How to save a marriage when your spouse doesn’t want to try

by Alisa Bowman on May 22, 2009

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Q: My spouse has given up on our marriage. She wants a divorce. I don’t. What can I do to win her back? – Desperate

Dear Desperate:

I wish I could give you three surefire ways to winning back the love of your life. Unfortunately, they just don’t exist. It takes two people to have a good marriage, but only one person to end one. Quite often, once people make the decision to end their marriages, they make a mental shift that prevents them from seeing any good in their marriage. Their minds are made up, so they focus all of their mental attention on the reasons why their marriage isn’t working and do not allow themselves to see a single reason to try one last time.

This is a tough mindset to break, but it’s worth trying. This is what I recommend.

Step 1

Set up a time to talk about your marriage. It should be a time when you are both relaxed. The kids should not be around. No one’s favorite show should be playing on TV. Definitely don’t do it if either one of you is pissed off. You need to both be calm.

Step 2

Ask her to give it one final try. Negotiate for an extended warranty on your marriage. You can’t talk her into loving you, but you might be able to talk her into trying by saying something like, “Will you give me four months of your time? During these four months, I promise to do everything I can to become a man you would like to be married to. If, after four months, you see no improvement, you can leave and I will not try to stop you. If, after four months, however, you see some improvement, we can extend the trial date another four months and another four months and so on.”

If she agrees, move on to step three. If she refuses, there’s really not a lot you can do.

Step 3

Launch a marriage project. Because your spouse is the one who has given up, your initial four months are going to have to be lopsided in favor of doing everything possible to make her happy. This might not be fair, but it is what it is. Get over it. Ask her to make two lists. One is a grievance list. She should make this list first. On it, she should write down everything that makes her feel disappointed in her marriage. It should be a list like:

1.    I don’t feel attracted to you.

2.    We have nothing in common.

3.    I feel suffocated.

Her list might be really long. Expect that. It’s also going to hurt. You need to be ready and open for that, too.

Her second list should be everything she expects from a perfect marriage. It might go like this:

1.    Someone who adores me.

2.    Someone who makes me feel beautiful.

3.    Someone I’m attracted to.

And so on.

Resist the urge to argue with her about these lists. Your knee jerk reaction will be to say, “But I do all of those things. I’m the perfect husband!” If she agreed with that, she would not want out of the marriage. More important, the moment you start to defend yourself is the moment she goes back to deciding that the marriage is over. Stop defending your actions. Stop trying to convince her that you are the perfect spouse and she’s blind if she can’t see that. That hasn’t worked for you, right? What you need to do now is become that perfect spouse for her. You need to build a cocoon around yourself and, during the next four months, evolve from the slimy little worm that she thinks you are and into the butterfly that you know you can be.

Take those lists one item at a time and talk about how you can become the man she wants. Diligently work on becoming that person. Take the initiative. Don’t expect her to save your marriage. Remember: she’s given up. You’re going to have to be the big person here. Again, it might not be fair, but it’s reality. Get over it.

Step 4

Don’t ever become complacent and don’t ever assume that your efforts are working. Continually check in with her. For instance, let’s say she wants more romance in her marriage. Let’s say you do that by sending her flowers every week. Let’s say she hates flowers. Then your efforts at creating more romance are falling flat. You need to constantly get feedback from her. You need to work hard on getting to know her, on understanding her, and on learning everything you can about her.

And you have to work hard on your consistency. You absolutely cannot relapse during these initial four months. You really need to show constant improvement in order to win her over. You’re going to have to become a new person. There might come a time when your marriage starts to work and your wife seems like she loves you again. It’s really important to not get sloppy during this phase. Keep giving it all you’ve got.

Step 5

Assuming everything goes well and you are able to extend your marriage warranty beyond four months, you’ll eventually want to work on things that make you happy, too. Slowly address these issues, one at a time.

Good luck!


Do you have advice for Desperate? Leave a comment.

This post was sponsored by Dotty Evens, a marriage counselor who is a lot like me. There was a time when Dotty wasn’t happily married. Like me, she did everything possible to change that situation, and she succeeded. She has a wonderful e-newsletter that offers her tips and tricks for a happy marriage. In each issue, she answers a frequently asked question about marriage, such as, “How can I rebuild trust after infidelity?” She offers great advice, and it’s free. If you sign up for the newsletter, you get a free, bonus report that details the 5 tactics she used to save her marriage. Sign up for the newsletter here to get your free report. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

{ 254 comments… read them below or add one }

bleeding heart July 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm

My husband and I have been seperated for over a month. When I try to talk to him it is always how bad I have hurt him because of things I said to him. He said my tongue cut like a double edge sword. I love my husband and asked him not to throw away 6 years of marriage but he insists that there is no need to stay married. I admit I have said some hurtful things to him because I was lashing out from the pain I was feeling. Ex: my uncle passed last year he didn’t give his condolences to any of the family and he didn’t attend the funeral with me. He has had some financial hardships that I have helped him with but there is only so much one person can do. He wants to hang out the the guys every weekend I have to make an appointment to spend time with my own husband. We are not teenagers I will be 40 in a few weeks and he is 43. I make more money than him and that seems to be an issue. I pay most of the bills. I am beginning to question whether I should just let go. I am tired of the hurt and the pain. When we talk he always wants to say someone is at fault. I try to avoid that and tell him it is no one’s fault. He told me that out of 6 years of marriage only 4 were good and he just doesn’t see a need to stay married. I have asked him to go to counseling or to give us some time to work this out. He is going to give me a week. I asked if he wants out to see other people and he says no. I know when men hurt they think it is the end of the world. Women are hurt by men all the time and we cry and keep moving. What should I do?

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Garry July 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm

So sorry for what you are going through right now. If it’s been only one month, strap in, because they only get tougher. I come at you real. With those words he has said, he is convinced and sure of how he feels. My wife and i are now considered “separated” and living in the same house, separate rooms and all! It’s just all over the place. The best advice from me is do your dang best not to “bug” him. They get mean and make you feel even worse. you must find some way to busy your mind, find a counselor for just yourself, and work on the assumption he is not going to turn around. You know how you play the lottery knowing you won’t win, but if you do it’s just that much better, same thing. There is no handbook here, nor sureshot remedy when it comes to other peoples thoughts and feelings, but there are similarities of all our behavior in these situations. Be sure to eat, try to exercise, spend time with FAMILY, just try to stay out of that persons life with the “married” stuff you used to do. Say “good morning” and “good night”. but it has to take it’s natural route. It sucks, but it is true. My head is full of , “how can I’s”, but they only make me feel I’m using energy i could best use elsewhere. I listen to jazz and not to the music with words, this way i feel good, even classical. i take naps on my lunch break in the park when I work, hell, I even got a part time job to keep busy 4 hours at night, puts you around other people. I am the father of three and i do all the washing of clothes, cook dinner, pick them up from school, am the master at house cleaning, but i did screw up with my wife by letting my weakness cause me to stray….you can always try to find reasons why i did it, but it does not holds water when you’ve pushed away the one you love. If you feel your words and your demeanor has cut him to the bone over time, ask yourself, is this a part of me i can change even if not for him to come back but in case of…..you know…the future. Again, talk it out with him but don’t try convincing, because they put up a wall, seem it’s a power move some how, but they do not want to hear it. Your silence and maybe absence could be a tool for you to use….as a woman, yes you may have a hard time doing that, but try….and lastly…”give him his space….he too must think.

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Mark August 16, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Thanks for your advice. Though you were talking to someone else I find myself in a similar situation. An old friend had made contact with me and I meet with her and didn’t tell my wife. She found out and assumed I cheated. We are now separated and living a part. We are also going to counseling. But the things you said to Bleeding Hart really rang true for me.

Kelly November 10, 2013 at 5:04 am

It’s true, unfortunately when men are hurt, they seem to cope with it worse than women. That the responsibility women need to take on themselves – women are more mature, nothing to do about it.

I would suggest to read the following essay regarding the needed dynamics in a marriage – Not always giving your power to the other side is the answer to have your marriage back on course. You should however show some flexibility.

I’ve found a nice article which explains the right dynamics which should be retained in marriage – http://bit.ly/HPyZtH

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Jamie March 12, 2014 at 10:57 am

Ok me and husband have been married for almost 2 years. At first he was my everything and he still is. But the last year we have been having a tough time getting over these bumps. I have been through tons of relationship and I’m his first. But he doesn’t like to sit down and talk out the problems cause it ends in a fight. He doesn’t show very much concern when I’m feeling like our marrige is falling short. He says he loves me and doesn’t want to lose me. But he doesn’t try to work it out cause I just don’t think he can handle what I don’t like what he does or acts. And he is always hiding his phone at night and in my head he is cheating or porn or sruff like that but he says he is not and he will never do that to me. But with how he is acting I just don’t know how to act. I mean I would and have looked through his phone before from time to time and didn’t find anything of a new girl but it was porn. And it makes me feel like he isn’t happy with out life or sex life or in this matter I really don’t know. I have told him I don’t like it many times and ever since I have been feeling like he has since he has been keeping his phone on him. I have dreams about him hurting me in cheating wise. And he didn’t act like he could help. I don’t know what to do to pick up my marrige and keep it going. He is a good man but I just don’t know if he knows how.

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Kay July 5, 2013 at 11:48 am

“Bleeding Heart”
Have you ever asked your husband where he sees himself five years from now? You need to see if he is willing to make you a part of his future, not just his past… Also, I would calmly talk to him and ask him, “If we do get a divorce, what are your plans”? … People that mention divorce to their spouses often to don’t consider ALL of the outcomes. Who will live where, you pays for what, are children involved and what will be the arrangements there, etc… It’s best to discuss these things with your spouse before all is lost, and you end up fighting over things in a legal battle, etc…

Personally, if I were in that situation, I would try and remember real hard what drew him to you in the first place. People do often change their attitude towards their spouse after a few years, and believe it or not, you can actually get back to that “honeymoon” phase. But not unless both are completely devoted to getting back there!

Things to try:
- Ask him what drew him to you in the first place
- Ask him to revisit all the places that you all went to when you first met (re-track your footsteps, sometimes it helps you realize where things fell apart at)
- Ask him what were the things in the beginning of your relationship that he enjoyed
- Ask him to name one spontaneous thing he would love to do with you like once a week/ month, just the two of you (Could be a place he’s never been, or ANYTHING, but he has to remember that there can’t be any distractions. Not just going to a bar, sleeping in, or eating at a local restaurant, something really different. Couples sometimes grow bored with the same day-in and day-out reality. This will mix it up a bit)

Just remember that usually the person wanting out, can be persuaded, but you both have to give it all you can to try and make the marriage interesting for both of you… And if it does work, then it will take lots of time. Falling in love can be quick, but falling back into love is a longer process. And remember to bite your tongue during all of this! I have a sharp tongue with my own husband at times, and it has NO benefit to a good marriage, as I have learned the hard way! Good luck!

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Over it July 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm

I have a similar situation…some ways different…what I have learned is that it is ok to let go….
I have been married for almost 7 years, and I have been drugged through the mud and pits of hell…everyone has had there hardships…BUT I have rescued my husband multiple times due to legal issues and staying and fighting during all of the financial hardship…NO THANK U from his family, not one drop of respect. I always hoped and dreamed we would get back on track, and his family would love me and he would adore me the way he always said he would. But in reality, the hoping and romantic band aids turned into weekends turned into months now years. And now I have realized, it will never get better. My husband turns his love off when he feels annoyed…and he becomes annoyed when I am upset or I do not like something…to him its stupid and I should shut up…so now he just ignores me…I have been dealing with this abuse for years now…I have tried it all…Counseling, church, being calm and taking the abuse and bottling it up, being fake with his family, and all it got me was a huge problem last year, that they all decided to lie to me while I was out of town, about another girl, his stalker actually, (I was out of town because my father died), and so when I did find out, I felt ashamed and stupid, I left him and moved to another city. I ended up giving him another chance months later, and I thought he was going to be making it better…but it has been a year now, and its just gotten worse. His mother is the blade slicing our relationship in pieces, and he will not stand up to her. He just blames me, and blames me that because of me, he cant make a better future, so he would rather live with his mom forever….So I have decided to leave and find my life and independence again. I cant keep doing this, before I know it years will turn into a decade then a lifetime. You only live once, and I believe in God, and I know God doesn’t want you to divorce, but how can you live in a situation that no one cares how you feel about anything?

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Mark Lee August 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

my wife has accused me of cheating. she believes that I have been doing his for most of are marriage. I have never cheated on her.
we are now in marriage counseling and on a year separation. she has also asked for the right to date others. Do you think that all this is about her cheating on me and trying to justify her actions?
she is also saying that she doesn”t feel the love for me like a wife but still wants to be in my life. This whole situation has started all of a sudden for me.But she says that she has been feeling unhappy for five years. And like she has wanted out of the marriage for two.
I love my wife very much and want her to give it another chance.
Is there anything I can do to convince her to come home and give us another chance?

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GARRY September 24, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Mark Lee, my words are from experiencing right now! Not a know-it-all, not a counselor or anyone clinical. I have seen women shut down and lock out anything said to them when they have as I put it, “left the building”. If she has told you her mind was on leaving your marriage over a year ago, she means that. I’ve read so many stories of women saying those words, weather it’s for lack of better expressing themselves or copycat lingo, one thing for sure, when they say done, most times they have moved on. Yes, they are human and have memories and feel sad, depressed and all, but they seem to have the ability to just let it pass without looking back. Please just work on stopping any “get her back” tactics, you are going to just get your feelings hurt. They start getting nasty when they feel we are trying to get them to reconsider. Please look at yourself, plan on rebuilding yourself as a single, now if she has a true change of heart down the line, great, but if you keep looking for it, it will feel like a lifetime when you can just go and try starting improving your life alone with friends and family. It is draining! And when she decides she is single and starts going out and stuff, you’ll be sitting there getting upset, that knot in your gut, anxious and there is nothing you can do to stop her, she’ll get power from that. You must start to find outlets for yourself while staying focused on your job, finances and children if any. I’m telling you, I am there right now.

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Steven Vaclavik August 12, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Like many of these stories, I too have lost the woman I love… In my case, we had been together for nearly three years, and seperated four months before our planned wedding. Unfortunately, after the split, I was still too insecure to truly understand what was happenning or to do what I needed to for us to thrive, which was, in short, the core problem we had had as a couple… The situation is further complicated becasue I had allowed this insecurity to drive me to continue to press her to get back together well after the point at which I should have stopped, and as a result, she is currently doing everything that she can to not only keep me out of her life, but so far, has successfully managed to keep me away from our sons as well…
The truth is that I am aware of why she is doing this. That I failed to make her feel appreciated, loved, cherished, and secure… I have since spent a great deal of time in therapy learning to deal with these issues, and have come a long way. The difficulty I am encountering is that not only has she given up, but she is actually afraid of seeing a change in me. Or more accurately, she is afraid of believing a change in me that is not real… Any advice on how to start working through that armor. I have no doubt of her love, of mine, nor of my ability to convey it more appropriately. I only am uncertain how to show her… I truly believe that this is the only obstacle we have, and that it is my responsibility to overcome it, as it was my failure that caused it in the first place… I only want to have the life that we spent so many nights dreaming of together, and to share it with her

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Kay August 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Hello there Steven.
Personally, if it were me, I WOULD see my children! No matter what one parent says, both parents are at a right to spend time with their children (as long as there is no danger, etc) That’s where “I” would start, with the children. It’s actually a lot of what is wrong with marriages and relationships all over the world today. No one wants to be commited 24/7 it seems. But those boys absolutely need their mother and dad in their lives.
I actually know someone who’s wife was leaving him, and she wouldn’t let him see his daughters. It broke the little girl’s hearts, and put doubt into their mind that he really cared for them, and made them so confused. Does not matter what age they are. It makes the children confused and usually they feel abandoned in ways if both parents are not around, and were before… So in saying all of this, focussing on your children are the best thing that can be done right now! It hurts when someone just shuts you out of their lives, but hey, if you start spending more time with your sons, she may even let you back into her life, a little bit at a time, once she sees how comtted you are towards your children… After all, she will have to see you some, if you pick the children up, etc… It takes a lot of patience, and a very calm temper to win back a woman! :) Best Wishes!

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TAnya August 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm

My husband n i have been married 6 1/2 yrs, 2 months after our daughter was born he decided he didn’t know if he wanted to be with me.Caught me off guard i had no sign he was feeling this way especially after just having a baby . We haven’t talked in 5 months I even spent 3 months away from home in a different state.When i get home he still doesn’t seem like he wants it to work.He keeps saying whatever I want to do.I have tried he hasn’t.I don’t want to separate and he doesn’t say if he wants to be married or not.He has talked to other girls I’m not sure how far it has gone besides texting and maybe hanging out.He doesn’t tell me anything he tries n make it seem like its all in my head. I want to try but at the same time I’m scared I’m wasting my time

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GARRY September 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Tanya, it’s going to always be a risk of wasting your time or putting in time and things come back together. You just need to pull the strength to try what you deem best. If you start feeling like you are pulling out your hair and he’s just skipping through life without a care of the life you had and he acts like he is done, you need to be able to recognize to let go and let yourself heal and start rebuilding you alone with help from friends and family. The more we imagine, talk, ask, try to analyze the more they make us feel like fools trying to hold onto something that is no more. As I told someone else, we humans always have memories in our heads unless there is a issue there and he could just one day feel like he lost the best woman in the world and want to start again, but waiting for that hurts, so lick your wounds in private, don’t let him see you sweat, don’t act like a meanie either, it has to be genuine. Game don’t work, they just laugh. Good luck

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Broken and Beaten August 23, 2013 at 8:26 am

I am feeling very broken and beaten. My wife and I have been married for 5 years and have a child that is 2. I love my wife with all of my heart, but I haven’t been the best husband. I have been mean, had an addiction to pornography, and have had emotional affairs. I am ashamed at myself for these things. She left me once back in 2011. We were living in GA, I had a great job and we owned a house. When she left me to stay with family in OH I dropped everything for her and my son. Gave up my job and lost our house for them. We moved back in together in March of 12. I loved the fact that we were a family again. I wasn’t as mean and I didn’t look at porn anymore. In Oct of 12 she told me that she didn’t love me the way a wife should love her husband. Both of us are very busy, I work 40 hrs a week and go to school full time. She is a stay at home mom, but also goes to school full time. When I was home I wasn’t really there. I was either working on homework or just watching TV trying to veg out. I didn’t understand what was going on. I love her so much. In Feb 13 she moved out again and took our child. She wanted me to get anger management so I started that in May. In June 13 she filed for divorce. I am so heart broken. I love her and our child so much and the only thing that I want is to have them back. She says she doesn’t know what the future holds for us. She says we might be able to get back together in the future. I have asked her if there is another man and she says no. We have gone places with our child, like the aquarium, the fair, and other places. I still find my wife to be very beautiful and a great person. I am proud of her and everything she does. I am at a loss and don’t know what to do. I want to continue to try and save our marriage, but I don’t know how.

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The future? August 30, 2013 at 6:04 pm

My wife of 5 years (and 5 years together before marriage) wants to have a trial separation and also says that she doesn’t really love me anymore. We have a 15 month old toddler and the last 7 months or so of our relationship have been really bad. The resentment from both sides has built up and now this. I don’t want to separate and want to do counselling but my wife says that it is too late for that, and that we should have done it 5 months ago when she suggested it – at the time I rubbished it. She has no faith it me it seems. I have not been the perfect husband or father but, nor have I been a crap one. We both seemed to have slept walked into this nonsense and now she wants to separate. I love both my wife and child very much but, I now feel that I am being punished for being pig headed and slow to react. Although it does take 2 to tango. My concern is that if we separate it will become final from her side.

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Jack September 13, 2013 at 5:41 pm

My wife and I have been together for ten years. We have two beautiful children. We got married five years ago, in 2008. I was 31 and she was nearly 31. In 2010, while she was pregnant with our first child, she wrote me an scathing email rightfully so about all of my bad behavior. No cheating or physical violence, just rudeness, yelling, and disrespect for her in front of her friends and family. It’s really shameful for me because I remember all of the behavior. I have been on anti-depressants for ten years, originally prescribed for anxiety disorder from my doc in Palo Alto, and I continued taking them when I moved down to LA to live near her. However, I had major issues with being lazy, selfish, and irritable.

A year and a half ago she mentally checked out of the marriage, and told me I had her body but not her heart. We still have great sex and she claims to be able to separate sex from love. About a year ago she brought up the subject of us swinging with other couples. It was a smoke screen to cover up a fling I suspected she had in Las Vegas in 2012 but never admitted to. I later found out what happened, but all is forgiven.

She does not say “I love you” or “I love you too” to me any more, but cares for me and worries about me. I recently had a mental breakdown and began electronically stalking her. She had been chatting online with strange men, just to get herself in the mood for sex. In fact, I figured this out and made myself one of the men she spoke to, and also got a lot of gossip about myself and fixed a lot of my problems.

I tried to step up our sex from once a week to once a day, and I failed to perform, and of course got crazy worried that she’d cheat on me, since she says sex is meaningless. I bugged her car and recorded her cell phone communications on her way to work. This is terrible, and yes she found out when I admitted to it. She had been talking to a young man who she met online, and they had all these friendly calls about their day. It wasn’t an emotional affair or anything but they were conversations I wanted to have with her, and I had been turned away. Our conversations had become one sided with simple one word answers, or they were procedural, i.e., pick up the kids or gather our tax documents.

She was convinced that I am bipolar, so she met with my psychiatrist who told her that I only have anxiety disorder. I am really working to change, and am on new meds and am being calm, not raising my voice, and am an exceptionally good dad. She says her decision whether or not to leave has nothing to do with how I act, but rather how she feels.

I just want to try this, and we are doing it day by day, but when I ask for feedback she gets annoyed that I am too needy and seeking validation. Really, I just want her to take a leap of faith for even a week at a time, or a few months. I can tell that she seems to have some contempt for me, and that I can read it in her body language.

I’ve truly turned over a new leaf, and don’t raise my voice, and feel so much remorse. Unfortunately, she tells me that “people don’t change” yet I’ve somehow changed her, reduced her patience and hardened her heart. She had said that she has no plans to leave me, but that I have her body and not her heart. She is sticking around for the kids. She has not to my knowledge initiated divorce or separation, but she always tells me it’s an option if I want it. She’d love to get a divorce. She says she wouldn’t leave me for anyone, but just to be by herself. She wants to feel empowered.

N.B.: She gave birth 3 1/2 months ago. I know it’s sexist to attribute it to hormones, but hormones are powerful, and postpartum depression or psychosis is very real. However, she was not hormonal 15 months ago when she let a guy finger bang her in Las Vegas. I don’t even care about that. We had great sex afterwards and our relationship seemed strong.

My wife is incredibly gorgeous, an LA 10, and is an IT specialist making somewhere north of $130,000 per year, which is about what I make, but money is always a stresser. We have four homes, and one of them is deeply under water. Our credit cards are both maxed out. We have about $700K net worth so we’re not poor. I saw an immigrant family in a van, with five kids, and dime store clothes and I never envied another family so much. They have none of the money we have and all of the happiness.

Anyway, I know that there are pathological explanations for love, and I don’t believe my wife is actually cheating, but for her to initiate sex with me the other night can’t actually be “nothing”. I don’t know if she is just thinking about some upcoming activity she might want to experience or maybe she’s getting excited about the prospect of being single, or maybe she just craves the physical intimacy.

I sound like a real girl, but I want emotional intimacy. If she wants to f*ck other guys at a sex club while I’m there, that’s fine. I want her heart and her affection. The other stuff doesn’t matter so much. I want those goofy 12:30 afternoon conversations about stuff that happened at lunch, but those are locked away.

So now, we are taking it day by day and I am just trying to be the best husband and dad ever, but I feel like she will still make her decision or just drag out out for years and years. I’m a decent looking guy and it’s always easier for 36 year old divorced men to date than for women, but I really don’t want to go out and date. I don’t want to be in a relationship with anyone but my wife, and I wouldn’t want to date the kind of women who’d date a 36 year old divorced father of two. I have no love left to give to anyone new.

And my kids — I can’t imagine being away from them for even one day. My 3 year old daughter and I are so close. We sing songs, tell stories, and she always tells me how much she loves me.

I just want my family to heal and be whole again. I hate being in limbo. I hate not knowing what tomorrow brings. I just want her to let guard down. I’d give up every material possession I have just to feel her love and affection again. I’m terrified of giving up something great. I’m not an overtly religious man but I wouldn’t mind people praying for me to whomever your God is.

Women become so strong and galvanized after they have two children, and someone married to a manchild like me has to be extra strong. I have used up all her patience. I wouldn’t mind hearing from couples in similar situations as to how things play out. If she needs a year of me just not telling her I love her, but showing it, then I can do it. If I need to join a monastery for six months, I’ll do it. Hell, I even thought about doing a tour of duty for 18 months in a combat zone, except I’m 36, flatfooted, and a psychiatric case, and I’ve never fired a gun.

I cry way too much and she can’t handle it. I don’t know why but it’s almost involuntary. I just started on a new anti-anxiety med called Viibryd and it fixes all of the sexual side-effects and makes me rock hard, so that’s nice for a change.

What can I do other than take it one day at a time? How do I know if she is just waiting for me to get well and then leave me, or if she genuinely wants to miss me. I want to believe it’s the second.

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Ashley quill November 3, 2013 at 1:48 am

Jack, i feel like im in an extremely similar situation, give or take a few details obviously. anywho im wondering if you could give me an update on where you guys are at. Have you made any progress or not? Whats the status of the relationship? do you feel like your doing all the work? Does it feel as if shes just in the relationship for neutral reasons ie: kids, family, divorce hassles, ect, or does it feel like she might actually be trying? I have so many more questions if you would be willing to help a guy thats in the same situation as you out, as i am really curious about your post and where the relationship and other factors stand today.

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Ashley September 17, 2013 at 11:19 am

There is hope if they don’t want to save it.. going through this now. what I’ve learned from experiences with other couples who survived and my research- is that they can’t see you in a desperate,pleading,begging or angry light. fake it till you make it. You want them to see and remember the confident, head high, independent life person they fell in love with. soul search and pray on what You could have done different and write out a letter. I I I I only no you. this is your letter for forgiveness and bettering yourself. if you focus on You and improving Yourself, you will win np matter the outcome. don’t do it For Them. this is for You. end the letter with ‘I understand why you don’t want to be married ti me. this will open the doors of thinking and them being released from the ‘prison’ they feel they have been living in. they will realize it could be better or you will be better for someone else. I’m not saying (s)he will call immediately but their mindset, how they view the situation will start changing. dress up and keep a place u need ti be at’no details necessary) for when they are licking up be kids or you’re dripping them off. find hobbies that make you happy, healthy activities.

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Joe November 24, 2013 at 4:48 pm

This is the best advice for anyone going through times of turmoil, I am in the club. My counselor gave me the exact same advice and for those who want to get their spouse back, stop asking and do not talk about all you have to offer. I started this about 4 weeks ago and have already noticed her coming around. So basically, I am giving her space. We both made a pact not to date until final we sort through this and decide what we both want and are going to do. The reality is dating when having marriage problems is the worse thing you can do, there is still no healing and nothing but pain and will not be good. So thank you and is great advice for everyone.

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Lost September 19, 2013 at 9:56 am

Hi

My wife and I have been married for 13 years and we have a 6 yo daughter who is very attached to both of us. I was a nominee for her fathers businesses and the business fell due to shareholders tussle I was faced with a CBT charges for something I did not do and ended a bankrupt, got beaten up by her faher’s rivals. I got of as I am innocent and remain a bankrupt

Due to this I was struggling to pick up the pieces and get out of this rut and had to transfer my companies to her name where her dad had a hand in screwing it up. While pick up my life I remain focus on my desire to succeed again but in the process I have neglected her. She got pregnant a year back and we lost the child and I was not emotionally there for her. Now she is about to be in the same perdicament as I was. Late last year she went on a holiday with another man and I found out about it. She swears till today that she is grateful that nothing happen I cornered her and she apologies and I forgave her on the spot.

Now she wants out and her reasons are too many baggage and disagreements in the past that has let to this and the final straw was the miss carriage. I am guilty for not be the to give her the emotional support. She spend a lot is her time on the Internet posting pictures of herself and chatting with all sorts of men. I have tried to talk with her but she has refused to until I agreed that she is right to take this stand and that I would have done the same in her shoes. When I sort of agreed with her she open up even more but I still want this marriage. I told her that I cannot change the past but I can do something about the future the only reason that I did so was to not push her further. I did not beg or anything like that or go lovey doves on her but with a very calm tone told. Her that what ever I am doing is for her and our daughter. In my opinion the stress and trauma that she is going they is due to the miss carriage our unborn child where I have seek her forgiveness. I know for a fact that she is still grieving and so am I. I want my marriage to be better and I asked her why she married me an she said it because she loved me and I am a good person.

What do I do next. Did I make a big mistake by agreeing with her. She was expecting me to blow my top but I did not buy instead I kept calm.

Please what do I do next.

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chris September 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I, too, have just experienced a divorce of a marriage of just one year. It was my first, at 55 and her second, she is 45. What I don’t understand is the effort and feelings she has now, distant, loss of love and commitment, desire to be free, and missed what a marriage is.
Why does she put all that effort to rid herself of me instead of using all her talents in keeping it together? Or should I accept that her intentions were not a successful marriage, just a folly until she found something that she now wants to do. Whats the deal with wedding vows? They don’t seem to mean a thing. But now the divorce decree has meaning? No wonder I feel blue and sad. Please comment, I never had divorce on my mind, and she won’t consider reconciliation. Thank you, Blindsided

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christian powell November 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I see no one seems to care to comment. I am still feeling sad and blue. I sure could use someone telling me something, instead of the silence that not only have I gotten from my ex wife, but from this forum also. Really?

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Omar October 29, 2013 at 8:32 am

My wife of six years has told me that she no longer wants to live with me because I neglectef her and didn’t appreciate what she does for me. I have four year old daughter with her and I really want to save my marriage at any cost. I have tried begging and askingfor an oother chance but no luck.
I have asked her to attend counselling with me but she hasn’t responded yet but I m not very hopeful. I would be really grateful if you could please give me some advice how can I get my wife back? She is staying with her parents at the moment who both are on my side and want her to try to counselling for our daughter’s sake?
Please help

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Kimmy October 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm

My husband of 5 yrs ..together for 8 had an affair on a weekend away and asked for a divorce. We have a 1yr old and just bought our own house..he said he doesn’t live me anymore, hates my nagging, tired of coming home and being stressed. I told him let me prove to him I can change and not burden him with stress. I love him unconditionally ur he’s decided to continue seeing this woman and she told me after calling her that he said his marriage is over. We were fine before he cheated…should I just walk away and give him the divorce or should I fight for us.

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jenie December 1, 2013 at 1:54 am

I’m not trying to discourage u but once a man is no longer in love with u whatever u does is hhopeless.the girl who is not with him is always the sweetest. When u leave him n he is with the other girl..He will find u sweeter. That is psychological.

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Chris January 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I dont know where to turn. My Wife and I have been married coming up to 26 years and were together for 4 years before that, so we have been together for 30 years, I am 56 and she will be 50 this year. She told me a little while ago that she loved me, but not as she used to. Then I was told of things I have said and done in the last 10, 15, 20 years, stuff from a long time ago. Some I remember some I dont, some things I said and did I do remember I cant think why I did or said them ? I have no argument, what was my mind set ? what happened that day ? etc I simply dont know what happened. There are a couple of things I do remember and regret bitterly, these though were some 10 years ago and in between times there has been happiness, I am sure of that. We have two children and boy and a girl, the boy is 10 and the girl is 15, I love them so much. I still love my wife, we talked today again and she said that even though she could see over the last month or so I had made a real effort ( it isnt an effort to try and make her happy – its all I want to do) she still cannot commit to us, she still goes back to things that happened so may years ago, things I simply cannot change and sometimes things I dont even remember. She says she feels like she is walking on egg shells around me. If only she had told me, shouted at me what ever was needed to make me see what I was doing !! I thought as do so many of our family and few friends, our marriage was one to look up to. We never row, never have !! she must have been eating all this stuff I have done and now ? I guess she is full. I have no excuses and no defense, I know its down to me, but what can I do ? how can I show her how sorry I am and how much she still means to me ? she has said in the past my words were hollow, ” how can he love me after saying that to me ?” is one statement she said she has had in her head, but again these were years ago !! I take all responsibility for everything, I always have, maybe I am a control freak ? I dont think I am but then am I ? She asked me today to come back at her with things that made me angry or unhappy, whats the point ? why would I want to start an argument ? If I lose her ? my life is over, I couldnt see how it is worth carrying on, I love my children of course I do, but do I want them to see me destroyed ? heart broken, you see I couldnt hide these feelings from them and I dont want them thinking bad of her, so if it ends ? so do I , I have it worked out so she doesnt feel guilty and the children dont blame her, two things very important to me. Also I havent told her this bit, so any decisions ( which I am 99% sure she has already made) is for her, not for guilt. I would dearly love to think it is a mid life thing or menopause or a mix of both, but that would be to deny she is right in may of the things she has said, but I would also like her to remember I have been there, and continue to be there, for her through thick and thin, her rock on many many occasions. What can I do ? I can be a bad person but dont mean to be, I can be quick to say the wrong thing, but I dont drink, I never ever hit her, I never play away and am devoted to my Family, I cant lose my Family. Help please.

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Jesse February 11, 2014 at 12:28 am

My wife and I have been married for 8 years. We are both 31. We have a 1 year old child. A couple of weeks ago she told me there was this guy at work who was paying her extra attention. She said that it was nice but it meant nothing and nothing happened. Then a few days ago she comes home from work very sad. She said that she had kissed him, but that it was a mistake and it meant nothing.
I was very upset. I asked her how long this was going on, etc. She said that it was a mistake and that she loves me and wants only me.
I told her I could forgive her and that I wanted to know why she felt drawn to him. She gave me many reasons as to how I did not make her feel special/wanted.
I had thought I did, but I listened to her and I told her I would work on those things. Everything was getting better over the next few days. We had had some issues about how she still cared for this guy, but she was going to break it off. So that night she went to work and broke it off.
I felt better. I was a bit upset that she still had feelings for this guy so I said maybe I should leave. I left that night. While I was out, I did some research and I found that it is normal for someone to feel bad when they break off an affair. So I came back that night and told her I read this and that I was willing to work through this. She was very glad!
Then two days later (this morning) she tells me that she does not love me like she used to and that she needs space to work things out. As she is telling me about how we need space, she is very cold. No passion. She says she is bothered but can not find the tears any more. Yet when we were talking, it seemed like she did not care. No emotion. I told her this feels like the end but that i would give her her space.
So, the baby is in bed and I am alone. I have not cried this much in a long time. I feel so helpless. I really love her! I believe that she is my soul-mate. She is my best friend.
I am so hurt and sad. She betrayed me and is now putting me through this extra misery!
I want her back so badly. I want to call her! I want to text her! But I know it will only make things worst. I spoken to a few friends who have been cheated on and divorced. I don’t want that. I want my wife back! I hurt so bad. I am willing to forgive her of everything. Yet at the same time it is not fair to me that she did this.
The worst thing though, is that she did this to our child! He is just over 1 year old. He does not deserve a split family! He is innocent! If my wife leaves me for good, I know I will get better eventually, so will she. But my son wont have his security! This is why I cry the most, over my son.

This whole situation is horrible. I really feel like giving up, but I cant and I wont! I have not eaten much in days, I can not sleep well. Im living in a perpetual hell! Im embarrassed and sad all the time now. I want her back and I would take her back. I dont want to be too hard on her and drive her away, yet I dont want to be too easy on her and make her think she can walk over me. I am affraid she is going to take a long time to come back, and then I might not be so willing to take her back… because I want her so badly right now. She is the one I go to when I am sad… Now I am alone.

-Jesse

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Garry February 11, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Jessie, welcome to some help and answers. i am 51 and my wife just turned 40, we have three children 7,12 and16. This month marks a year since she announced she wants a divorce. We all still live in the same house because of the financial situation which seems to be the norm these days. We speak, watch tv once in a while, sleep in separate rooms, we even go out every now and then for drinks and dancing. It sucks, but in time people have to look at the real thing and be sure they are going where they want to go. I want her to stay but she put on a great wall. i let her be. She works, goes out and i try to do my thing. No games, no begging, just let her be. Your situation is tougher due to someone has her attention, i feel you. But occupy yourself with that child and whoever can be there for you right now. Careful with not eating!!!! I’ve been there too, it ain’t easy but you have to and if you eat the right things it help with the pain, i swear!!! Also take fish oil and vitamin D. Dude, this is a rough road and you wanna wake up out of a nightmare, but you need to train your mind body and soul to do it. Don’t over read to many stories, can hurt you. just reach out when it’s unbearable.

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Troy February 11, 2014 at 9:12 am

Jesse,

I know your pain all to well. I have two children who are 5 and 7 and unfortunately it didn’t work for me, but it does for a lot of couples. I turned to web sites like this and even bought Alisa Bowman’s book. It is such a great read! Right now your are in a lot of pain and yes, it will get better, but it will also act like a roller coaster! You will have many ups and downs. Try to avoid bothering her because it will only make her angry and want to be away from you more. She needs her space and it is completely normal for her to go through these emotions. It doesn’t make it right that she put herself in a position where she can have feelings for someone else, but we are all human. Focus on your son. He needs you! You have to eat! You cannot be the Father you need to be if you are sick. Look to your friends and family for support. Lean on them, use them, believe me, it is amazing how people step up in our time of need. I went through something very similar to what you are going through and it DOES GET BETTER! It is not over, but you need to give her time. If you can get to a counselor to help you with this than do it. They do not have an axe to grind and will give you great advice. Sometimes the est people to talk to are the people we don’t even know. Dig deep buddy!

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Angel February 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I am having an absolute nightmare. My husband and myself were having problems for a long time. Unfortunately I was taking all of my problems out on him which I couldn’t see at the time. On top of all the problems I lost my Mum, had health issues and suffered a stroke. He finally had enough (I think I finally pushed him too far) and he left last November. We were talking off and on and in January he told me he would come back to UK (he is from Tunisia) Since he left he had been giving me mixed messages and seemed like a completely different person. I was with him for 2 weeks in January (when I went to Tunisia to see him, things were strained to start with then thy got better. This is when he told me he just had a few things to *tie up* there and would then come back. The night I returned home he called me to see if I had arrived home safely and then he said his *credit* was going on his phone and would contact me when he got more credit. Since then he has ignored me. YET sends me parcels. I cannot for the life of me work anything out. He had mentioned in the November he had seen a lawyer about a divorce then after we talked he said he had *stopped* it. The last *parcel* he sent me had a letter (which he said was from his lawyer but had no official stamp on it) I had it translated and it was basically a divorce agreement. He informed me I had to take this form to the Tunisian Embassy in London, where I would sign it (in front of a witness) He said it would save him paying his lawyer any more money. I called the Embassy and as I am British I wasn’t able to take it there (I had no intentions of doing anyway) I would have thought if this paper had been from his *lawyer* it would have had an official stamp on it at least. I have no idea if he really did see a lawyer or if he is just *bluffing* to somehow hurt me. I am so confused I have been crying every day since he left as much as im trying to remain strong. He was amazing when we were together and was very supportive especially when I became ill. He has told me he cant forget the past, he says he has tried to but cant. Is this why all the mixed messages for so long and is there anything I can do? I miss him like I never missed anyone in my whole life. I feel like im in a nightmare I cant wake from. How do I know for sure he really did see a lawyer?

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Gah March 5, 2014 at 5:56 pm

My marriage is falling apart…. Husband doesnt want to fight anymore, he said he just wants to turn the page over and start fresh away from me…. Dated for 5years and married for 3.7 years … I know i am not perfect and ive done things that hurt him specially wity his very complicated family but ive said sorry to family and himself because God wanted me to but he is simply in total rejection with me…… I love him with all my heart and it hasnt been anything huge like infidelity or violence nothing like that… I know i have attitudes when things get out of my control and im working on that with a pshycologist….. He asked me to go to counseling a few years ago and i said no…. I regrest that because we really needed it and he knew it and i didnt. He said he feels its always my way on everything, and he said he feels i left something open on his heart and that so ething broke with family problems and our problems…… He said that if he had seen this new attitude i have now a year ago he wouldve been the happiest man ever and he wouldve been always by my side… He thinks its already late and he is not willing to fight for marriage. My life changed in seconds, all of our plans, dreams everything. I am constantly praying so God can work on his heart and open his mind to see that there has been more positive things in our marriage than negative….. I wish with all my heart for a second chance…….

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Gah March 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm

My marriage is falling apart…. Husband doesnt want to fight anymore, he said he just wants to turn the page over and start fresh away from me…. Dated for 5years and married for 3.7 years … I know i am not perfect and ive done things that hurt him specially wity his very complicated family but ive said sorry to family and himself because God wanted me to but he is simply in total rejection with me…… I love him with all my heart and it hasnt been anything huge like infidelity or violence nothing like that… I know i have attitudes when things get out of my control and im working on that with a pshycologist….. He asked me to go to counseling a few years ago and i said no…. I regrest that because we really needed it and he knew it and i didnt. He said he feels its always my way on everything, and he said he feels i left something open on his heart and that so ething broke with family problems and our problems…… He said that if he had seen this new attitude i have now a year ago he wouldve been the happiest man ever and he wouldve been always by my side… He thinks its already late and he is not willing to fight for marriage. My life changed in seconds, all of our plans, dreams everything. I am constantly praying so God can work on his heart and open his mind to see that there has been more positive things in our marriage than negative….. I wish with all my heart for a second chance…….

He left on friday feb 21 its been more than a week already and he says there is no turn back ……

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puteri March 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm

My husband does not want to repair the relationship. After he fell in love with my own best friend. My best friend has betrayed me and has affair with my husband less than a month after I found out. But my husband still loves her. My husband wants to divorce me to be with her but I still want him to love me for a second and forget that girl. In additional, that girl same workplace with my husband. Soon we will go on vacation in Japan. I also not have any child.

My husband says, he’s not loving me anymore, but I still want to make him love me back. What should I do for him love me back? help me.

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KP March 15, 2014 at 7:46 pm

I am really hopeful I can find some direction here. I’ve been searching high and low, and finding this site has been great. I spent the last 20-30 mins reading the short article and the comments. I feel everyone’s who posted pain, and wish you the best.
My story might be different that others:
My wife and I have been married for 5 yrs, would be 6 this sept. In short, I have ignored my wife’s needs around the house, doing dishes in due time, not leaving clothes on the floor, etc etc, list goes on. After reading the 5 love languages book, I realized one of her love languages was acts of service.
We share the “words of affirmation” one and I have a physical touch one. She, on the other hand does not like to be smothered.
Also, I now realize I have gotten defensive when faced with requests, such as drive slower so we don’t slide in snow, or apologizing for something small happening and offering to fix it instead of arguing I didn’t. Only to cool down in a few mins and try to fix what is now a worse situation.
To top things off, I did the worst I could. No physical affair happened, but I did have a txt conversation with another woman from online. That is the one I regret the most.
The story boils down to the fact that she became unhappy due to all the things from the beginning of this story, and the last was the icing on the cake. She wants divorce. I asked for a 3 months extension to try to turn things around. We are on civil terms, I am doing my 110% (her measuring) but she says I haven’t changed her mind. And that while she has a mind open to saving the marriage, she doesn’t know if she can love me or trust me. I really love this woman, and the situation devastates me. I know I am to blame myself, she has her needs and I agreed to them when we married. The last thing I did I wish I could beat myself for it. I went to a counselor, but felt like it wasn’t helping, more like yeah you should work on saving it. I know that lol, how do I get her started on the same road?

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Michael April 4, 2014 at 8:40 am

I’m writing this mostly just to vent, but if anyone has advice that would be very appreciated too!!

My wife and I have been married twelve and a half years. She’s been super-critical of me; she also acts on her own unilateral decisions over my objections, on things we should both have a say in. Basically, she’s been treating me like dirt, like I don’t matter at all. And I’ve taken it… and taken it… and taken it… until one day I saw red while she was criticizing me, and attacked her physically.

Well, she left me on a trial separation and has been staying for two months at her parents’, claiming that she’s the victim, that I’m the only one to blame. Now she’s saying that we should divorce and that she should get the kids and the house.

Despite all she’s done I still love her, but, especially, I don’t want to lose my kids. But if there’s gonna be a custody fight, then her wounds are a lot more apparent than mine, even though mine are, collectively, much worse. I’m at a loss. My whole world is falling apart.

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brandon wright April 7, 2014 at 6:33 am

Hi i am a new separared husband. My wife left me 3 weeks ago to livebwith her dad with my 2 boys. She said she felt trapped and couldn’t take it anymore. I have had a hard shellbon me and never showed emotions. She alwaysbtried tobget my attention and ibalways brushedbher off. I thought by me being there was enough like it was for me. She says she loves me and we have seen each other almost everyday since she left. She still kisses me and hugs me. Shebsaysbshe is lost and dnt know if she wantsbour relationship backnor she dnt want a relationship period. She saysbshe wantsbit to be just her and the kids. I have tried to show herbibhave changed and can give her all the things i didn’t before. I bought her everything she wanted butbjust didn’t show her love and affection. I wasnt a good farther either. She saidbi was married to myself. She still wears our wedding band. Ibam so confused. I love her so much and when she broke the news to me i broke down. It was the first time she has ever seen me cry in the 5 years we have been together. She says she has been unhappy for 3 years and i didnt even know it. I took our marriage for granted.

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