Ask Andrew – My husband doesn’t love me any more
My husband and I have been married for 28 years, have three children, 23, 20 and 15. Our oldest is getting married in three months. He told me that he hasn’t been happy for so long, and if we didn’t have children, he would have left a long time ago. For the last 7 weeks, my husband has told me he no longer wants me to sleep in our bed with him, does not acknowledge that I exist to him at all, does not have a conversation with me except an occasional good night if I am in the same room, or a specific question that might come up. He said he just wants to be left alone to think things through, but in the meantime is full of hatred and anger towards me. Anything he can find to be upset about with me, he does. I can’t live this way any longer, it is hurting our children so much to see this. He tries to act normal to them, tells them he loves them when he kisses them goodnight and not a word to me even though I am sitting right there with everyone. I can’t understand how he can treat me this way after all those years. I have asked him if there is any hope left for our marriage if he would please agree to go to counselling with me, and he just says he doesn’t want to do that. How do I live this way?
I can feel you disbelief in every line of your letter. How can he be so cruel? I’ve done nothing horrible to him, so why can’t he even say good night? And why doesn’t he love me any more?
Let me make a couple of guesses, everything has been fine – although like every couple you fall out occasionally (what marriage is perfect) – and you’ve been devoted parents to three great children. However, to keep the peace and because he doesn’t want to hurt the children, your husband has been swallowing his emotions. On the surface, he’s been fine but underneath he’s seething and finally he’s exploded and all his anger (made worse from suppressing it) has been heaped onto you. I explain all about this in ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you’ and how to get back the passion again. Please start reading it as soon as possible.
When somebody is causing you pain, it’s easy to concentrate on WHAT they have been doing but not ask WHY. As you seem most concerned about the impact on the children of his behaviour, my guess is that you have been such a great mother that you’ve constantly put the children first (and your husband feels he comes a long way second or perhaps even forty second in your list of priorities). If ever he’s asked what about me or what about us as husband and wife (rather than mother and father), he’s been squashed down and either explicitly or been given the message: We must do our best for the children. (And let’s face it children’s need are endless – or we let them be.) In effect, this comes though in your letter. How could he be so selfish to do all this just three months before our eldest gets married? It should be the happiest day or his or her day! And you’re right but if someone has squashed their stuff for years and years and years, one day they will explode (which is what your husband has done). Sure, he’s being extremely selfish but he just can’t hold on any longer because next it will the middle ones final university exams or the youngest GCSEs.
OK. So there are problems in your marriage. Surely, you should go and get counselling and sort it out? I agree. I wish every couple in your situation would get help. However, from where he’s standing it will take some fundamental changes to solve his problems. His fears is going to be that you’ll both pour our your grievances but nothing is going to change – and it will be painful and he’s got enough pain already. So you’ve got to show him – not tell him – that things can be different and that you’re prepared to listen (even if you don’t agree) with what’s gone wrong. Then, perhaps, you could recruit him into counselling.
I know the road ahead sounds tough but you can turn this round. I explain more in ‘My wife doesn’t love me any more: Love coach guide to winning her back’. Although there are few differences (because men and women make different mistakes) the basics about how to rescue your relationship are the same.