I love Marie lots and have no pros for her moving out, but I have a laundry list of cons. From her own list, I gathered that she was bored and has NO mom friends or any friends in general (most have moved away over the years since we met). She said she loves me lots but the passion isn’t there anymore because it isn’t new and exciting any longer. She said she wants to explore opening our relationship or something. I told her I honestly wasn’t sure about opening our relationship. Her last two relationships were with women, and while maybe I would open our relationship for her to be with another woman — because I don’t know if I could fill the “needs” she has there — I definitely am not ok with her being with another guy. She said she really has no interest in another guy.
I have been working and going to school and trying to be super dad, so our relationship has not been a big priority. Since our talk, I have tried to make big changes to fix myself and be a better lover and partner. I got a haircut, decided I’m going to get a few tattoos I wanted to get anyway (we’ll see if that makes me a bit more exciting) and grow my beard out more. Also, this week I have been working out and eating better and am making better life choices to better myself.
In addition to all of that, I also found Marie a friend with kids who is near her age. The friend and Marie haven’t hung out yet, but she was cool when I used to know her and she’s local. I have been helping Marie with stuff around the house, have been taking more interest in stuff she’s doing, and have looking for ideas on how to fulfill her emotional needs. I tried to set up a surprise date for Tuesday to take her ice skating, but she was sick and so I rescheduled our babysitter for next week. I got excited today and told her my plans for having a date night once a month, and I was devastated when she only said “we can see how that goes.” I don’t know — I am trying my best to do what I can to reignite something, but do you have any advice for other things I could do or focus on?
We are both great parents to our kids and never fight. I love her a lot and still find her beautiful. Any advice to help save my relationship will be very much appreciated. — Refocused Frank
Oof, I feel for you and can tell you are desperate to save your relationship with Marie and to meet her needs. Your effort to do so is commendable, but there are a couple issues: First, it’s been a few days and that’s not long enough to see if the efforts will make a difference. You haven’t even had the date yet that you’ve planned and Marie is already acting disinterested in the prospect of a monthly date night with you. And that brings me to the second issue: The fact is, YOU may not be what Marie needs or wants, and no haircut or tattoo or working out will change that if that’s true. Sure, this might be a case of her having lost attraction and your investing in your health and fitness could help, but when you mention that Marie’s last two relationships were with women and that she says she has zero interest in being with another guy despite wanting to open your relationship, it makes me think that she’s not interested in men, period.
Regardless of whom Marie might be interested in – if anyone — what is clear is that her life right now isn’t fulfilling her. She may be depressed, be lonely, or feel like her sexual and emotional needs aren’t being met. The person who has to make the biggest steps to solve these issues is Marie. Your working out and finding her a friend to hang out with isn’t going to fix what’s going on inside of her. Even your prioritizing your relationship isn’t going to solve the issue when the issue is Marie’s dissatisfaction with her current life. You’ve asked me what you can do to save the relationship, but have you asked Marie? When she made a pros and cons list for moving out and getting her own apartment, did you explore how the issues she highlighted could be addressed without her moving out? Did you ask what she hoped she would gain from opening your relationship and what the effect she imagined such a change would have on you? Does she even care?
If you are serious about trying to save this relationship — and I do believe you are — you are going to have to have more than the one discussion with Marie that you had last week, and you have to be willing to invest more than a few days to see what effect some changes you’re making might have. You also need to ask that Marie invest some time and energy as well into salvaging the relationship. If her heart isn’t in it – if she is willing to walk away from you, to move into her own apartment without exploring other options first, then it doesn’t matter how much you want this relationship to last and how hard you work to make her happy. It may be that the relationship has simply run its course. It may be that Marie has realized men in general don’t do it for her. It may be that whatever efforts are made now are too little, too late. Marie will have a far better idea if that’s the case than I do, so talk to her. Ask her if she’s willing to re-invest in your relationship and if she can see a future with you. Unless she can answer in the affirmative — even with some conditions that you can both agree to try — I’d certainly hold off on getting a tattoo to impress her.