Ask Andrew – How do I get my wife to fall back in love again?
May 21st, 2011 by Andrew G Marshall in Ask Andrew
It takes two people to save a marriage but only one person to get the ball rolling and ultimately recruit their partner. Here’s how to make a start.
A reader writes…
My wife said the phrase almost three weeks ago that she doesn’t love me. Now she said this in our very first counselling session a week ago and also said that she loves me and cares for me but isn’t in love with me and doesn’t have those feelings for me or the spark.
Suggestions? Book to read first, second, etc.
Now we are still in the same house together right now and can occasionally have a conversation but usually very brief. If we try to talk for too long it tends to lead to an argument or I really get upset and don’t know how to express myself.
I am feeling a lot of pain right now and I do want things to work, but I think she has already made up her mind to move on. Everything she says suggests just that point. She says lets go to counselling to communicate for our two boys (6 and 8) but it won’t change how I feel about you.
So all this after being married just shy of ten years and being together for 12 years. I don’t get it and don’t know if I ever will.
What suggestions do you have?
You are still in shock after hearing that you wife doesn’t love you, so I’m not surprised that you feel de-skilled, confused and bewildered.
The first thing to say is that you can save your marriage all on your own – even if your wife says she’s made-up her mind. Lots of people think it takes two – and it does ultimately – but to get the ball rolling, it only takes you. So don’t ask for reassurance or is there any hope. (That just comes across as needy or clinging and that is the opposite of reigniting the spark). Don’t have agonised arguments about what went wrong – just start fixing the problem today (and let tomorrow take care of itself).
So what do you do? Basically you know what the matter is. She’s told you a thousand times beforehand but you’ve either discounted her opinion (because from where you’re sitting it looks different) or counter-claimed (‘If you think that’s bad what about what you do.’) or thought ‘not that again’. Ultimately, you haven’t listened or made her feel heard. (There’s more about truly listening in ILYB and especially in Help your partner say ‘yes’. Imagine, for a second, that everything she says is true. A horrible thought, I know. But, with this new insight, what would you do differently?)
So why is she so determined to leave if all it takes is listening? You’ve probably promised to change or try harder and it’s all slipped back into the same old groove. So you’ve not only got to start changing but keep changing – even though she will not believe that it’s a real for weeks or probably months. (She might even be angry or obstructive – why didn’t you do this earlier – but just keep going.) Tough I know but if you’ve still got enough love left to start changing yourself – rather than waiting for her to join in and ‘try and save your marriage’ – that’s all you need.
Two things that you MUST not do:
1. Use the children as blackmail. No woman wants to break up her kids home, making her feel guilty puts you in opposite camp (and you’re the bad guy). You need to be on the same team asking: How can we sort this out? Complaining that she isn’t taking her wedding vows seriously is falling into the same trap.
2. Make grand gestures like a romantic trip to Venice. This makes her feel that she can be bought off. It reaffirms her idea that you’re not taking her seriously and want to sweep all the problems under the carpet. She’d still have to deal with her everyday misery when Venice is long since forgotten.
I’m sure you have the strength of character to make this work. Start reading, start changing and keep strong. Good luck.
Finally, you asked for a reading list (and in which order):
1. ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you’
2. Help you partner say yes
3. Learn to love yourself enough (You need to feel better in yourself and deal with the devil voices in your head).