The Road Back to Love

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When your husband or wife pulls back from your relationship, gets distracted by work or a hobby, or says, “I love you, but I am not in love with you,” that’s scary. Your lifestyle, your family, your home, your wealth, and your self-esteem may all feel on the line.
And you may very well feel it’s unjustified, unfair. This makes you angry.
You may even feel you have no control as things go downhill. This makes you sad.
And so you withdraw or you attack. Suddenly, there is no “we,” just a “me” in need of protection.
But there is no way back to love except through love. Defensiveness does not work. Criticism does not work. Contempt does not work. Stonewalling does not work. Withdrawing does not work.
What works is looking for all the reasons you are grateful to have this person in your life. What works is creating brief moments together when everything is great, while you stare at the stars together, laugh at something funny together, savor a victory together, or create something together. What works is saying thank you, reaching out with a tiny, gentle touch, staying fully present in a conversation, and showing up even when you fear you might get hit with anger or, worse, ignored.
The only road back to love is through love.

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.

12 Comments

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  • I think this is advice that everyone should get on their wedding night (preferably way before that, but definitely on their wedding night.
    Thank you, Patty.

  • of course: exactly what I needed to hear on a tough day… and exactly what I’ve been struggling to continue to do in spite of the fact that it does seem to be only me trying. I saw this when I ran home to pack a bag and evaporate for the night, but am going to re-read and re-read until I either get my “strength” back, or until I have to cede failure for today. Thanks for all the wonderful, thought provoking posts!

  • I am currently in the middle of just this. It appears it is slowly working. Though I have had to put on a thick skin sometimes, as you mentioned in other posts. But the signs are clear, she is letting her guard down and I am sending more love her way.
    I am so glad I found your site. I have already recommended you and will continue to do so.
    Thank you, Patty. You are a wonderful person.

  • I have read and re-read this post so many times since yesterday and it has helped me so much. And I have reminded myself of this post every time I have felt like giving up/withdrawing/being angry in the past 24 hours. It has helped so much!
    Your post (and comments by others) has really helped me in 2 ways. Firstly it has made me realise that other people are going through the same thing as I am (so I don’t feel so alone now!). And secondly your awesome practical steps make me hopeful for the future and make me feel positive feelings for my partner and make me want to be the kind of partner he wants to be around.
    Thanks for your awesome advice, Patty 🙂

  • Since you posted that you enjoy/appreciate the comments, I just wanted to leave one and tell you that I think the 2nd half of this post is brilliant. I have a happy and stable marriage (I am very blessed) but I do have other relationships in my life that are not what I would like them to be, and this reminder applies to them all. Thank you!!
    PS–the first half was good too!

  • Oh my this post is so timely for me. I am going through this right now and keep,wondering what todo. Yes love is the answer. Your blog has been helping me for the past few weeks but this post has really hit home. Thank you so much !

By Patty Newbold

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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