How to Get Your Wife or Husband to Love You Again


A lot of people find this blog while looking for the answer to this question: how can I get my wife (or husband) to love me again? The answer is pretty much the same way it happened originally. But perhaps you were not so aware then as you are now.
For starters, you can stop doing anything that frightens your spouse. This often includes drinking too much, doing anything illegal or especially dangerous, letting your temper get out of control, using street drugs or legal drugs that turn you into someone unfamiliar, or staying in touch with someone you had an affair with. You won’t get anywhere while his or her guard is up.
But let’s say you’re not doing any of those. What next? More kisses and hugs, if they are welcomed. More understanding and comforting touches. More hand holding, even if just for a moment to help your spouse out of a car or up from the floor. More compliments or praise. More thank you’s. At least five pleasant interactions for every one unpleasant one.
Ready for the next level? Create more opportunities to laugh, relax, or say ahhhhh — together. Make yourself available. Make the plans. Arrange the babysitter or picnic lunch or car rental. Invite your spouse, invitingly. Get out to a comedy club or a movie. Get into a hot tub or hammock. Go find yourselves a gorgeous spot in nature, a seat in a grand music hall, or a tour of an art museum. Love happens while you are sharing positive emotions.
Become more seductive, less demanding. If you’re having sex only once a week or once a month, you have lots of time for some very slow foreplay. Put it to good use. Don’t rush.
Listen for your mate’s good news and amplify it. Show your enthusiasm, praise the efforts that led to it, skip the what-ifs. Let your good news or remembrances of past successes wait until you both have savored the latest good news in your spouse’s life.
Notice what your husband or wife is good at. Create more opportunities to employ these strengths. Talk about the ways your life is enhanced as a result. Say thank you.
When you’re talking, give your beloved your full attention. Put your phone away. Close your book. Turn off your computer monitor and television. Pay attention to his or her breathing and breathe together. Inconspicuously match your movements: lean in or sit back when your spouse does, return each smile with one of your own, uncross your arms or cross your legs in sync. Gaze gently into his or her eyes and hold it for a minute or two if your mate gazes back.
Avoid asking if it’s over. It’s not. Don’t encourage your spouse to make a premature decision he or she might then feel obliged to stand by.
If your spouse is thinking of moving out, don’t help with the packing or the expense. Instead of making you seem helpful, it makes you seem disinterested in restoring your relationship. Make it clear you want to start the second phase of your marriage, more aware and more willing to learn than you were in the first phase.
Don’t involve your children. Don’t use their wellbeing to guilt your spouse into staying. Don’t use them to communicate with your spouse. Don’t use them to get information about your spouse. You cannot sneak or bully your way back to love.
Don’t enter into a competition with anyone your spouse may have turned to for sexual excitement or emotional comfort. You have a huge advantage as the person your mate chose to wed and promised to love. Focus on restoring your relationship and let anyone else fall by the wayside.
Know that faded passion for each other is normal. It is simply hedonic adaptation, the same very human condition that makes the eighth spoonful of ice cream a lot less enjoyable than the first one and makes lottery winners no happier after a year or two than before their big win. But passion is not gone forever. A big shakeup like you are experiencing can create enough change, enough surprise to restart it.
Two of your best tools for fanning the flames are taking the time to savor all the good moments and keeping surprise into your relationship by going new places and trying new things together. The third is patience. It takes time to let all the resentments out of a marriage and restore the healthy expectation of being pleasantly surprised by love.
Wishing you long-term success at encouraging your wife or husband to fall in love with you all over again.

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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  • Wow, This is much more profound in thirteen paragraphs than many books. I’ve found myself to have arrived here in every grown up relationship I’ve ever treasured and it’s more than likely I will be here again. The step about patience is really the beautiful pivot , and I bet most difficult for my male brothers. Suffering is here, but it’s the missing part with real motion forward in it’s middle. It’s also the place of the most damaging failure ( for me ) because it’s linked with ‘all or nothing’ thinking about what the other should be doing right now…..Blessings Patty.

  • This is great I really love this. My husband and I are married almost 7 years. I love him very much we have a son that is 4 next mont and he is amazing I am far from perfect. But I was born with a medical condition that as I get older is affecting my intimacy w my husband my self esteem used to be great when we first met and before I met him just from my own growing up and starting to appreciate myself my life and the little things in life but the last 3 years have been hard. My husband always exaggerates since I’ve known him an told what I thought were white lies….well I found an abundance of porn chat sites and the worst pictures of his ex best friends ex girlfriend whom I know from 12 years ago when she still dated his friend the 1st yr my husband n I were together( we were 22 and 24 when we met) inseprable the first 2years moved in after 6 6 months together he proposed on his bday in oct 2005 n we postponed 1st wedding due to him starting a business which unfortunately failed but I happen to think for a reason to put us in a healthier business opportunity hopefully soon as we are trying to accomplish this now. We married in sept 07 n the week before the wedding he told me the money he saved for our final down payment for our hall 25k he did not have. We were both supposed to pay half together.also my engagement ring I payed 4k to his mom because he hadn’t finished paying her n she added on to the bill as he had borrowed the down payment for the hall from her I payed her back as soon as we opened our envelopes and then from my job while I was working before I got really sick in 08. He also borrowed 110k for his business which I knew about but his mom n him kept most of that a secret because it was her money. Anyway I also gave him 4k toward the business when he needed it as we were narried and I felt he was trying to make a future for us….so he told me cut to 08 I get really sick can’t work his business goes under and we have no savings just money from his new job that he wound up getting slowly but surely we lost everything 2 vehichles our apartment we had lived in for 7 years I sold all my clothes anything I could. Once I got little better I started working again still getting infections but doing the best I could. When we got back on our feet right before losing the apartment I was approaching my 30s and w my condition could not wait to have kids so my husband n I started trying together for a year. After failed attempts we sought help from fertility specialist I first went 5 hrs away to seek special attention from 1 of the only drs in the world familiar with the illness I have. He unlike every other dr ive ever had gave me hope and said he felt I was able to healthily have a baby just do it now before I most likely need other surgeries as I grow older. So after seeing ivf dr we found husband had low testosterone ,low sperm count motility and morphology due to vericosele vein constricting normal sperm. He also has high blood pressure and put on 100 pounds after the 1st 2 years of knowing him. He had a sugar addiction so bad it turns out that he apparently would throw out the breakfast lunch and sometimes eat dinner out and the dinner I made but he would drink about 10 sodas a day! I never bought it because I was trying to promote healthy eating but he wasn’t having upset me because as gorgeous as he is even w the weight it was as if he was trying to kill himself it didn’t matter that his blood pressure was extremely high he had sleep apnea he was depressed and nothing was helping because he wasn’t trying he didn’t care it seemed and he started to say. So as this was slowly happening as he would say during this time he was fine just tired from working so long..although they never paid him right…he said now I know different. Well I was working and still trying to persevere thru everything 4 iuis later n the dr said I’m wasting my time I need ivf 10k dollars later which thankfully half of it my two very best friends lent to me…my mother in law said she would’ve but only if my husband sold the machine for 20k she would give us 5 he had paid her back the money but nothing in addition apparently the contract w her was she was the owner I never knew this n he never made a dime while I worked she wouldn’t let him take pay until she was paid back first. When it failed she said she wanted the machine sold because she was hoping the business would take off n pay her medical insurance because she decided she didnt want to work at 50 and move to Florida. Well she didn’t instead she sold her main home for 440 and her summer home sold for about same wound up avoiding cap gains because of the business my husband had and moved in with us for 6months and another friend and would stay at peoples houses when she got sick of our apartment. Then the best thing happened I finally became pregnant it was a miracle 2nd ivf it worked. I stopped working because as I was pregant i became very ill. My son came 8 weeks early but thankfully survived with underdeveloped lungs that were intibated then became healthy as he grew older by 1 he was on the charts he’s so strong and such a fighter. Well now it’s present day and after discovering my husband is a pathological liar he is a bully he actually made fun of my chest size when I just breast fed my son for a year(this is before I found these pictures emails texts) he apparently the day I realized I was pregnant made a choice to make me feel trapped miserable and so helpless…how did I not know this? Am I totally crazy how can a romantic thoughtful he used to scope out public restrooms in the most polite way so I knew where to go and wouldnt be in pain the first 2 years and even a little bit before I stopped working n was pregant. What happened how can this unbelievable understanding spiritual loving person go from that to a bully a lazy sabotaging unapprecitive evil selfish person…his mother has the most negative impact on him too and we now live in her house in one room for our son to sleep n then our bedroom is our kitchen we have no table to eat no money except the little disablity money I get she locks us in there w nolts locks all 3 doors barges in while im trying to get dressed has said horrible things to me cause I can’t work and has heard my husband n I argue he yells at me my son and our dog n gets crazy n I try to remain calm buhe antogonizes me lies doesnt work sleeps all day does inappropriate things to me my body n talks inappropriately in front of my son. In fact he tells me I’m a terrible mother took my son from me on mothers day ruins every holiday bdays n occasionally says he’s going to change right when I’m starting to shut myself off..he knows I have no where to go he stopped working the minute I got my retroactive money n then got 2 bs jobs in between more lies. He also told me that his boss thought he was excuse my language “banging” the secretary at work. Also another guy asked because of the way he acts and bad things ive caught him lie make up stories about me to family coworkers my friends his friends etc. Blatent lies. Why? Then he told me when I found the oictures of this girl in a teeny tiny bikini after all the insults to my body that he was friends w..the man that I fell for used to say I was the most beautiful girl in the world which was sweet theb I find these n he’s got feelings for her was an excuse a year and half after finding them the first excuses were he was aroused by her trying to impress guys at work but got obsessed w her at home while I was in the next room. Who is this man what do I do? Does anyone think he will ever be the man he says he wants to be once in a blue moon then takes it back and calls me nasty things….what do I do is he a sociopath psychopath is he really depressed lazy confused cruel? Im so distraught and torn…is this hereditary has he always been this way n just a great liar at first.please help please I see the good in everyone and don’t want to leave him but my son’s safety is the most important thing and if he is never going to change I need to leave somehow. But right now what do I do? Do I let him speak to me and my son
    like this? How do I make plans he sabotages everything? Do I ignore him please someone please help me!

  • I am so sorry for all your pain, Jill. You pose a very interesting question: “How can this unbelievable understanding spiritual loving person go from that to a bully a lazy sabotaging unapprecitive evil selfish person?”
    Assume Love: ask the question as if you know for sure he still intends to be that wonderful, loving person, because you increase your chance of discovering what’s really going on when you do this, even if what’s going on is not loving.
    Answering this question will very likely help you figure out how to get things going right again. Many of us just assume we were wrong about the person we chose to marry and dismiss the love of our life and parent of our child as defective. Sometimes, we’re correct. Often we are not.
    So it’s worth it to ponder what forces could have changed him if he really is the person you saw in him. What are his character strengths, and why aren’t they helping him now? Does his mother get something she wants from him when he owes her or lives with her? Or is she getting a raw deal just as you are?
    Does he use porn to replace you or to feel more powerful and in control when nothing is going as he planned? Is he addicted to it? Is he addicted to drugs or alcohol?
    Does he feel he’s failed and has lost your respect? Or his mother’s?
    Does he lie to take advantage of other people or to make a better impression on them because he doesn’t like the real one? Does he make fun of you out of jealousy at the attention and admiration you now give your son or out of meanness?
    Is his personality change significant enough to warrant having him checked for a brain tumor causing it? Is there a local doctor or clinic you could afford to help him figure out if he is in depression and to provide treatment?
    Any of these questions might shed some light on the paths available to you for restoring your relationship. They also distract your mind from its very natural urge to obsessively analyze every possible sign that you are in danger around him. When you distract it, you allow yourself to recall a lot more of what you know about him and the situation. This makes you a much better problem-solver.

  • I came across this article while desperately looking for answers. I have been married to a wonderful loving man for almost three years. We’ve had a few bumps in our road that created a trust issue. Over the last several months those bumps became sinkholes. He got a new Co-worker and things started falling apart. His attention for me started declining, communication dropped off. My paranoia grew and we’d fight. The more we’d fight, the more distant he became. I started invading his privacy to find out why and found all sorts of other things that spiraled me rapidly into an out of control point. Nothing that gave concrete proof of an affair mind you, just enough to let me know my wishes were no longer a priority to him. He finally had enough and told me he no longer loves me, has no feelings left and is considering moving out. He has agreed to counseling but he seems set on being done one minute and the next it seems like hes trying. What do I do? How do I fix this and get his love back again?

  • Rebecca, I am so sorry you have fallen into this sinkhole.
    For anyone else who might be reading these comments, feeling the ground just beginning to shift under their feet: when your mate’s interest wanes, fighting and invading his or privacy may help you get the bad news faster, but they won’t increase your mate’s interest in you. And if there is an affair going on, you’re both going to need to really want to work at rebuilding the trust, so everything you do to distance your spouse makes it harder to recover.
    Rebecca, as long as he’s only considering moving out and he’s willing to try counseling, you still have a chance. Please don’t begrudge him his days when it feels futile. There will surely be many of them before you get back to a strong, intimate relationship. Focus on the ones when he doesn’t and make the most of them.
    For men, respect is extremely important. Invading his privacy was a huge breach of what’s important to most husbands. Now you are in the awful position of suspecting a huge breach on his part while your own is undeniable.
    It could be really tempting to use your counseling time to discover whether your suspicions were right or wrong. I would recommend you use it instead to find out whether his attention for you declined for a reason you two can do something about. I say you two, because such reasons almost always involve a feedback loop, in which you do something that triggers him to do something that triggers you to do something, until you find yourselves too far apart to hug.
    And between counseling sessions, I hope you will try some of the things I suggested in the blog post.
    If you’re still curious about whether he did or he didn’t, it will be a lot easier and less painful to ask him after you both feel comfortable and trusting together again — or after you are divorced.

  • I find this helpful but my problem is how do I get myself to love him as much as I use to and to get him to love me a much as he loved me back then. Let me start out by telling you we were head over hills in love with each other when we met he would of killed for me! Then over the years our love went sour he started cheating putting me down by calling me names and so on well I just got in the way because I have more respect for my spouse that I have never cheated on him! He treats me like he cares when we are alone and his family is not around we have a 6 year old and a 2 year old I just don’t know if we should just let go of ten years or should I fight and stand my ground I just don’t know what to do any more nothing I do makes him happy anymore I just can’t keep living like this he has cheated on me several times what should I do please help me

  • Teresa, when you are dealing with multiple infidelities, I urge you to find a good marriage therapist to help the two of you sort things out. Often infidelities are not about your marriage as much as they are about how the cheater feels about himself, whether he’s feeling entitled or feeling a desperate need for respect and admiration he doesn’t know how to find at home. You can’t love someone you don’t trust, and it may take outside help to rebuild trust.
    There is some excellent stuff about infidelity at And there are some helpful therapists at and

  • hello everyone….i ran in to this blog after one night my wife got home and was sitting in bed and she had something to say, she said that she felt confuse to the person she married (me) that i wasn’t the person she fell in love with when we started dating.
    We met in college and before we graduated we found out that we were pregnant, we right away moved in together and at first it was rough for me to leave my rockstarish lifestyle but i was slowly going out less and she didn’t go out at all so i was working harder at work and trying to slow my drinking but what i would and still do was drinking by myself after she would go to bed.
    one of her issues now is that she feels that i wasn’t there for her during the pregnancy or even when my daughter was born, i was there but i admit to not being there mentally I’ve had some depression all my life i was diagnosed with epilepsy when i was 21 and stopped drinking for 3 years and then when i was 24-25 i started back but this before years before i met her i was in a relationship for 3 years a very destructive one and when i went back to school i met this girl that the first time i saw her i felt something (my wife) and it took months before i even made a move but when i did i left my ex told her that she needed to move out and that unfortunately it had ended so i started dating my wife and everything was like a fairytale we right away felt like we were going to be together forever and that we wanted kids a house etc….we found out we were pregnant and we were happy shocked but happy thats when we decided to move in and start our life.
    i know I’ve messed up but we’ve been together for almost 2 years now we have a beautiful baby girl and our own house but yes we have this issue that has been occurring for months that she feels she can forgive but not forget and I’ve been trying to tell her that she is living in the past that we need to focus on the future.
    I can be a negative person sometimes but i don’t want to be that person anymore i love her with all my heart and she says that maybe its just her that doesn’t feel the same way, that she expresses that she’s not saying its completely hopeless but doesn’t know how to make things better or how to trust me again, she says that i need to gain more self esteem and be more positive.
    so people how can i make my wife fall in love again with that person she met and how can i or what can i do to help her because i still love her with all my heart she is in my head all the time and i don’t want in just 2 years to loose what i think hasn’t even begun….

  • Phil, your wife is already in love with the person she met. But your memory of that person and hers are quite likely different. I would start by asking her who she remembers, who she fell in love with.
    And if she is living in the past, rehashing what you acknowledge was emotional withdrawal during her pregnancy and the birth, perhaps instead of trying to get her to live in the future, you could revisit the past with her for a week or two and do it differently this time, asking her about the experience of pregnancy, her fears, her hopes, and what she felt she needed from you. Then tell her you would have given them if you had known then what you know now. It may be enough to help her let go of this pain.
    I am less clear on another element of what you write, and I want to strongly urge you to discuss it with a doctor. It sounds like depression is at the center of your problems with your wife. It leads to being negative and having less self esteem. Drinking (especially drinking alone) is a terrible idea for anyone prone to depression, and epilepsy also increases your risks of depression on three fronts: the cause of the epilepsy may also cause depression; poorly controlled epilepsy may increase your risk of depression; and epilepsy medications may increase your risk of depression.
    Consider asking about a referral for cognitive-behavioral therapy (read Learned Optimism for the methods used and how well they prevent and reduce the severity of bouts with depression) and about anti-depressants suitable for those with seizure disorders (because they work quickly and you need to move quickly to save your marriage). Also ask about perhaps adjusting your epilepsy medications to improve your mood and (if it’s an issue in your marriage) your sex drive.
    Most doctors can diagnose an addiction to alcohol. When you find it hard to stop and you take to drinking alone, there is a chance you have become addicted to the stuff. They have meds to help treat it and can advise on handling your epilepsy while stopping. If alcohol is affecting your relationship, they are likely to recommend Alcoholics Anonymous, still one of the most successful approaches around.
    There are three books I recommend to anyone choosing to become less negative. How to Make Yourself Happy and Remarkably Less Disturbable by Albert Ellis is a short book of tips from one of the creators of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. The Art of Possibility by Benjamin and Roz Zander will put a smile on your face and a bunch of new tools in your tool kit. And Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman will introduce ways to get yourself “north of neutral” when you’re out of depression.
    And then, of course, all the other things I suggested on this page. I hope you and your wife and daughter find a positive, self-confident, loving, and healthy future ahead. Give her a kiss for giving you an earlier heads-up about problems than a lot of men get.

  • My wife has lost feelings for me over the last several years. She wishes she could love me but she doesn’t look at me the way a girl should look at a boy. Brother Sister relationship.
    We agreed that I would move out and see if we can spark some feelings by beginning to talk or date or actually have meaningful time with eachother.
    She says she wishes it didn’t get so bad but I hope she begins to develop feelings for me again once I’m gone.
    Very sad and hopeful

  • Ged, I am so sorry you two have reached this point. Here are some great resources for ideas on how to spark her fire. Most are Bible-based, with lots of value for everyone else, too.
    And if your wife says she loves you but no longer feels “in love,” be sure to check out this site:

  • I have been with my husband for 7years. We have a 6 year old soon. We got married last august. But soon after he told me he didn’t love me the same way anymore, that the feelings weren’t there. After a few months he moved out. Did I fail to mention he start liking a friend of mine soon after he decided to break up what we had. They spoke a lot and her and I were friends at the time. I don’t know if they had any relations but I know they still spoke after the friendship was broken. He would still come over and see our soon on a daily basis. We got in a huge fight one night and I poured my heart out and told him how I felt. The next day he asked me to go over to a friends house,which I found odd and later that night he asked if I wanted to try things again. I excepted it and with been living together since this was in April. He tells me again now that the feelings aren’t there. So I asked him what he missed about me and he said a lot. He won’t tell me what it is. Other than we don’t spend time together and that nothing has changed. I don’t know what else to do. I feel helpless. I want things to work between especially for our son.

  • Anonymous, what led to your wedding a year ago, five years after your son was born and six after you got together? If it was threats to leave if he didn’t marry you, you are on pretty shaky ground and may want to find a marriage-friendly marriage therapist to help you through a difficult passage.
    If it was a deepening of your love for each other or an event long-awaited and delayed by school or military deployment, it could be commitment phobia on his part, the extremely strong urge to create space between you whenever things are at their best and closest (i.e., when they feel best to HIM), which may fade over time if you make it undramatic to create the space and to close it again.
    However, there is one line in your comment that’s a bit unclear but could be a big clue. If he named “we don’t spend time together” as a problem, then you may need to hire a babysitter on a regular basis just to spend time alone with him. For some people, quality time together is what they need to feel loved, and including your son may just not do it for him. You can read more about this at Gary Chapman’s
    If you cannot afford a babysitter, find a friend who needs you to babysit (or wallpaper or cook or do the laundry) in exchange for taking care of your son — or take time off from work while he’s in school.
    And — regardless of what’s brought you to this point — remember that holding hands, hugging, massage, stroking his arms, sex, and sharing a positive emotion (a belly laugh, a sigh of relief, awe at a beautiful sight, or joy from singing) all release oxytocin, which makes it much easier for a man to stay with one partner.

  • I came across this article when looking for ideas on how to get my hubby to fall in love with me again. We have been together for 24 years married for 14. We have been very intimate and loving with each other until the last three years. He became very distant where he doesn’t want to be intimate with me, snuggle me, cuddle me, or even kiss me. He does hold my hand when we go to a movie together, and he lets me kiss him on the cheek goodbye before he goes anywhere. He doesn’t return the “I love you” when I say it to him. I feel as if he blames me for something he thinks I did that I didn’t do. If that makes sense. His brother died a year ago from cancer, and ever since Dan was diagnosed, Carl ( my hubby) became distant with me. Friends used to tell me that he’s just going through depression, and that it will get better after Dan passes. Well it’s been over a year and still nothing changing. It’s like we are roommates instead of husband and wife. He is my best friend, always has been, but I can not figure out what has caused this change in him. I want the love of my life back. How do I get him to love me that way again?

  • JoAnn, it could be that he’s angry at you and has been for three years. But it’s odd for anyone to hold hands with and accept kisses from someone they’ve been that angry with for that long.
    But you know me. I always like to Assume Love and look for alternate explanations that might fit with the possibility that he still loves you very much. Here are a few that come to my mind:
    (1) He’s got an infected tooth he does not want to get treated, so he’s making sure you can’t smell or taste his breath, and it’s gone on so long that he can’t figure out how to fix what he’s done to your intimacy (or his dental health).
    (2) Fear or grief or age have hit him with erectile dysfunction, and it makes him feel old, even as he’s been dealing with death, so he’s working hard at avoiding intimacy, because thinking about getting old or fearing ED can themselves cause ED. On top of this, an understanding wife who doesn’t complain can seem like a wife who never really enjoyed sex with him.
    (3) He’s just gone through an awful loss and cannot bear another, so he’s bracing himself against even the possibility of losing the most important person in his world by becoming distant. Or he’s trying to protect you from that sort of loss.
    (4) And it could be depression. A year is not a long time for mourning the loss of a close relative. But three years is a long time to leave his spouse hanging, and it is possible to stay loving through depression. Encourage him to get help with grieving and/or depression.
    It could also be that he’s torn between someone he allowed himself to seek comfort from three years ago and you. If it’s a possibility and what you want is a better relationship, work on improving the relationship, not on forcing his choice or confirming the conflict. In other words, do the same things you would do for any of the 4 explanations above this one: Be loving. Stay close (skin-to-skin contact of any sort releases oxytocin, which improves communication and trust, which improves relationships). Don’t fish for “I love you” in call-and-response fashion, especially if words of affirmation is not his primary Love Language (see for more info). Speak his Love Language. Avoid showing disrespect or distrust and taking him for granted. And do everything you can to create moments of shared positive emotions.

  • I really screwed up. There is a lot of information here, and I’m not going to bog you down with the little details with no relevance.
    About 3 years ago my wife and I separated. There was addiction, putting everyone before me, and lack of interest on her part, and as a result, infidelity on my part. She moved out even though I begged her to stay. She got clean, but as she did, she became a woman I never knew. She was out all the time with friends, drinking and everything else that goes with it. I know she was hurting at this time (as was I), but it was self-destructive.
    I was also hurting, and made a few attempts to get back with her which she re-buffed. I thought she was over me. SO reluctantly, I had to move on. About a year after she left, I met someone. She was awesome. She made me feel good about myself and our relationship was good. About 4 months later, (1 year, and 3 months after my wife left) my wife contacted me and wanted to see me. Yes, I was still seeing my girlfriend. So my wife and I saw each other for a couple of weeks, but we were both still so damaged it just couldn’t work.
    Then after another couple of weeks, I anted to reconcile, but she refused. Who can blame her? After all, I was still dating my girlfriend when my wife contacted me. I didn’t want to lose my girlfriend, if my wife and I didn’t work out. I didn’t want to be alone.
    Four months later, my wife slept with my best friend (obviously not anymore). She didn’t know I knew about it. After that, the pain was too great and I told her I couldn’t talk to her anymore. I didn’t know it at the time because she is great at hiding her emotions, but apparently this hurt her.
    Fast forward to last year. I was still with my girlfriend, and we spent Christmas at my parents house with my children.
    My wife (we were still not divorced) found out through a Facebook post by my mother that this occurred. My wife contacted me the next morning, crying, and generally freaking out. She professed her love for me stating that she still loved me after all this time, and begged me about a number of other things I cannot reveal. I never told her this, but my girlfriend was with me when this occurred.
    She wanted to see me. So I did, begrudgingly, I did, not knowing what to expect. She assaulted my emotions with her charm, love and sexuality. She begged me to give her another chance even though she knew my girlfriend was in the picture. So, with trepidation, I got involved with her again.
    As our renewed relationship progressed, I found myself falling for her again, even as I was involved with my girlfriend. Yes, my wife knew about this. We did lots of things together and it was good, but all this served to add to my confusion. Yes, I was falling for my wife again, but I was afraid that what happened to me before would happen again, and I didn’t want to be alone again.
    So I kept seeing my girlfriend, but not as often as I was. My wife was growing increasingly tired of this and I kept her at a distance. I was also alienating my girlfriend. Why? Fear! I was terrified of being alone if I chose my wife over my girlfriend and she left me again. Then I would be without my girlfriend as well. My wife and I fought about this numerous times, causing me to slowly push her further away.
    I finally came to the realization a couple of weeks ago that I had to let my girlfriend go. Unfortunately, no sooner did I tell her this, to realize, I had finally broken her down to the point she didn’t want to be with me anymore. I had allowed my girlfriend to come over to my house to get the last of her stuff, which my wife saw as the final act of betrayal.
    So now, my greatest fear has come to fruition all of my own accord. I am alone. My wife has actually started dating and I want her back.
    How the hell do I fix this. She says I broke her heart and sadly, that was not my intention. I wanted to surprise her and welcome her home. She says I should have taken my girlfriend’s stuff to her because it was a breech of trust by disrespecting her in front of our kids. I didn’t mean to do that. I though I was doing the right thing.
    I’ve explained myself and written her numerous letters, texts, and calls. I’m so disappointed that I didn’t have the foresight to see this would occur. Can you help me? What can I do to fix this?

  • Joe, your marriage has survived addiction, infidelity, self-destructive boozing, separation, and a girlfriend. What makes you think it cannot also survive some time on your own getting clear whether it’s your wife or just a woman you can’t live without? It sounds like the thing she desperately needs to know to live with the man she loves.

  • Its a great article that gives hope and some light. its the first time ever I reach out for help for my personal life. I’m married to a great guy for almost 5 years. We have been together a bit longer. Our relationship have always been a bit complicated which mostly is my fault, I had quite difficult childhood and consequently need a lot of attention and affection. We were fighting a lot because I’m quite stubborn and very difficult to please (according to my husband which is unfortunately true I think ). I also committed a lot of mistakes during our marriage being judgmental about his friends or family which is an awful thing, I know but I guess it’s all down to my personal issues. However , the love was always there I felt loved and I love him so much still. He is a sweet guy but I’m a real control freak. I’m aware of my issues but I don’t know how to change it. At this stage I can’t afford therapy either. We have been moving few times since our marriage, changing countries and jobs. Last spring he lost his job and found another one. But he took it very badly and we had a huge crisis when he started seriously doubting our relationship. Since we moved to another country again as he found a new great job. But the past 6 months I felt already a changer. The way he talks to me the way he looks at me.. I am ware of all my problems but it’s very difficult to change one’s personality. We had lots of fights lately and one day last week he seriously said its over, we are not good together like he realised this that out fights were due to the fact that we are just not a good match. Genre was no anger this time and it frithened me because I believed him. I asked to look I me eyes and tell me he does not longer love me so .. He did. My heart fell apart, I did not sleep or eat. I asked him to give us a chance because we were powerfully in love before, he agreed as he said:” maybe you did not kill it all and there is still something there”… I want to try and save us but I have hard times to accept his new behaviour: distant, less attentive , less affection (we used to hug and kiss all time though maybe it was too much for him ..) and not to hear ” I love you” on a regular basis. He is annoyed whenbim talking an speeder to watch the movies just to avoid conversation. (The nagging and blaming from my part probably played the part). I feel the change and it breaks my heart. I want us to have a baby we are both in our early 30s but fate all that happened he even said that he is not sure anymore he wants a family with me.. I don’t know if I shall just let him go. Thank you in advance for your advice!

  • Patty, what do you mean by,
    “It sounds like the thing she desperately needs to know to live with the man she loves.”
    She says she’s done. She feels no hate. No nothing. She still loves me but feels nothing and is done. She said the last straw was when I took the GF to the my company Christmas party. She thinks I should have taken her. It was at the party I realized I wanted to be with my wife and not my GF. That night, I had my GF leave and I told her to go home. She came by the following Wednesday to pick up the last of her stuff from my place. My wife feels that was the ultimate betrayal. She said I should have taken it to her instead of her coming over. I was trying to do the right thing by having the now ex-GF come to make sure she got out all her stuff.
    So now I realize it, but what am I to do?
    She started talking to a guy almost 4 weeks ago. And I am having such a hard time understanding how I can be replaced so easily in 4 weeks.
    I am so crushed. I’m hurting again, precisely what I didn’t want which is why I kept the ex-GF around in the first place… as a safety net.
    Is there any hope for me? Or do I just move on.

  • Joe, she needs to know (if she’s like the vast majority of women) that she’s the one thing you cannot live without. She already loves you, as you repeat here. But she doesn’t feel your love.
    To feel betrayed when you took your girlfriend to an office party and presented her to your boss and co-workers as *the* woman in your life, she must have very much wanted to be that woman. When you sent the girlfriend packing, you confirmed that she was. Then you kept a door open with the girlfriend by inviting her to come get her stuff instead of having a friend or delivery service take it to her and poured ice water on your wife and now she feels nothing.
    The bottom line is this: (1) you have not yet been replaced, and (2) if you keep a safety net, you will be. Your willingness to risk the pain of losing her — to protect the relationship rather than yourself — is at the core of her ability to feel your love.
    I’m sure there will be less pain if you move on, but all you will move onto is more of the same emotional yo-yo with different women.

  • Nadine, I am so sorry your marriage has come to such a point. You say you think it results from your personality and childhood issues. But I don’t think it does. I think it results from something much more easily changed.
    I believe it’s just a change in behavior on your part. When he fell in love with you, you behaved one way (probably with expressions of gratitude for all the things he did for you, leading him to want to do more, and with fewer disagreements because you had fewer expectations of him and your lives were more separate). Now, you behave differently (probably criticizing him for what he does not do for you, leaving him likely to do even less and getting angry with him when he does not agree with you or do as you expect a husband should).
    I encourage you to open up the Archives on this blog and look for anything about Third Alternatives to learn how to handle disagreements better. I encourage you to download my free Spring Cleaning for Your Marriage workbook from to cut back on the expectations that are making you unhappy, and I encourage you to visit (with which I am not affiliated) to take advantage of Dr. Stosny’s books, webinars, and recordings about developing your compassion to refocus your anger in more useful ways.

  • I really believe I have been replaced. She has been seeing this new man every week Mondays and other days as well. I no longer have a safety net. Got rid of it.
    I’m swearing off women for awhile. That’s why I got rid of my exGF, I realized I never wanted anyone except my wife even after all this time.
    But I fear the damage I caused is irreparable. Please pray for me and my family.

  • I hope the damage is not irreparable, Joe. The damage she did that sent you looking for a girlfriend was not, even after a rather long time of seeing each other, so perhaps it is not.
    Now that the safety net is gone, make all of your contacts with her ones where you share a positive emotion (glee, awe, relief, shared spirituality, a good laugh, etc.). These are what trigger the experience of the emotion of love. And this is the surest route back, far more successful than pleading or debating.

  • Patty, the positive emotions I don’t know how to do that.
    Where do I start?
    She said she doesn’t want to see me at all.
    Obviously the last few days I overwhelmed her.
    The sad thing is that when I finally cut the cord for good from my safety net, I experienced an overwhelming wave of love for this woman which I had never experienced before.
    It was wonderful and warm and I couldn’t believe it.
    Now it’s filled with pain and anguish and I’m terrified of the end result.
    I want to completely back off and give her time but I’m worried that this will allow this new guy to work his way into her life more. I’ve gotta tell you my wife is very beautiful, and there is no shortage of men who would love to be with her.
    So I fear that if I back off too much, her apathy towards me will soon allow this new guy to replace me.
    I believe I told you that I had purchased a wedding ring switch with attached to her current wedding band, and I was going to ask her to re- marry me on Christmas Day.
    She also never got her father daughter dance when we originally got married.
    So this coming Saturday I had already arranged to have a friend of mine make his bar available for our families so that we could celebrate the holidays as well as our renewed commitment to each other and I arranged it so that she finally got her father daughter Dance. But after this week’s drama, I decided to cancel it.
    It was going to be a surprise for her and her entire family. She knew I had something planned but she didn’t know what it was.
    I texted her this morning and told her I had canceled it. I told her that
    maybe after things have calmed down a little bit between us, we can reschedule it.
    She responded “K”.
    So I won’t bother you much anymore but do you have any other advice or suggestions on how I promote positive emotions? How often do I contact her?
    Thank you so much for your help!

  • Aww, Joe, you had not mentioned your proposal and family gathering for Christmas. That must have hurt to postpone.
    You cannot hurry this. She loves you and she wants to feel in love with you. In the meantime, she might date someone who makes her feel that “in love” emotion, but it will be without the deep-in-the-bones version of love she still feels for you — that will take him a good bit of time. So do your best not to press for any predictions, promises, current feelings, etc. for at least 30 days. Mark them on a calendar, because they will feel like long days and you will likely experience a lot of different emotions as you wait for her to let you know if her feelings change.
    How to change her feelings? Avoid making her angry. Or anxious about what you’ll do or whether you’ll call in the middle of her date (not at all helpful to your cause). It’s okay to send her things that make her giggle or grin, unless she asks you not to. It’s okay to share something that made you think of her or of your good times together, especially something that lets her know you were listening when she shared her favorite color or poet or song or told you a story of her childhood dreams, but avoid lavish gifts. It’s okay to offer to do a chore for her that she dislikes doing, unless she asks you not to. And you can call or write her with good news or to congratulate her if you learn she has good news.
    I would also share this with her: “When I finally cut the cord for good from my safety net, I experienced an overwhelming wave of love for this woman which I had never experienced before. It was wonderful and warm and I couldn’t believe it.” But not this: “Now it’s filled with pain and anguish and I’m terrified of the end result.”
    The emotion of love is made up of brief moments when our brains are in sync, when we’re experiencing a good feeling together. In these moments, our vagus nerves are stimulated, making us feel warm in the area of the heart and in the center of the chest above it. Oxytocin is also released, making us feel relaxed and more trusting and warming our skin.
    The more you stimulate the vagus nerve, the more easily it gets stimulated. For a couple firing on all cylinders, around 5 times a day, even for a few seconds at a time (like a welcome home kiss or an understanding touch on the shoulder or stopping to smell the roses together), keeps the engine humming along. But to restart it, you may get only two or three opportunities a week, which is why I say don’t waste a one of them on anything that will prevent her from relaxing into them.
    Practice on other people. Instead of telling them how awful you feel, say something kind or do something generous for them. Make a point of stopping to enjoy whatever delights you and of ending your day by thinking of what you are grateful for. Find an infant or a young child to play and laugh out loud with. Watch really funny movies. Keep your love muscles in good shape to take advantage of any opportunity to bring a smile into your wife’s day.
    And then be patient. You might not succeed. There is no guarantee. But if you are patient and yet still present and pleasant to be around, you will have the best possible shot at enjoying that overwhelming wave of love for a long time to come.

  • Thank you for this. My husband and i have been together 13 years, married 7 and have a son who is four. In the past five years a lot of change has happened for me, a deceased parent, motherhood, and a change in my spouse that I later found out was due to a emotional connection with a coworker. We fight at times but nothing like before. I feel like he is content with living together just as roommates than husband and wife. My husband loves attention and with those changes in my life I have become resentful that maybe he was not as there for me as I would have been for him. I think he is also resentful as he has the “peterpan” syndromethat his family laughs about and is not good with change. He will not attend marriage counseling so this article helps mr change my look on things. With that I pray positive things will occur.

  • CF, I am glad you found some things in this post to help you deal with a difficult situation. Try not to withdraw in response to what appears to be his choice to be just roommates. Assume he still loves you as much as ever and try to explain how someone who does could pull back to roommate relations. If his connection at work was emotional and not sexual, it may have been his way of keeping your marriage intact while dealing with very frightening changes (for someone who doesn’t want to grow up and has just become a parent) in you as you dealt with the grief of losing a parent and the incredible responsibility of becoming a parent. He may well have kept things together but have no idea how to move forward or fear your reaction to what he did means there is no chance of moving forward.
    You may need to lead the next step. Don’t withdraw and accept roommate status. Keep trying new things until you find one he wants to join in. Find a friend or relative your son can spend the night with, and be not-Mommy for an evening in your own home. Maybe dress as you did before you had to carry a diaper bag. Maybe cook something grown up or order in. Maybe turn up the music and dance around the house. Maybe get out your photo albums or scrapbooks or videos and reminisce about falling in love and marrying this great guy. Maybe read him a letter with the sorts of things we usually save for a eulogy — what strengths you admire in him, what accomplishments have inspired you.
    And remember that for men, respect is the very foundation of love. Don’t join his family in laughing at his dislike of change. Don’t engage in “that was nice, but.” Don’t pretend to appreciate what you don’t, but do be clear and certain in your appreciation of the good stuff. Don’t pretend to trust him on something vital that he’s likely to do poorly, but do find lots of opportunities to show your trust in the areas where he does a great job.
    I hope you’ll look back at 2015, when your son marries, as the year marriage really started getting good.

  • Hi i have been married for nearly 2 years now, i met my husband 13 years ago he was married and much of you wont like this but we had an affair for nearly 10 years i left my partner at the time because i new he was my soulmate we were back and forth with each for years playing silly games with each other to see if we cared for one another it doesn’t go well doing that i may add then he called me after 18 months and we talked we saw each for nearly 3 months i was in a relationship at the time but was planning on separating with the person he left his wife and 2 days later i told my partner at the time it was over also we got together and the things became a problem when his ex wife found out he was with someone and it being me she was always on the phone going to his place of work he would always do as sheasked i started distrusting him when he was deleting messages from her and we would argue and on one occasion he left and when to his ex wife and stayed there they have 2 children together he said the childrenasked him to stay but this was at 3.30am on a school night he still stands by this story his ex wife has done nothing but berate me infront of everyone and she is on the phone always about eevery little whim when i bring it up he blames me now due to all the arguments and paranoia he has ended our marriage how to i try to show him i do trust him as i do as his ex wife bless her for this clarification that she doesn’t love him and she wanted to end the marriage also i feel such a fool and at fault for causing this much heartache how can i prove that i no longer feel threatened by his ex wife. I would also like to say this blog is so helpful and full of amazing advice

  • Thank you, Maria, and I am so sorry for the circumstances that bring you here.
    When a man leaves a wife for someone he’s been having an affair with, the odds of a successful marriage with her are quite low. I assume a big part of this statistic is that if they share any children, he will always have a relationship with their mother, a woman he once loved enough to vow he’d love her forever. So part of me wants to say just move on — you’ve had only part of his heart and life way too long, and you will never have all of it.
    But you are asking how to fix your marriage, and a few of these marriages actually do work, so you deserve an answer. It won’t help to tell him you no longer feel threatened by his ex wife. In fact, it might make things worse. He needs to hear you trust *him* and his love for you and you respect his need to keep a good relationship with his children’s mother even when she’s angry at and being rude to you.
    You have lots of reasons not to trust him. You know his history of cheating on his wife. You question his story that his children asked him anything at 3:30am and his reason for deleting her messages from his phone. So, to show him the trust and respect needed for a loving relationship, you two will need some Third Alternatives to the way he’s handling the relationship with her. (I hope you will read some of the posts about how to find them.) And first, you need to find an opening to get him to work with you on finding those Third Alternatives, because he’s already found a simpler alternative — just walk out on another marriage. I recommend you not mention his ex at all while you look for your opening. And I wish you luck, Maria. This is not an easy road to travel.

  • I’m very hurt I got divorced from my first husband that I was married for 10 years I left with my two girls 3 and 7 years old! I was scare but had to do it, after 8 months I meet a new man that took me and my girls after 6 months I got pregnant and that was it he rejected the baby telling me he wasn’t ready he was 41 and all we dis was fight I dicited to leave after 7 months I went and look for him and we got back together but I was leaving in my place he lived in hes and came over on the weekends so the baby came he would come and help me but if the baby cry in the middle of the nite he would take he’s keys and leave! That hurt me so much so a year went by the baby turn one we dicited to buy a house I put 75%down he did 10% we all moved in together two years went by and the fights beginning one nite we had a big fight he went out and came home 3:00 in the morning I foung a message from a woman he told was just a friend I want to end right there but no he ask for forgiveness and want to get merrier I was so happy I had a year to plan the wedding everything was beautifull this was 2005 now our son is 3 and we found out he had quimico balance and had to go on pill that moment my life became a hell he was negative no patient with our son we try to to vacation together cruises even travel to Brasil but everything we do ends up in big mess he call me and our son bad names he spit on both of our face he told me he never loved me that he wants he’s life back he call my son o lose a punk that he’s going to grow up and be no one! That is killing me so 4 years ago I told him to leave and i was alone with my 3 kids got to a point that my son didn’t want to go to hes house anymore he wold cold me asking to go get him because dad was lazy watching tv didn’t want to do anything I had a anoph so diceted to let him came over on the weekend to spend time with us at the point the girls didint care for him anymore one of my girl wold came out of her room when he was here and he did all the call where we go to eat and all the plans he had to agree no to say that nothing was happening between us no sex for 16 months no kiss no hugs and when we went to bed he put a pillow between me and him! I felt so rejected so this Xmas dec 14 was xmas day when he and our son now 11 had a big fight and he call him a AH and look at me and say let’s put him for adopition so we can be happy! That kill me inside how can a father say that I told him u crazy???? He look at me and say I don’t need this shi…. I want my life back so I told him if I had to choose between him and my son I definily choose my son he look at me and say good luck deal with it that was Xmas day dec 25-2014 today is man 7 and he never call ask about us or nothing! I’m very hurt not only for me but for my son only 11 need a man to talk to but him being 53 don’t want to be here for him! Now I asking u am wrong am a bad person it’s my second marriage a fell like a loser I try so hard to make this work but I fell it will takes two to make work I’m so tied im in this situation for 15 years I want to be happy! Please tell me something thank you

  • For now, it sounds like your children and you are both better off without him in your home, Andreia. And if he is to do the work he needs to do to deal with his chemical imbalance and his uncontrolled temper, he is probably better off doing it alone.
    I know how frightening it is to feel you have no control over a situation like this, but you have no control, and there is probably more hope for a good outcome if you stay apart for a month or two or even three than if you try to patch things up right away.
    I wish you strength Andreia.

  • I’m in desperate need of advice for what to do with my fiancé. We’ve had the most spectacular 2 1/2 years together, and now all of a sudden things have become extremely difficult.
    My fiancé has started texting another person, and since then has become extremely withdrawn from me, our life together, and even our animals.
    We have talked about what is going on, however she has said that they are only friends and we are engaged, and I need to trust her. This would be ok, except she is being so incredibly secretive over her phone, she hides it all the time, and she has become very disinterested in me. Its like I’m an inconvenience, and she no longer wants to be around me at all.
    I would do anything to save this relationship, she is my whole world.
    What can I do?

  • I am sure this is very frightening and painful, Anonymous5. The best advice I can give you is to ignore the other person and focus on drawing the two of you closer again.
    If she’s a good woman in love with you, the secrecy is probably her way of protecting her relationship with you from her own very conflicted feelings, which means she still values your relationship. If not, it may be selfish, unloving behavior, but distrust and anger from you will not change this.
    So your best move is to lean in. Rather than ask “why won’t you” or “when will you” or “how could you,” which push your partner to become defensive, just keep offering her opportunities to have a good, loving time with you. Send her caring texts to read in between those with her secret friend. When you talk with her, ask her about her day or her family or her dreams, not about her phone, because those micro-moments where you both “click” are what will remind her that loving you is comfortable and safe and without the conflict of that “friend” relationship.
    If she had an acute illness or a car accident, I expect you would do more for her than she did for you while she mended. You would accept changes in the normal routine of your life together. You would offer extra acts of kindness and generosity and compassion. If you face this period the same way, you will greatly increase your chances of long-term success.
    Set yourself a time limit: one month, three months, a year, whatever works for you, so you don’t need to focus on protecting yourself from rejection. If she’s not back in the relationship by then, you can reject her. Until then, be brave and lean in.

  • You article has given me a little hope. My husband has been withdrawing from me recently and it all came out the other day. He doesn’t know if he loves me anymore. I haven’t been as responsive as I should have been to him in recent months and he says that the lack of response has finally caused him to stop loving me. He says that my response recently is too little too late. But he is still living at home at the moment although he is considering moving out as he feels we need to do something drastic if there is any chance we rekindle what we had. I am hoping this is a positive thing.

  • Patty
    My husband and I have been married for two years for the last four months he had been very withdrawn emotionally and sexually I would ask him what’s wrong but he kept saying “idk” the other day he finally said that he loves me like he loves his mom he would do anything for his mom but doesn’t love me like a woman or wife … He said he doesn’t want to hurt me as I am great and do not deserve that… However I also asked him about counseling and he still said he is not sure I asked him about going on dates he said he doesn’t understand when we would have time …. I don’t know what to do I love him so much the thought of divorce is so crushing to me although he hasn’t officially said it yet I feel like he has made up his mind he doesn’t say he loves me kiss me or hug me unless I ask for a hug … Please help !

  • Ella, here are some things I’ve heard may help:
    – Be less helpful, less in charge of reminding him what he ought to do, and instead show respect for him and praise for his best qualities, even if he makes mistakes.
    – Make the time for dates — get very creative at eliminating what seem like must-do tasks. (especially the ones you do mostly to impress family or neighbors), hire help, barter for help, change your work schedule to be available when he is, buy tickets a couple weeks in advance and stick them on the refrigerator door.
    – Learn more foreplay methods. Some websites to help:

  • Patty,
    My husband and I have been together for almost 15 years, 7 of those years married. We have 3 beautiful girls together ages 11, 5, and 4. I was 18 and my husband was 22 when we first started dating. We instantly fell in love and always had a great relationship. As the years went on and we had our three children, I found myself always making excuses for not wanting to have sex. I really did not think anything of it and we just went on with our daily routines of life. Well, a couple months ago I noticed some changes in my husband. He was on his phone a lot more, he started going to the gym, and he just seemed a bit distant. I brought all of this to his attention and he said he was not cheating on me however, he did break down and tell me that he loves me but is no longer in love with me. He also said that he is no longer sexually attracted to me. He said he was sorry but he said we never talk, never have sex, we never do anything together, and its like we are roommates with kids. He said he loves but its just not there anymore. Of course, this broke my heart but I realized he was right. I guess we took each other for granted and stopped doing the things we used to do before we had kids. He told me he doesn’t want to feel this way and he wants to make it work. He is also willing to try marriage counseling. I love my husband with all of my heart and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to save our marriage but how can I make him feel something that is no longer there? How can I make him fall in love again, it just doesn’t seem possible. Please help….

  • It’s actually easier than you might imagine, Melissa, and it sounds like you still have a willing partner to give it a try. Barbara Frederickson’s research on the emotion of love (the “in love” part of the equation) is reported in her book Love 2.0. And it fits neatly into a lot of research by others, like Shelley Gable and John Gottman, on the things that predict a happy marriage or a divorce. Here are few of my blog posts with tips from them:

  • I need advice help insight anything!!!! My husband has recently informed me that he loves me but he misses his best friend as a wife and a home maker im great as a friend I suck he wants to separate to rekindle our friendship is it possible or anything you can think if I’m Fallin apart fast

  • Monica, I hear your desperation. While I can only guess at what your husband means by best friend, I would always first Assume Love — ask what might make a good man who loves you suggest separation (rather than a vacation together or buying a canoe or scheduling more date nights) as a means to rejuvenating your friendship. It suggests something may be happening in your day-to-day interactions that did not happen when you did not share a home. Perhaps you can put your finger on what that is.
    I can tell you what statistics about men in general suggest he may feel is lacking:
    – Most men believe friends always have respect for each other: they don’t tell each other what to do or how to do it better unless they are asked to. If a friend wants something, he or she asks for it without any implication that their friend is lacking character or caring by not giving what is asked for. There is no friendship without this sort of respect.
    – While women often rate friends best when they can be counted on during difficult times, men often rate them best when they can be counted on to enjoy a good time together. This means making time for fun as well as for responsibilities.
    – Marriage research by Shelly Gable shows it’s more important for both sexes that you give active and constructive feedback to your spouse’s good news than bad. This means stopping what you’re doing to cheer a victory, a promotion, publication, an award, a resolution to a difficult problem, etc., relating the good news to your mate’s hard effort or good character, and postponing any mention of a possible downside.
    – While this one is neither male nor female, Gary Chapman points out that different things make each of us feel loved (from a spouse or friend). For some, it is Acts of Service, including help with chores. If your husband rates you good as a housewife and not so good as a friend, it’s pretty likely this one is not his Love Language. The other four are Physical Touch, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, and Quality Time together. My money would be on one or both of those last two if he feels he’s lost his friend. The Five Love Languages is a quick read for tips on how to offer those if they are not what makes you feel loved, and the website will get you started even before you read the book.

  • Hello, thank you in advance for your answer, I don know how to start, but I will go to the point, I have two girls 13 and 11 they’re my life, I left my ex partner when I was 7 m pregnant, I married my actual husband 8 years ago, after one year dating, he didn’t mind the fact I have my children, I considered myself very lucky, to have a man who can support me raising my kids, We are full time workers and we do have a good life, but nothing is perfect. My husband is diabetic and also alcoholic, we had a bad times here and then, he love my second girl more than anything in this world, like his own daughter, but he hates with the same energy my oldest, he told me directly to my face, my girls heard it, that happened 4 years ago, I know my oldest is very difficult to be around, and now with all her normal changes, the situation is getting ugly.
    My husband insults her pretty bad, he doesnt respect me anymore, for years our disagreements escalated to the point that one day I started accepting everything he said just to stop him from repeating over and over again. We don’t communicate anymore, just by text or short call here and then. We don’t have intimacy since October 2013. Now no even kisses.
    On April last year I met a gentleman who has 32 years marriage, who has trouble in his relationship with his wife as well.
    We started taking what we were missing in our marriage, but little by little we started having feelings too.
    Time passes by and we start sharing more and more, we live in the same city and we work very close too, so is easy to have lunch or talk or just have little break here and then.
    His wife found out about us, a month ago, and since then his life change for the bad, I encourage him to work things out with her, even I know that I will be alone again, but I rea want him be happy, he is trying to get his marriage fix, he is going to counseling and individual therapy, but his wife is getting bad everyday, I don’t know if you can believe in this but, He mentioned since the beginning she suffers from depression and anxiety ..her mind is just not right and now is worst. He think she is experiencing some form of stress-induced psychosis. I think something in her mind just snapped when she found out about us, Erratic and sudden mood swings, talking for hours on end, confusion and inability to remember what she was just talking about, but she was like that before but now the situation is getting ugly. We don’t know what to do, I know each of us need to fix our own problems.
    In my case I don’t think I want to fight for my marriage, because he killed my love for him, since he told me he hates my daughter, it was so painful for me to understand him, he says because she reminds him my ex partner, is ridiculous isn’t? We tried 3 years marriage and individual counseling, it works for one or two wks but then we back….. What can I do at this point?, because I’m in love with the other man, but at the same time I know I’m no helping if I’m still around, but I can’t be without him either…..

  • Hi patty
    My husband and I have been together for almost 17 years, married for 10. We have 2 beautiful kids ages 5 and 7 and one coming any day now. He is in a very high stress job, successful and has had to travel a lot. Our oldest daughter has behavioral problems which can cause a lot of stress at home, not to mention we were both depressed for a long time after she was diagnosed. Life has been hard, distance came between us. I was depressed and didn’t put him first, he was not emotionally supportive to me either. Now my daughter is doing better, but I think my husband has had an affair. I came to him with my suspicions and he denied. I’m pretty sure it happened or is happening. Our sex life was lacking and I’ve tried to step it but he is not as interested. After years of claiming I never initiate sex, I finally am and half the time he rejects me. I’m hurt. I don’t feel like he’s attracted to me even when he does initiate. We tried counseling but frankly I think he needs to deal with his own Demons first. He says he loves me (but is not in love with me) and is trying to be more affectionate. But many times he says things that make me feel like he’s deeply depressed and doesn’t want to be married. I know he loves our kids and I think he does love me. We are making a really big move to another city (away from our friends and family) so that he won’t have to travel as much. I’m hoping that not having the stress of traveling for work will help our family life and relationship. I have been going back and forth between feeling hurt and being very angry and distant to trying really hard to be kind and loving. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m due with our baby any day now- I think that has made things all the more awkward sexually but I don’t want to go on like this. He will not go to individual counseling as he says he doesn’t think he needs it now or can do it now. Please help.

  • Hi so my hubby and I have been together for 6 years. We started dating when I was 15 and had our first born when i was 16. We have been a happily married cupple up until 2 years ago. Now he seems like a different person. He doesn’t seem to care when I’m crying and feeling broken. I need just ten minutes of his time and he roles over and goes to sleep. I know he cheated on me around the time our problem began. We have both talked about it and have agreed to move forward and try to be better husband and wife to each other. I feel like I’m puting in a lot of effort but all he tells me is that our sex life is bad. We don’t have sex enough. We have sex at least 2x a week and have 3 kids to prove that. I want him to be as in love with me as I still am with him. I rub his hair almost every night to help him sleep, I make sure he has dinner everynight, I keep up on all of our house chores plus I take care of our 3 kids who are all 4 and under. He goes out when he feels like it, and I never go out without him. Please what can I do to make my husband see what he is doing and how it is affecting me. I still love him the same as I did when I first met him, but all of his actions show me that he doesn’t care or love me the same.what can I do?

  • Brittany, often the answer is not to try harder to make him love you. It just makes you feel worse about the lack of response. You have taken on a huge load for someone your age, with 3 kids under the age of four. Your husband has, too, and his response (have an affair, go out without my wife or kids whenever I want) is that of a young man feeling overburdened and trying self-defeating ways of relieving the burden.
    Rather than make him see what he is doing and how it is affecting you, I suggest you change how it affects you. Put less effort into making him comfort a crying wife or show his love when he feels stuck between a rock and a hard place. Instead, put this effort into building your support network and finding more joy in your life. Then share that joy with him.
    Having started so young, you two have an incredible opportunity ahead of you. Life gets easier and more interesting when your children are in school and when they are grown. You two will be young enough and healthy enough to share those times together if you survive these times.
    But starting so young, you have likely missed out on the opportunities to build a support network — other parents who can handle your kids on top of theirs when you take a class or go for a bike ride, friends who are willing to cook large batches of food and trade with each other, older people you can turn to for advice.
    Put your efforts into meeting such people. Look for Mommy & Me classes, events for young children at your library, local play dates on, churches or other organizations that offer free childcare at some of their events. Take the kids out and chat with other parents you run into in your neighborhood.
    If your husband is looking for more sex and enjoying head rubs, it seems quite likely his Love Language (see Gary Chapman’s books and website on the 5 Love Languages) is physical touch, and he won’t feel any more loved as a result of the cooking and cleaning you do, even if he enjoys it.
    Many men feel incompetent to handle their wives’ tears and feeling broken. If a man also feels incompetent to handle 3 kids after work (or to find work or to keep up with things that need doing around the house), or he’s been unfaithful, he’s going to have a hard time believing he’s good enough that his wife respects him, values him, and trusts him, and he needs this to feel loved.
    Ironically, then, what’s needed to get a man back into a relationship isn’t usually a lot of work on the relationship. It’s just a reminder that you know he’s a good man, worthy of your respect, admiration, trust, and love. Unfortunately, when a woman is overwhelmed (and any mother of 3 would be, even if she had her kids 10 or 15 years later than you did) and dealing with infidelity, too, accusations come easily. Sometimes just knowing how they damage the relationship makes it easier to bite your tongue when they start to come out.
    But you don’t need to shoulder all the burden. You can ask your husband for help. You can ask for ideas on how to lighten your load. If it’s something at which he’s competent, you are surprisingly likely to get what you need.

  • Hi, I would be so grateful for your words of advice/support.
    I have been with my husband for 10 years – since we were 17, and we got married last year. We have always been so happy together, and when we got married I really, really thought it was forever. We have never had many arguments, and have never come close to breaking up before. Our fights have always been about silly little things that we both get over in a few hours and then carry on as normal. He recently got a new job and seemed much happier than he was in his old one – he’s done so well, has had a few promotions and Iv been so proud of him.
    Then over the last couple of months he has become very distant, stopped saying he loves me, not kissing me like he used to. He would never give me a reason, but when we had a big argument last month (again over something small and insignificant but he snapped at me like he never has before), he said he wasnt happy and we weren’t having as much fun as we used to.
    Over the next few weeks I tried to make things more fun, but have been distracted by a big exam that I was revising for, so I guess in reality not much changed. Then one evening he came home from work and said he didn’t love me anymore and wanted to split up. After lots of talking I agreed to move back to my mums to give him some space. He said lots of things that just shocked me and broke my heart – he said he didn’t enjoy spending time with me, didn’t think he’d miss me if we weren’t together, didn’t think he’d be jealous if I slept with someone else. I just wasn’t expecting it, as I thought we were ok, event though we had had a few more arguments recently. I moved back to my mums house to try to give him space, but I as just broken, I couldn’t eat or sleep, just wanted to curl up and die. I missed him so much.
    I have to admit I wasn’t very good at giving him space – I kept trying to get him to talk to me because I thought we could fix it by talking it through. Eventually he admitted that there was another girl in work (his boss!) that he had feelings for – he thought they had been getting stronger for about 8 months (starting a few months after we got married), and that it had made him realise that he didn’t love me anymore. He thought they had more fun together than we do, and it had made him think about our relationship and whether or not he’d actually be happier with someone else. He says he knows it would not work with his boss as she is also in a relationship with someone else in the office, but that he can’t stop thinking about her. He says he is trying not to let his feelings for her complicate his feelings for me, but that it is difficult to separate the to.
    After lots more talking I persuaded him to give us another go. Maybe this was the wrong thing to do as its not giving him the space he needs to make a decision, but I’m just so scared that he will choose to leave me, and if he copes ok with a few weeks without me I’m sure that will be what he decides to do. So this week we have been trying again. I moved back in, and have tried to go back to being the laid back fun woman he fell in love with in the first place. We have been doing all the things he enjoys- eating take away food in bed, playing computer games and watching tv, and we have gone back to having lots of great sex.
    But last night he said again that he doesn’t think its working, that he enjoys doing the things were doing, but doesn’t think that he enjoys being with me. He doesn’t look forward to seeing me, and would be happier if he was with someone else. He is willing to give it a go for s few months but can’t see it working out.
    He is such a lovely guy, and I know he’s not doing this to try to hurt me – it’s obviously really difficult for him to say these things but he wants to be honest. I’m not sure how much contact he’s having with his boss outside of work, but he said that on a works event this week she was really lovely to him, and is making excuses for them to be together.
    I just think that he is massively flattered by the attention he is getting from her, as it is a big boost to his ego, but he thinks he is falling in love with her and out of love with me. I guess my attention doesn’t mean as much to him anymore as he has had it for 10 years now. I honestly don’t believe that he would be happier with someone else, because he was happy with me before she came into the picture, but now he is wondering wnether there are women out there who he would be happier with, and I don’t know how to compete with that.
    I just love him so much and want to make our relationship work because it has been so good in the past. I don’t know how to act now around him, but I feel constantly sick with worry that he will leave.
    He says that I would be fine on my own and I would meet someone else and the pain would get easier, but I can’t see how it would because I know that he is the right man for me, and don’t want to be with anyone else.

  • I am so sorry for your pain, Missing Him. For some people, the thought of being with someone forever is suffocating, no matter how much they care for that one person. For other people, the thought of breaking up is terrifying, regardless of who they are currently with. Together, they choose fairly extreme roles in their relationship.
    I don’t know if that’s what’s happening for the two of you, but if it is, one thing that will help is calmly, and with people outside your relationship, figuring out what you will do if he leaves you and recalling all of the difficult times you have managed to survive even though they seemed unbearably awful before they happened. I’m not suggesting this because I think this marriage is destined to end, but because it will be less likely to end if you find some peace with that possibility.
    And then I would invite you to Assume Love to get a different perspective on what’s happening. Assume (just for the duration of this exercise) that this wonderful man still loves you completely. You have many reasons to doubt this and fear it’s no longer true, but set them all aside while you answer this question. What might cause a man who loves a woman to suddenly, right after his marriage to her and changing jobs, become infatuated with a woman who has given him two promotions in less than a year, is fun to work for, and is currently unattainable (and therefore very easy to adore without any of the normal relationship issues) but obviously open to a romantic relationship at work in some fantasy future?
    If you can hold those two thoughts in your head at the same time — he loves you, but he’s stuck in this infatuation for reasons that have everything to do with what he needs, what he fears, and what matters to him, and not how you compare to his boss — you may find you have a lot of insights into what’s happening and why he would foolishly risk losing you over this little bump in the road.
    This is not to say that I know what’s in his head. He may have fallen out of love with you before the wedding. It happens. He may be a self-centered man with a very short time frame who cares only about his own momentary happiness and doesn’t ever honor any promises he’s made. It happens.
    But until you consider the possibility that the love is still there and he’s willing to risk it for whatever is going on for him right now, you are likely to behave in ways that tell him there is no risk and there is also no possibility of getting what he so badly craves with you.
    This is not an easy road to travel. You may want to look for a marriage friendly therapist, someone focused on preserving marriages whenever possible, to discuss it with. There is a list at

  • Erika, at some point, I am sure you believed you could not be without your husband. Now that seems quite possible, and you believe you cannot be without your lover. First things first: let go of the lover. Your relationship is based on sharing your severe marital problems, which is really not a solid foundation for a relationship once you leave those marriages. You will recover from ending that relationship, which is good, because the odds against you two staying together if you both divorce are very high.
    And each of you is dealing with a physically and mentally ill spouse. Your decisions about those marriages cannot be clear-headed while considering your spouses vs. someone you feel strongly about but have never had to live with, comfort through a serious illness, or resolve a problem with.
    I am not arguing that you must stay with your husband. Unless he gets help with his alcoholism, his relationships with everyone, including you, will continue to go downhill. As a diabetic who can’t control his drinking, his health is also in serious jeopardy. And he sounds like a very negative influence on your daughters (including the one he favors, because she is aware of the different treatment). Marriage counseling won’t fix any of this while he’s unable to control his drinking. Individual counseling might help you stage an intervention to get him into treatment, after which you can see if there’s any love left between you, but only if you care enough to help him stop this downhill slide and wait for him to recover his ability to be present in your relationship again before you make your final decision.
    If you leave him, now or after her gets sober, you and your daughters need a cleaner break, with your full attention available to help them through a divorce.
    And your lover needs the same. He needs to make a clear-headed choice about abandoning a wife of 32 years with a mental illness, without the option of an escape into a relationship with you that likely won’t last, as very few such relationships do.

  • Julia, in my non-professional opinion, now is not the right time to deal with all this. Depression could produce all the things that lead you to think he’s having an affair. So could a highly stressful job with many nights away from home. So could pregnancy and the prospect of having another infant in the house right after the youngest is finally out of the toddler years and the oldest is having behavioral problems. But very soon, you will not be pregnant, he will have a less stressful job, you won’t live in the same city, and your older daughter will be with different people in a different environment, one where she might thrive.
    If it doesn’t get better, or if he’s actually involved in an affair, or if he remains depressed and unwilling to do anything about it, you can move back to friends and family. But the opportunities for things to get better are pretty good, while the chances of individual or couples therapy doing you much good until the dust settles are slimmer.
    And before you repeat your question about whether your husband’s having an affair, you might want to read this blog post and some of the comments on it:
    I hope it’s just stress and that the stress gets better soon.

  • Hi Patty,
    Thank you for your article. It really resonated with me. Much more than the other websites and articles that I have read over the past few days. I love my wife of 9yrs and we have two beautiful children 4 & 6. Our marriage was great for the four years and then I was laid off from my job and it devastated me. So much that I emotionally and physically shut down from my wife because I felt like a failure and questioned how I was going to support my family. I hated myself. Long story short I felt like less than a man which if you knew me you would never guess that I felt that insecure. I played baseball in college, black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and work out regularly. My wife stuck by through it all when she could have thrown in the towel.
    I was able to get a job about a month after I was let go but the pain from losing the job stuck with me for over two years and I was just not the husband I was before hand. I’m not a drinker or do drugs. I do all the cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, and get the kids up and dressed for school. I do all that stuff because I enjoy doing it and I know my wife is more than capable of doing it but I simply enjoy that part of my life taking care of the family. I never cheated on my wife, never physically abused her, or verbally abused her but the mental toll I found out on her was tough. She wanted our fairy tale marriage to continue forever and I was basically killing that dream. She is a beautiful woman and could have any man that she wants but I was not affectionate with her to where she felt loved and wanted. I tried to change and would for a few weeks or months but fall back into my old patterns.
    Moving forward to last Christmas, my best friend was telling me how unhappy he is with his marriage and what his wife is doing to him and it really clicked for me that what his wife is doing is what I was doing to my wife. I don’t have an answer as to why it took a 3rd party story to trigger me into REALLY MAKING A CHANGE but it was like a slap in the face and I made a firm commitment to change. I wasnt going to share with my wife the reason for my change but I decided to do so and it infuriated her that it took this long for me to truly understand her feelings.
    I truly believe that I have changed and will stay committed to being a better husband, lover and friend. The key for me is the consistency and to make daily reminders to stay true to my path in changing my behavior. My wife seems to be apprciative of my efforts but in the back of my mind I’m asking myself is it to late?
    My wife has told me repeatedly during the years of marriage that she doesn’t believe in divorce but how do I know? In the past few weeks we have been telling each other we love each other, she kisses me good bye when I go to work or the gym, I’ll send her little notes and she replies how sweet it is and thank you. I’ll send her a quick I love you text and she replies back that she loves me too. She has made a suggestion on what to do for our next date night and she really likes the sexy nude selfies that I take for her.
    My question is….I know there are obvious actions and clues that a marriage is going in the direction of a divorce and there are subtle clues. What are the subtle clues? I know she loves me but is she “in love” with me still? Is she just accepting all my attempts just to keep me in the dark until she hits me with divorce papers? She is not conniving in nature but…anyway my plan is to keep doing what I’m doing because I’m genuinely happy with who I am and what I am doing. I have not felt like this in quite a while. Any suggestions?

  • My suggestion: keep at it and stop second-guessing yourself, Kevin. Your marriage went downhill because you questioned how you were going to support your family. It sounds like your wife was distressed by your withdrawal, not your income or any uncertainty about it. The kisses, the notes, the texts, the affirmations of your love for each other recently are all “micro-moments of positivity resonance,” the stuff of the emotion of love. You are leaning in again, and that’s great. You’re also enjoying yourself doing it, which is what happy marriages are all about.
    Sometime soon, you might want to mention to your wife that you heard someone else talking about their marriage and realized you’d pulled back from yours, because if she tells her friends she’s happy you’re leaning back in, some of the angrier ones may try to convince her the only reason a man ever does this is in the aftermath of an affair. Not true at all, but repeated by many unhappy women.

  • Hi. I need some advice. I have been with my wife not legally for 9 years. Let me take you back . We met when we were teens she was my first girlfriend and first ever. We got together after a couple months and after a while I started wanting to leave. She was very affectionate and showed me love I times I think it suffocated me and made me want to leave. At the same time I wanted to go out and party and talk to other girls . I did alot of horrible things and she stuck with me but our problems where on and off for years. We have two daughters now . After our second child I couldn’t take living the way we did and also I had reconnected with an old grammar school friend. I left the house and she believes it was because of the girl. She read conversations about me telling my friend how I felt about her .
    As I lived on my own I still talked to the mother of my children and realized that I loved her and have been hurting her all this time. I asked her to come back with me. We got together again but things weren’t like before. She wasn’t lovely and affectionate like before. I started showing respect and affection that I didn’t before. But the not receiving has caused us problems . We have spent the last couple months arguing about our relationship and me constantly nagging her why she didn’t show me love me anymore. This nagging and constant fighting is what finally pushed her further away. We had a conversation. She stated that she loves me but she doesnt feel the same like the beginning. She told me that she needs space that’s she doesn’t know what she wants and wants me to go and be myself as she now loves to go out with her friends than go out with me . She thinks that if she sees me with another girl she would feel like before. I don’t think that would happen. Please help me . I don’t want our family broken up once again I want to do everything I can to do right . And I am aware that only time knows where our lives lead but I want to make every second that I have with her count. Thank you
    Blessed be

  • Danny, is it really surprising that your wife does not feel the same as she did at the beginning? You have broken the trust between you, which she gave you freely before she even knew if you deserved it. You came back because *you* had an epiphany and realized you should have stayed with her. It may have erased all your negative feelings about the marriage, but it won’t automatically erase hers.
    You must give her time. When you nag about not showing affection, you are showing disaffection and being critical, not loving. Choose to be loving and stay the course until she has her epiphany that you really were the right guy from the very start.

  • i got married 2013 december and after 2 months married to her went away 4 six months,while away things got out of hand and because i was too emotional i met another girl of which i cheated with.i wanted to tell her the truth but couldnt because i was afraid i might lose her for good.last week she got hold of the simcard i used while i was away and she contacted the woman i cheated with she told my wife about us and that we have a baby together.ever since my wife told me that its over between us and that she has moved out and wont take me back do i win her back into loving me again because she is the only woman i want to spend the rest of my life with.i am not ready to let go of her as she wants me to move on

  • Mohamed, I hear your pain and feel for you, but I must admit I don’t have any great ideas for restoring the trust between the two of you.
    She doesn’t have a long history of good memories with you. It sounds like she doesn’t have a child with you. You were barely married when you cheated on her. Then you concealed from her that you are the father of another woman’s child as a result. And for some or all of the nine months you’ve been back together, she’s already been distrusting you, or she would not have gone looking for a sim card.
    Rebuilding the trust so she could fall in love with you will take time, several months at the least, if she believes you are truly sorry for mistreating her and concealing a major life-changing event from her. And the stakes are higher for her this time, as there is a child in your life now, a child who is every bit as entitled to your time and money and love as any child she might have with you.
    If she is truly the only woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, prepare yourself for at least a year of actively working at making it comfortable for her to love you in return — and living with the risk that you may not succeed.

  • Hi I have a huge problem. My wife and I have been together 8 1/2 years married 4 1/2. We have two boys 7 and 3. 4 weeks ago she told me for the she wants a divorce. She says she doesn’t love me anymore like she used to. She has told me I am to controlling and she doesn’t feel like an equal in our marriage. She has gone on to say she is unhappy and needs feels like she needs to go find what makes her happy and can’t do that while being an a active marriage with me cause I will only tear her down. I have been unfaithful in the past though never physically in our marriage. The last time I hid a flirting relationship with an ex about one year ago. When my wife found out she left me for 10 days and then came back and said she love me and wants to work things out. This time she says she can’t trust that I will change for more than a couple months at a time and that she can’t love me with all the resentment in our relationship. Around Christmas she had a sexual encounter with her best friend (female) and begged me not to leave her though in my eyes that was never an option. I became more controlling because of that situation and I have without a doubt forgiven my wife for that encounter. It did take me some time to forgive her and I was not the best husband for awhile while I was trying to work through it. Though we still live together and share a bedroom she has taken her ring off and wants us to just be a friendship for the kids. She is looking at apartments to move into and has some applications put in to some of them. I do love her and know in my heart we can work this out and build a stronger relationship I just don’t know what to do at this point. I have made some pretty big mistakes thus far since she gave me the news. I begged and pleaded. I admit I did say we should try for our kids. I am trying now to stay positive and change how I am dealing with this at least in front of her. She just keeps telling me she won’t ever be happy and she doesn’t want to work on things. She says she is convinced our marriage isn’t worth saving. What can I do? What steps can I take to have the best chance of saving my marriage.

  • Tyler, I am always pleasantly surprised to see how much some people recognize what’s going on in their marriages. You’ve been together 8 1/2 years but it took 4 to feel sure enough of each other (or scared enough of losing each other) to marry, and sometime during these first four years, you felt disconnected enough to have an affair with someone else.
    A year ago, you felt separate enough from your wife to flirt with an ex over some period of time. When your wife decided to continue the marriage anyway, she pointed out that her trust level was now very low and that there is a lot of resentment in your relationship.
    Eight months later, your wife tries out sex with her best friend but chooses you and begs you to stay. You do, but your distrust level is now high, you become less than the husband you want to be, and you try to control her. After four months of this, your wife believes the only way to make the changes in her life that will make her happy is to divorce you.
    And now you’re the one begging her to stay.
    The good news: it’s not the only way, not the best way, either.
    The other good news: Your wife has no problem being your friend or co-parenting your children with you. This is a lot to work with.
    And one more bit of good news: She doesn’t want to “work” on your marriage. While it’s possible stop some of the fighting with some relationship “work,” falling in love again pretty much requires finding our happiness again within the relationship. Most of us are great lovers, great husbands and wives, when we feel happy around our spouses.
    Your best strategy is to delay the divorce (and separation, too, if you can) and support her in finding what makes her happy. You can’t make her happy. Every one of us needs to find our own happiness. But you can help, and what’s called active-constructive feedback is more valuable to preserving your marriage than the support you provide when bad things happen.
    Active means when you hear about her accomplishment or stroke of good luck, any success, you set aside whatever you need from her at the moment (unless it’s life-and-death for you or the boys) and celebrate. You savor it together, telling her how proud you are of her or how happy you are for her. And you help your boys understand what a great thing has happened to their mother. You ask her questions about the details that let her relive her great moment.
    Constructive means if you think of any possible downsides to it, you keep them to yourself until she’s had some time to savor the win. Instead, you point out how the hard work she did has paid off or how her generosity, kindness, gratitude, and talents contributed to her good fortune. You add to the positive side of whatever happened.
    That’s active-constructive feedback. It’s especially important when your spouse is seeking happiness.
    So are the techniques of Finding Third Alternatives when the two of you disagree, especially if she’s looking at a change that would make her happy and make you a lot less happy. I’ve written lots of blog posts about these. Your first two alternatives, the ones you disagree on, are almost never the only ones open to you, and the next six months are not a good time for debating or arguing when you could be agreeing (without giving up what matters to you).
    Then there are all the other approaches in this blog post and any of my replies to other commenters that mention Barbara Frederickson or Love 2.0. Very important for you.
    And one more, especially for you, Tyler. I expect you will feel the urge to control her as she explores her options. When you do, remind yourself that she does not yet have the strength to handle your attempts at control in a way that’s healthy for your marriage. She does not yet know how to do what she needs to do even when it upsets you. Only you do, and that’s not good for a marriage. It puts too much responsibility on your shoulders and the extra weight warps your relationship.
    She also does not yet know how to ask for a Third Alternative. I am hoping you will learn and she’ll pick it up from you. It puts you both on the same side, and makes it a lot easier to lean in during challenging times, instead of pulling away and looking to outsiders to make you feel better through intimacy or sex.
    One of the upsides of being asked for a divorce is that it ought to make it easy to let go of trying to control her. It doesn’t keep her from leaving or from causing you pain. It’s a useless strategy, but a hard one to give up until you see its effects.
    The desire for control comes from frustration, for which you will want to read in this blog about how to Find Third Alternatives, and resentment, for which you will want to read my posts about how to Expect Love.
    You can do this.

  • Hi All…..going through a tough time at the moment with my wife….and seems to be getting progressively worse. We have only been married for 2 1/2 years, but dated for close to 5.
    Up to February this year, I would boast on my marriage if anyone asked…..we have a fantastic relationship….yes we have some issues…but which marriage doesnt?
    I started noticing that she kept mentioning this guys name from the office alot, and she invited me for drinks with her coworkers in Feb of this year…..I met the guy whose name is Ramesh there, and he seemed to know alot about me….but…they work together, so I guess they talk alot about each other’s lives. The evening wore on, and I realise he kept insisting that when we leave, that he carry my wife and I to a spot for food. Now, we both came in our separate vehicles and after some more time passed….my wife wanted to leave, so she did, and I remained with her co-workers…one of which I knew long before. So i started to get to know Ramesh as he started talking about his past, and he was divorced, and he had suicidal thoughts as he said he is only living for his daughter and he doesnt care to live. Found it weird….but I offered advise as to why that is not an answer. So eventually left, and went home, and told my wife that he has issues, and that i think he was infatuated with her…..of course she blew that off….and we got into a side argument about food and spending time together that night….as we had made plans prior.
    So skip to sunday where we had a party to go to….and of course…Ramesh was there….and spent most of the time with us…which again, I found weird. Fast forward to a mth after, and she was out again on a weekday and came home late…and told me she was out having drinks… at that point she always msged or call to say she was late, but this time she didnt, so I started suspecting from then. Then sat, I saw a msg from him at 10 in the night….when I inquired as to why he was msging a married woman at that time….she said was work….and deleted the msg, so I knew she was hiding something. On the monday I decided to bluff, and told her I was moving out as we clearly needed time apart cause she is blatantly lying about a next man. I drove off….drove around for 30 min….and came back home…and she had left….this was at 12 noon. She came back home after 10 in the night saying she was at a girlfriends. (she was with him and his family at the beach found out that after).
    We went on a mini vacation with her family the following weekend…slept together on the trip….and it seemed everything was kinda normal. When we came back….for 3 days straight she came home late. On the Thursday I confronted her, and she lied, saying nothing is going on…I called him…he lied too. At that time, she told me she doesnt love me, and wants a divorce. I took her phone from her, and during the night….found pics of her and this guy kissing, and topless pics she sent to him etc. She did not delete her cloud….she thought it was not on her phone.
    I confronted they guy the next day….he lied…and I hit him after showing him the pictures. I went home….and began asking her what was going on now. She said she loved him, and I asked her to choose…and she chose him. Apparently he was filling her head as a divorcee, to file for divorce so they could be together…and she fell for it.
    Her parents came the next day…they were dissappointed and sullen.
    I told her to pack her bags, and she has been by her parents since…(2 weeks)
    A week after she msgs saying she is sorry, and wants to give it one more try, and she will do anything. Mind you, she took a week off from work so she wasnt in the work environment with this guy anymore. It was too soon for me….and I told her no…that I want someone I can trust.
    One week later, she is back at work and…the story swung full 180…and now I am the problem. She told her parents I was mentally abusing her for over a year, and I dont help around the house, and I call her fat, and insist on her cooking morning , noon and night, and that i have an attitude, that I always speak sarcastically towards her, I dont tell her I love her, I dont sleep with her, and I dont kiss her….and probably more…but cant remember. She mentioned all the times I got upset and we had an argument….which…I could count on one hand.
    Now….granted…alot of the things she said is true to an extent….but not in context. My wife had surgery last year for ovarian cancer. We are young, early 30’s, and that was difficult. The surgery did not show signs of cancer, so we were lucky. She also suffers from asthma. In august last, her gyno told her she can start to try to have a baby…..but her lung doctor told her wait a year. So when she told me we can try, I told her when I am ready we will…….not really meaning it like that..but going on her lung doctor…we should wait a year. She took that to heart and she has been saying from since then…it went downhill for her. I started sleeping on the couch for a couple weeks this year, cause I snore like a beyotch when I am tired. She left the bed a couple times and slept on the couch…so I decided I will do that when I come home late from the office. I was just promoted…and was holding on to 2 positions, current and past, while also managing 25 people in the middle of an audit/merger. It was horrendous at the office. She knows that….but still is telling people that I was sleeping on the couch because I dont want to be with her. Most of the other items…were one off issues, that i thought we moved past, but she didnt.
    Now….her father has met lawyers, and they want a divorce. My take on it, is that i never heard most of these issues before, so never had the chance to work on them.She was unfaithful to me, but I am the problem.
    I am still willing to try….despite everything. This is my marriage…and cant give up on it so easily. She seems to have made up her mind…and is not talking to me. We both have made mistakes….and we both need to work on issues…..I just dont know how to move forward, cause her father is now the agressor, and my own wife cannot talk to me….
    I need help…..and advise…

  • Avinash, I believe you need to begin by talking with your father-in-law about giving you some time to work things out with your wife. Remind him that she is not a child who needs rescuing. She is an adult woman who made a commitment and broke it. Even if she broke it to get revenge for her belief that you broke it first, you two need to address the issues as adults before he jumps in with money and support for a divorce.
    Then I hope you will look at whether your approach has been as adult as you would choose now, looking back at where it’s gotten you. First, you told her you thought Ramesh was infatuated with her, and instead of letting her know how much you value her, you transferred your anger with Ramesh to an argument about food.
    A month later, you began to suspect infidelity, but instead of leaning into your relationship and seeking to strengthen it against this threat, you told her you were moving out as a bluff. When she said she wanted a divorce, instead of telling her you want her, you searched out her embarrassing photos and punched Ramesh. Instead of saying you love her and want her in your life, you said, “Choose!” When she chose him, you said, “Pack your bags!”
    To this point, your message to her was pretty consistently rejecting.
    When she regretted her choice a week later, instead of accepting her offer to do anything to repair your relationship, you said, “Not yet. I can’t trust you.” And, of course, you can’t. You won’t be able to trust her again until months after you lean back into this relationship. But “do anything” is a wide open offer. You could have asked her to look for a job elsewhere, to go to counseling with you, to come home right after work every night. Instead, you rejected her.
    Rejecting someone who hurts you this much is a natural response, pretty much the first option that comes to anyone’s mind. But so is her response to all the rejection, rehearsing everything you’ve ever done that felt mean or rejecting and blowing it out of proportion to convince herself that your rejection is actually a good thing.
    If you’ve realized you don’t really want her out of your life, you need to do a 180 turn and lean back into the relationship. But first, you need her father’s cooperation, because he’s protecting the little girl he’s protected since she was born.
    Depending on what sort of man he is and what sort of relationship you have with him, you might want to try admitting you behaved rashly and in a manner not fitting for the man you want to be and ask his help becoming that man.
    If he’s not the sort you can ask this of, you might ask only for the chance to apologize to your wife for some things said in anger and fear before he helps her put an end to a relationship she has valued for 5 years and jeopardized in the wake of a couple of medical scares.
    You cannot debate your way back to love with her. You cannot end her feelings for Ramesh by hurting or embarrassing him. The only way back to love is through love. If you want her in your life, you must love her, try to understand her, and accept her, flaws and all. This does not mean you need to fake trust in her. You can still ask for new rules to keep your suspicions at bay. And you can offer her the chance to ask for new rules to eliminate whatever she saw as pulling her away from you and toward him. But you really must try to do so with love, not anger and with directness, not bluffs or spying.

  • Wow….thanks Patty….did not look at it like that at all. I was hurt, and you are right…I directed it into an argument.
    I have since spoken to her dad….and he wants us to get back together, but she needs some time to gather herself. She has barely spoken to me since, and I have asked for us to go to counselling. she doesnt want to, and she says she is done, and does not want to try. My response to her is that even if she has given up on the marriage, I am not, and never will.
    Her parents told me she is still confused, and that she told them love was never an issue between us. I think I probably need to learn how to redirect my frustration at times….dont know how to go about that though. I dont think I will ever forget what she did…..but I am willing to move past it for us. Trust is going to be hard to regained. I still love her.

  • Avinash, you don’t need to wait for your wife to go to counseling. You can learn a lot on your own in counseling on how to draw her back into the relationship.
    On rebuilding trust, I would recommend There is also an explanation there of BAN (the Beyond Affairs Network Peggy and James started) and a link to this network of people finding their way back to trust.
    On my blog, anything about Finding Third Alternatives should help with frustrations. You may also find a Compassion Power Boot Camp by Dr. Stosny ( helpful. I am in no way affiliated with him, but I have heard him speak and heard the statistics on how much he helps those who have trouble with anger when they feel frustrated. He also has a course on healing after betrayal (
    I am so glad to hear that her father shares your goal of restoring the love, trust, and safe place of your relationship with his daughter.
    Right now, you’ve got one type of love, the concern for each other that makes it worth committing your efforts to rebuilding those bonds. The other type, the emotion of love, is found only in brief moments of connection and must be repeated constantly. One never substitutes for the other.
    A healthy relationship needs frequent positive interactions every day, including some in which you share positive emotions (joy, spirituality, pleasure, relief, awe, etc.). The more opportunities you schedule for these to occur, the more likely you’ll rebuild the bond between you.
    It sounds like you two are headed in the right direction now. I wish you both success in repairing your marriage.

  • Hello,
    My wife and I have been married for 6 years. We have a beautiful daughter together. In April of 2011 I lost my job of 5 years where I made good enough money she could stay home. We ended up losing everything, everything. I hit rock bottom got on drugs and was doing things I would have never done if I wasn’t on drugs. In September of 2012 I got arrested and sentenced to a year in jail. After I got out we lived with her mom and dad in Kentucky until I got a job and we moved back to Indiana where I am from. Anyways jail and drugs (heroin) changed me. My wife has been telling for maybe a year that I need to stop being an asshole and she says I act like I am not in love with her and we had sex but maybe once a month. When I first got out that’s all I wanted to do was have sex then it’s like I lost my sex drive. About 2 weeks ago she decided she had enough and wanted to separate and started talking to a guy at work and seeing him everyday and nonstop texting with him. Well I obviously realized finally what the Hell am I doing I don’t want to lose her and I really never meant to make her feel like that. I don’t know what to do to fix it. She finally said we can live together for our daughter and she would think about staying with me. But she doesn’t think I will change. I have been changing slowly. I can’t handle my wife being with another guy. That doesn’t seem right to me. If we are going to work on things I think she shouldn’t be hanging with him that just makes me act worse. Please any advice would help so much. I don’t want to lose the love of my life! Thank you!

  • Hey… Going through a tough time at the moment.
    Let me start with that I have personally had a let of issues throughout my life… Bulimic for 10 years, abusive father, 2 abusive relationships.. The latter which was with a genuine sociopath who controlled/ cheated/ beat me/ threatened to kill me. All of which I had counselling for.
    I have been with my boyfriend for 1.5 years now. We have everything in common & are immensely compatible. He’s my best friend & for the most part, he is a wonderful guy (we of course all have our little faults).
    9 months ago we decided to go travelling together. We had had no nickelling of any issues and had no arguments up until this point. Over the week we left, a multitude of things occurred that triggered old feelings within me… My best friend and main support stopped talking to me because she felt I was abandoning her; I had a lot of money stress; one of his work colleagues told me that if I went away with him he’d cheat on me (I know he never would); and due to his stress of money to go travelling with/ jet lag/ etc, our sex life went a little rocky… Which then made me feel insecure. Then after 3 weeks away, enjoying eating drinking, I but on weight… And an woman at a market asked if I was pregnant (I only went up to a size US 8). This then triggered my bulimia again.
    I kept all of this inside/ secret for about 3/4 months.
    Then on two occasions in Feb/March within the space of a month we went out… I got very drunk… Had no food in me as I’d thrown up my dinner beforehand… Hadn’t drank water… And was drinking doubles/ shots, etc.
    I blacked out both times and had a delusion. One time it was that my current bf was my ex… The other was that my current bf was hitting me. In this delusion (which I’ve never actually done in real life when I was in an abusive relationship) I “defended myself and hit back”. In reality, on both these times I punched my bf.
    I of course couldn’t believe what happened and was very distraught the next day.
    The second time it happened I realised I had done sort of ptsd, and that I had to get my mental health back on track and stop being bulimic too.
    I stopped being bulimic cold turkey, and now it doesn’t feel an issue anymore. I go to the gym 4/5 days a week had have got back into shape and am feeling healthy.
    I started doing online counselling (as I can’t do “proper” counselling as I’m still travelling), and started talking to my close friends and family about things for support.
    I have also done a lot of soul searching and am starting to feel good within myself again.
    I have stopped excessive drinking too.
    My boyfriend said he forgave me, but… Over the last 2 months, our sex life is practically non existent… Initially I would get upset about this, and it would cause an argument… But the last month I have backed right off; told him that I would, so that he could have the space for his desire to grow back.
    We were also arguing a lot over nothing… Again over the last month I have tried really hard. And the last 3 weeks we hasn’t had one.
    Then on Saturday I tried to ask him about something that wasn’t really an issue, I was just curious. He interrupted me before I could finish, misunderstood what I was asking/ intentions, which caused a little disagreement. He then started bringing up the past (which we had agreed was unhealthy for us to do). I asked him to apologise for it, as it had upset me. He said he didn’t care and wouldn’t apologise. The. He broke up with me.
    We left it that night. Then talked the next day.
    He admitted that he still felt angry for me punching him during my delusion, and that he didn’t think he could get over it. He said he still cared for me and loves me, and still finds me attractive, but he “can’t remember the last time he felt turned on by me” and that there is no desire there.
    He said he used to imagine I was the woman he’d marry and settle down with, but now he can’t see that anymore.
    We agreed to try again, but he said “I need to understand that he isn’t fully committed to it”.
    I know he has more respect for me than to cheat on me… So that isn’t an issue… But I looked on his phone after he broke up with me and saw him messaging his mates calling other girls he knows “fit” and that he’d be “all over them” etc). I told him what I had done, and that I was sorry/ ashamed for breaching his trust and privacy… I explained I was so caught off guard when he broke up with me, that I panicked, and don’t know why I did it. He was mad, said it was “stupid guy banter”, and he didn’t mean it. But he said he forgave me. I assured him (and I mean it) that I will never look again.
    So one day into it we had a nice chilled evening after work chatting/ cuddling/ watching tv/ playing games. I have decided we need a little space though as I’m still feeling upset… So I am going to stay at a friends now for 2 days to give us some breathing space.
    I feel upset at how he currently feels about me; and also that he can’t empathise from my point of view, as I do his. (As in I was obviously going through ptsd delusions from past trauma… And although I did physically hurt him… In my mind I wasn’t hurting “him”, I was defending myself… And that I would never ever hurt him in “real life”).
    I want to come back; not discuss our issues anymore… And just get along/ have a good time/ enjoy each other.
    Do you think he will get over this? And learn to love me again?
    I want to give this my 100%. I know I can’t control his efforts towards getting us back on track, but I can control mine. I want to fight for this, as I know it’s too good a thing to loose.

  • Hi there and thanks in advance, I’m enthusiastic about posting this message hoping that this will help. Let me tell you about my situation, first of all my wife has told me she is leaving me, we’ve been married a couple of years and together 7. We have a 6 year old that came very early in our relationship, she is alot younger than I am ( 35 – 26 ). I must tell you that things have been rocky for almost a year now and she threatened to leave me about 6 months ago. I guess at the time I underestimated how serious she was until it was to late. She tells me that she doesn’t love me the way she used to and that I don’t let loose, that everything I do i treat as a job. I don’t look at it that way I look at it as doing as much for my family as I possibly can. I guess I just don’t get out and do things as much as I used to. I’m very comfortable being at home and she wants to go out and do things all the time. I never really looked at what I did as wrong and in my own mind am always striving for perfection even though I know I’m not perfect, I was not a big chores guy but I’ve pulled up my socks ( she hasn’t had to do anything since), she says I don’t have hobbies but I’ve started working out again like when we first met though once again not getting out of the house. I now pay for just about everything, ( I have to add this, I told her I would do this to make it easier for when she moves but only because she was going to move to a friends house to save more money anyways and I didn’t want her to go) she said i didn’t spend enough quality time with my boy and I’ve started doing more with him. I’ve made some mistakes along the way since she has told me she’s leaving me like, I was bitter with her, I tried to beg her to stay, tried to guilt her and tried to make her jealous about me by telling her about a girl I found attractive. Since reading your posts I’ve stopped these things and am trying make myself more confident. Things she has done lately include I was with her male family members at guys camping trip and she went for a camping bonfire/sleepover with a male friend who I’m jealous of with our boy and his two boys. I brushed it off and showed her it didn’t bother me… should I be worried? She has spent more nights out lately till first thing in the morning when I have to go to work, though this is not completely uncommon it’s got more frequent she says she goes to her girlfriends place and I think it’s possible trying to distance herself from me. I do love her to bits and I do want things to go back to the way they used to be, any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated and I would pass this site on to everyone I know has problems like my own.

  • Jayde, I hope you will find a trained therapist to help you through this.
    What happened to him (getting punched, on two separate occasions, by a woman he thought he might want to marry) is just as real as the abuse you suffered as a child as a result of your father’s mental illness. The impact on him was the loss of his sexual desire for you and a good bit of his trust of you.
    While you took some excellent steps to prevent a recurrence, none of that undoes what he experienced. You say you would never ever hurt him in “real life,” but only you were not in real life when it happened. His real life includes getting punched twice, lied to by omission about your eating disorder, having his mail not just snooped on but needing to apologize for how he speaks to his male friends as a result, and you creating “breathing space” because you are upset that he won’t shove his feelings about all this under the carpet.
    I want to urge you to process your feelings with a therapist so you can return to the relationship ready to deal with his feelings. I wish you two the best.

  • Nick, your wife hanging with another man is not right. But neither is doing heroin or whatever put you in jail or acting like you’re not in love with your wife. At least her not-right behavior clarified your feelings and spurred your intentions to change. My advice? Give her at least as much time as she’s given you to get it right.
    There is lots of advice in this post and the earlier comments on how to help her fall in love with you again. But none of it works instantly. You are changing slowly. She will, too. Give it time.

  • Ian, your wife became a mother very young, before she had much of a chance to enjoy the freedoms of being an adult. As I told Nick, it’s not right that your wife hang out with another man, but you may need to tolerate the thought of this possibility while you patiently repair the damage to your relationship. More likely, though, she’s just enjoying time away from a situation she finds unpleasant, hanging with her girlfriend.
    She’s looking to let loose and do some things for fun. It sounds like she blames you for not doing this sooner, since she’s advising you to let loose and find a hobby. Your child is finally out of that period where a parent dare not let loose for a minute without a trustworthy babysitter to take over. Her response is quite natural. And look — she’s inviting you to do the same. That’s a hopeful sign.
    It may not be what you need at this age and this stage in your career, but it is an invitation to rebuild your relationship. Find a trustworthy babysitter and take her out. It’s a great chance to experience the shared moments of positive emotion that will restore the “in love” feeling. Try to choose something you could do together over time and get good at (i.e., a hobby) together, like one of those wine and painting classes, country western or swing dance lessons at a dance hall, cooking classes, rock climbing, kayaking, whatever you’re both likely to enjoy.
    And I’ll repeat what I said to Nick. If her dissatisfaction has been growing for a long time, be prepared to take a long time to win her back. It’s worth it.

  • Hi, hello…
    I’m writing out of desperation and major confusion. I suppose I’ll start with the ‘beginning’.
    I left a little over a month ago to my parents house planning to stay the summer. My husband and I weren’t doing too great, always fighting and our affections and intimacy was little to none. He stopped, so in my stubbornness, I stopped, too. BIGGEST mistake of my life. I left in hopes that he would miss me and want me home immediately, instead, he ‘missed’ me and cheated on me with another woman while he was highly intoxicated. He didn’t tell me, I unfortunately had to coax it from him. I drove back from my parents after he had indicated in a text that he was unhappy and that he couldn’t take it anymore, I drove from Texas to Missouri back and forth for four days straight in attempts to make us work; he keeps changing his mind and so was I until now. I want to work on getting us back happy, he says he fell out of love with me and that he doesn’t think his feelings will ever come back, however he is willing to try. We cannot afford counseling and I’m not really sure how to precede with rebuilding us and creating the ‘spark’ again. He always seems so angry towards me and feels like he is forcing his affections when he is reciprocating mine. It is partially the no affection towards each other that made him divert and I don’t want to push him further away but forcing my affections on him. I guess, I just don’t know what to do! I can’t eat or sleep, I just want to do this right. We have a family and I don’t want us to fall apart.

  • Brittaney, I am so sorry to hear of the pain in your marriage. I’m glad you already have the long list of suggestions in the blog post for restoring the loving feelings. Each of them is based on research into what works and what doesn’t.
    I hate to hear that anyone feels they cannot afford marriage counseling if they need it. It can be expensive (although some clergy members offer it for free), but there is no way it’s ever more expensive than maintaining two homes instead of one, shuttling children between their parents’ homes, and providing counseling for any of your children who react badly to the split.
    Marriage education can be a less expensive option. There is even a good bit of free marriage education available. But this route will take more patience, as it’s more general in nature than counseling. Here are three places to find marriage education classes in Missouri:
    And Retrouvaille retreats are fairly inexpensive and will waive fees as needed:
    You mention your husband always seems angry toward you. If he shows it in abusive ways — hitting you, pushing you, breaking your things, calling you degrading names, threatening to hurt you or the children — you will definitely need professional help. This behavior has little to do with anger; the anger is a smokescreen for a dangerous set of beliefs that aren’t fixed by falling in love again (or by getting straight or sober or making promises).
    You also mention that you two fight. It’s okay to fight (without abusing each other), but it requires a lot more loving acts to keep your marriage healthy between fights, at least three for every raised voice, rolled eyes, or slammed door. You can avoid a lot of fights by learning to Find Third Alternatives, one of the categories on the Assume Love blog. It’s a really valuable skill.

  • Hello
    I’m writing because im desperate. I’ve been married for 3 years now and last december my husband told me he doesn’t feel same way he used to, he cares about me but he doesn’t love me anymore.
    I used to be selfish, whimsical the 2 first years of marriage, my temper was explosive and most of the time we did just the things I love no matter what he wanted, my husband used to live to fulfill all my wishes, he never cared about him, till june last year(2014) when he exploded and he told me how miserable he was.
    I changed since he told me all my bad things and I became another person, he recognized it and he appreciates this new me, however he said that he was trying but he doesn’t love me anymore the way he used to, that it’s not my fault.
    We have tried counseling, spiritual retirements, talking, everything, and nothing has worked.
    Lately he has told me that we are not happy but he wants to keep trying until he can’t. He has not fallen in love with another person, he told me and I believe him.
    What else should I do to renew the flame of love?
    I don’t want this to end. I feel that he still cares a lot about me and he wants to solve things out.
    Thank you

  • Nicole, the advice in the blog post above is a compilation of recommendations from a lot of research into the differences between healthy and unhappy marriages. You might notice that very little of it involves talking.
    I would like to highlight two parts of it:
    “Create more opportunities to laugh, relax, or say ahhhhh — together. Make yourself available. Make the plans. Arrange the babysitter or picnic lunch or car rental. Invite your spouse, invitingly. Get out to a comedy club or a movie. Get into a hot tub or hammock. Go find yourselves a gorgeous spot in nature, a seat in a grand music hall, or a tour of an art museum. Love happens while you are sharing positive emotions.”
    No joke. The emotion of love, in which your bodies release oxytocin and your vagus nerves are stimulated, toning them and sending a feeling of warmth into the area of your heart, is as brief as a flash of anger or fear or joy. To feel “in love” it must be repeated quite often. And it happens when both of you are enjoying the same positive emotion together, in sync. So planning (and taking advantage of) opportunities to laugh, to feel awe, to experience relief or pleasure, to be part of something uplifting, to play is probably the most important change you can make once you’ve stopped the reasons for his resentment.
    And this one:
    “Notice what your husband or wife is good at. Create more opportunities to employ these strengths. Talk about the ways your life is enhanced as a result. Say thank you.”
    You can learn more about character strengths at Let your husband know you notice and appreciate his strengths. And if there are some you both share, remember to really share them, each of you getting plenty of opportunities to use them.
    For two years, he showered you with love despite feeling it was one-way too much of the time. It’s only been one year since you swapped places. Keep trying, because knowing how to get back out of a slump in your love is probably one of the most valuable skills you can ever acquire.

  • Hello
    I’ve been trying to create opportunites to laugh and relax, and get close to him but lately he is away, in his own world and he barely wanna share things with me. At nigts he barely talk, he just wants to watch tv and his phone.
    When I invite him to dinner he goes with me, but when we finish he doesn’t say thanks. I see sometimes he doesn’t appreciate good things I”m doing for him. Yesterday I say”lets go to a trip together”, he said “I don’t like that place you suggested” then I said : “You choose the place”, then he said” we talk about that later”.
    Should I show to him that im not that in love and needy of his love and be kinda of appart so he could appreciate me more?
    It’s too difficult right now to get close with him.

  • Nicole, I never recommend trying a strategy for a few days and then switching to a different one before your husband even has time to figure out you’re serious about changing things, especially if your next strategy is to show him you’re not that in love. Double especially when that’s already his strategy. How much more are you appreciating him for keeping himself distant?
    So your husband’s not big on gratitude. What ARE his character strengths? Is his creative? Open-minded? Industrious? Good in social situations? Honest? A team player? Optimistic? Curious and interested in experiencing things or figuring them out? A lifelong learner? Frugal? Forgiving? What could you plan where he might show you THAT side of himself? Make it one you feel grateful for. He’ll like himself better while he’s employing his strengths, and we all like those around us more when we feel at our best.
    And he’s a watcher, not a talker. What tv shows could you watch together that would get you laughing? What delicious food could you share and enjoy together during a tv show? Will he put an arm around you if you snuggle up to him?
    He doesn’t like the place you suggested visiting. Instead of putting the task of thinking of a different trip on his shoulders, how could you think of a place you’ll both enjoy? Maybe one you’ve been to in the past? Maybe one where he could do something he’s long wanted to do or learn something he’s long wanted to learn? Could you include a choice in your request? “I’m dying to take a trip. Would you prefer x, y, or z?” You could even let him know you respect his judgment, if you do: “You were so right about going to c last fall. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. But the room was super and that hike was one of my all-time favorites. What’s your take on x?”
    When he’s off in his own world, are you bugging him to leave it or doing something interesting enough to entice him into yours? Is your tone angry or happy?
    He’s checked out of your marriage but not your life, and he’s announced it months ago. It’s an awful strategy, but it may be the best he knows how to do, given the pull between his resentment over your earlier behavior and his integrity, which tells him to honor his vows and stay near for your children. If your aim is to repair the damage you’ve done and fall back in love with each other, you have to draw him back in slowly and consistently. It’s definitely not easy, and it takes a strong stomach for what can feel like new rejection, but it’s a much easier road than all the commenters living apart or living parallel lives in the same house must take. Don’t join them by withdrawing if what you really want is to be in love again.

  • I will answer some of your questions:
    When he’s off in his own world, are you bugging him to leave it or doing something interesting enough to entice him into yours? Is your tone angry or happy
    When he is off doing what he likes the most he is happy, I never bug him to leave it.
    I told him sometimes that we barely talk at nights and I want to get close to him.
    When He’s watching a tv show and I put my body in to him fe feels confortable but he acts focused on the show or phone.
    He gave me flowers two weeks ago ’cause I told me that he never gives me Little gifts.
    Everday before he leaves he writes to me notes saying have a good day or stuff like that.
    I think he cares about me, but he is in a situation right now that he seems tired of everything, I don’t want to force him with trips or plans.

  • That’s good, Nicole. Don’t force him. And remember that healthy marriages have about a 5:1 ratio of praise (“I enjoy being with you while you watch tv”, “your notes start my day right”) to criticism (“you never give me little gifts”, “we barely talk at nights”). If your ratio isn’t up there yet, try to move it up a little each week.

  • His qualities and attributes are:
    kind, generous , helpful , quiet, calm, optimistic , mysterious, complacent, persevering, good listener .

  • He sounds like a great guy, Nicole, well worth the effort to create a new and better relationship with.
    Have you ever read The Five Love Languages? Just from what you’ve said today, I would guess that your love language might be receiving gifts, while his might be acts of service. Check out for ways to bridge the differences between these two.

  • Thanks for your words Patty. I’d like to share with you my test results:
    11 Physical Touch
    9 Words of Affirmation
    6 Receiving Gifts
    2 Acts of Service
    2 Quality Time
    The most I need is physical touch and he is not willing to do it right now. I haven’t shared with him my results yet.
    He doesn’t now if he will ever would make me happy again being the man that I married with.
    He doesn’t show interest in my life, he never says I love you when I say it.
    Once he told me that he tries everyday to be the man he used to be but he can’t and he doesn’t now if he will ever do.
    I really wanna give it a shot because I love him, but I suffer everyday ’cause he never kiss me or hug me anymore, he just does it when we say good night or hello at mornings. I don’t want to beg for love.

  • Nicole, it’s horrible to do without the signs of affection you crave. On the other hand, even with him saying he can’t love you any more, he gives you your second language every morning, something a lot of women will envy enormously.
    When looking at your love languages, I think it’s important to check whether the ones you’re not very fluent in might be the very ones he uses to express love and longs to receive in return. It doesn’t sound like he’s big on Quality Time, but what about Acts of Service? Might he be feeling he gives and doesn’t get in return or gives and gets no gratitude for what he gives?

  • This article is wonderful, Patty, thank you for the time you spent on it and all the time you have taken to respond to all people who post their troubles and questions.
    My husband and I are actually newlyweds… We’ve been married for less than 3 months. We’ve been together for over 3 and a half years, and 3 of them we have been living together, so we had already gotten used to one another’s habits and how to do chores and pay the bills together etc. We had an insanely strong foundation. We were one of those couples that “just knew” on our first date, said “I love you” on just our 2nd date, and from then on we have been completely committed to one another. He moved to another state with me when I began graduate school (working on my doctorate). He has stood by me through thick and thin during school, even though he’s not an academic, but has been so supportive through the ups and downs and I honestly don’t think I would have gotten this far without his support.
    Anyway… So about a month and a half after we were married, he became very distant. Hardly responding to my normal texts or phone calls during the day, spending all his time on his phone at night, we stopped having sex. I thought he just needed some space, but eventually I collected clues that something was going on between him and one of my best friends, who was one of my bridesmaids and lives very close to us. At the time, I just thought it was “wishful” in nature… Something like “I think things would be better with her.” I was still uncomfortable with that much, so I confronted him and he denied it. Eventually in the conversation he said he wasn’t happy but wasn’t sure why, and he needed time and space to think about it. So I gave him space. We still lived together, but if he wanted to spend the night at the coffee shop or playing golf, I didn’t put up resistance. During this time he also lost his really good job. I stopped texting him while he was out so it wouldn’t feel like I was pestering him. A couple weeks later we talk about it again because he was still being so distant. Incredibly distant. He broke down crying, saying that he can see how much I’m trying, that he loves me so much and I don’t deserve for him to be like this. So he started “trying” with me. We went on dates to the movies and I’d dress up for him, we’d cuddle at night. But still he wouldn’t approach me sexually and would turn me down if I approached him. Some nights, though, he still would leave. Which honestly wasn’t unusual because he has a hobby he usually practiced multiple times a week in the evenings, so I didn’t think anything of him leaving. I knew things weren’t “right”, far from it, but I thought we were slowly going to straighten things out. A few days ago I found letters from my best friend to my husband from a couple weeks back. Filled with sexual things, “I love you’s” and even mentions about their “dream house.” I confronted him, but had to go to work. I had him meet me after a couple hours so we could talk. During the conversation he expressed to me that this other girl “pushes” him to be more adventurous, instead of the other way around in our relationship. That she takes him outside of his comfort zone, which he likes, and doesn’t think he can get that from me. I expressed that I am an adventurous person, but just don’t have the time or money to be that sort of person right now since I’m still in school, but when I graduate I imagine our lives more full of spontaneity. I also expressed that he hasn’t tried to be spontaneous with me in a very long time, and that if we were to initiate something, I’d definitely want to do it. But he thinks I’d just be “willing” to do new things, instead of “wanting” to do new things, which isn’t true but he won’t believe. He and this girl have been emotionally involved for over a month, so as I gave him space so he could think, we was leaving our house and going to see her. She broke up with her boyfriend of 4 years just two weeks ago, and the plan was for my husband to tell me about the affair, me kick him out so he could move in with her. (This is what he told me.) Another thing to mention is that many years ago, he had a horrible car accident for which he was responsible and actually killed another driver. The family didn’t press charges, my husband’s family hardly talked to him about it, and he attended crappy therapy a couple times. Ive seen over the years that my husband doesn’t think he deserves true success, so once things go well, he figures out a way to squash them. I think this may be at some of the root of the cause too, but he has said he really doesn’t think so. We’ve tried to get him help over the last couple of years, but unfortunately weren’t persistent with it.
    I’ve spent the weekend away, he and I haven’t really had contact so that each of us can think. I’m not sure if he’s at home or if he’s staying with her right now. I’m not sure how to approach things when we do decide to talk. I know the worst thing I can do is be clingy at this point, but I don’t know how much space is too much.
    Thanks for your advice or any comments you can give.

  • Ouch! My heart goes out to both of you.
    To you for the loss of your new husband’s affections and the loss of a girlfriend.
    And to him for what’s almost certainly on its way. Very, very few affairs survive for more than a few months after leaving a spouse. And the odds seem a lot worse with someone who craves the new and the adventurous and has zero integrity. She’ll break his heart as soon as she looks for her next “isn’t this exciting?” adventure. If seducing a friend’s new husband was the exciting next step just outside her comfort zone this quarter, what’s next?
    Bravo to you for trusting your husband when he went out alone, even if he did screw it up. You can’t manage someone’s feelings for you by chaining them to the bed post. Even married people need the freedom to be themselves and to have some different interests from their spouses.
    And you can’t compete for his affections. Pushing him beyond his comfort zone is not your thing, and so far he hasn’t noticed how many of your things he’s losing, including trustworthiness and the freedom to stay within his comfort zone when he disagrees with where he’s being pushed.
    The accident sounds like a big thing. If you can get him into any sort of marriage counseling with you, I would suggest Imago Therapy ( Treat the accident as part of your relationship and see what it’s doing to it.
    Too much space is anything that suggests you agree he should leave as long as you want him to stay. Also anything that protects his safety while he’s praising her for adding more risk. And anything that says you don’t care what he does. And if you are still able to have moments where you share a laugh or a cuddle or some playfulness or a beautiful sunset, not spending any time together would be too much space.
    Too much clinginess is competing with her or offering to change yourself to be more like her. Or putting him in a position of defending her from your actions or talk. Or following him around, tracking his movements, or giving up other things in your life to be available 24/7 in case he decides to spend time with you.
    I want to wrap my arms around anyone who must walk that line between them, waiting for someone who’s been good to them for so long to come to his senses. It’s a rotten place to be. He’s very lucky you can see it’s not entirely personal, that his job loss and his accident and maybe even his expectations about how marriage would change your relationship all factor into his out-of-integrity, unexpected behavior.
    It may help to set yourself a date. When you get to that date, you can extend it, but until then, it may help you set aside the urge to ruminate and analyze constantly about whether to quit or keep waiting for him.

  • I’m sitting down trying to find the words to say to the woman I love and been estranged from , weve been together for 14 years, half my life. She wrote and said shes forgiving me and wont find peace until I forgive myself, and that’s where ive been stuck at for far too long now… I will never forgive myself, I Cant , Its my fault and my alone, choices I made cost me my family and I wont ever forgive myself for it, so that’s where I stand. Alone , dead, no chance at peace, (me vs me) at war with-in… I didn’t post this comment in hopes that you had the golden wisdom for me to say or do. I stumbled onto your site and just wanted to tell you That I think Its great that you respond to everyone who reaches out to you. The world would be a better place with more people like you. back to my letter now , take care

  • Simon, I am so sorry you find yourself is such sad circumstances. Thank you for your kind words.
    I hope you and others who see themselves in your painful words find some form of penance that will release you from your lingering resentment. Until it’s gone, you can’t begin to love again — love children, love another woman, love humanity, even truly love the woman you hurt. And I believe we badly need more love in this world.

  • I am looking for answers. My wife and I have been married for almost 8 years and she has told me she loves me but is not in love with me. She wants a divorce, I don’t.
    Our marriage has never been great and we both have made mistakes but she has never given herself to me wholeheartedly. Her upbringing was hard and I believe has kept her from breaking down that wall. We have two beautiful children and I am fearful for the affect a divorce will have on them……and myself included.
    My wife came to this decision and asked for space so I have been sleeping in the guest room this past week. It is difficult to be there knowing the love of my wife is in the next room and I cannot just hold her. The other night we went to a councilor and I believe this councilor can really help us. He said he can’t fix marriage, but he can help us to better communicate with each other (which has always been bad) which could fix our marriage or he can help us with divorce counseling. Talking to her the next day, she would like the later. I am devastated. She has asked for space and I am giving it to her. I have left and checked myself into a hotel for this week. I just hope my being there wont allow her to grow further from me.
    My biggest problem with all of this is that when we got together, we were living in different states. When we married, she moved to me with the promise that if I needed to, I would move back to the state where we both grew up, a state where I am not happy. I kept my promise even though it was a move I didn’t think would be the best for my family. We both made a promise to each other when we took our vows – “for better or for worse”. Nobody ever wants the worst but here we are. All I am asking for is just one more chance to try to get her to fall back in love with me over the next few months but she is not going for that. She will not let me in and won’t do anything that might change her feelings. She is so stubborn. She did the same thing when she moved to me and didn’t give the city a chance. She wouldn’t even get a job. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to loose her but I am afraid it is too late.

  • Mike, you’ve gone 8 years without learning the communications skills you need to understand what your wife needs or the problem-solving skills to give it to her without compromising what you need. Since she still loves you, I recommend you push off as far as possible your first divorce counseling appointment and work with this counselor (or one who is more marriage-friendly) to develop those skills for yourself as quickly as possible.
    They will help you ease tensions now, maybe long enough to have another shot at “in love.” They will help you in case of a divorce, as you will always be parents together and an adversarial relationship makes that very hard. And they will help you if you do end up divorced and hope to fall in love again after you recover.
    Then, if you haven’t read The Five Love Languages (a book by Gary Chapman that also comes in a Men’s edition), you might get it from your local library or Amazon this week. You long to hold your wife, which is one of the five. It could be that she longs for one of the other four. If you recognize which one from reading the book, you have a great advantage, because 3 of the 4 you can give her lots of even while she’s holding you at arm’s length.
    And if you’re a different person while drinking or taking any drug, this would be a very good time to stop, so she needs to fall back in love with only one of you. Also so you are always fully present with her and in good control of your emotions when she’s around.
    She’s probably been falling out of love for a long while. I say this because when someone loves you but no longer wants you in her life, it’s far from an easy decision to propose separating or divorcing. What this means is that your best aid to winning her back is time, time to slowly undo the thinking that got her here.
    To keep time on your side, don’t rush anything and don’t use any of your time together to discuss blame or disagree over anything. Don’t ask her if her mind is changing, because until it does, you’ll just hurry her final decision. And while you give her space, ask for time in return, time to think before you make any divorce plans with her.
    And keep in mind the Love 2.0 research finding: the “in love” feeling comes from micro-moments of shared positive emotions. It takes a bunch of them daily to get back to recognizing one is “in love” again. Kindnesses, natural beauty, beautiful music or art, gratitude, joy, hope or relief for your children, an exercise “high,” forgiveness, uplifting religious ceremonies, a great story, even good food can let a shared micro-moment occur. But they don’t happen while either of you is stuck in a negative emotion.

  • My husband never liked me or loved me. First clue he didn’t want sex with me or any one else. I told him I need love and attention, he said go else where. He didn’t want me to talk touch or be around him. I asked what kind of relationship is that ! He said it isn’t it’s a room mate thing nothing more. And after 47 years things are the same, we just go about our own business, he lives in his garage and I have the house. He provides me any thing with no complaints. It’s been a sad life for me being lonely and depressed are the worst thing. I do take pills for depression, and see a shrink every two weeks. I cry at least once when I visit with her, shrimp know is my closest friend. Any one who reads this is thinking that I should have left and you would be right. I thought things might change it never happened I was young and stupid. I had no where to go and lived on a tight budget. Years flew by the older I got i guess just gave up. Accepted my fate in life, now and forever till lfe ends.a

  • How sad, Amy. You might want to try a different shrink. This one doesn’t sound very effective or professional. And a financial adviser who can tell you where you would stand financially if you re-started your life by moving out and making friends and your husband chose to divorce you as a result (although it doesn’t sound like he’d bother).

  • Due to my health(epilepsy)I believe my spouse kept quiet for too many years, not wanting the truth to hurt me. I hurt him w/ critical words, yet didn’t realize it ’cause he didn’t say a word. Now he’s sour to me after 16 years married. I was happy, but it seems he put an act on to keep me quiet. I’ve changed to end critical or complaining. I pointed out to him;- don’t expect me to read your mind either. I’m seeking a happy, healthy marriage w/respect of the truth. How to bring our tenderhearted love back together?

  • If you hurt him with critical words, rebuild it with kind words, respect, and active-constructive responses to his good news. This last one means listen for when he’s seeking your respect or admiration, be fully present when you hear this, setting aside anything non-life-threatening that’s going on at the moment. Then offer your congratulations and confirm you saw and recognize the effort and the talent that earned him whatever reward he’s received (a raise, a prize, some praise, or a sense of accomplishment). And when it occurs to you that there might be a downside to follow, when you think of a “but” to follow what you just said, firmly bite your tongue.
    To make sure there are enough of these moments, suggest activities together that draw on his top character strengths, whether he’s generous, creative, optimistic, genuine, openminded, brave, great at social situations, wise, curious, spiritual, awed by the beauty of nature or music or mathematics, a quick learner, a great team player, or any of the other character strengths.
    And keep up your courage, sustain your patience for the journey back by reading this:

  • Hi Patty, I came across your blog as I desperately search for answers.
    3 days ago my husband shattered my world, telling me he loves me and cares for me but isn’t in love with me anymore. We have been together for almost 28 years, married almost 25 and we have an 18 year old son and 17 year old daughter who will be going to post-secondary in the fall. Life has been stressful. In retrospect I see that I didn’t show him in ways he could see how much I love and appreciate him. Money has always been tight and we had some major trouble a couple of years ago. Thankfully we came out the other side. I asked him to go for coffee at a neutral location last night to talk and I had been gathering my thoughts and wrote them down so I wouldn’t forget anything and also to stay on track. I listened actively and respectfully to his responses. I asked him to go for counselling with me but he said he’s not into counselling and cannot see what benefit it would be because it won’t change the way he feels. I asked if he entertained the possibility that with personal growth and learning to communicate, as well as clearing the air, that things could change. He said he didn’t know, but I get the feeling he has made up his mind and doesn’t want to think it can change. I am so scared…he is my everything, my rock, my safe place…I cannot envision my life without him. So, I told him that I will go for counselling and I hope he will come with me. I must add here that I think he is having some form of midlife crisis…he is 50 and 3 months ago he lost his father, who had been in the home with Alzheimer’s for 5 years, and his step-mother, who passed quickly from kidney failure, and that was a day apart. I’m sure this significant loss was a trigger. Although, he says the loss of love has been building for a while. I asked him why he didn’t suggest counselling or be more specific with me regarding our relationship problems…didn’t he care enough…his response was “I guess not”. That one hurt…a lot…
    I hope you have some insight for me as to whether I can hope for his love to rekindle through positive changes on my part, possibly his, even though he’s acting like this is a final and irreversible decision. Because this came seemingly out of nowhere for me I am not willing to go down without a fight.

  • PJ, I am so sorry for your pain. It’s horrible when a spouse wants to call it quits. Losing a father and a step-mother and looking at both kids perhaps leaving home very soon must be pretty tough on your husband, too. All three are common triggers for re-evaluating a man’s life.
    I would like to suggest today’s blog post, On Staying in Love ( for your husband, if he’ll read it, and a much older one, One Last Stand Before Divorce ( for you.
    “I guess not” was either a cruel comment or the resignation of someone who’s come to the end of his rope — even his attempts to get your attention come to what he perceives as criticism. Unless he’s been the sort to throw out cruel comments in the past, I’d go with resignation.
    if he’s been feeling under-appreciated, as so many men seem to feel, then criticism about what he failed to do probably added to his feeling that the only solution is to get away. It’s not, of course, but right now, that may be what feels true to him.
    So it’s on you to take the next step. I like the idea of you going to counseling. Don’t try to talk him into joining you. He may well expect it to be a session of more criticism with someone who’ll make him feel guilty for not accepting it. That’s a common misperception (with a grain of truth). Tell him you’re going to learn to get better at loving and respecting a husband while still being true to yourself — and you hope he’ll be the one who benefits from it. He just might stick around to see what happens.

  • Hi,
    My wife and I have been together for 18 years. We have been married for 3. She is the love of my life. Over the years our relationship has had its ups and downs like any normal relationship. We have 2 children. 7 and 8. When our youngest was still a newborn, i had an emotional affair. It was short lived but still went on longer than my wife knew. As the years passed I thought it was done and forgotten about. 6 months ago I started noticing that she was avoiding intimacy more and more. Then I noticed that our communication was becoming more and more non-existant. So, about a month ago I asked her what the problem was, and she dropped it on me. She still loves me but, isnt in love with me. Naturally I was devastated. Her reason was my affair 7 years ago. She had tried to make it work, but over the years it had just eaten her alive to the point to where she is just done. I totally lost it to the point to where my mood swings made things even worse. We are still living in our home with our babies and it is driving me nuts. I have done a complete 180 as far as my train of thought, how i treat my kids and wife, and just striving to be the best father and husband I can be. I have already become closer with my kids but my wife wont budge. She still tells me she loves me but it is more like a friendship than the marriage we promised eachother for life. Theres no other woman in this world that can come close to her. Shes one in a billion. Is there anything I can do get her to realize the way I feel without her blocking me? My family is too valuable to be broken.
    Thank you

  • Eric, this blog post is a compendium of lots of research into what creates a healthy marriage. But I think I left out the significance of the difference between “I love you” and “I’m in love with you.”
    “In love” comes from experiencing the emotion of love, not the commitment or long-term connection of love. Like the difference between someone who’s angry right now and someone who’s committed to stay angry until some injustice is undone.
    Brilliant researcher Barbara Frederickson says the emotion of love has us feeling connected and in sync with someone. And we need to feel it often, multiple times a day. It’s enjoying the same pleasant experience or feeling in sync while sharing stories from our day. It’s a rush of warmth and trust. It stimulates the nerve that runs from our brain to most of our organs but especially our heart, the vagus nerve. It releases oxytocin, which makes it easier to communicate and makes us more trusting of someone trustworthy.
    And it’s much less likely to be felt by someone living with resentment. So to get “in love” back, you need to create opportunities for the emotion of love to occur and you need to do what you can to reduce your wife’s resentment. Resentment comes from dashed expectations.
    Given the timings you’ve shared, it seems quite likely your wife thought things would change when you two married. You might try having an open discussion about what she expected. You could open with something like, “I know you’re no longer in love with me, but we’re going to be raising these two children together for another decade or so, and I’d like to know something to help make it easier to work as a team. Were there things you thought would change after our wedding that didn’t?”
    And then you need to be open to the answers like a reporter, not a defense lawyer. People have odd expectations of marriage. We all do. And as the person she expected to live up to hers, you’ll surely want to defend yourself against them. But you’ll get much farther if you say things like, “Oh, you must have felt really let down then when I didn’t do this. Were there other things you expected?”
    My guess is you’ll find most of them have to do with sharing the load of having young children. You hit her with the affair at a time when she was surely exhausted. Just having two kids a year apart puts a real load on a woman’s body, and dealing with an infant just as your first starts walking and exploring the world is physically exhausting. It’s a rough time to add betrayal.
    You married (I’m guessing to hold onto a rocky relationship rather than to celebrate a new level of closeness and faith in the future) when they were 3 and 4, a time when children are all-consuming in a different way and fathers often feel it’s okay to back off a bit but mothers seldom do.
    And now your kids are at the age where school and friends occupy a good bit of their day, giving their mother time to take a breather and ponder her future. And if she feels you didn’t pull your weight during those challenging years, and that you didn’t do enough to re-establish her trust in you after the affair, there’s not a whole lot you can do to change that. But you can make her feel heard and appreciated, which will do a lot to help her release the resentment getting in the way of feeling your current attempts to share some loving, in sync moments with her.
    Give it a try and let us know what happens. Helping someone back to feeling “in love” with you takes a while — weeks, maybe months — so be patient and consistent, Eric, and best of luck to you.

  • Hello Patty.
    I need help. I have been married to my wife for 16 years. We were best friends and great together. We have 2 kids. Everything was great until 2014. On October 2014 I confronted her about her frigidity towards me. She then admitted she was having an affair since the beginning of May with one of the cab drivers that take her home when she works late. She works late a lot. I was devastated. She claims it is her “midlife crisis” but our councillor/psycologist said she has bipolar disorder and the main thing was getting her meds correct. She was dealing with depression for years before we met. On top of that she told me she loves me but is not “in love” with me. She has no romantic feelings for me. I was crushed. After she told me she then proceeded to terminate the relationship via text. But she felt bad so she arranged to meet him the following weekend to say goodbye “in person”. We agreed to attend counselling. I am trying to rebuild but something strange is happening. She is conflicted about reconciling with me or “getting her freedom”. She still has feelings for that young guy which keep her from committing to reconciling with me. The councillor suggested that we separate but live in the same home so she can get “space” to make her decision. The separation has been good for me because I can be myself and distance myself from her problems but she has been very down so far. She suffers from depression and had overdosed on her meds when she meet the guy. She was in what her doctor called a “hypomanic episode”. It affected her libido but the affair still continued after she changed her meds. She wanted to experience “new love” and was under his spell. She said we had gotten “stale” because there was no thrill anymore. She says I am too critical of her and she can’t be herself around me. Her doctor said the meds made her bipolar which I believe. Either she is sleeping through the day and weeping while awake or she is belligerent towards me. Our kids have been great during this. I try to focus on them as I try to understand why she is jeopardizing our family. She said she tried to shield the kids from her affair and that they are not involved. But of course the longer the thing went on the more involved we all are. She told me the affair “was just life” and that I should “get over it” if we are to reconcile. She can be quite selfish & hurtful sometimes. She says she no longer contacts the guy and wants to attempt reconciliation but she still works late and still takes cabs home. She returned to our bedroom eventually. She also stays out late and drinks with her girlfriends several times a week. This can’t be good for the meds but it’s her life and she is stubborn. We sleep in the same bed and we go out to dinners and movies together as a couple but she can’t even kiss my cheek or wear her ring. She changes in another room with the door closed like I haven’t known her for 20 years. She says she can’t love me the way I want to be loved. She seems to be very sure of this and doesn’t want me to ask why. She says she’s attracted to younger guys but when I talk about it she says there’s no one in particular. She doesn’t tell me how she wants to be loved. She doesn’t say anything. Shame?? Guilt?? She tells me she doesn’t know what she wants but doesn’t want to hurt or kids. On top of that I was laid off and finding work has been hard. We have to sell or home which adds to her resentment and my frustration. I’m at home with the kids while she’s mostly at work late. My faith, my kids, family and friends are keeping me strong. My friend tells me he thinks she’s waiting for me to put the “S” on my chest and save the day. In his opinion that’s why she’s still here. He thinks I need to step up but I’m not sure how. I want to work again and feel like a provider and equal partner. She’s stressed about the finances and has a bleak outlook. She seems unmotivated to change and acts like a rebellious, wayward teenager who views me as her disapproving dad. I let her go so I can focus on my kids, myself and my growth. It’s been almost 2 years of this. Please help me.
    Thank you

  • Ethan, I’m so sorry you have to deal with the effects of mental illness on top of the usual challenges of being married.
    I hope you’ve read my blog post on the difference between “I love you” and “I’m in love with you.” If not, it’s here:
    I can also recommend two resources for anyone whose spouse has cheated on them. The first is Peggy Vaughn’s website (which remains online even though she’s passed away):
    She also launched the Beyond Affairs Network,, which continues providing in-person support to those whose spouses were unfaithful, under the leadership of Anne Bercht.
    Not knowing what she wants is a hallmark of depression. I hope you’ll talk with her psychologist or another of your choosing to learn more about bipolar disorder and how to deal with it when you’re not the one who gets to make the choices about taking meds and avoiding counterproductive self-medication with alcohol.

  • Hello Patty,
    Reading all of the comments have made me find a little peace in my situation. My husband and I have had an amazing relationship. Our relationship has always been solidoing and I always knew he loved me dearly and deeply. The one concern i had with him was his lack of self esteem. His parents never installed a good sense of worth in him, and his last relationship was very toxic. His ex girlfriend was belittling and awful. He is always commenting on his appearence, and weight, and constantly tells me i deserve better, and asks if I’ve changed my mind about him. I always praise him and tell him he is the best for me, and he is the love of my life. A couple of months ago he was hospitalized for temporary amnesia and had stroke symptoms. This was a very scary incidentify, I was scared I would loose him. Luckily nothing was wrong with him. Since the incident his attitude had changed he was more quiet, not as happy, and it concerned me. I would worry if there was something wrong the drs didn’t see. About a month ago he mentioned to me he had ran into an old friend from high school. And he wanted us to have dinner together. So we went to dinner with this friend and her boyfriend. The dinner went well and I thought nothing of it. Two weeks after the dinner my husband was going to take me to dinner on the way he wanted to assure me he loved me and asked me to trust him. He then said that this old friend from high school was someone he had feelings for when he was younger he wanted more from the relationship, and she just wanted to be friends. It broke his heart. They remained friends, but one day he ran into her with his toxic girlfriend. She made him delete her contact information , and tell her he never wanted to see her again. This action had been weighing on him for 10 years. He said he wanted to have breakfast with her and make an apology for hurting her. He also said his distant attitude lately was guilt, and fear on having to tell me this news. I did not take this news well I felt blind sided, and hurt that he would do this to me. I told him how worried I had been a out his health thinking he was ill when this was all about this old friend. I have watched to very important people in my life be cheated on and I felt like this was something I might face my self. He has been texting this friend quite a bit. I told him I knew how many times he was texting her because I checked the phone records. I even demanded to read the texts to see what was going on. He handed me his phone and they were just conversation. He told me he just wanted a friendship with her nothing more. I told him this felt like an emotional affair, and I cried and we fought about this for a few days. I told him I could understand why his ex had him delete her info. That statement made him really mad. I told him I didn’t want him to waste my time and that I didn’t want to be in a relationship that would fall apart from cheating. I ended up letting him have his breakfast and he said he felt a lot of weight lifted off his shoulder with his confession. I feel he also wanted to know why she broke his heart ten years ago. I messaged him and told him that we needed to move on from this fight. I told him how much I loved him and that I wanted to grow old with him, and have children with him one day. He then said he wanted to grow old with me but he wasn’t sure if he wants children. This blindsided me as well because we always talk about having children we even joke about having twins. He said he doesn’t think he would be a good father, and he fears he wouldn’t be able to see them enough. He works 90 weeks sometimes. I told him that it would be okay sometimes I want children and other times I don’t. We continuedo this conversation for a few seconds hours it was calm, and there was no fighting or arguing. He then confessed he hates himself. He said he can’t stand to look at himself in the mirror. He said the feelings had been festering for over 20 years. He said he doesn’t sleep well and hates to dream because he has nightmares. I suggested he see a psychologist and he went this weekend. I’ve apologized to my husband for what I have said and I know with his lack of self worth I hurt him and made him feel more worthless than ever. He told me i deserve better, and he doesn’t want to hurt me anymore. This argument has all happened in a week, and it’s been the worst week of my life. Honestly this has been the first major fight we have ever had. I love my husband dearly and I don’t want to loose him. I’ve been trying to get back to where we were, but he is now cold he doesn’t hug me or kiss me until I initiate it. He will tell me he loves me if I say I love him first. I’mean trying to bring back the spirit I know I’ve crushed in him. I’ve told him I have done and said what I did out of emotion, and fear. I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to loose my husband, but I don’t know how to bring him back. I know a week of this hasn’t been enough time to rebuild but this fear is eating me up alive.

  • You did the right thing in suggesting he see a psychologist, and he did the right thing in seeing one. He’s dealing with a lot — the health scare (and mental health scare), the unfinished business with an earlier relationship (probably made more urgent by the health scare), his negative appraisal of himself and sense that he’s depriving you of better, and your accidental confirmation of that appraisal.
    Don’t take any of this too personally. Encourage him to keep seeing the psychologist, and let him know your true feelings for him without requiring that he return them just yet. Until he regains his bearings, he’ll probably think he’s doing the right thing for you by pushing you away, so the stronger his feelings for you, the harder he’ll push you to abandon him.
    If he should show signs of planning to end his life, contact the psychologist and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255 if you’re in the US) immediately.

  • Let me start with what is going on. I’ve been with my husband for 17 years with 14 being married. We have 2 children. Back 6 years ago we went through some tough times. My dad passed away and then my husband left me. He said he no longer was in love with me and moved out. At this same time, he was having an emotional affair. We finally worked it out. I forgave him but think sometimes I hold resentment and sometime don’t fully trust him. About 2.5 months ago a friend passed away and my husband took it hard. Then about 1.5 months ago he said he was unhappy and life is too short. He said he no longer loves me and there is no attraction. Said that these feelings have been going on for about a year but this is the first he said anything to me. Once he told me this he is pushing me away. He is going to counseling to figure things out. I went to the counselor but she only made things worse for me and we went together once and the counselor was awful at couples counseling. I have found another counselor that I’m going to see and my husband said he’d go bc I asked him too. It feels like I’m sitting in limbo while he tries to figure things out. He says sometimes he’d want a divorce and to be single and then other times he says he isn’t sure. He still is living at home but again he is pushing me away. Hardly will touch me which makes me feel rejected. This morning he told me that he doesn’t deserve me and that I deserve better…he doesn’t treat me good enough. We are going on vacation next month which I’m worried about. He did say who knows maybe we’ll connect again. On other thing he has said that he’s worried that we’d be here again if we work it out. Other that we’ll try but then things will get bad again. Can things get better? Can the love come back? Is it worth trying?

  • I am so sorry for the uncertainty and sadness this must add to your life, Jill. Your husband sounds like a man longing for something different. But all of us, when we’re dissatisfied with life, look first to our marriages. We imagine that we’d feel better in a new relationship, because we get a lot more admiration in a new relationship and a brief bit of sexual adventure, but also because our lives are just so entangled with our marriages that we don’t even consider our other options.
    I was like that when I thought my husband’s unwillingness to take over local chores while my commute was so long was a marriage problem. When he died, it became clear that it was a commuting problem, and I fixed it in a hurry.
    Your husband doesn’t sound like someone looking to leave so much as someone looking to live a happier life. As his wife, you might try highlighting his strengths (kindness, creativity, open-mindedness, social skills, integrity, teamwork, love of learning, etc.) for him and coming up with ways to do more things together that call on those strengths. It’s an excellent way for him to develop the courage to try new things.
    I’m just about to begin a 16-week online book club around Barbara Sher’s book, Live the Life You Love, and I’d be happy to offer him a free membership.
    About the vacation: I urge you to declare all talk about your relationship off-limits for the duration. Focus instead on creating a strong and lasting family memory, one that will endure even if you two divorce.
    The suggestions in this blog post are based on research. One paragraph I would draw your attention to is this one:
    “Ready for the next level? Create more opportunities to laugh, relax, or say ahhhhh — together. Make yourself available. Make the plans. Arrange the babysitter or picnic lunch or car rental. Invite your spouse, invitingly. Get out to a comedy club or a movie. Get into a hot tub or hammock. Go find yourselves a gorgeous spot in nature, a seat in a grand music hall, or a tour of an art museum. Love happens while you are sharing positive emotions.”
    Why? Because it turns out that the distinction many women make between loving and being in love is real, and it’s one many men aren’t as aware of. There is an emotion called love (Love 2.0 is the name of Barbara Frederickson’s book about it). When it happens, the vagal nerve that controls most of your organs (and especially your heart’s functioning) is stimulated, often giving you a warm feeling in your chest, and oxytocin (the hormone that makes us trust and feel more bound to the one who brings it on) gets released.
    You can feel this emotion with anyone, even a stranger (and especially an emotional affair partner). You’ll feel it when your brains get briefly in sync because the two of you are sharing some other positive emotion. And staying “in love” requires that you feel it daily, several times a day.
    This would appear to be why research shows novelty (trying new things) makes a marriage last longer. And why gratitude makes a marriage last longer. And why goodbye kisses and hugs and greeting your spouse on arrival make a marriage last longer. These are all great opportunities to feel a positive emotion and get your brains in sync over it.
    It’s likely why positive-constructive feedback to capitalizing, a fancy way of saying sharing your mate’s good news happily and without mention of any possible downside, adding to it all the things he or she has done to warrant this good event, is even more important to an marriage than how well you handle your mate’s losses and disappointments.
    Vacations usually bring novelty. They often bring opportunities to stand in awe at nature or to take in excellent performances that lift you both up. They can bring chances to achieve something together, like learning to sail or climbing a mountain. They may bring real relaxation, a letting down of all your defenses. They may bring opportunities to relish together the children you’ve raised, as you see them in a different environment. So many opportunities to share a positive emotion several times a day.
    And if you don’t spoil them with discussions of things you both have little control over (like how you feel about each other and about life after losing a dear one), you can get more Love 2.0 moments by reminiscing together later about the high points.
    Remember, too, that most men seek respect (which includes trust and admiration) with the same fervor that most women seek cherishing. Especially midlife men. And especially men beginning to recognize their own mortality. Lots of women withhold it when they feel no longer cherished. Not a smart move.
    Two other blog posts I hope you will read:
    And, yes, it’s definitely worth trying. Many people on their way out the door have changed their minds. Sometimes they are just waiting hear they’re still needed or wanted. Sometimes, they’ve just come to believe that this emotion of love is no longer possible, when in reality they are stuck and not open to positive emotions while in their normal, day-to-day routine. In an ongoing U.S. survey that goes back to the same people every five years, around 80% of the ones who were very unhappy in their marriages and didn’t divorce are happy at the next interview. (And the ones who divorced are, on average, less happy with their lives than the ones who didn’t.)
    Give it your best shot. And be thankful for the opportunity of a vacation.

  • I am a woman in my early forties and have been together with my husband since we were 18. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but I always trusted that he would stay by me, no matter what. Due to medical reasons we don’t have any children (my “fault”). I thought he was okay with it, but he probably isn’t. In retrospect it is easy to say that we should have discussed the issue thoroughly, maybe seek treatment or so. I didn’t want to have kids that badly, so I never really brought the issue up, and he is not the one who would comfortably talk about difficult things.
    Anyway, I admit that we haven’t taken good care of our marriage. We have taken each other for granted, and the passion has faded away. In a way, we get along marvelously. We share many interests in common, have similar hobbies (sports, theatre etc.). We easily engage in intellectual discussions. Just that we never really talked about our emotions. We just assumed. And got distant.
    A few months ago I wasn’t sure whether I loved him anymore. I even dreamt about divorcing. But then, a couple of months ago, he tells me that he has fallen in love with someone else and that he doesn’t love me anymore. Only then did I realize that I loved him. The situation is that we have tried to talk about our marriage a lot but I feel I am the only one who really wants to fix it. He has a very intense, daily contact with this younger woman (by phone or e-mail) and obviously falls in love with her more every day, while he says I am merely his best friend. He cannot see this woman in person very easily since she lives far away and I feel even this poses a thread to me – it is easier for him to idolize her this way. So, we have talked up to the point we are tired and frustrated. We have been to counseling.The problem remains – he feels he cannot love me and that he doesn’t want to miss his chance to be with this new woman. I guess that in a way he hopes that he could love me again, but he assumes it should happen overnight. I think that in our situation it would take a lot of time and energy to re-find our love. I’d like to be patient but since he feels time is running out, I’m getting impatient, unsure and don’t know what I should do. We have occasionally had sex during these weeks. It’s been passionate but he has felt guilty afterwards and told me that he is being unfaithful to this new woman. And every time is “the last time” according to him.
    Now he is moving out and probably filing for divorce. He says we might still have a chance but I don’t know what he really means. He might be worried himself about making a right decision or then just comforting me. Anyway, his moving out means to him that now he is entitled to get to know this other woman physically (they haven’t been intimate yet). And I honestly don’t know if I should just accept it and still be available in case he changes his mind (which feels like being a doormat) or if I should admit that this marriage really is over.
    Patty, I would really appreciate your feedback and wisdom in this matter.

  • Annette, you can’t talk your way back into a relationship. First you relate. Then you talk.
    And you’ve got another chance at this if you want it. In general, affairs begun during marriage don’t survive, even if the couple marries once the divorce is final. Also, relationships that begin by inventing someone (becoming infatuated with or in love with a partner you’ve had very little real contact with and make lots of inferences about) don’t usually last, even when neither of them is married. And, at least in his own mind, your husband is already cheating on his new girlfriend, another indicator of a relationship unlikely to last. So it’s quite likely your husband will be an available man again soon if he leaves and you care to wait this out.
    It does sound like your husband is quite undecided what to do (and headed down a path with an extremely low probability of a happy ending). Knowing nothing at all about him, other than that he enjoys your company as a friend and conversational partner and in bed and would like to be a father, I’ll go with what’s true of a lot more men that we women suspect and guess what’s been missing for him isn’t the discussion of emotions but your outward respect for who he his and where he’s headed.
    Which means your easiest strategy for rebuilding your relationship is to share with him the traits you admire in him, the contributions of his you’re grateful for, and the accomplishments that make him an even better choice for husband today than when you met at 18. Not all in one big dump, but in a lot of different comments and letters and celebrations spread out over a year or more.
    Like this, over dinner: “Before you leave, I want to toast your ________ and your ________ and your _______. I’ve probably never said enough about how much they have meant to me, how many times they’ve made me glad to be your wife.”
    Or like this when you see him after he’s out of the house: “You look great tonight. I’ve always admired your taste in clothes and the way you wear them.”
    Or this: “I went to see [a play or musical] tonight alone, and I loved the show, but it really made me think how many of my interests are the result of your influence. I’m really sorry that I let us drift apart.”
    Whether you’re willing to forgive his out-of-integrity way of handling the drifting apart is entirely your choice, but recognizing your contribution to the circumstances that led to his really bad decision should make it easier. Throwing out 20-some years to start over with someone new (or on your own) isn’t a step to be made lightly, and a year of your life spent helping him decide it’s possible to start over with his best friend with whom he already shares a 20+ year history of memories to savor sure sounds like a worthwhile investment to me.

  • Reading this made me feel that maybe there is hope…but what do you do when your partner and you have been apart because of work for 6 months.,you come to hin and you find out he got depressed…that he had a girl that he talked to and you didn’t think much of it. Than you try your best but he is saying that he feels that he lost himself and needs to build himself up on his own…that he forgit who he was…that he forgot how to feel anything. But you see him one day holding his friends hand…and than he said that we forgot how to talk…that he feels like every nice thing that happened seems so far away…like it happened in another life…and he feels like he changed but he doesn’t know if we can make it work. That maybe we need to take time apart and build ourselves back and to see what happens after…i am lost…i came in a foreign country for him…we shared everything for 5 years…and now this…i feel that i need help and don’t kniw where to get it….

  • Izabela, it sounds like you made a commitment to him — to move to another country, to wait faithfully for 6 months — without ever getting any real commitment from him. Now you’re in the position of asking him to not only commit to you but to do it while depressed and to abandon someone who’s been holding him together through depression to commit to you. Not an easy task.
    So my first question is this: is he worth it? Aside from your panic at suddenly being heartbroken and alone in a foreign country, is he worth fighting for? Is he a man of good character? Is he the right man to raise any children you two might someday have? Is he someone you’ll be able to rely on when you’re unable to earn money or when you’re disabled or terribly ill?
    If not, then I would say walk away. This isn’t a marriage; it’s a one-way relationship that was nice for a while but not anything he was committed to.
    But if he’s worth it, then I would say to him, “I’m happy that you’ve changed, and if you don’t know if we can make it work, please give us six months to see if we can. Six months without a third party in our relationship. Six months where we don’t talk about our relationship, but we invest our energy and our resources into it. Where I make the effort to learn about your recent changes and learn to support and comfort and inspire the new you. Where we spend the money to see each other more often and do interesting things together. Where you take the time to work through your depression with a professional, not someone who’s keeping you right there, still depressed. Maybe where you come back home where you were happier, even if it pays less than this job. Where we text or phone each other daily. Where we do things that remind us of how it was before you moved here and we savor those memories together. Where we learn to find Third Alternatives. Where we let go of our expectations of how this relationship will go and just watch it unfold. Where we learn to Assume Love so we don’t mistreat each other. I’ve given you the last six months of faithful waiting for you in a foreign country. May I have these next six months of faithful effort to build a new and better relationship together?”

  • We have been married 36 years. 5 years ago I had an affair that lasted 8 months, as my DH wasn’t having sex with me and was verbally abusive. An action I have deeply regretted ever since. DH found out a few months after it ended. He was deeply hurt, changed his ways, we had sex all the time. Then in 2014, he started cooling off, I discovered he was going to a strip bar (completely against his character) and developing a platonic relationship with one stripper. I found out by following him, and seeing her laying naked on top of him in the private room. I felt bitterly hurt, he said that wasn’t a real affair, he is above having a real affair. He sees her still from time to time. I have since 2013 trying to make things up to me, he is gradually getting farther and farther away, stopped having sex with me last June. I just discovered he gets on line masturbating to porn, maybe 3 times a week. He used to think porn was wrong. He won’t acknowledge our Anniversary. We are roommates, I want it all back, I do love him. I read your post, and it is as I have been acting. If things will get better, shouldn’t it have by now? this is 5 years.

  • Try this, Nikki. Assume Love and try to explain his behavior. It will help you sort out what you can change and what you can’t.
    And when I say Assume Love, I do not mean act as if he loves you as much as ever. I mean assume that he does while you do this thinking, because the possibility that it’s over gets in the way of tapping into memories and knowledge you’ll need to think this through. So, let go of any possibility that he’s stopped loving you and doesn’t want to go on with you. Because you cannot know this for sure, it may help to imagine this is a movie and the scriptwriter and director have made his love (and his continuing good character and intentions) quite clear in the opening scenes. And now we’re here.
    So let’s imagine he always loved you and was a good man as the following scenes took place”
    – He stopped having sex with his wife more than 5 years ago. Perhaps you have more clues into whether this was due to anger, loss of libido due to changes in his wife, loss of libido due to changes in his body or his emotions, or erectile dysfunction, so you can fill out the story for yourself, assuming that the problem was not a change in how much he cared for you.
    – He also began saying hurtful things to his wife. Again, you might be able to fill in some details for yourself on whether they were intended to get your attention, make himself feel bigger when something was making him feel small, a loss of inhibition due to increased drugs or alcohol, or something else.
    – He most likely believed his wife wasn’t the sort of person to break her wedding vows, and he felt there were good reasons for doing both of these, so he didn’t expect negative consequences. More likely, because we assume he still loved her, he hoped to get her attention and perhaps some good consequences.
    – She decided his actions warranted violating her vows to him and had an affair.
    – She continued this affair for 8 months. She broke it off and regretted it, as so many who have affairs do. An affair fills in the one or two things missing in an otherwise solid marriage, the way a Mallomar fills in the 2-hour low sugar dip in an otherwise nutritional diet. It’s quickly evident that no matter how nice it is, it won’t do as a replacement over the long run.
    – A few months later, he discovered she had had an affair. If he loved her, this probably hurt. A lot. And made him angry. Or angrier, as he’d been angry enough at something for those 8 months and the months after and many months before to avoid sex with the woman he loved and to say things intended to provoke her into engaging with him or, like another form of Mallomar, to make himself feel better by making her feel smaller and without power.
    – The crisis led him to change his ways and to resume his sex life with his wife. But notice that he asked for no changes, despite the fact that something had been going on with him well before the affair. And you don’t mention him going through that period of needing a lot of reassurance to rebuild trust in your intentions.
    – In 2014 (which sounds like maybe 12 to 18 months into this renewed relationship?), you discover him doing something completely against his character, going to a strip bar. There is, of course, some possibility of a loving man changing character in this way because of a brain tumor or an addiction, but more likely, it was a deliberate stepping outside the old rules out of anger, much as his wife did two years earlier. Was it a delayed reaction to the loss of trust in your character? Was it a return of whatever caused his withdrawal before 2012? You know lots more about this relationship than we do, so do your best to explain this move as if you could be 100% certain he did it in spite of loving you and wanting a better relationship with you but being as inept at creating one as if he’d had an affair to take the edge off the pain. [Note: if none of the rest of his life story supports the assumption that he could have gone to a strip bar still loving you, still wanting your relationship to survive, then the exercise comes to an end and you can drop the assumption.]
    – He struck up some sort of relationship (paid? voluntary?) with a stripper, and you caught him. He claimed it was platonic and mentioned that HE is above having a sexual affair, a rather pointed message.
    – Three years later, he continues to see the stripper from time to time but spends more time masturbating to the online version of porn and for almost a year now, does not want sex with his wife, just as he didn’t before 2012. He used to think porn was wrong, but now it must feel justified by something.
    – He’s withdrawn from the marriage, refusing to acknowledge the anniversary.
    So the question that will tell you what else you might try or whether it’s time to give up trying is this: if he’s loved you all this time and wanted a good relationship, but he feels as distraught about the prospects as you were when you broke your marriage vows and entered into an affair, how might you explain all of these things that have happened and when they happened?
    Remember to consider how he was raised, what pains him about his childhood, what his close friends have done (divorce and affairs are both contagious), who died or came close to dying or reached some pinnacle of success at the same time as whatever was happening in your marriage, and your own actions and changes.
    If there’s no possible explanation, if these are things he could never have done out of human foolishness if he still loved you, then you can stop trying.
    But if it’s possible that he’s still a loving man, a man who violated boundaries you were sure he had only because he could think of no better way to deal with the pain he’s feeling about the state of your relationship, then going back to those pain points (all the way back to the ones before your affair) and offering to work together to find a better way to deal with them might be enough to get back this precious relationship. Even now.
    And you might consider hiring a therapist to help you with this project, whether or not your husband would care to join you at the sessions. Because a long-term marriage, with all its memories, with all the points where it’s so closely intertwined with your life story, with all your joint successes and lessons learned, is impossible to replace. And YOU are the only person you can change. He’ll have to change himself, and right now, he’s checked out of thinking there’s any point to that.
    It looks to me like you’ve got a relationship worth saving and quite likely one that you CAN save, if you’re up for the adventure, Nikki. Best of luck on your journey.

  • My wife told me in June that she loved me but wasn’t in love with me. A month later I discovered she had been having an affair- emotional and physical. Meanwhile, our newborn firstborn son was at home with me while she lied to have her affair. Long story short, she cut off contact with the affair partner one month ago, and has “recommitted” to our marriage. We have started seeing a marriage counselor. The trouble is my wife said the affair made her realize that something has been missing from our relationship in the form of a deep emotional connection. She has essentially told me she loves everything else about our life but the passion and connection is not what she has apparently been craving. She has very little hope that we can get it back, and says she can’t find it in her to put in the effort to try. She’s seriously considering divorcing me and starting a relationship with this affair partner. I am still in love with my wife, and I desperately want to keep my family together especially since my son is now just 10 months old. I’m trying to stay upbeat at home and stay positive so that she isn’t driven away but some days I can’t help but cry. Any advice?

  • Kate, I am so sorry that you’ve had to endure your wife’s cheating. That’s brutal. You’re also dealing with a newborn, which is one of the most stressful years of anyone’s life.
    I am so glad you are working with a counselor, because the meanings of “passion” and “deep emotional connection” are different for each of us. With a counselor, you can take some time to explore with her what they mean to your wife. Sometimes, we’re tuned into such different things that we can be surprised by how little a difference it takes to meet such a deep need.
    A counselor can also help you get clear whether you married someone of good character with a very strong unmet need and poor relationship skills or someone so self-centered she cannot see the damage she herself has done to your emotional connection by seeking a passionate connection with someone else while you two are dealing with the intense needs of a newborn and again by threatening divorce while claiming to be recommitted to the marriage.

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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