you happy, rather than the “logical” or “what other people do” solution or either of your current two (1 am vs. when you go to bed). There are always more than two alternatives; no point fighting over the two. To find yours, you need to learn whether it’s being sleepy, waking up, seeing you asleep, or being certain your daughter is asleep that puts her in the mood at this hour. Then adjust your sleep schedule, her sleep schedule, or your daughter’s sleep schedule to put you both in the mood at the same time. Or find a way to both come home while your daughter is at school, if that works for you. Or decide your marriage and sex life are important enough to go looking for a job that lets you get up a few hours later.
    I’m also thinking you might want to avoid getting drunk again for the next six months, just so you don’t accidentally undo any progress you make. It’s not a good time to turn off your forebrain and run on auto-pilot.

  • Hi Patty,
    Firstly I think your blog is wonderful. It has been a source of comfort and ideas these last few weeks to help deal with the mess that is my marriage.
    My wife of 9 years told me three weeks ago she wanted to separate. We are both 42. She had an affair 5 years ago but was remorseful and we tried to put things back together. Even when we first met 13 years ago we started to put up barriers as we are both people with childhood issues that affect our ability to trust completely.
    The affair clearly damaged that ability to trust even further and the healing process was, frankly, too little and too lazy and our marriage was ‘good enough’ so I think the defensive barriers were merely reinforced over this last 5 years. I had many flashbacks and mood swings over that period and she had much guilt and this made it hard for either of us to let go and be truly together.
    As a result, she has finally reached a tipping point and wants time away to find herself like she was before any of this happened. I have tried to tell her how important she is to me and what our life together means and ask what she needs but she is fixed on needing to get space and time and feels like I am putting pressure on her. To be honest I have made a mess of listening without challenging her because I see what I have done wrong so clearly and just feel like I can make things better. This is frustrating her.
    Also, two days ago she left the house on an errand and took much longer than expected to get back. She said she had been on the phone to her sister and talked about her feelings with her and felt some relief and agreed to see a counsellor. I thought this was great but could not shake a feeling deep down that she was lying to me. I checked her phone and there was no call to her sister. Then last night I discovered she had been in contact with her ex boyfriend from when she was 15 through Facebook and it was him that she had been speaking to. I was devastated thinking she was having another affair and confronted her with it. She said that she wasn’t and I believe her (at this early stage) but she is furious I looked at her facebook page to find out and it has re-opened both our post-affair wounds.
    I am lost, now she is angry with me, feeling even more like there is no trust or privacy and probably even more fixed on getting out.
    I don’t know what to do. We have two kids under 10, my parents separated when I was 10 and I know how much devastation that creates. All I see is our future together but I am afraid all she sees is a future apart.

  • Buck, I am so sorry for the pain you must be going through. I suspect you have already seen this, but you simply cannot build enough defenses to create a great marriage. The route to the marriage you want (the one where your children get to keep both parents and observe love at close range, the one where they don’t grow up with trust issues) requires knocking down your defenses and becoming vulnerable.
    Can you still Assume Love? I believe you can. If she were done loving you, she would just pack her bags and go. Instead she’s asking for space. So ask yourself why someone who loves you and wants things to work out would tell you it was her sister who convinced her to try counseling instead of admitting it was an old flame who did so. Ask yourself why someone who loves you and just agreed to counseling would be angered by your checking her phone and Facebook account, even though she knew she was lying and had lied to your in the past. Those answers will be much more valuable in saving your marriage than the question of whether she is cheating again or will once you’re separated.
    Given your family histories, you two would probably be good candidates for Imago therapy, if it’s available where you live. It’s based on the notion that you two chose each other for the opportunity to work out your reactions to dovetailing childhood hurts and that is a good thing, not bad.
    If you have not yet seen Brene Brown’s TEDx and TED talks on vulnerability, I highly recommend them as a starting point for a very different relationship.
    I would also advise you to put your energies into living the relationship you want, rather than taking the temperature of the one you’ve got. She probably won’t know for months if she’s willing to recommit, but if pushed to make it decision before then, it probably will not be the one you want. Try to postpone her decision as long as possible. This level of vulnerability takes a good bit of courage, but it provides the best opportunity for building the marriage you two have always wanted.
    And if you would like extra help to get past that affair of 5 years ago, do check out http://dearpeggy.com.
    I hope you two find a really great therapist to guide you through all this, Buck, and I wish you a successful journey.

  • Hi Patty,
    Thanks so much for your reply. I have tried to do a number of the things you suggested but keep coming up against resistance. My wife has said she will see a psychologist but ‘doesn’t think it will make any difference’. Talking to her last night she felt my positivity was a sign that I hadn’t heard her when she told me she wanted to leave, that I was in denial. She made it quite clear last night that she does want to leave and doesn’t even want to try and repair our marriage.
    Unfortunately I believe her. Is that it, game over?

  • Buck, she wants to leave and doesn’t want to try and repair your marriage, but she is willing to see a psychologist and maybe learn something she doesn’t know yet. Doesn’t sound like game over to me. Sounds like game on!
    Are you interviewing psychologists yet?

  • Hi Patty,
    I love your positivity. Unfortunately I think I’ve discovered the cause of her resistance – she is having an emotional affair with the ex she spoke to in my first post.
    What’s more, she said last night she wanted to visit her parents for some time away but her parents live in the same place as he does (a long way from us) so not too much guessing required to work out she wants more than an emotional affair.
    It’s time to put those defences back up I guess.

  • Or you could offer her the alternative of some time away together: a beach, a cruise, skiing, whatever floats both your boats. And maybe combine it with some therapy, a la “Hope Springs.”

  • I have been married to my wife for 7 years. We have two small children. She told me she’s done. I always put her down, I wasn’t intimate enough, I didn’t help enough, so in conclusion I made her feel worthless. I’ve tried counseling, but we’ve never done counseling together. Essentially she told me I didn’t end up being the man she wanted to be married to. Right now she is very focused on moving out and starting a new life.

  • I am very sorry for your loss and for your children’s loss. You may get another chance when she realizes how much more help she needs on her own. You might try taking responsibility for certain things (a step up from helping) and offering her the praise and encouragement she’s looking for. Women have been known to change their minds, and you two are stuck with each other, together or apart, for many more years because of your children.

  • Hey patty
    I’ve been with my wife for ten years and married for eight. We have for children all under the age of ten, and the other day she left and started staying at her moms house. She also states that she loves me but is no longer in love with me and I just don’t know what to do. Since she has left the kids have stayed with me to help me with some issue of feeling lonely and feeling left. She cheated on me two years ago at her job with a guy she still works with and yes I may have some issues with trust. The reason that she said she done that was that I wasn’t giving her the attention that I should and I’ll be honest maybe our marriage had fallen into a rut and we were just comfortable but when I’ve offered to go to counseling in the past she didn’t want any part of it. She’s left like two other times in the past but was always back in a day or two but something feels different this time and I’m an emotional wreck. I want this to work out but it’s in the back of my mind did she leave me for someone else this time and is that why it feels different? Idk I’ve tried in the past to work on some anger issues that I’ve had and to a point have conquered but it all this feels like it started three years ago when she got a job. I’ve always been the bread winner so to say and she asked my opinion of everything like she needed me and when she got a job might I say it is a cop if that makes a difference it all changed and it felt like she didn’t need me anymore! I liked the feeling of her asking my opinion rather than now she’s like I’m gonna do what I want and the hell with u! I just want to know is their any salvaging this marriage and what do I need to do if there is? I know she’s not all at fault but again I’m not either thanks again for any input.

  • Chad, I cannot begin to guess whether your wife left you for someone else or only because she’s been looking for something other than advice and income from you and not getting it.
    If you want her back, I don’t advise even thinking about whose fault it is or whether some other man is competing for her attention. Neither will help you win her back.
    Think instead about what you already know about what she wants. I imagine it includes more trust and less anger. She might even want a little of the respect she gave you were the only breadwinner, now that she’s contributing to the family income.
    Once you’ve made a move to make things better for her, you can start to ask her what else is a problem for her and look for some Third Alternative solutions together.
    If your kids are there to help you with your loneliness and feeling of being left, you’ve got a big problem that will get worse if she files for divorce. I strongly urge you to find a therapist to help you navigate these waters, because your proper role is to be helping them deal with your separation, not the other way around. A therapist will also provide lots of individually tailored help with rebuilding your trust.

  • Last weekend was our 28th Wedding Anniversay. Three weeks prior to this my wife told me she wanted us to separate . Since then my whole life has been turned upside down. We have two young teenage children – they ,as yet, know nothing. I know they will both be devastated when they find out. I love my wife so much and can’t imagine life without her. She has told me she does not love me anymore – she only loves me as part of the family unit. She says she wants us to remain friends and still do things with the children – holidays etc. She has even suggested we buy separate houses in the same street!!
    Thinking of living without her breaks my heart. Thinking of living with my children only half the week also breaks my heart. She is also the main money earner as I am self employed. If we separate I doubt I’ll be able to afford a mortgage. She has told me to get a one bedroomed flat – but where will the kids sleep when they stay with me? She has started to look for four bedroomed houses.I hope it won’t come to this, I really do.
    This also may be one of the reasons she wants to separate. The nature of being self-employed I earn big sums of money some months and other months near to nothing. She says that this is holding her back as we as a family are often counting the pennies rather than doing things like travelling the world etc. But I have been doing what I’m doing for over 30years and we live in a very nice house in a very nice area of the City. The majority of people at sometime have to tighten their belts when it comes to finance but alas she thinks financially she’d be better off without me.
    I am at a loss. I have been reading self-help books looking for a clue or some tips so I can change her mind. I don’t want us to separate.

  • Ian, I am so sorry for the pain you must be going through. I have been self-employed for most of my career, too. Once, when someone asked my first husband if his ulcer was due to his job (back before they discovered h. pylori bacteria), he answered, “No, my wife’s job.”
    If you can win back her heart (and I really hope you will try), consider putting money into a rainy day fund every time you get paid, so your wife never needs to count pennies. Those of us who have the stomach for big income swings don’t realize how hard those penny-counting times are on our spouses. Often, we also don’t recognize how the unpredictability of our income leads to spontaneous purchases instead of achieving goals like seeing the world. And we tend to commit to more expensive homes than we can really support.
    There is a lot about winning back your spouse in these posts:
    and in my replies to comments on this post:

  • I’ve just recently had my common law partner tell me out of the blue she wants to leave and that all feelings for me are gone. I tell her that I’m willing to do anything and she just says she doesn’t want to hurt me anymore by giving me a kiss. Or give me hope, I dont want her to leave. I love her beyond words and we have a 3y old and she has two other kids by prior relationships. I don’t know what to do.. She seems hell bent on leaving but she is not physically leaving. She says she wants to stay and find a place first and we just live together as friends.
    I have literally no friends to talk about this too in this town and I don’t want to involve my family for advice because that would just make a massive cluster F-K if you know what I mean. I’m always holding out for hope but I don’t know..
    I just don’t know…

  • Thanks, I posted earlier as M but my name is Mike.
    I tried to look at the comments for the one last stand before devorice but it says error 404 not on server.
    I’m such a ball of messed up nerves. I’m depressed sad scared mad worried and I don’t know what to do. She’s done this once before and after I tried to win her back after a week I won her heart again. All the time she was talking to other guys. This time there are no other guys that I’m aware of but. She has gotten all secretive, passwording her phone, deleting all her email and Facebook messages. She went from sending me random messages of that she loves me on Tues to she wants to leave end of story on Thursday night.
    People comment on how they notice I basically do everything around the house so there is no room for improvement there and she knows and acknowledge s the fact that I’m willing to do anything it takes to keep her but when I ask her things like Why am I not worthy of fighting for she doesn’t reply.
    I don’t know if I’m chasing a dream that I should just let go or if i should keep trying. I told her that I’m going to call my works therapist for us and she said she is willing to do that because no matter what we do we will need it and it will be good for us to learn to communicate for your daughter. But still wants out, but still wants me to help with the bills and keep her on my company benefits and basically stay in a relationship but not. It seems she wants to just use me at this point until something better comes along.
    I keep wanting to fix and repair but I just don’t know how to go about this.
    A part of me says to just leave because it’ll probably just happen again since this is the second time its happened in 5 months and the first time involved a second man. This time I’m only assuming there is no other.
    Bit the other part of me, the part that feels the strongest tells me to fight and stay bexuase she is such a good woman when we have the good times.

  • Mike, I fixed the link. It had some invisible character lurking in it. Refresh the page and give it a try. There is a lot to read there.
    It’s very hard to be loving when you’re “depressed sad scared mad worried” or when you’re afraid what you do will be in vain. But please know this is not necessarily the end. She still likes being around you, which gives you a great chance to woo her again. And when you’re wooing a woman who already chose you once, it really does not matter whether you have competitors or not.
    You know that urge you have to just cut the ties and run? She has it, too. She believes you two have no future, and she’s scared she might stay and get hurt, so she is very unlikely to tell you what would make her stay. It’s time to experiment, and to stick with each experiment for a few weeks unless you get a strong negative reaction to it. She doesn’t know what would change her mind, but if any of it works at all, she will notice and be grateful for your persistence and your creativity.
    Be sure you don’t send mixed messages. Don’t threaten to take her off your benefits while you’re trying to win her heart again. Instead, set a time frame for yourself and keep it to yourself. Can you give it a go for three months and cut her off then if it’s unsuccessful?
    I think it’s great you two will go to counseling. This gives you a specific time to talk about your relationship. Use it. The rest of the time, don’t talk about it. Live it. Live your relationship with joy and hope and kindness and strength, as if she’s been given three months to live. If she still wants to go then, you will know you gave it your best shot, and you’ll probably learn a lot you can use in the future with her and, if worse comes to worst, with someone else.

  • Wow Patty your amazing! there is so much above I can relate to and I’ve taken a lot of the advice you’ve given the other guys. Should I be okay with my wife texting other guys and socializing with them at the bar she works at? She’s very pretty and so nice to everyone by default but I believe they want in her pants and I ruin our marriage when I confront her constantly. She promises no infidelity and I only have proof of flirting but I struggle to trust her. How canwe or I work this out?

  • Thanks, Kyle. Flirting is part of the job in a bar. And staying faithful is more difficult while flirting. In fact, it’s more difficult, flirting or not, in an environment where everyone else is drinking. Fortunately, most male behavior that seems charming while we’re drinking, too, is a lot less so to a sober woman.
    Now for the bad news: not trusting your wife will kill your marriage, whether or not she’s in a high temptation environment. So you two have a problem, and it’s not her patrons.
    You need a Third Alternative solution to this problem, a way to satisfy both your needs. And the best way to find one is together. First, you need to know what each of you wants and what each of you rejects. For example, she may well reject the dip in tips or the loss of job security from not flirting in a bar job. But she may not need to work in a bar. She might be open to brainstorming other jobs that use her talents and reduce your worries. But first you will need to find out how important other aspects of the job are to her: the hours, the boss, the dress code, the commuting distance, the coworkers, the pay.
    You might also find a Third Alternative in her current job if you can come up with a way to reduce your distrust. Would you feel better if she flirted with you, too, by text? If you were free to drop by and have a drink at any time, as long as you don’t scare off her big tippers? Would you trust her more if your marriage were closer and more joy-filled when she’s not at work? Could you rearrange your schedule to be more available, to take romantic weekends (or Wednesdays) together, to surprise her with help with her home responsibilities, to make more money to spend on her or your home, or to be up for more slow sex or massage?
    There are many posts about Finding Third Alternatives on this blog. It takes a bit of effort, and it gets easier with practice, but it sure beats trying to pretend you’re not worried the woman who vowed to forsake all others is not true to you.
    I would love to hear back from you, Kyle. Wishing you two the best.

  • Hey Patty thanks so much for your response! my earlier post was a bit short and sweet but that’s becauses it’s a very complex situation and I don’t have time for 5 pages of typing and I thought I singled out the main problem. well this morning I tried some of your advice up above, I examined everything I’ve done wrong and basically took the blame for all our troubles. She loves me so much that she refuses that and says she just wants to be free. We’ve been living together since she was 18 and I was 22(15 years). All she has known is me and our kids and she needs to find happiness herself. But she wants to take the kids too so what the heck? Is there a positive way to see this? We’ve been struggling now for only 2 weeks! Before that 90% of the time seemed fine. We love each very deeply but this wanting freedom is tough to beat, is there any options?

  • I can really empathize with your wife’s expectation that finding happiness requires making a big change in where and how she lives. It’s not likely she’s right (unless you’ve been hurting or browbeating her or the kids), but I sure do understand the urge.
    Again, I would suggest looking for a Third Alternative. Is she looking to find happiness? Or is she on a fool’s mission to find someone who can make her happy? If it’s the first, how about working out a plan for living separately (without infidelity) for a fixed period of time like a year, then reassessing your marriage to figure out what each of you needs to change to make it good for you. The Third Alternative must satisfy both of you, so if you cannot stand a year without having sex with your wife, for example, it might include a few weekend getaways without the kids. If she needs financial control, it might include a fixed “child support” payment from you each month. If you need some family time, it might include a week of vacation as a family or holidays together. If you want to keep your current home but cannot afford another, your Third Alternative might include renting the house out for a year or taking in a couple of paying male roommates who travel a lot for work.
    You might also check whether her need to find happiness could happen just as well without living separately, say with a change in responsibilities, so that she has a few days each week when she’s not the custodial parent or where you pay someone in the neighborhood to cook your meals, freeing time daily for her to paint, carve, walk, or practice with a band.
    The first step in finding a Third Alternative, which I left out earlier, is to let her know you truly want her to have what she’s seeking, but you can’t offer it in this particular form she’s proposing.
    And if it turns out she expects to find happiness in the arms of someone she’s already picked out, you might propose a Third Alternative in which the kids remain at home with you for a year before they meet or need to deal with this new person, and she can come see them frequently in their home while you go out for a while. Most (practically all) relationships that begin while someone is married fail, and this would make it a lot easier for her to exit this one and rebuild a happier relationship with the only man she’s ever known and the father of her children.

  • Hi Patty. I found this site initially looking for ansers why and how women tests men. If you dont think this post belong here I’d appreciate if you sent me a private letter instead.
    I just woke up being the man I always missed in myself because of a diagnosis that showed low testosterone levels in my body. I’m treated for this since 1½ years back and now the results of that shows in my life with increased selfesteem, control of emotions and especially my social and communicative skills. I’m learning communicating with women in a totally different way I have never even imagined.
    This have made me, a 40 year young man, feel like a 20 year. 🙂
    Now, my dilemma is that I’ve met a women (Miss P) for about 4 weeks who left her ex boyfriend because she felt attracted to me.
    At first I thought i was her rebound. So I confonted her and asked what her intentions was. She clearly stated she fell in love with me and because I was interested at first, but when she showed no interest, I just didnt care – that made her chase me.
    Now 4 weeks later, I’ve fell in love with her, and her 6 year old daughter is in the “package”. I like them both alot. I could probably get other women if I wanted but it would feel wrong when it feels so right..
    Miss P said she never met someone like me, that I was the one she would wanna met before she got pregnant, that her daughter fancy me, that she care and dont wanna end what we have. None of us have ever touched the question “Are we a couple”…
    She has trust issues (not against me, but against a relationship), and don’t like drama, exactly my thinking. She is very concerned to tell me when, for example her brother or cousin visit, so I shouldn’t get jelous. Im not a jelous person, but she just made sure so I’d knew she was honest.
    Yesterday I texted her I think it’s bad she said she’d phone me back after two hours when 6 hours passed. That turned her to say
    “This is the reason I can’t stand a relationship, Lets end this now!”
    but I stood my ground about my opinion and I told her
    “if I have an opinion about something I know is right, I’ll never cave in, I stand for it. Deal with it or get a man who do anything you say”
    Today she drop a bomb about how everyone in this town gotten under her skin, that it strangles her and makes her wanna move away to start fresh. She already got an apartment 140kms away from here and she want to give her daughter the best she can from life but tearing her away from her friends here. I said I think its pretty irrational, but she says its something she decided and for the first time in her life she does something that SHE wants.
    Now, in Sweden we can buy apartments and get a lower monthly cost. The place she moves from cost $50.000(monthly cost=$500), and the destination home cost $20.000 (monthly cost=$1000)
    She wanna move to release some cash and study to a nurse. Has no job and wanna study. I know what a golddigger is, and she aint one. She provide for herself, and she’s genuine. But irrational as far as I seen on ONE week.
    So, my question is; Could this be a major shittest she’s pulling to see where I stand? I told her I don’t want her to move but I also exposed my feelings and said I could try and have a distance relationship. I never got emotional during this talk.
    I said that it’s a good thing to have goals. But maybe to have goals in a long run. Goals that aren’t decided in one week.
    She pull out stuff like her ex-husband will live one week per month at the new place with their daughter and that she then will visit me, and I could come during other weekends to visit her and her daughter.
    Lastly she says she will change her last name to my last name (??) She says she like me alot and explain how she feels this way and that we could try with a distance and see where it leads… then she left.
    I’m confused. She look me in the eyes and says she like me…alot, that this decision isn’t because of me in any way, but that she really wants to move away.
    I don’t know if I love her yet. Maybe I do because I’m so concerned that she stay. Maybe she crave those words; “I love you – don’t leave”. But, its been 4 weeks. 4.
    I’m in a crossroad now, where one part of me want to chase after her and start a distance relationship. The other, newfound alpha part, tell me to go and tell her she can forget about me (to force her to chase me).
    Reasons why i think its a shittest is; that it’s all irrational desicions, the fact she says her emotions are strong and that she’d rather have my last name.
    Maybe I’m a total idiot, but I dont know what road to choose. I will MAYBE loose her if I end this but on the other hand, I will MAYBE loose her if I cave in to a distance relation. I’m clueless.
    Best regards, Freddy

  • Doesn’t sound like a test to me, Freddy. It sounds like all the classic symptoms of a woman with a commitment phobia — and with questionable parenting skills, if she’s introduced her six-year-old to you within four weeks after meeting you.

  • Hi Patty
    My wife and I have been separated for 3 years we see each other virtually everyday she stays at her aunts and I stay at the family home. One of my daugthers stays with me the other with my wife, they’re now both over 18.
    I love my wife we talk everyday and we occasionally have sex. I want my wife to move back I cant see my life with out her. However she’s not sure and tells me I cant give her what she needs, she’s completely closed down, but we still see each other everyday! I do get worried a lot about whats going to happen in the future, I also think why cant we talk openly?
    When we first got together we both had a number of insecurities argued and fought a lot, we both realise that our upbrings wasn’t exactly the most nurturing, but I think I have come out the other end a much more balanced person, with regards to my wife I now actually think she can do no wrong. Trying to be honest I think she has helped me become the person I am today, I like who I have become.
    There has always been a fair amount of tension in our relationship, I admit I have been controlling at times wondering what she is up to and my wife has always been insecure around other women she always thinks I’m staring at them or lusting after them, I have to say I only have eyes for my wife and even to this day think she is incredible in every way.
    I really want my future to be with my wife and after 3 years, after I have been a bit tougher, she has agreed to go to some form of counselling. I have said to my wife that I cannot be kept dangling anymore, i’m not pretending anymore for the sake of our kids/family and need to know if we can move forward. I have said I miss holding hands, cuddling and want to be loved but do not feel loved by her, I’m not sure if she can, she is really distant and generally always places the blame on me if something goes wrong.
    Even as I write this, I cannot think of her in a truly negative way and I do think she is beautiful and awesome. I’m finding it really difficult at the moment and would appreciate some advice. I’m more than happy to provide you with more detail if you want.
    Best wishes

  • Thank you for your answer Patty, I appreciate you took your time to answer my question 🙂
    It was some kind of commitment phobia, but 14 days passed and we still hang out, madly in love. I guess Im a good guy in her eyes, and yes, I am in heart. Her daughter seek more contact with me for everyday that pass and that, for me, is a good sign 😉
    I hope love will last, and I hope her commitment phobia will fade in time, if she know she can trust me. I sincerely hope you are wrong, but I’m glad you said what you said because it made me thinking. Thank you

  • Toby, I know it must be awfully difficult to live apart from someone you love so much. I can certainly understand your frustration and your desire to either get back together or end your marriage. Those are quite normal.
    What might be getting in the way of communicating with your wife is your black or white thinking about it, which creates some inconsistencies in what you say. You say she can do no wrong, even while you ask her to change what she’s doing.
    You admit you have been controlling at times, but you say this as if it is in the past, even as you are giving her an ultimatum about rebuilding the marriage or ending it.
    When we send out two conflicting messages at once, our spouse is likely to hear just one of them, often the one that confirms any insecurities.
    You say you only have eyes for your wife, yet somehow the combination of whatever you do now or have done in the past and whatever insecurities she still has leads her to fear you desire other women more than her.
    It’s common for a woman to fear at times that her husband desires other women more than her. But just in case you have not yet run across the research on it, one of the most relationship-damaging responses to her insecurity is defensiveness. If “but I only have eyes for you” comes out first, instead of empathy for her fears, it’s likely to make communicating more difficult.
    I hope these come across not as criticisms but as helpful in seeing how your attempts to do the right thing may be backfiring and negatively affecting your ability to communicate with each other. I believe you love her and want her back in your home. I am glad you two will get some help from a counselor. If you want to increase the chances it will build a new bridge between you, watch out for defensiveness (i.e., stay open to hearing more about what’s upsetting her, because you need that information and cannot debate your way back to love), and watch out for black or white statements (i.e., be honest with her that while you think she’s great, you really do disagree on a few things, and that while you want no one but her, you cannot help but interact with some of them for business or social reasons and you cannot do so without noticing their faces, bodies, and voices, but you can do so without entertaining sexual fantasies about any of them).

  • Hi, I am so pleased that I wrote in, I certainly don’t anything you’ve said as a criticism. In fact I needed to hear/read your response. I think the black and white thinking, controlling and obviously ultimatums, definitely continue and hinder my communicating. Sometimes for me it takes someone to point out what could be going on. I’m going to really try and avoid inconsistencies and trying to debate my way back into love. Your response has made me do a lot of thinking and is very timely.
    I realise I’m very stuck with these issues and believe with some help I may be able to avoid these types of blunders. If you could recommend any reading around what you pointed out I would really appreciate it, I’m really keen to do anything to help myself and break any unhelpful cycles.
    Thanks again.
    Best wishes.

  • I am so glad my comments were helpful, Toby.
    Oddly, I could not think of any marriage books that address this issue. So I tried a few online searches until I hit on the right search terms, and I found some excellent advice to project managers by someone named Geof Lory that you might find helpful: http://www.projectconnections.com/articles/082907-glory.html
    I like the insight in this article that absolutes (those overreaching assertions that are almost always inconsistent with real-life actions and body language) and demands (the should, must, have to statements your wife likely perceives as controlling) are twins and leave “no gray area for choice or the truly infinite possibilities.”

  • My wife of 10 yrs and 19 yrs total wants to leave when our lease is up September 1,14. We have two boys together. She withdrew from the marriage 13 months ago. While I was going thru being injured for 4yrs at that point from and car accident. That left me getting 4 surgeries over 4 yrs and chronic pain and taking pain pills every 4 hrs just cover up the pain. Its been 5 and a half yrs now and I started getting better late last year landed a job in March and ended up bruising my Maniscus in my Knee so IM back out Injured. But during the whole 13 months it seems like she kept adding more and more things on to why she withdrew. The main reason at first was for me raising my voice when I get upset with her and saying things she did not like. She also did things to provoke me to get upset and things I did not like but the difference between her and I is I admit when Im wrong she want admit fault in nothing or apologize for nothing. I would just apologize when Im wrong and when Im right just to move on and have an happy house. But its getting closer to the date of her moving out and she is still admant about leaving without even trying to get help. She is very private she want go get help to save her life. I even said to her lets just go get help to help us learn how to deal with this for our kids so we can di it the right way since your going to leave anyway and she said no. I cant get through to her and I constanly tell her we can work through this we just need the tools dont take our kids though a divorce and I stil get nothing. I dont know what else to do. When I got married I took my vows seriously and thought if we ever got to a bad place we would at least be able to work through it or at least try. but I was wrong. If you can give me any advice Im open to it.

  • It sounds like you have both been through a lot Vanshun.
    When we are threatened (and a failing marriage is a huge threat for most people), our brains are programmed to look around for evidence of the threat and for all other threats. Your wife has now had 13 months of focusing on threats, and a second accident keeping you from working was a big one to add. Raising your voice to get your point across was another.
    This may sound odd, but your distress because you can’t get through to her and because she won’t admit when she’s wrong is another threat. It’s resentment, and it has an awful effect on marriages.
    So, here you are at the brink of a separation. You do not need your wife’s participation to see and get value from a marriage therapist or a marriage education course.
    One that I think might be especially helpful for you is Dr. Steven Stosny’s Marriage Boot Camp at http://www.compassionpower.com. He’s doing one in person in Maryland in September. He also offers them by telephone throughout the year to those on his mailing list. And he has written a book on how to improve your marriage without talking about it. He’s an expert at dealing with resentment, frustration, and anger.
    You might also care to read some of my responses to the comments on http://www.assumelove.com/2012/04/one_last_stand_before_divorce.html — many of the men writing there have been in similar situations.
    Can you get a month-to-month extension on your lease and convince your wife to stick around until you can get some expert help? If not, can you arrange a way to convince your children this is a temporary and normal month or two apart, while you learn some new approaches that might convince your wife to join you in therapy or marriage education?
    Please understand that I don’t intend to imply that you are the only one responsible for the problems. That does not appear to be the case. But you are the only one still willing to look for solutions. You are the one whose integrity depends on giving this your best shot for the sake of your children. And you are dealing with someone who has had at least 13 months of looking for, even poking around for, reasons to get out of this marriage, so you don’t have time for trial-and-error learning.

  • Hi. My wife and I of 6 years are having a hard time. Our whole marriage I have ignored her pleas for me to get help, I get angry easily and now know I have ptsd. Her father recently died so she left the state to help her mother settle some affairs. While she was gone I didn’t respect her situation and we brought up divorce, I never meant it but now it’s in her head and she says she’s not sure if she wants to try or if there’s any hope for us to stay together. I started therapy and am trying to become the man she wants and deserves but she won’t even talk to me. In the past her and I got threw what I thought would be the worst part of our marriage. She cheated on me but i looked to the future and thought about all of the good times we’ve had. I’m now sitting here with our two children hoping she’ll change her mind or at least tell me it’s over so I can stop feeling like my life has ended. Advice please!

  • Hi Patty,
    My wife said to me a few months ago what I’m finding is not so uncommon a phrase; “I love you, but I’m not in love with you”. She’s says that she has been really unhappy in our marriage, and that she has been having an affair for nearly the past year. I asked her what it was that he was providing for her and it was really the way that he made her feel, that she felt special, and important.
    We have been together for more than a decade, and married for just under three years (no kids). Our lives got busy with grad school and we just didn’t make time for each other, and let our lives drift apart. I think we took each other for granted, and assumed we would always be there for each other. I didn’t want to make too many demands on her time since she was so busy with school, and soon a lot of what we did was not together. It sounds so obvious and silly writing this now, that this would be the result, but it was a gradual thing and we didn’t really notice the change.
    As devastating as the affair was, the fact that she doesn’t love me anymore, and will in all likelihood leave me for him has been far worse, and I know it is something I will grapple with for a long time. We’re still living together, and on friendly terms, some days it even feels like nothing has happened. She isn’t seeing him (though they are still in contact via email and text). I pushed her on this to really decide if she wants to work on it when I found out the communication still going on, and that’s when she really pulled back and I think made up her mind.We’re going on a trip next month that we had previously planned, and paid for, but after that she wants to start the process of unwinding everything.
    I’ve been focusing on taking the pressure off by not talking about our marriage, (other than the initial affair conversation and the discussion about the email/text issue) and just trying to enjoy the time that we do have together, by doing things we both enjoy. I realize the damage I did by pushing her to decide and I feel like I probably destroyed any chance we had. So now I’ve been focusing on improving my life, applying to grad school, losing weight through better diet and exercise, going to the doctor, and just generally taking better care of myself. I know that if I’m needy and push her to stay, she’ll retreat and I’ll lose her forever.
    She was the love of my life, and I never thought it would come to this. I’m going to rebuild my life and if she wants to be a part of it I will welcome her. I’m willing to work with her to split if that’s what she needs to be happy, and I know we will both recover. We have learned a lot about ourselves, each other, and what we would have done differently if we started over again. I hope we get to apply those lessons to our own relationship, but if not, I know what I would do better next time.
    I’ve found so much support and comfort in your blog and the comments above in this really difficult time. Thanks so much for what you do.

  • Been married for 9 years, husband using 8.He works pays the bills.he goes out every month on a binge for about 3-4 days.we do go out to dinner and the show.it feels like I’m walking on egg shells waiting for him to go out. He’s always complaining, very critical . I’m not I’m a happy person.Any and all work need to be done on the house in the house, it’s on me . I’m not happy,not feeling appreciated want to pack up and leave,expressed it to my husband, his respond , he feel I want another man.faithful

  • Hi Patty, my wife and I married only last August. She had been married before for a couple years. A lot of emotions have taken place over the year leading up to our wedding. She is my high school sweetheart. Getting back together with her after college and her other marriage meant that this was it for both of us. We wasted no time. Back together, moved in together, engaged all within a few months. Obviously that sent some shock waves through my family. Enough to make some question it, but we moved forward. Many times my wife would want to avoid some of my family functions because she constantly believes that she’s being judged… For her divorce and how fast we moved. She’s never felt “in” with my family. Fast forward to today. Both of my brother’s wifes now have newborns. We do not. And she is incredibly upset about that. The first nephew resulted in my mom becoming baby crazy. She had put on the blinders you could say. Now that the second nephew is on the way, my wife is thinking even more that now she will be ignored by especially my mom. To me this is childish. Of course my mom would be excited as would any new grandmother. But on top of that, we’ve had a long fued regarding my career. She has an excellent job with good pay and a great path. I work at our family business. It’s small and I don’t make much but it’s because the company took a hit over the last few years and we’re still recovering. We have a decent house in a great area. We aren’t struggling. But she constantly blames me that I am the reason we cannot afford to have a child. She downright insults me and my family over both my job and her feeling of being ignored. Naturally, I get defensive. I try to reason with her, explain situations. This argument surfaces a few times a month. And has been since before we got married. She is constantly giving me ultimatums and I just cannot understand why she feels she must do that. The latest event was tonight. We learned today that my brother is having that child. Instead of her being happy for them like I am, I am on the couch writing this and she threatens tomorrow to file for separation. I like my job, and it will take more time before I can see a bigger chunk of money coming in, but she has had be job searching for months. I can’t seem to figure out how to talk to her about all this. She has always taken everything so personally no matter what it is. She is a type a, pessimistic person. She always sees and expects negative things and then convinces her own mind until they are true. She is a schedule driven type who freaks and get angry about plans changing. I am optimistic, type b, happy go lucky kind. Nothing extreme, I’m just flexible. I hate myself for second guessing our marriage. But I need help on how to approach her. She’s as stubborn as they come… There’s no compromise with her. She uses these ultimatums to get the results she wants. So do I give in, quit my job, and step back from my family some? Or do I call her bluff, kick the can down the road and hope that raise comes sooner than later?

  • It can’t be easy, Sully, living with PTSD — for either of you. I am so glad you are getting help with your anger. There is one program I know of that is designed specifically for people who anger easily and their spouses. There are in-person and telephone versions, but if your anger has ever turned to violence, you are eligible only for the in-person version, which is usually offered in Maryland, as it will be September 19 to 21, 2014.
    It’s by Dr. Steven Stosny. His website is http://compassionpower.com and the program is called Boot Camp. If you sign up for his mailing list, you’ll get notices of upcoming Boot Camps. Post-traumatic stress is one of the topics he covers during the weekend. If you can convince your wife to try it, she’ll learn really valuable techniques for dealing with angry people better, and you will learn one of the most successful approaches to managing anger and resentment.
    Losing a parent is a big transition point and a common trigger for divorce and other big life changes. If you push your wife toward a decision, it won’t likely be the decision you want.
    Perhaps you can convince your wife to give Dr. Stosny’s life-changing course during this transition point, without any promise to return until she’s seen the results of this and your therapy.
    It sounds like you feel she owes you because she cheated on you and you forgave her. She probably does, but she may have felt she was evening the score in an out-of-balance marriage the only way she could at the time, in which case she would probably not feel she owes you anything now for your forgiveness then. Much better to woo her back than to press for fair treatment.

  • Thank you so much for your kind words, John. I am so sorry for your pain. While I believe you are well-positioned to survive losing her, which is good, please watch that you don’t accidentally give her the impression you no longer care whether she stays or goes. Her chances of a successful long-term relationship with the other man are pitifully small.
    And it is great that you have this trip together, a chance to demonstrate how special and important she is to you and to create those Love 2.0 moments that even friends can share but that put the “in love” into a loving relationship. (See http://www.assumelove.com/2013/03/micro-moments_of_positivity_re.html and http://www.assumelove.com/2013/10/the_road_back_to_love.html)
    I am going to be holding you two in my thoughts. I hope you two find yourselves in love with each other and with life again soon.

  • Renea, it’s awful to walk on egg shells in your own home. It’s also awful to know, as your husband surely does, that you’re screwing it all up, not living up to your own standards, and can’t stop. So much easier to tell yourself it’s just a competition and you’re losing to another man.
    Do you have the strength and the concern for his future to talk to a professional about an intervention to get him into treatment so he can stop using and become the man you saw when you married him?
    Forget the stuff about doing the work on the house. It’s really counterproductive to make yourself miserable over something you need to take care of now that you’ll still need to take care of if you two divorce. Chores are not what’s important about marriage, as I learned when I thought I wanted out. (Read the About the Author page if you’re not familiar with that story.)

  • Hi, Dmm987! It’s not at all uncommon for us to be drawn to someone who approaches life very differently. If we each adopt each other’s best strategies, our lives are so much richer for being married. If instead, we try to squelch each other’s worst strategies, no one benefits.
    So you have two problems, the first being that your family makes your wife feel unwelcome, and she’s quite sensitive to this.
    The second is that your wife wants to have children, you want to build the family business instead of pursuing immediate payoffs from another job with less future, and you’re blaming your family business for your delay, while the rest of your family is popping out babies.
    On the first one, you MUST stand up for and protect your wife’s status in your family. No one else can do this, and it will be very important to your future children’s wellbeing as well as the success of your marriage, unless you are willing to write your family out of your life. It might be best to spend some time with your wife and mother without your brothers or sisters-in-law around to compete for her attention, for YOU to steer the conversation onto things they have in common that have nothing to do with babies and for you to speak highly of both of them to each other, but to remember that your wife now takes precedence.
    On the second one, take your family out of the equation. Let your wife know that it is YOU who wants to take this slow approach to a better long-term outcome, and that you would want it even if no one else in your family were involved. Acknowledge her desire to have a child soon, and tell her honestly what keeps you from wanting one now. If it’s money, work out a way to live less expensively, a way to take a second job, or a way to make income by renting out a room in your home, letting go of one of your cars, by selling all the gear you bought for a hobby you’re no longer working on, taking an advance from a family member, etc. If it’s that a child would be more than you could handle while building the business, work on a go/no go date for the business or on ways to make a child less of a burden.
    She’s giving you ultimatums and you’re dismissing her issues as childish because neither of you yet believes that you can both have what you want. You’re both fighting for what you personally want, instead of saying, “You are my wife, and if you want that, I want it for you, but I can’t see how to give it to you the way you’re asking, so let’s figure out together how to get it for you another way.”
    By the way, if you two ever decide on marriage therapy, look for an Imago therapist. They are especially good at family disputes and getting the most from differing personalities.

  • Thanks Patty,
    In response, I also would like to start a family. It is true my job has limited that comfort level, but only my job. I have since explained my situation and feelings to my parents who are the owners of the company. I expect some positive things coming from it. I have also considered other job opportunities. But now, there’s a new issue that has surfaced. One that I know that I am in fault of. My wife is extremely anti-gun. I am a born and raised outdoorsman who hunts, fishes etc. My wife’s only policy is absolutely no guns in our home. Which I have no problem with. I don’t even own one, only borrow a friend’s during hunting seasons. I made the mistake of bringing one home. I put it in the garage up in the rafters. In a case, no bullets, pad locked, no danger. Well my buddy texted me just yesterday asking if he could come and grab it. I responded and told him where I had it and I’d get it down so he could come by. My wife saw these messages and today asked if there was a gun in the house. I immediately replied no. Another mistake. When I got home today. I walked in and that damn gun is sitting on our counter. She got it down and now I’m out of the house. She caught me with a gun in the house and a lie on top of it. I know whole heartedly that I messed up. And with everything else going on in my previous post, I’m afraid I’m in real trouble now. What kind of approach can I take to this assuming that she’ll be open to speak with me hopefully after a day or two?

  • If you are going to lie to your wife about anything, a lethal weapon is a really bad choice, Dmm987. Even a padlocked, cased, bulletless lethal weapon.
    But I am willing to bet the lie, or more accurately, the fact that you two made an agreement that you treated as not worth keeping, is going to become a much bigger deal than the gun. It brings into question any agreement to have a family, to remain faithful, or even that you are actually working for your family. (Yes, I know a man who commuted an hour every morning to a job he had been fired from and an hour home again at night after his wife had picked up his dry cleaned suits and cooked his dinner, every week supplementing his unemployment insurance deposit into their checking account with money coming out of their retirement savings so she would not suspect anything, for two full months.)
    So my advice is that you avoid in any way minimizing the gun incident and start rebuilding her trust in your word.
    What’s a real shame is that you entered into an agreement with your wife that was not satisfactory for you, so you broke it, but gingerly, at least to your way of thinking: padlocked, bulletless, in a case, up in the rafters. I think a lot of men agree to things they really cannot carry through on, just to avoid their wife’s disagreement.
    When it seemed like a good idea to bring the gun home, it would have been a good time to talk with your wife about how to handle it. When we ask our spouses for ideas, it’s possible to come up with ones that suit both of us, what I and others call Third Alternatives.
    But we all turn out to be pretty lousy at seeing things the same way our spouse will see them. A hidden gun in the garage could actually seem far more dangerous to her than one in the house, more easily accessible, for example, to a local teenager bent on getting revenge at school. Or she might be fine with it if she actually knew there was no ammunition in the case or in the garage. But the way we are all wired, when we notice any threat, we go on alert for every other possible threat, making it very easy for her to picture ammunition inside the case or hidden elsewhere, to picture multiple guns in hiding, and to run down the list of other frightening things you have told her are not in her home, not the least of which is a protector who isn’t protecting her from what she’s announced she fears.
    This is not an insurmountable problem, but I want to caution you that it’s a fairly large one, and the gun is not the real problem. You two really need a better way to resolve differences of opinion (for which I recommend any of my Third Alternative blog posts), and you will need to patiently rebuild her trust in you at the same time that you take the lead on her comfort around your family.
    And if she were writing to me, I would say that ordering you to leave your shared home is a really poor way to resolve differences of opinion, too, one that should be reserved for protection from acts of violence.

  • Hey patty
    Me and my wife have been married for 5 years, long story short she got pregnant when we got together and she had dreams of going to college but never went, I have strong jealousy issues I’m always asking her what’s she’s doing who she’s with, if she thinks a guys cute or whatever I know I have this problem but it’s so hard to control I don’t realize what I’ve done in till its to late. In the mist of our arguments I always tend to bring up her past which I know kills her. My jealousy is why she never went then the other day she told me it was over she’s done, she’s gonna make her self happy, but I can’t stand the fact of being with her and my daughter I love them so much, do u c any solution or chance with our family staging together?

  • James, now that you have proven to yourself that jealousy is one of the worst ways to protect yourself from losing a loved one, perhaps you’ll be able to make a clean break from it. If not, find yourself a family therapist and work hard and fast at changing your approach to protecting your family.
    And right away, even if it turns you to jelly inside, encourage her to make herself happy and to consider allowing you to be part of this happiness if you can learn to handle letting her be herself.

  • Hi.
    I am in need of help. Let me start off by saying we are a legally married lesbian couple so this is coming from a stand point of two women.
    My wife and I have been married for only a year now but she has rented an apt and is moving out next month. Our problems started about 3-4 months ago. She told me that I have hurt her too much over the past few years that she just can’t forgive me and says she will never be the same towards me.
    I didn’t realize just how bad I was hurting her, I was selfish and too blind and caught up in my own self to see what I was doing to her. When she told me 4 months ago that she was thinking about leaving and told me all of the pain I had caused, I immediately started seeing a counselor in order to better myself for her, myself, and our marriage.
    She says that I was mean and hurtful because I would make her cry a lot and say hurtful things. For example, if we would fight I had said “why dont you just move home then”.. Just hurtful things out of anger. And when i would drink, I turned into an angry drunk and would start nasty fights with her and ending up breaking her heart. So, looking back now that my eyes are open to the pain I was causing her, I can see how hurt that would make someone. I also immediately stopped drinking when she told me all of this. I have been making good progress with better myself as a person and she has seen the changes.
    2 months after she originally told me she was thinking of leaving, she decided to stay with me and work on us. I feel like she isnt doing anything to work on us though, she wont go to counseling either. She says that “she has the right to feel the way she does and doesnt want someone to force her to forgive me”
    So 2 weeks ago, she told me that she had gotten an apt and is moving out in Nov. I am of course so heartbroken. I have lost probably 15 pounds, have a hard time sleeping… I’m having to put on a happy face at work when all I want to do is go home and cry.
    She has noticed that I have been much better and sees me making changes but says she just cant get herself to forgive me. She is heartbroken too, she cries over this too. She says she doesnt want to leave but she cant forgive me.
    She says that she is still in love with me, cares for me, and loves me. She texts me a lot throughout the day saying “I love you”. She cuddles with me while watching tv together, she asks me to sleep in bed with her, this weekend she wanted to go out to eat so we went. We do everything as if we are a married couple still… I don’t know what to do. It feels so good to me being like that with her but in the back of my mind, I know she has that apt shes going to in 4 weeks.
    Please any advice helps!

  • JH, I apologize for the delay in replying to you. Comments have been coming in faster than I can answer lately. I hope your wife’s move has been postponed. Living separately is not the end of a marriage.
    My suggestion is that you tell her it’s not necessary to forgive you, but you value the relationship too much to let that end it. Ask what it would take from you to restore the relationship. And listen carefully and without responding until she’s all done. Then paraphrase: “So, if I ______ and ______, we can go back to loving each other and maybe even living together again?”
    Again, wait for her answer quietly and with your full attention. She may qualify what she needs. If she does, paraphrase again. Once she agrees that this would do the trick, answer her honestly: are you able and willing to do what she asks?
    If the answer is not exactly, check for my blog posts on Finding Third Alternatives. If the answer is yes, agree to do it. Don’t ask if she will forgive you. Don’t tell her all the things you’ve already done to try to fix things. Just do it and treat her with lots of love and affection until her heart melts again.

  • Hello, my wife and I have only been married three months and she already wants out. I think it started with her depression, about two months before our marriage she found out some family history she was not aware of and blames herself for it. After that she started drinking alcohol a lot and her mood changed but I just thought maybe after the wedding she’d be happier. Well it didn’t happen, I would get home and all she wanted to do was sit watch tv and drink beer. After awhile we would get in fights because she didn’t want to acknowledge I was even there and she wasn’t acting like newly married wife. We fought and said some means things to each other. Now she says she doesn’t love me anymore and regrets marrying me. . . I know I have faults but I don’t think I am that big of a jerk for her to stop loving me already. I have swallowed my pride and have done everything I could to win her back but she wants nothing of it. Her family has taken my side and tell have told her she is acting like a little child and now she blames that on me also. I don’t know what else to do. I feel like the only reason she is staying with me is because she has nowhere else to go, but I don’t want a roommate I want a wife. I know I sound angry in this text it’s just that I am so frustrated in the fact that she acts like she doesn’t care about me anymore. I am so sad

  • Emanel, if you love your wife, please find a way to get her to a therapist or trained clergy member who can help her deal with her emotional response to the news she received five months ago.
    When a person’s drinking damages their key relationships (like marriage!), they need help.
    You also need help with your way of dealing with frustration. Saying mean things to someone you love isn’t a good way to deal with it. It takes 5 positive actions (on average) to undo every negative one and keep a marriage going. I recommend compassionpower.com and/or alanon.org for some better ideas.

  • My wife and I have been together for 6 years and married for 4. I was the first boyfriend she ever had, but she was not my first girlfriend as I had several relationships before her. She was 19 when we met and married at 22. I’m 5 years older. She told me just recently that she thinks she doesn’t want to be married anymore. I do.
    She had an affair 6 months ago which I uncovered. She ended it immediately and we put in some time for deep discussions to fix what caused her to cheat. I realized she felt like I ignored her and was no longer interested in her. Which was wrong as I was occupied with work and just fell into a state of content, not realizing she needed for me to treat her like I desired her. I worked on it and thought I turned it around.
    Lately, she has been very unhappy again and dropped the news on me of considering ending our marriage. After several discussions with her it finally came out (she was afraid to say) that she wishes she would have dated other men before marrying me. She said she wishes she could have experienced other relationships and that she feels like time is passing her by. She also admits that I’ve become boring after being married, even though we do a lot of things together outside the home. I had a lot of friends before marriage that I hung out with but we moved for work several times and we are very far from home. My job doesn’t allow me to fraternize with other workers and I have had difficulty making friends since and we are in a new place. She is just starting to make friends out here and I fully support her going out with them. But she feels guilty leaving me at home. I also am not really able to partake in holidays as work consumes that time. I have told her that I am willing to give up my job and move us back to where our families and friends are but she thinks that since not much has changed since the affair that it will never change and that she is just wasting time. She says she is still extremely attracted to me (she says she brags to her friends) and that she really cares for me. We still have sex, which ends up being very satisfying for both of us, at least once a week and she is always lovey dovey on me after. She is still trying to figure things out and is considering separating which she is afraid may make her want to leave me permanently. She has become distant and Im not sure what to say anymore as my mind is occupied with this but I don’t want to pressure her into nothing but conversation about this. We have spoken about it a lot lately too so its not like we are avoiding it. I don’t want to lose her. She means more than anything to me, and I am willing to sacrifice a lot to make this work. I don’t know how to handle her wish to have dated other men before being with me. She told me she wishes she could have dated others first and then ended her search by being with me. I also have told her I am going to try with all I have to make friends. We were making a plan on having a child, now those are gone. I feel like I’m playing a waiting game here. I love her. I need to make this work. I feel like she is no longer in love with me.

  • Jesse, I apologize for being unavailable when you wrote. I am so sorry for the pain you two are experiencing, and I hope things are getting better.
    I would encourage you to think through all the issues and what you might be taking for granted that could be changed. Perhaps you don’t need to move to change jobs.
    Perhaps you create your own holidays. I have friends who celebrate Thanksmas with a big family gathering in early December. A lonely holiday for the non-working spouse is a lot easier when it follows a big holiday others around her did not get to celebrate.
    But you might also investigate whether you could get some holidays off by switching with someone whose family or religion makes a different holiday more valuable to them.
    If you have a long commute cutting into your time together, you might investigate moving closer to work or changing jobs.
    It also helps to spend your time getting home from work the same way you spent time on your way to a date. Start thinking about her, how you’ll greet her, what you’ll say. Maybe stop and buy flowers or a favorite food. Send her a text before you start the car, letting her know how delighted you are that you will see her in a little bit. If she’s gone out with friends, text her and ask where to join up with them — or where to meet her for your own little rendezvous afterwards.
    And if, perchance, your employer is a branch of the US military, know that they now offer free help for struggling marriages. Ask about it.

  • I desperately need some advice on my current situation please please please. I have been wife my wife for 15 years, married for 12. We have two young boys ages 11 and 9. She cheated on me while we were living together before marriage and i forgave her and we moved on. She cheated on me 6 years into the marriage and again I forgave and we moved on stronger than ever after some hard times on my part. I just found out that she again has been having another affair for the past 7 months. None of the third parties were the same person. In fact we moved to a new location for her (because she didn’t like where we lived before) just 9 months ago and I find that she’s been cheating with her new boss for the past 7 months. I love her dearly but I feel like I’m being used over and over again. I am a good husband and give considerably more than I get in return. I do approximately 75% of the work around the house and she spends the majority of our discretionary income. I put her through medical school and she’s only been out of residency about a year and a half. I thought we were finally in a good place where we could spend quality time together (more than we already did) and have the resources to travel (more than we already did) and I found she is cheating with another doctor. I don’t want a divorce for many reasons including the fact that I love her more than I ever thought possible, our kids would be devastated, I can’t imagine the thought of splitting time with my kids or them having a stepparent. At what point do you just say I can’t do this anymore? I’ve given and given to her and she has done nothing but disappoint repeatedly. We have great chemistry although raising two kids is hard on the relationship. She is affectionate and we have a great sex life. She is a wonderful mother. It’s just the repeated infidelity and I don’t know what to do. She says she is sorry and that she doesn’t want a divorce either but I feel like this will just happen again if I stay. She is such a good liar and very good at hiding her indiscretions…..she carries on these affairs right under my nose and acts no differently than she normally would. I am so hurt, lost, confused, angry, scared, and disappointed. Please help.

  • Robert, I ache for you. These discoveries must be heart-breaking. Without condoning her behavior, I want to offer you what I can to help you toward your goal of remaining in a loving relationship with her without any more infidelity.
    First, you mention that raising two kids is hard on the relationship, and it often is. One of the things you could do to protect your relationship is to get help with raising the kids, whether that’s a parenting coach, a parenting class, an au pair, a well-trained and experienced nanny, or a relative with the skills to help and some need you can help with in return.
    Another is to consider the possibility that these infidelities have nothing to do with you and hiding them is the best she can do to protect you from her weaknesses. I found it interesting to read James Vaughan’s story of how he came to cheat on Peggy on the DearPeggy.com site full of resources for those in your shoes. It’s on this page: http://dearpeggy.com/4-marriage/mfwedding.html
    Also helpful on that site for this purpose is the page on who has affairs and why: http://dearpeggy.com/affairs.html
    I don’t ask you to consider this possibility to let her off the hook. She’s violated your trust and repeatedly damaged your relationship with each other. But by considering it, you might have an “aha!” moment that helps you figure out what would need to be different to keep her from having another. It’s not enough to forgive serial offenses.
    Charles Duhigg, in his excellent summary of research on how to change a habit (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1400069289/), says we need to know what the reward is, what the trigger is, and what habitual action in between them is. Then we need to tie a new action to the trigger that gets the same reward.
    You mention she cheated 12 to 15 years ago (when she got pregnant? after you proposed marriage? when she faced a big change in her work?), 6 years ago (around the time she began her clinical training? with a toddler at home and a kid just starting school?), and right after uprooting your lives and starting a new job 9 months ago. Were the stresses at these times similar? Were the temptations? Were your stresses and reactions to them similar? Can you find a common trigger or a common reward?
    You are not responsible for her awful choices, but that doesn’t mean you are helpless to deal with them. If you know the trigger, you don’t need to be on guard all the time. If you know the reward, you have lots of time to think of how she might get a similar reward without cheating and lots of time to ask therapists to help you alone or both of you together to figure this out.
    If she agrees to another way to pursue the same reward when the trigger returns, she might be able to avoid repeating her habitual response of offering herself to someone who can provide the reward.
    People are far more likely to make the better choice if they commit to an if-then decision in advance. You could ask her to make this commitment now or when you spot the trigger coming up in the rear view mirror. You could choose a day to revisit the commitment every year or every month, whatever it takes to keep you from experience relationship-crushing distrust all the time.
    You could also come up with an if-then to change your own habitual response to the return of that distrust to one that lets you lean in then instead of pulling away.
    Your wife has screwed up big time. But if she did it out of weakness and a lack of techniques for managing her emotions, maybe it wasn’t out of lack of respect for you or her vows or out of a desire to end the marriage. If this is the case, perhaps she can rely on your strengths to support her in developing greater integrity.
    I hope for you and your children that she’s ready to change this terrible habit.

  • My wife and I have been married for 14 years. We have vastly different tastes and interests but have managed to live with that fact.
    The problem arose when, a couple years ago, I started to get the feeling that my wife disliked me intensely. Whenever I put my arms around her she would go stiff and stay that way until I let her go. I ignored it as she always said it was because she was doing something.
    Later she started saying things like “maybe there’s someone out there for you who would like your affection”
    Over time I became frustrated and (and I know this is bad) mentioning the fact that she didn’t like affection from me became a regular topic of conversation. I work really hard to not irritate her but I am my father’s son so that proves difficult.
    On a recent trip I was so apologetic about dragging the family off course to see a site only I was interested in that the rest of the trip turned into an argument and when we got home she said it was this trip that made her realize that she couldn’t stand me anymore.
    We talked it over and things seemed nice for a few weeks but I noticed she always seemed irritated and rolled her eyes when I spoke so I confronted her.
    She stated that she didn’t love me. I asked “did you ever?” Her answer was “I don’t know, possibly when we were dating”
    I am heart-sick.

  • Christopher, I am so sorry for the pain you must be feeling now. Try not to take her words to heart. She may actually have been working for a couple of years on denying her feelings of love for you. The starting point of your unraveling sounds like she was feeling a lot of anger, most likely because she wanted things to be different and you were failing to read her mind. I feel so very sad for women who believe their expectations to be so obvious that anyone who loved them could intuit them.
    The disrespect of eye-rolling is a strong indicator of a marriage in serious trouble. Watch that you don’t fall into the others, like stonewalling her to avoid conversations going bad, starting up a discussion of a problem harshly or with accusations, or continuing a discussion when you’re emotionally flooded and need time to lower your pulse rate and adrenalin before you can be loving again.
    If you still love your wife, you might want to try marriage counseling. I would look for a marriage-friendly therapist (http://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com/ lists many of them) and ask for separate sessions early on, so that your wife can explore with the therapist where all that anger came from before trying to share it with you. She probably has not sorted it out for herself and might say some very disrespectful things until she does. Once you know what it is, you may find a simple, small change would turn your marriage around. Or you may find that something’s going on for her that is not your fault and not within your control to fix. Either would be a lot better than believing someone’s not loved you for 14 years.

  • Thanks Patty,
    I love my wife dearly. I tell her so several times a day, I even kiss her shoulder every time I roll away from her in bed.
    I think that my irritation that she doesn’t seem to appreciate my affection (probably the wrong “love language”) makes me appear needy and weak.
    It suddenly occurred to me that for my birthday a couple years ago she gave me a laundry basket. Not as weird as you might think, I was in the military and I do all the laundry in the house, still not the best effort. 🙂
    I suppose there were signs that she didn’t value the same things I do but I thought we were working on it.
    We had a conversation in regards to the fact that we are individuals and don’t need to do everything together and I’ve been working hard to give her space.

  • Christopher — my husband once gave me a 6-pack of toilet paper (complete with bow) for my birthday. You just never know about spouses. So glad to hear you’re working on this.

  • My wife told me a week ago that she loves me but is not in love with me anymore. Of course I’m devastated by this news. Our daughter goes to camp for a week starting this weekend and her original intent was to see a therapist and then talk to me while my daughter is away, so she’s been thinking about this for a while. I know I have been arrogant and neglectful and am trying to show her affection and do the small things again like sending her daily emails, telling her I love her, kissing her on the check, touching her. I’ve even written her a letter to express my feelings (still deciding on whether to give it to her). Our daughter leaves for camp Sunday and I feel as if everything will come to a head this next week. Any advice on how to handle it?

  • How sad for both of you, John. I hope you will read this post about the difference between feeling love and “in love” and the one it links to about Barbara Frederickson’s research:
    I note that your great list of ways to make her feel your love again touches on two of the five Love Languages Gary Chapman identified (http://5lovelanguages.com). If you don’t know about these, you might have overlooked the one that matters most to her. (You’ll recognize it when you read it, I’m sure.) Here’s a post I wrote a while back on crossing the Love Language barrier:
    And if you haven’t seen it yet, the post and the comments on it are a treasure trove of ways to stop a divorce:
    I wish you two a great week of rediscovering what “in love” feels like.

  • I have been with my wife for 9 years. She’s never worked. Never been good at anything round the house. I always cooked and cleaned whilst she had fun. She even went out with other guy friends. I never wanted to control her so said it was fine. We got pregnant. I wanted an abortion. She was against it. We got up to being in the hospital waiting for the doctor. When I took her hand and and ran out. We dicided then we wanted it. My daughter was born. And we lived fine. My wife was always so needy. But I loved her. Sex was great between us and we were like soul mates. We then got married 4 years on. And then found out we were preggers with twin boys. We decided to move house. We decided to renovate that way I could do the brunt of the work to keep costs down. We moved in to my parents for 1 and a half years (longer than expected) by the end she was already depressed and had started taking anti.depressants. (she’s also.bi polar) I was beer there. Either at work, renovating, or being with our boys. She started going to the house to ain’t whilst I stagger at home and got friendly with my builder (who’s 50) anyway…we move into our home. She still sees the builder to go to the park with the kids. One day I came home. And we have an an argument. I’m annoyed its been 9 years and she’s never worked. To give her a kick up the arse I temp divorce. 2 days later she says she wants the same. I’m devastated..she wants to move in with the builder. Take the kids. She says she doesn’t want a divorce because she loves me and swears she will come back. She just needs time. We are separated but still have sex. The builder desnt know. He’s very possessive (she says already she hates that) but that’s that. She’s had everything. House. Car. Freedom.Marriage. Kids. All things she wanted. I’ve tried to stop her. But says she wants to leavebto experience something new (she’s 25) I don’t want to lose my family! She even convuses me saying when she comes back she wants a forth child! I.don’t understand her. She never thinks thhings through since being on Prozac. Do I let her go and get on with my life. Or wait. I do love her but really.feels she doesn’t deserve me and everything I’ve done oft her. 🙁

  • Andy, the decision to love your wife or not is all yours. No one else can make it for you.
    But you have children, and those children have a mother with a mental illness that affects her moods and her decision-making abilities, a mother who went from childhood right into motherhood who wants to move in with a possessive man twice her age but still have sex with her husband, just to experience something different.
    And if it’s not what she hoped (and it almost certainly won’t be), she imagines returning to being the mother of an infant, not a working mother.
    If I were in your shoes, I would fight hard to keep those young kids out of the home of a much older, possessive man she doesn’t know all that well while she figures out what she wants.
    And if you agree, then whether your wife earns a living becomes a non-issue, because your alternative to loving her requires even more work and expense from you. So make your choice based on love. And if it’s to stay open to her return, I suggest you start taking marriage education classes and ask your doctor to help you find more information on how to live with someone with bipolar disorder, so you are ready for a better marriage than before, not just more of the same.

  • My wife and I have been together for 8 years and married seven months. I have put her through a lot to were she just gave up on us. We have been through counselors and I promised that I would stop doing whatever I was doing. And would for a short period of time. Then go right back it. The missing link to me not being successful with stopping, I did not have God in my life.
    She has moved out of the house with our children back to her hometown. Her childhood sweetheart that she had married and divorce (she has a child with as well.) they are on talking terms and I believe that they are involve. He used to put on a pedestal when they were together eventhough he would physically abuse her. She told me that she stills have deep feelings and love for him.
    I know that I did not have God in my life as well not being attentive to her needs and our communication skills stunk. I have been selfish and etc. I love my life and she told me that she loves me but is not in love with me. My response was, you care for me like a friend? And when I asked her what does she means by that, ” I didn’t say that I love you like a friend. we have a child together and we have spent years together more bad than good.”
    I am want to work on fixing myself and my marriage. I asked her what is going on and that I know she is working on herself and our children. And I asked if we are completely done. She told me, I don’t know.
    Now she is coming to the house to pick up the washer and dryer as well as drop the kids off so we can spend some time together. I told her she can have the washer and dryer because she will need it having the children. I asked her when she returns back from dropping it off at her place in her hometown, can we have dinner she said that she has to get the kids back and get them ready for school. However, she did say that we can have lunch. Bottom line, is this she was a stay at home mom with several kids that she had to deal with and me working 8-12 hours a day. We really never spent time together. Because of me and work. And I realize just how needy she is and I had neglected her needs to where she in return did mine. She has also told me that it is not all my fault that it is partially hers, because she stay this long and allow it to happen this long of a time.
    I love my wife and I don’t want to lose her eventhough she told me that I have a long time ago. And the said thing, I do not know if she being manipulating or not. She told me that the only reason she married me, was that she was hoping I would change my ways. It hurts and our children are suffering through as well. PLEASE HELP!

  • Alex, it sounds like things were good between you as little as 7 months ago, so I expect you gave her a reason to believe you would not return to your long-time habit. Since then, it would seem, you’ve returned to it, and she reached the end of her rope. It’s wonderful if God is helping you break that habit, but to your wife, it’s unlikely this expectation that it’s permanently changed now seems no more real than the last time.
    You’re going to need to show her, consistently, for months, that things are different now. In the meantime, she might hook up again with the father of one of her children, but the odds are really strong that it won’t last if she does.
    On the plus side, she’s obviously an extraordinarily optimistic woman. If she can convince herself to return to someone who has physically abused her, she’s likely to respond better than most women to your success at this change in your lifestyle and habits.
    So, stay strong. Buy a new washer and dryer she can come home to and you can use to send your children’s clothes home clean when they visit you. And be patiently loving, because you cannot overturn the impression you’ve created to date in just one meeting or even one month.

  • Help I need advice on figuring this out.
    My wife of 11 years (we have 2 children 10 year old son and 4 year old daughter); has told me she wants “space”
    2 years ago she wanted to leave me because our emotional connection was disappearing; and she was angry at me because i didn’t notice signals from other girls flirting with me. I fixed it and i committed 100% to the marriage.
    a few days ago she told me “I don’t love you” “I feel like dying living in the same house with you” “i have no attraction for you” ” I can’t fake it anymore – for 2 years now i’ve been faking it”
    i found out the real reason; she caught me looking at porn and it devastated her – along with me not making her feel respected.
    – She gets angry at me very quickly (i give advice and she considers it me telling her what to do as if “she’s dumb” but i give sincere advice… when others give her advice she doesn’t have a spat at them) – I think this a very minor problem, and she has just lost patience and respect for me
    – She feels that I don’t respect her or treat her like a woman – I think this is the biggest point of why our relationship failed.
    moving on; I am deeply in love with her and am willing to TRY – however her guard is up so high she just cold shoulders me. I have agreed to a separation because she says “I can work on the relationship but i will always have a doubt in my mind if i’ll be happy without you. i need space to see if i’ll miss you”; She wants to date other guys and feel if she will miss me or not…. this one hurts the most (I don’t know if she’s saying this to me because she wants me to feel hurt)
    She will be moving out in 3-4 weeks time, I have arranged a new home for her, and we have come to a separation agreement amicably. however I will keep fighting.
    PLEASE tell me i’m not going crazy or if i’m doing the right thing… or anything!!!
    – she doesn’t want to go to counselling
    – I am going to gain respect for myself back, I have ditched ALL PORN and masturbation!, I am going to get back into shape too (before i felt tired, now i feel alive)
    – I made the mistake of treating her as one of the “boys” for far too long thinking it will empower her, but i went to the deepend. I have made a commitment to treat her like a woman and to do something romantically for her at least once a month (i.e as if we were starting again)… rather htan the once every 6 months or so for the past 11 years (usually at her telling me!)
    – Even though she says she hates me and has no love for me, she still kisses me back when i kiss her! and when i go to hug her she will hug and cuddle me…. She says “it’s just habit” I find that hard to believe. i still believe there is an emotional connection that she is trying very hard to bury,
    – I believe she will lower her guard once she moves out and i’m in hopes she will miss me…. I plan on contacting her once a week or fortnight as to not appear clingy and more importantly to give her space (as hard as this is for me; i’ll refrain)
    – the quitting of porn and masturbation; I should have invested more into my relationship instead of looking for quick fixes! i know this now!!!! i’m an idiot!!!
    – if she dates with another guy, how do i deal with it? I see it as me being open to her dating but i have to show her in some way that I am the better man and willing to express my feelings!!!
    – i’m hurting…. please tell me if my plan is fool hardy; i truly believe i cannot start another relationship; I have kids to think about and i still love my wife – i believe there are small embers that just need to be re-kindled… and sure it will be harder for me than it will be for other guys but i’m hoping it doesn’t get that far

  • Jangez, I am so sorry to learn of your problems.
    If your wife asks for space to see if she misses you, be sure to give her some room to miss you. The temptation is so strong in this time to use your now limited contact with her to check how you’re doing, whether there is still a chance for you, how soon she will make her decision, etc. The worst thing you can do is to ask these questions of her.
    Why? Two reasons. First, it signals that your love for her is not likely to continue if she doesn’t say yes again soon. Second, it pushes her into a decision when she’s asked for space (time apart) to make it. She, too, will find this interim period difficult to tolerate and will want many times to just make a quick decision to be done with it. So will you. But you’ll only get your yes by being patient, because her easiest quick decision is to leave. That she doesn’t want to make this decision quickly is a very good sign if you would like to keep her.
    Getting back in shape will probably help. Even if it doesn’t make her miss you more, it will make it easier for you to tolerate this period of not knowing.
    For many women, porn and masturbation equal infidelity. Now that you’ve broken the marital contract (in her eyes), she feels free to break it, too. But notice the difference: she chooses to date. Not sleep around. Not hire prostitutes. Date. That is very likely what she feels is missing from your marriage: dating.
    Good dates don’t offer advice unless they are asked for it. They never take the woman for granted. They don’t make decisions for her unless they are quite sure she’ll be thrilled by those decisions. They show up at their charming best, and they leave their complaints about the outside world at home to focus on getting to know each other better while having a good time together.
    If you want her to miss you, be an even better date than the ones she can find. (And please know that there are so many men in the older dating pool who use dating only as a way to get no-strings sex that your odds of being better at dating than most of the men she’ll have a chance to go out with are pretty good.)
    Between dates, consider sending flowers or fruit once in a while, if your wife likes them. On the note, just write something like, “Remembering our trip to ________ and thinking of you.” Do not phone or text to ask if she got them. Let them do all the talking. If she should let you know she likes them, remember to continue this practice after you’re back together.
    Also, since you share children, please know that most single or separated mothers complain mightily about husbands who expect them to do all the laundry and kid-cleaning and homework supervising while dad is the “fun guy.” If you possible can, send them back to her with clean clothes, faces, and hands and, if appropriate, a little note about anything that came up while doing homework or reading with you or any firsts that happen while they are with you.
    I urge you to ask your wife one thing. Ask her not to have intercourse with anyone else while you’re still legally married, because in most places, you’re legally the father of any children she might have while you’re married, and you must provide for them. In the UK, you have legal “Parental Responsibility,” even if she lives with or eventually marries the child’s birth father. In the US, there are some variations by state, but it’s essentially the same.
    This might also make it easier to handle your emotions while she’s “comparison shopping.” If she even tries this. She may just want you to feel the pain she felt, as you suggest.
    Don’t talk about porn with her except to answer her questions. Think of it as you would a lover you’ve left behind. She’ll be both curious and offended. Let her control the discussion so she can heal her wound. And don’t expect any praise for doing without. Your reward will be her renewed ability to love you because she’s healed.
    If your wife won’t go to counseling, consider going to counseling or marriage education classes without her. First, it may make it easier for her to believe you’re serious about changing your use of porn (which will otherwise be impossible for her to verify while you’re living apart). Second, you’ll learn proven ways to handle disagreements and expectations, to keep the spark alive, and to translate between love languages and between love and respect so she can more easily feel your love for her.
    I agree that it’s very likely there are embers worth fanning. I suggest you set a date on the calendar for how long you’ll fan them: six months, a year, maybe only three months if that’s all you can handle. If things are going well, you can extend the date later. But things will go poorly at times, and you’ll likely be very tempted to quit trying when they do. Inconsistency, though, will lessen your chances. So set a date and force yourself to be consistently loving and more protective of your marriage than your own emotional pain until that date.
    May you melt her heart, Jangez.

  • Hi Patty,
    Thanks for the advice – it was very useful; I will try what you have said.
    I have already mentioned the “please don’t have sex with these guys”
    but her responses are always out to hurt me (in my opinion)
    at the end of the day i’m just going to have to do my best and be a better man than i used to be. hopefully this will be enough…
    one more question Patty?
    – once she moves out, how often should i contact her? “how you doing?” or “hey want to take the kids out for dinner tonight?” or “i’ve arranged a babysitter – do you want to go out for something?”
    – I have a plan where i’ll contact her once a week…. i’m wondering if thats ok?, when i say “contact” i don’t mean in the exchange of children – i mean when i “Personally contact her”
    etc etc
    p.s – i like your tip about dating – i have noted it

  • Jangez, I think your plan to invite her out once a month is excellent for starters. It leaves her time to actually miss you.
    Three things that seem to work well for others in your position are:
    (1) Occasionally set up a family outing (during your time with the kids at first) and ask if she’d care to join you and the kids for it. Be as upbeat as possible and a great dad. If it goes well, after two or three of these, maybe a month apart, try proposing something like this during her time with the kids, where it will only happen if she’d care to go along.
    (2) When you contact her (and don’t hurry to do this — she’s trying to gauge how much she misses you, and she *will* miss you if you’re not hovering), start by sharing some good news or a memory of your better times together, instead of asking the questions you’re dying to ask. Wait until she brings something up to ask about it. And wait to be asked before offering advice. Instead compliment her on her efforts to solve her own problems. Let the trust rebuild, and she will welcome your advice again.
    (3) If you get a negative response, lengthen the time between contacts again (other than the necessary ones for dealing with the children), and don’t take it personally. Your goal is to give her whatever room she needs to want more of you. She might date a guy and think things are going well, only to find herself disappointed and lonely again after two or three dates. Hang back during that time. And even if she gets a relationship going, 90 days is a common time for them to unravel. Become the one she can trust to be there when she’s alone again, if you can. Just keep picturing yourself next spring with her willingly and happily back in your arms. There’s no guarantee of this, but showing your love for her is actually strong enough to be patient is a much more successful strategy than clinging.
    It’s not easy to deal with this sort of rejection on a string. When it stings, get some exercise or have a good private cry. And feel free to add more comments here, so that your endurance of this pain becomes someone else’s light at the end of the tunnel.

  • So more than a month has passed and I’ve learnt so much about myself and how to be a better husband
    – I’ve improved my image (Bodyfat has drastically reduced, but i haven’t lost any muscle mass); I’ve started dressing better and applying cologne (especially when i go see my wife
    – I’ve wrote down all my bad points; essentially i’ve realised as a man i should never raise my voice or argue with my wife and should always take the high ground…. I should always have prioritised her above me (not put her on a pedestal… but given her priority!) I should have LED the marriage and always initiated intimacy instead of whinging about her never “coming to me”… i realised if i did all this – she would have come to me… because being a good husband rather than a manchild is attractive
    – We’ve been living separately for 1 week now.
    – I followed your advice about the small gifts, however i made them non-romantic, but more of a “I care for her and still remember her” and she was very receptive of my hand made wood carving and other things which i dropped off after 5 days of no contact. like you said “I let the gift do the talking and i waited for her to text me first”
    – I asked her to hold onto the Valentines day cards and Birthday cards she gave me (Yes I kept all of them) and told her “these are very precious to me so please hold onto them for me” , mostly because i can’t think properly knowing those cards are in the house…
    – I did what you said about getting the kids properly ready for drop off (clean, and all their clothes washed and folded neatly) I even dropped her off some dinner and she took it for lunch and had it for dinner as well. I also cooked her dinner (because she hadn’t cooked hers yet)
    – and that’s when it happened; after 1 month of her being stone cold and not showing any weakness, she started to have tears in her eyes (not out of anger) but something else. and I gave her a hug and she broke down; i asked her if she is crying because she misses me and she replied with “I Dont want to talk about it”
    My plan going forward is:
    – No Contact until mothers day on the 14th May – where I will bring her some freshly cooked breakfast that she likes, and a card from the kids + a gift voucher for her facial products.
    – then I was not going to contact her for about 2-3 weeks, before i send her that other tip about reminding her of a fond memory; I found a really good picture of her and i was going to say “hey where was this beautiful picture taken? it’s got a really pretty lady in it” and see if i can gauge her response
    All in all… Space + the occasional gentle reminder that i’m there for her and changing to be a better husband (i.e working on myself)
    One Question Patty… Should I go on Dates?
    She is still distant (i.e “i dont want to talk about it”)
    I still need to show her that I can be happy without her… but having her in my life will make me happy as well.
    but should I go on dates? (it’s what she’s told me to do… but i dont know if i should really listen to that advice from her!)

  • Jangez, you Mother’s Day plans sound great. I hope they went over well with your wife.
    I applaud your efforts to change the relationship without demanding any status updates from her. Those tears suggest her heart is not yet done making this decision. Everything you do that quietly shows you want a different relationship helps, but it needs time to get from her eyes and ears to her heart.
    Dating is obviously your decision to make, but I see two big risks. The first is that you are probably starved for affection right now and possibly also for sex. You are at risk of being manipulated by someone who wants something from you and in danger of falling for someone new before you’re ready to be fully present and responsible with her heart.
    The second risk is to your marriage if your wife chooses to return. Anyone either of you dates will be with you for the rest of your time together. It’s nearly impossible not to wonder why one’s spouse chose someone with a different hair color, different eyes, different lips, a different weight, a higher status career, more money, less or more intelligence, different clothing, different hobbies, kids or no kids, etc., etc. And the wondering happens (and happens again and again) whenever the marriage is at some risk and in need of repair, not when all is well and a little reassurance is all that’s needed.
    Again, congratulations on all these healthy changes you’re making. You are so right that “being a good husband rather than a manchild is attractive.” I expect it will be.

  • Hi Patty,
    Thank you for your advice
    I’ve come to my own decision about dating (i’ve decided not to do it), i’m slowly getting over my urge for affection and sex (although affection is pretty hard to get over)
    – infact i told my wife about an encounter i had just recently where a girl asked me out and i just said “sorry i’m in a bad space, thanks for the offer”
    her reply was “I would have gone”
    but i just responded with “yea if that makes you happy, but i know it wouldn’t have made a difference to me”
    I even realised that the whole “dating” question is stupid – infact even asking this question applies pressure on my wife; if she says anything other than “Go Date” then it’s showing her true feelings – whereas the cold feeling of “Go Date” is the easiest answer to give in almost any scenario
    She took the mothers day gift very well… we had a few intimate moments throughout the day.
    some conclusions:
    a/ she’s still got trust issues – i.e if she comes back then i’ll drop the consistency and revert (could be true)
    b/ she’s still got resentment issues based on #a above
    c/ she still doesn’t know what she wants, i reckon she has an interest in actually dating other men to see if it’s right for her
    but she is heavily warming up to me and even admitted to me that “she misses me”
    she told me that she wants to spend 1 year alone before she makes her decision (before she moved out, she said 3-6 months); i simply responded with “whether it’s one year or 2 years, or even if another man is involved, it doesn’t matter to me; and even if it’s 6 months or less it doesn’t matter to me; what matters is that you need to decide for yourself what makes you happy – and i’ll be happy for you”
    she also has been chatting a lot to a guy at work (she asks me questions about him) because the guy wants to watch tv shows with her (or something), she was asking me if he’s doing it because he just wants to be my friend or sleep with me; i just said “well it’s a bit odd that he would come out with “watch TV shows with me” after you’ve announced your separation… but if thats what you want to do and if you believe it will make you happy, then you must do it”
    so – in the end, she was looking for a jealous response…
    to all the men reading this who want to get their wives back – you must not let anger or jealousy control you… Take the high ground – she will find it much more attractive
    anyway… fingers crossed that she becomes even warmer… as her resentment fades
    even if she goes on dates – i don’t think it’s going to have much more of an impact rather than (just friends) because, it’s quite obvious she still has a strong emotional connection with me

  • Jangez
    She cried and doesn’t want to talk about it because she slept with someone else. The “space” was to be away to sleep with a new lover. Welcome to the club.tom

  • If a woman loses love for you it is because she has given it to someone else. She wants to date because she wants to spend time with someone specific. She wants space to have sex without you being around. I am pretty positive it will be an old love interest from high school, possible someone she dated. His relationship fell through and he preyed on your wife, common. You are plan b, missing you just means the relationship wasn’t what she expected it to be, and you are a safety net.

  • Thanks Patty. Just throwing out the possibility in case. That happens often. I understand you want to keep it positive. I truly hope things work out for jangez. The “I don’t want to talk about it” with tears does sound like she crossed the line and regrets it.

  • Well said, Jangez! Sounds like you’re taking the route with the best chance of rebuilding your wife’s trust in you and a strong foundation for a better marriage.

  • Well unfortunately with so many women that are Gay nowadays which many of the women now do prefer to be with another woman.

  • Hey Patty,
    I have read some comments and your replies and wanted to share my story.
    About 6 weeks ago my girlfriend said she wanted to end our relationship. The feeling wasn’t there anymore.
    We have been together for almost half of our lives (18years, we are both 36). And lived together for almost 12 years.
    The last couple of years where rough on both of us due to her having completing a very intensive study next to her full time job and falling into a burn-out and unemployment inmediatly after. And me being handed a shitty set of tasks at my job. That gave me a lot of stress, irritation and lowered my self esteem. I was dissapointed and that didnt help either.
    As told her burn-out led to unemployment and that did not go smooth and took a big toll on her. It was a long and emotional process that involved legal help in the end. All the while I tried to be there for her as good as I (then knew) I could (be).
    She became more distant, I became more depressed. She expressed her doubts about half a year ago and went to a yoga retreat to took some time apart. After that things more or less where the same.
    Anyway, back to the break up.
    After she told me that I bawled up in tears and she left for her parents. A week later we saw eachother again after I asked her for some explanation.
    I had done some introspection and have found that I was too emotionaly dependent and have not been myself lately. I was just not happy. Tired and felt depressed. I did not tell her this and let her do the talking. It went well, she cried and whe held hands.
    She more or less told me the same, and that she always have felt like she was the one doing everything. Making desciscions, doing things financially, planning etc. This was more or less true.
    She saw her part in this, because she always just did it anyway.
    Also she noticed that I never really could reach my full potential as a person or professionally. Which she thought was a shame, she saw glimpses of the man I could have been. But somehow I just could not get there.
    I asked her what she really wanted now (in life) and she said a place of her own. She wanted to start building herself again. Which I could totally understand. But I felt heartbroken anyway.
    Since then I have sought professional help and have found that I suffer from depression.
    I am working with a psychologist, and I am going to work with some specialists on my ADD problems.
    I know where my emotional dependency problems come from (upbringing, parents) and I am working with a jobcoach to get more out of my (professional) life.
    I know I got so much potential in that area (creative, humour, analytic etc) so that helps. But I still feel sad, and scared at times.
    I have been stuck for so long.
    I did no contact for a bit, but replied to her when necessary. Her tone was friendly (some emoticons even) She stayed at her parents and at a mutual friends house who was abroad.
    Last week she e-mailed me she wanted to see me and talk about some practical things and wanted to know how I have been.
    We got together and I told her about my process. And with what and whom I was working with. We both got emotional. Sometimes we touched eachother etc. She told my she is going to rent a short stay apartment in the same city. We are no longer a couple (she was clear about this) She is going to work on herself and I am doing the same and maybe we will find eachother.
    That night she sent me a text.
    “I really wanted to say to you that I enjoyed seeing you again”
    Being in ‘our’ house is difficult and emotional so I have to get myself a place of my own. But I have been to busy with getting the right help and support. I get frustrated sometimes thinking about why she did not open up about her doubts or share her true wishes in life. Was she scared I would be critical?
    Maybe she does not know where she stands and what she wants, but she wanted out.
    So, I have been honest with myself and I still believe I want to give us a try. Albeit in a completely new way offcourse. I believe we never got to the ‘next level’ as a person but also as a couple. I am thinking of hooking up and grabbing a cup of coffee. And just talk about what is happening. Nothing more.
    I would love to build a renewed connection and attraction but how do I get about this? And when?
    How do I show her I am changing (show don’t tell) I hope you can give me some insights or input.
    Thanks in advance!

  • Life is long, Jay. Why not try living separately, rebuilding your individual lives, with a set date for finding a place together again or calling it quits? Of course, you two are free to move in together sooner if you like, but planning on 12 months will keep you from trying to reassess after each get-together.
    Be sure you take initiative to plan some of the get-togethers. You are so right that you need to show, not tell, that you heard that complaint of hers.
    See if she’ll agree to date no one else and just work on her life, if you’re willing to do the same.
    As your life improves, invite her into it more and more. At the end of the year, you’ll both be in a much better place to move forward, whether it’s together or separately. You’ll be so much less likely to fall into a bad relationship or to avoid doing the tough work you’ve done such a great job of starting.
    Best of luck to both of you, Jay!

  • Thank you Patty for taking your time to read (my long piece, sorry about that) and leave a reply.
    This could be something I could work with. I am however hesitant to propose this concept to her. Maybe because I am scared or scared to come across as needy or needing some form of clarity. Not that there is anything wrong with that last one. Last time we saw eachother she said that giving it a certain amount of time or term would be counter productive for her or my own proces.
    I hope I can get trough her with this. Time will tell. And I should give it time. I will be sure to take the initiative in this part. That much is clear.
    I had the courace to listen to all of her problems with us. Heard where she was coming from. And taking on a more responsible and commiting to a new way of being. Next step is looking past the problem and for a sollution.
    She has moved out now and we are in the proces of dividing our assets and splitting up our finances, accounts and insurance etc.
    A mutual friend told me that my ex still had feelings for me, but she knows we could not be together as it was. She misses me, but doesnt want to give in to her feelings because that wouldnt work.
    She talked about maybe falling in love in the future but she doesnt know if that could actually happen.
    And that seeing me is hard because of her feelings.
    That mutual friend told me she was more loyal to my ex, but saw that she wasn’t in a good place right now and not in tune with her emotions.
    That friend told me she does not want to give me false hope as a disclaimer.
    Well, that actually makes it hard for me to know what to or what to think about this. But it kinda confirmed my suspicions. My focus remains on rebuilding myself and becoming a better man.
    A friend pointed out to me today that It could be a good thing to find out what I would need in a (renewed) relationship and to honestly try to see if that is something feasible or something I would really want or could live with.
    Anyway, I’ll try to take it all in and work on that as well. And create a more solid foundation on how to live my own life. Meanwhile I’ll be sure to take initiative and check in with her in the near future. Maybe just a quick coffee somewhere. Small steps..

  • Jay, set yourself a time and keep it to yourself if she’s not interested in setting a time. She’s in control now, having decided to leave, and having a date in mind for yourself can stop the obsessing about whether it’s time each week to call it quits or keep trying.
    And of course she still has feelings for you. She just could not stand your lifestyle together, and she ran out of ideas for changing it. She is likely to feel the loss of your relationship later than you. Leave her a little room to feel it, without rejecting any attempts she makes to see more of you when the pain gets bad. And keep working on the lifestyle changes.

  • Thnx Patty,
    I’ll be sure to keep doing that!
    I talked about this with a good friend and have given myself that time.
    Right now it is important to focus on my growth. And assume love 😉

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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