Learning To Be Happy In A Loveless Marriage: Is This Even Possible? If So, How?
I recently received an email from a wife who described her marriage as “loveless.” However, she told me that she had two children whom she would never dream of putting through a divorce or forcing to grow up in a single parent home. So, she knew that divorce was never going to be an option for her. Still, she could not help but feel that everyone deserves some happiness and some love in their life. So, she wanted my advice as to how she could “find happiness” even within the confines of what she had described as a loveless marriage. I will share with you the advice that I gave her in the following article.
Starting In The Beginning: Was The Marriage Always Loveless?: To start, I wanted to know if she had always felt that this relationship was lacking in love. She told me that there had always been loving feelings. She had a huge deal of respect and affection for her husband. However, she admitted that she hadn’t felt that “passion” or “spark” that she had for other men that she had dated before she met her husband. But, she chose to be with and marry her husband because she knew that he was a stable, high quality person of integrity and that he would make a phenomenal father.
And he HAD made a wonderful father. And, she said that most times her was a pretty decent husband. To me, he sounded like a stand up guy and the fact that they had two children said that obviously, they’d had some regular sex life at some point in the marriage. Knowing this, I wanted to get to the point where things started to change. Because, I hated the thought that this very nice and deserving woman was not excited about and energized by her life. It sounded to me like there were two deserving people who loved their families and who both desperately wanted to be desired and adored by the other person living in that house. So, wouldn’t it make sense to set it up so that they could find this in the other?
Of course, the wife was resistant to this. She felt strongly that she was never going to feel passionate or “in love” with her husband again. She was willing to accept this and she just wanted to find a way to be happy within this life. I strongly felt that she could have all of these things – personal happiness and a fulfilling and genuinely loving relationship – with her husband. Yes, it would require a bit of work and it would require for her to abandon her comfort zone. But, I’ve seen marriages left for dead rebound countless times.
Deciding To Try To Change Your Loveless Marriage: I really wanted for the wife to begin to become open to the idea that, with work and an open mind, there was no reason that this relationship could not transform. In truth, this is what happened previously, when things began to trend downhill. I asked the wife to recount for me how much “alone” time she spent with her husband in an attempt for the two of them to reconnect and to build upon the respect and affection that already existed between them.
She admitted that currently, there was “absolutely none.” Their children bonded them and so they focused entirely on the kids. The wife admitted to me that “without the kids, there would be nothing.” I responded to her that there was a couple before the kids, so there could certainly be a couple again, but she had to make this a priority.
However, I agreed with her that she deserved individual happiness. In the same way that she had placed her marriage on the back burner, she had also placed herself in last place. It had been years since she had attended a play, knitted a project, or went to a book club meeting with her friends – which were all things that she enjoyed very much before she got married. Somewhere along the way, she had lost herself. Likewise, her husband had placed himself upon a neglected shelf as well.
I often tell people that they can not give another what they do not here. That was absolutely true in this case. She could not project love and passion because she did not possess it for herself and in her life right now. I knew that focusing on her marriage was going to seem too intimidating, so I first advised her to focus on her own happiness. I wanted for her to give herself permission to be “selfish” and to make the time for those things which would bring her joy. I wanted for her husband to do the same. I told her that the two of them could swap babysitting. They both loved spending time with their children, so this would benefit everyone involved.
I strongly believe that once both of them are able to resume their passion and zest for life by enjoying the things that makes their individual lives rich, then they would have much more to give the other and would be in a much more conducive state of mind to do so. Once the two of them are gelling on a personal level, we’ll then turn to their marriage but this is going to be a gradual process.
The good news is that no one has to settle for individual or marital unhappiness. You’re only stuck in this fate when you do nothing to improve it. You know, deep down, what it takes to make you happy as an individual. You just need to give yourself permission to do more of it. This will ultimately benefit those you love because you will be in a much more conducive place to love and give more to them.
Unfortunately for me, I ignored a lot of these signs of apathy from myself until it was almost too late. I just told myself that we were “comfortable” rather than accepting that we were growing apart. This almost cost me my marriage. Luckily, over time (and by taking calculated baby steps), I was able to reestablish intimacy and bring back our love. It took me a long time to realize that we both deserved better. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com.
Leslie Cane’s blog is at http://isavedmymarriage.com. She enjoys sharing the story of how she saved her own marriage to help others.