My husband and I have been married for four years, and dated for three years before we got married. He’s a good person and I do love him and care for him deeply, but I have lost that “in love” feeling. This has been a problem for a while, and I’ve been seeing a therapist to talk about my own issues as well as trying to sort out how I feel about being in this relationship. We both have good jobs, a nice house, and I know that he loves me very much, is very happy with me and he is such a rock through any hard time I’ve gone through. He’s an incredibly positive person, we communicate, have common goals, and agree on finances, so I should be happy, right? Not so much.
The passion has completely fizzled for me. I guess I just had this rosy image that I would still want to cuddle with my husband at this point, not to mention everything else. But he has a hard time with romantic gestures and his efforts almost always end up sort of halfway done and disappoint me. I understand everyone communicates their love differently (i.e. the Five Love Languages and all that), and I’ve tried to look at things from his perspective, but it’s just not helping. I don’t want our lives to just be a to-do list, I want a little romance. I don’t want to talk about work all the time, I want him to be able to take off more than three days at a time, I don’t want him to work on our vacations. I guess I just want to feel special and important.
I guess my main question is: Is this just normal? Is every relationship just going to move into mundane territory after a while? Am I asking too much to want to feel really special sometimes and to want that passion to continue or at least come back sometimes? I’ve been on the fence about whether I wanted to leave for a while, but if this is just what it comes to with every couple, then at least I have a good partner, so should I just suck it up? If you, or any of your readers, have insight I would greatly appreciate it. — On the Fence
OK, so everything on paper looks great, but you’ve lost that “in love” feeling. My question for you is: what have you done, besides go to therapy, to actively get that feeling back? In your letter, you lay out all the ways your husband is/has failed you in the romance department, but you don’t name a single thing you have actively done to reignite the passion between you two. You mention the possibility that you simply communicate your love differently, but have you made an effort to learn his love language? Have you tried to express your love in a way that is fluent to him? In what ways do you express appreciation for what he does do for you (rather than just frustration for what he doesn’t)?
Finally, you’ve done a great job communicating to me how your husband could be a better mate to you, but have you told him the same things? Have you asked him to take off more than three days from work and to prioritize your relationship a little more clearly? Does he know how important little romantic gestures are to you? Have you given him explicit ideas for such romantic gestures? If the man loves you like you say he does, I’m sure he wants to make you happy, but maybe he needs a little guidance as to how to do just that. so help him help you.
It’s true that passion in relationships wanes over time. Frankly, you’re doing really, really well if it’s only started waning after seven years together. But when you got married, you made a commitment to each other to stick together through things — good and bad — and to work through your issues. Marriage is work. You can’t be a passive participant in it. You have to take an active role in making it better and prioritizing it in your life. You can’t just walk away after four years of marriage because your husband, whom you say you love and care for deeply, has been slacking on romantic gestures. Freakin’ tell him what you need! Tell him you aren’t happy. Tell him you’re afraid you’re falling out of love and if the two of you don’t find some common ground and quality time to reconnect in a major way, you don’t know what the future of your marriage holds. Scare him because you’re scared. Make him feel the desperation you’ve been feeling. Let him know this is serious — that you feel at a crossroads and it’s tearing you up inside and you two desperately need to re-commit to making each other happy. And then let each other know what you need to be happy. And then make honest attempts to do those things.
Give it at least six months and then re-convene. Are you feeling happier? Do you have a stronger connection? Has the passion started coming back? If not, go to counseling and see what else you can do to save your marriage. Give it another six months and then — then, when you feel like you’ve really given it an honest effort — think about whether it’s time to separate for a while (and perhaps indefinitely). But don’t just give up now. Don’t walk away from your marriage before you’ve even fought for it, especially if you have so much of what makes a marriage “work.” That would be premature, cruel, and, frankly, pretty stupid.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter.