A Biggest Marital Problems Post
The Question: I am not in love with my husband anymore. I do love him, and have complete respect for him. I just don’t feel in-love anymore. We have been married for 21 years and have 4 children. I told my husband about 8 months ago about my feelings and we are trying to make it work, but I find myself very attracted to someone else. What should we do?
My Answer: There was a time, just a few years ago, when I felt the same way you feel right now. As we worked on our marriage and as things improved, I found myself feeling some remorse. I didn’t trust that I would ever been in love with my husband again. I thought we might get to “good,” but “in love”? I doubted it, and I wanted “in love.”
There are times even today when I think about this. These times usually surface whenever I realize something is wrong or missing from my marriage. For instance, yesterday my husband said something surly to me and I went to the “I’m just not in love with him” place. It happens.
To fall back in love with your husband, I suggest the following:
1. Get real. Being “in love” is a chemical response. It’s a sensation, one that is not based in reality. It’s similar to the sensation you get when you drink too much or do drugs. Think of what you would tell yourself if you were a drug addict who was trying to get clean. Sure, you loooooove the sensation of being high. Oh, it feels so good, doesn’t it? But is it worth ruining your life? No. The mistake so many people make when they are craving and searching for “in love” is this: they falsely believe that they can have both. They attempt to have wild passion outside of the marriage and a stable enduring, but not-quite-as-exciting love inside the marriage. Whenever you find yourself pining for the passion of someone who is not your spouse, talk to yourself as if you are a drug addict. Ask yourself, “Is it worth losing my marriage over this?”
2. Remind yourself of what you already have. Chances are your spouse is good for you in many other wonderful ways. What are they? Think about it. Write it down. Continue to seek. For instance, my husband is ALWAYS calm and he never gets depressed. This is important because I am not always calm and I have a tendency to get depressed. I can rely on him to be my rock. That’s huge, and I don’t ever want to lose that.
3. Think about what you want. It’s probably romance. I’m guessing you want your spouse to just eat you up with his eyes, words and hands. Tell him. Teach him how to do it. Reward him for doing it. Whenever you find yourself fantasizing about someone else, think carefully about that fantasy. It will probably tell you exactly what is missing from your marriage, and most of what’s missing can really be recreated.
4. Spend some time every day feeling in love with your spouse. Do this every morning. Close your eyes and feel in love. Now direct that sensation away from the person you think you might be in love with and direct it toward your spouse instead. Eventually you will feel it all the time.
5. Act in love. This isn’t going to happen over night. For a while you will go through the motions and feel as if you are pretending that you are in love. Eventually, however, you will realize that you are happy again, and you will wonder why you ever felt something was missing from your relationship.
Readers: What do you suggest for this problem? Have you ever felt out of love with your spouse? If so, what did you do about it? Have you ever been on the receiving end of the phrase “I’m not in love with you?” If so, what do you wish your spouse had done and said?
Note #1: This was a Biggest Marital Problems post. If you have not done so already, you can go to the beginning of the Biggest Marital Problems series and leave your marital problem for the group to workshop together.
Note #2: I got way behind on interviews and guest posts, and I’m also feeling a bit overwhelmed. As a result, I’m going to run my backlog of interviews and guest posts for the rest of the week. I hope you enjoy them.
Note #3: Thank you to everyone who wrote to me with condolences. I’m sorry I have not been able to respond to all of the emails, but I am thankful and you really lifted me up.
* Hybrid Mom ran a post written by me called 7 Habits that Hurt Your Marriage.
* Parent Talk Today reviews PHEA calling me, “One brave woman.”
* The Fit Marriage Show interviewed me about my envy of my husband’s bicycle. I had to learn how to use Skype for this interview. I think I sort of pulled it off. It kept freezing while my eyes were half open. That’s not very flattering, I don’t think. I also had to do my hair and wear makeup at 10 pm at night. But I wore fleece, because my biggest fear for TV interviews these days is that I’ll forget my dressy outfit and will have to go on air wearing fleece or jammies. I figured I might as well just get past it by doing it.
* The Happiest Mom interviewed me about marriage. Here’s an excerpt with me talking about the death fantasy, “My fantasy soothed me. It allowed me to have little moments of bliss. I could daydream about him being gone and my life being wonderful. I could feel good for a brief moment. Then the daydream would vaporize and the misery of my life would come crashing back in.”
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.