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.
justpeachy August 23, 2011, 3:09 pm
I think Wendy is spot on. While it seems you’ve made the effort to work on your relationship and your husband, what have you done to work on yourself? I have the same problem a lot of times with my husband. He just doesn’t get it. I know it kind of kills the surprise, but what works for me is creating a list of things you think are romantic and letting him just pick things off the list to do. If you have enough items on the list, it’s kind of surprising, right?
Also, what has worked for me in the past to inspire some romance is getting some space. Hang out with your coworkers after work. Go on a spa weekend with your best friend. Let him miss you a bit and let him know that your happiness isn’t solely dependent on how he shows his love for you.
But most importantly, you need to look inward as to what you can do to make your relationship more romantic, not just your husband. Plan romantic dates and hint at your husband why you find certain things romantic (“I love that you made a reservation because it shows that you thought ahead and thought about me”). Or make a standard date night and trade off planning it. Sometimes sharing nachos at a football game can be just as romantic as a candlelight dinner. (Also, I know it sounds random, but my husband started to seem a lot more romantic once I went off birth control pills. Damn hormones.)
MonMon August 23, 2011, 3:23 pm
Ahhhh I am with you on the birth control…..I need to be on the pills right now, but cannot wait to be off…..total libido killers!
Landygirl August 23, 2011, 3:11 pm
Wendy has got it right, communication is key. Good luck, LW, I hope this works for you.
kerrycontrary August 23, 2011, 3:13 pm
Sounds like the 7 year itch to me! I havn’t been married, but I think that most married couples go through periods like this and you are NOT alone. While it can be difficult, and possibly taboo in some circles, to talk to your marriage problems with your friends I would seek out their advice as well as that of your therapist. Perhaps one of them is going through the same thing. You can even ask your mom if your parents have been married for a long period of time. I agree with Wendy that you should specifically ask your husband for what you are looking for. You want flowers randomly? Tell him he needs to bring home flowers once a month. You want a romantic vacation? Tell him you are planning a vacation and he is forbidden to bring work. You also need to stress how serious this situation is and that you’ve considered leaving.
While I am not judging, and I could be completely 100 percent wrong, perhaps you are just bored with your life in general. Try picking up a new hobby, or even better find an activity you can do with your husband to spark up some passion. It sounds like you have a great marriage and a great foundation for the future, so if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it.
Firegirl32 August 23, 2011, 4:39 pm
They say 7 years and 25 years are the milestones that are hardest to get past – because of the phase of life you are typically in at that time. Please don’t ask me who “those people” are, because I haven’t a clue where I read that. 🙂
katie August 23, 2011, 10:09 pm
i agree with her being bored with life in general- i totally got that to… not wanting to become a “to-do list” and always talking about work… yea. bored. maybe they could pick up a new hobby or activity together!
Elizabeth August 23, 2011, 3:18 pm
I have to second the ‘get some space’ business. I’m a more independent person by nature, so planning things to do by myself or with girlfriends helps him miss me and me miss him. Sure the first day is great, but around the second day away, I get a little homesick.
Do I wish my boyfriend would dance with me? yup. Do i wish he would buy me flowers sometimes? oh hell yes. But when I wake up and he’s cuddling me or holding my hand, I know he loves me.
MonMon August 23, 2011, 3:18 pm
I agree with everything Wendy said, and I think that the most important step you should take right now is to communicate all of your feelings, entirely, to your husband.
LW, you are really blessed if the greatest downfall in your marriage is that your husband is not romantic enough. I am not going to tell you however, that this is okay and that you should be happy that “at least he’s not cheating on/hitting/abusing you or is a drug addict/alcoholic/a lazy person, etc..” Every woman deserves romance and to feel special and loved by her S.O. And Wendy makes a great point that perhaps your husband does not realize what your marriage (and you) is lacking, and that you need to take it upon yourself to bluntly, albeit nicely, TELL HIM.
I was making this argument a few weeks ago that men are a little slow on the uptake when it comes to romance. As wonderfully romantic as it would be to have a man who just KNOWS exactly what to do, when and where, the truth is that it’s not common. Just tell him how it makes you feel to be romanced and how terrible you feel when it’s missing from your life. He may not know how serious it is. I am sure that if he loves you as much as you made it sound, then he will jump at the opportunity to improve himself in whatever way he can to save your marriage.
But he’ll need some guidance from you to do so. And like Wendy said, it’s YOUR responsibility just as much as it is his, to make this work. Please don’t walk away from what sounds like an otherwise blessed marriage.
SpyGlassez August 23, 2011, 4:57 pm
This x1000. `As my BF puts it, “I’m not telepathic, I’m telepathetic. I can’t read your mind!”
lets_be_honest August 23, 2011, 3:43 pm
Was ‘if I’m not 100% happy, it might be time to bail’ in your vows? Come on, you signed on for life and are willing to consider giving up already?! How would you feel if you knew your husband was thinking that since you aren’t perfect, he might leave you? THIS is why people don’t take marriage seriously and why there are so many divorces. It’s very sad. Take your marriage seriously! Before I get purple-thumbed attacked, here is something that has stuck with me personally about how to treat marriage and is maybe positive advice: there was a post a while ago that spoke of real commitment and someone commented about how if your job sucks a bit or isn’t 100% fulfilling, you wouldn’t just up and quit, so why would you up and quit your marriage for the same reasons, something far more important, because its not 100% perfect at all times. Life has ups and downs. You sound like you have a pretty good life. T up!
PFG-SCR August 23, 2011, 3:47 pm
I agree with Wendy that every relationship goes through stages, and it sounds like the LW is bored and feels under-appreciated. So many aspects of life interfere with the ability to focus on our partners and our relationships. But, there are things that can be done to re-prioritize and re-focus on the relationship, which can re-kindle the “in love” feelings for one another.
The longer you’ve been with someone, the little gestures of love and kindness, cute glances at one another, the constant touching, the teasing, etc. start to fade away. The lack of these have a different impact on each relationship, and sometimes, a relationship can do without them for a long period of time without any negative consequences. But, these little gestures are important in a relationship. Consciously make an effort to do these with your husband – flirting, teasing and touching have a huge impact. I think laughter is one of the best things you can do, and this can be incorporated into the flirting and teasing.
The LW doesn’t mention their sex life at all, but that’s likely lacking, as well. Four years into a marriage (especially before kids) is way too early to have your sex life wane. Set a goal for how many times a week and make it a priority. There are very few other things you can do as a couple that will have such a positive impact on your relationship as a frequent, mutually satisfying sex life. And, it starts long before the bedroom (or bathroom or kitchen, etc.) – get comfortable with sending flirty/sexually charged emails, texts, etc. When you flirt in person, make innuendos about what will be happening later. Talk about fantasies, buy some new lingerie and sex toys, etc. Experiment with different positions, different sex acts, etc.
One of the best things you can do is to “get away” together. Even a long weekend out of town where the only focus is on one another can recharge the two of you. Hold hands, talk about the last seven years together, talk about your goals for the future, and just bring back all of those positive feelings that you’ve had for your relationship and spouse. If there were hobbies you’ve enjoyed as a couple that you’ve stopped, pick them up again. If you no longer go on regular date nights, do that again. Even just curling up on the couch together watching movies will make an impact. It’s important to have fun and laugh together.
Is what you’re feeling normal? Sure. Does it always stay that way? No, but it will take effort on both of your part. In many ways, what you’re doing is just acting like you did at the start of your relationship.
artsygirl August 23, 2011, 3:50 pm
There is a reason why Disney movies and romance novels end immediately after the hero and heroine commit to each other. After being together for years some of the luster of a relationship can wear off. You learn WAY too much about your SO’s body functions and/or bizarre personal quirks. That being said, there are a lot of ways to reignite the spark.
I have been with my SO for over a decade and we have dealt with the burn out that happens when you co-habit with someone for a long time. Here are a few things that have worked for us. 1. Plan a date that reflects your first meeting, date, anniversary, etc. 2. Take a class or plan an activity that you both can do which will give you a new point of connection. My husband and I have started to rock climb because it is something we can do together and gets the adrenaline going. 3. We are also starting to take mini-vacations to cities within driving distance. We will head out on a Friday night to another city or town and then spend all of Saturday and some of Sunday exploring a new place with each other. It doesn’t have to be expensive but we check and see if there are any local food or music festivals, museum showings, and we always make it to the aquarium or zoo if they have one.
Best of luck!
Vathena August 23, 2011, 4:07 pm
Also, though the LW is in counseling (commendable!) it sounds like this couple could really benefit from some *joint* sessions. Feeling like he’s choosing work over your relationship is such a resentment factory, but I hope this marriage isn’t over before the husband is aware of all the issues and engaged in helping to fix them.
mandalee August 23, 2011, 4:22 pm
Having just gotten married less than two weeks ago, letters like this scare the hell out of me. If your biggest complaint is that the passion has been waning and that “in love” feeling with it, then as a married couple- it is both your issue- not just his. I feel like often when one part of a couple has an issue in this area- it’s much easier to blame the other solely for this lack of passion. You say he’s not great at romantic gestures- but are you? Do you take the time to write his a cute note before work or give him a massage at the end of the day?
Passion in a relationship is a combination of both people creating a loving and exciting environment. So if it’s not happening, you’re approximately 50% of the problem. Rather than going to therapy solo or writing to Dear Wendy, you should have mentioned this to your husband the minute it came up. It boggles my mind when people don’t do this. Your married, you need to communicate! Marriage does not survive on telepathy.
I was dating my current husband for three years, when the passion took a severe dip. I expressed my concerns immediately and he admitted he had stop doing romantic things because he had gotten comfortable. I was also able to admit that I stopped planning dates, wearing cute lingerie from time to time and other stuff he liked. We BOTH worked on it and it worked out great. Will the passion dip again? Most definitely- life can get crazy and relationships fall to to wayside at times, but you sign up to cherish and work on your relationship when you get married. Call me a sappy romantic, but I love the fact that I fall in love with my husband all over again throughout the years by putting in the effort.
lets_be_honest August 23, 2011, 4:25 pm
Awesome post! I wouldn’t worry about reading letters like this, as you said. Seems like you have a good view on how marriage works…good luck.
MiMi August 23, 2011, 5:08 pm
LW, you said you are aware of the different languages of love, but you didn’t express clearly whether you have identified (and learned to respect) your husband’s or communicated yours to him? I made the mistake early in my marriage to not give my husband credit for his acts of service (the book hadn’t been written yet). To me these were things any husband “should” do (washing the dishes, putting up a shelf in the bathroom) but for him, coming from a paternalistic Asian society, they were active attempts to please and care for me that I didn’t recognize as special. So when I got around to complaining that I wasn’t getting the words of affirmation I was looking for, guess what: he was feeling unappreciated too.
Please come down off that little perch of righteous grievance that is quite evident in your letter and fight for your marriage. Show the passion, romance, committment and attention to it that you’re asking for from your husband. And if you are not getting real, practical help from your therapist that is moving you forward, find a better one.
Budjer August 23, 2011, 4:18 pm
Every girlfriend I’ve had that NEEDED or focused a lot on the frequency of romantic gestures were also really needy in the attention / time-spent together department so if that is the case here….to echo other commenters….you may be spending too much time together.
If you want him to think about you and have the time alone to want to do a romantic gesture then spend some time apart as so many others have said. In my experience guys get creative when they are missing their girl…if you are always together HE might be in a rut too and more time apart doing your own respective things may be what you both need to get the flame lit again.
AKchic August 23, 2011, 5:56 pm
Marriage is work. If you aren’t happy then you need to say something – to him. Not us. You’ve been together as a couple for seven years and it sounds like you are bored with each other. It’s time to reconnect, not move on. You need to make a REAL EFFORT, not just lip service to that effect.
HOLD HANDS for Pete’s sake (and your own).
KISS EACH OTHER when you think nobody else is looking. Hell, pinch his tush when you’re in public and you think nobody’s looking.
Say “I love you” more often, and MEAN IT.
Initiate cuddling while watching tv (even the news) or movies.
Initiate intimate moments, whether it’s a kiss good-bye in the morning, a hug in the kitchen, a full on make-out session in the bedroom, whatever.
TALK. My Goddess, TALK. Not just about your friend’s marriage or his buddy’s wife’s miscarriage, but about work, family, the house, the news, the weather, the commute to the office, the new intern, the grocery list, etc.
Why do I feel like I’ve gone on a really big rant…?
fast eddie August 23, 2011, 6:47 pm
Disconnect the phone while he’s in the shower and soaped up then join him and make sure all his and your nooks and crannies are thoroughly washed.
If you get home before he does, get completely naked…
Put on a little (hint) something silky for eating take out on the couch or bed.
Buy some toys and an idea book.
Book a cruise with a large balcony cabin and bring the toys. The slow ass internet will discourage him form doing any work on it.
AKchic August 23, 2011, 7:01 pm
Even a relaxing couple’s bath is nice. Just a chance to cuddle up in a nice warm bath with bubbles… (note: it’s raining terribly here in Anchorage right now).
If you plan on becoming the dessert after dinner, I do recommend that you stay away from edible underwear. It’s basically just leathery Fruit By The Foot and it tastes disgusting. Go with flavored syrups. Hit Wal-Mart and check out the frosting section in the baking aisle. There are some flavored drizzles there that work very well and are cheaper than the stuff you can get at sex shops (or online). Plus, you can still use them on real desserts/foods.
Sitting on the opposite ends of the couch and rubbing each other’s feet while watching a tv show can also help. Or, sitting together while taking turns massaging hands and arms. Working your way up the arms to the shoulders and the muscles at the front of the chest (hint hint, nudge nudge).
Amber August 23, 2011, 7:07 pm
I think like a lot of people above have mentioned marriage is work. And both people have to make an effort. You mention that the things he does are half way done, what are those things. Does he realize he’s failing in your eyes or does he think he’s making you happy? And as someone else mentioned above find some way to laugh together. I always feel closest to my husband when making each other laugh or we find something that both makes us laugh.
As for romance I have learned that my husband is not the kind who is going to bring home flowers or chocolates or write me cards. But, I find him holding my hand when we’re sitting next to each other watching tv, playing with my hair when we’re in bed, etc. And maybe your husband has his own little things he does. I have always found that if I want those little things I have to give him something too. I have to give him an unexpected back rub, stop him when he comes in from work and give him a real kiss. And like Wendy and others have said talk to him. If you don’t talk to him about the extent of the problem he’ll never know. And it’s very hard to fix a problem you don’t know exists.
katie August 23, 2011, 10:26 pm
“I always feel closest to my husband when making each other laugh or we find something that both makes us laugh”
i totally agree with this- me and my boyfriend will sit up late at night and watch cheesey tv shows and commercials, and make fun of them. its the best times.
parrt August 23, 2011, 7:14 pm
its always the man’s job to make the little princess happy. marriage is going to go the way of the dinosaur.
jubietta August 24, 2011, 12:56 am
Both the spirit and the letter of this post feel very Walt Disneyesque. Lots of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s got fed a line of bullshit in the movies we soaked up as children. I read an article recently that compared the “perfect relationship” as described in Disney’s stories as a “parental” relationship where one party is responsible for taking care of the other party. And if that’s what the LW is looking for I’d say “Go home to Mom and Dad.” If you want an equal partnership, equal accounability/responsibility and equal needs/wants being met, that’s the work of marriage.
fast eddie August 23, 2011, 6:29 pm
While I love Wendy’s advise the time scale of 6 months is way too short for making a decision of this magnitude. What stands out in the letter is his obsession with work. I mean get real, you enjoy the nice house, car, and so on and it all costs money. Yes I saw the part of her having a career as well. My wife and I went through 4 years of me working and full time school then 60 hour work weeks for more years. It paid off but our woopie frequency went in the 600 meter range (HAM speak for very, very long with no contacts). Then we moved to the country and imagined it would come back. It didn’t, her work depressed her and I couldn’t find a job in my field. Then she got cancer and for the last 6 years we haven’t had sex more the 10 times. Yet we have a good life, take nice vacations and such so it’s not all bad. Before you say poor babies, she’ll retire next month and we both hope to get back the loving feeling on some scale. Now if the stock market would please recover it’s losses of late I’d feel a lot better.
AK I love you comment. ;->
AKchic August 23, 2011, 6:42 pm
Why thank you Eddie, dahlin’ 🙂
You did bring up another valid point. Because of the economy, people with jobs ARE working more to ensure that they are considered valuable, and more importantly, indespensible. They don’t want to be let go. So, the pressure is on him to be accessable and a “workaholic” in order to be the “man” of the house by providing an income for his “family” (even if his family is just the “little woman” right now). That’s how many men see their role, no matter how much gender equality has come into effect and play in our nation and society. Men are still wanting to be the primary breadwinners. The hunter/gatherer. Instead of hunting wild animals, they are hunting cash and bringing it home.
It’s stressful knowing that if you don’t make yourself indispensible and available that you could be terminated, through no fault of your own. That stress does tend to lead to a lowered sex drive. Especially when you feel like your partner doesn’t appreciate you when she feels that you need to communicate your love in a different way. I.e., “don’t bring me money and help support the house and provide me with this great life, but instead, invalidate all that you do now and just tell me you love me, cuddle with me, etc”. That’s basically what he hears. There is room for compromise, even if it’s awkward. Awkward can be sweet because it’s still a pure, honest and innocent attempt at love. Think of kids and their first kiss. Overthinking things (“where do I put my nose?!”, “is he leaning in?” “what if I have bad breath?”) and generally botching things up, but it’s cute.
LTC039 August 23, 2011, 8:07 pm
Relationships are a two way street hun…The sooner you get off your butt & figure out ways to be “romantic” the sooner the “spark” will come back. Don’t expect him to always know what you’re thinking…It seems like you’re drowning in this pity party for yourself & missing the bigger picture. You decided to marry this man, & I’m not sure if you’re aware but marriage requires work. Just the same as your job.
katie August 23, 2011, 10:23 pm
if your not happy with something, change it. i think thats what you need to do. dont put all the blame on your husband- take charge of your own happiness and change your situation! whenever i am feeling a little bored, or like my life has gotten a little mundane, i do something spontaneous. just something like, hey, you know what, i need a change. lets go to the mountains. or lets go take this class. or whatever! i did definitely pick up on you being very bored in your letter… i think that probably extends into your life in general, and not just in your marriage. while marriage is a very big part of married people’s lives, do you ever do things by yourself, or with just your friends? things that make you happy that have nothing to do with your husband? those things can and do exist, and its not a bad thing to find joy outside your marriage/husband. find joy in yourself and your own life, and it will probably trickly back into your marriage. do something fun, go somewhere you’ve never been, face a fear, whatever, just find some joy for your own sake, and then work it into your marriage.
it worries me that your husband works on your vacations. i think you should have a very serious talk with him about this. everyone needs a good work/life balance, and trust me, his work will be just fine without him for a week.
jubietta August 24, 2011, 12:51 am
Accentuate the positive. Instead of putting your focus (part of your very limited supply of energy) onto Mr. LW’s actions which don’t please you, try paying attention instead to the things he does that make you smile/happy/feel good…and then make sure you’re sharing those positive assessments with him. It’s a small thing that inidcates a great big shift in attitude and most people I’ve seen try it have great results.
Once I learned a great set of questions for whether or not to get out of a relationship, they are as followes. (One caviat, you don’t get to progress through the questions until you can answer yes to the question at hand. Until you can say “yes” to Q1, don’t even bother with Q2.)
Q1: Are you “winning” in your life, are you where you want to be doing what you want to do and proud of your current situation? If the answer is no, make the changes you need to make in YOURSELF that enable you to say YES.
Q2: Are you behaving toward the other person the way you want them to be to you…AND in a way that works for THEM? (FREX: when I want Mr. J to get frisky with me, I go straight for his earlobes, ’cause it drives him crazy and he retaliates in a good way, but I would hate it if he went after my earlobes…yech.) When you can honestly say YES, go on.
Q3: Do you want to be in this relationship?
There are no clocks, just a lot of deep thought and observation with the occasional sea change required. The best part is that if you can answer questions one and two with a “yes” but still find that number three is a “no” you can get out clean, leave with your self-esteem and pride in-tact. And if you get two yeses, that third yes might be a no-brainer.
And since advice is best understood with context: Mr. J and I have been together for 25 years, happy and monogamous, with the occasional bumpy patch salted with tears. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My marriage is the best part of my life, even when it’s not. Ya know?
Good luck on sticking with your vows.
Nick August 24, 2011, 2:13 am
You know, On The Fence, I had a bit of trouble with your letter. For me the trouble is knowing what to say. I struggle with the same thing. I’d look at some of the people here above who have been in a marriage for a long time. There’s a type of wisdom that only comes from experience over time.
For my part, I’ll just add how I personally look at this for myself. I don’t think you get to have that feeling anymore. Oh some of these folks–they’ve told you about all this work you’re supposed to do to get it back. Bah. That’s a mirage. Sounds like being told to eat your peas. No, I think you can instead choose to see things differently. Redefine what you think you want. The surest way to feel in love again? 100% effective: It’s to go fall in love with someone new. But just realize that if you do that or allow it, you give up all you’ve peacefully earned, with no assurance at all that you can get it again. That’s foolish. And for what end? A fleeting feeling that fades. That process repeats over and over, getting harder each time. This is existential.
No, redefine the game you’re playing instead. We get married not just so we can be made to feel special, but because we believe we can be more whole, more successful in our lives with a true partner at our side. So consider, what do you want to give the world? How will you make it better for your having been here? Seek a deeper purpose than feeling adored, and see how your partnership can add strength to your accomplishing those goals. And you his. St. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians, I think beautifully –‘when he was a child, he spoke, acted, thought like a child; when he became a man he put away those childish things.’ It’s about finding a deeper purpose (no, I don’t mean religion). I’m not a Christian or religious and those words can be hard to unpack, but they’re a profound meditation on redefining what you want in life. Obviously you’re not a child–it’s a bit of a metaphor for changing the phase of life you’re in regardless of age.
Marcie August 24, 2011, 10:00 am
My five-year anniversary is this Saturday, and I will say I’ve struggled with the same feelings that you have. Yes, the passion and fire you once had for each other will wane. I believe that comes naturally from just being around someone more than you used to be. But, it changes into something more incredible. I have a deeper love for my husband than I did when we did it all the time. Yes, it’s comfortable and sometimes boring, but I know that what I have with him comes from putting time and years into the relationship. We have gone through so much in the nine years that we’ve been together, but I know that we are much stronger than we once were.
I used to have the issues with my husband that you do. He was lacking in romance, quit doing the sweet things he used to, yadda yadda yadda. I realized that I was concentrating too much on what he was giving me. I asked myself what I could give to him. What I could give him was more independence. I started graduate school, and had less time to wonder why he wasn’t bringing me flowers, or performing grand gestures of his love for me. Then one day, I realized that I didn’t care about that stuff. He did things to show me he loved me all the time. He does take out the trash, mow the lawn, and help around the house. I don’t know many husbands who help around the house as much as he does. I also started seeing other things he did to show me he loved me. So what if he didn’t have grand surprises for me, and bought me expensive jewelry. I am very lucky to have a husband who does give so much to me.
Listen, you aren’t going to find anyone who makes you 100% happy. It’s not their job to make you happy. You need to decide if you want to stay with a guy who has such great qualities (as you’ve said in your letter), or find another relationship, and one day inevitably find yourself in the same place you are today. I think this is mostly a “you” issue, and not your husband’s issue.
Skyblossom August 24, 2011, 6:01 pm
I love your attitude! See what he is doing and appreciate it!!!
Marcie August 24, 2011, 10:04 am
Oh, and by the way, I heard some great marriage advice long ago from a very wise man. You won’t wake up every day feeling “in love”. Love is a choice. Some days you don’t feel like it, but you made the choice to marry your spouse.
melikeycheesecake August 24, 2011, 10:27 am
FANTASTIC response Wendy!!!!!!!
Lindsay August 24, 2011, 10:49 am
Not to be cliche, but marriage is work. In an ideal world, married couples would have passionate relationships without having to do anything, because that’s really romantic, right? But as unromantic as it may seems, you have to TRY to get the spark back. Tell you husband how you feel. Tell him what you want from him because he clearly is not a mind reader. Plan romantic outings or have new experiences together. Pretend he’s a person who you’ve just met who you want to develop a relationship with and think about what you’d be doing in that situation.
McLovin August 24, 2011, 12:24 pm
LW, I hope that you’re able to pick up on all of this free advice that you’re getting here and do something good with it. Consider this, divorce should be your last option unless you’re in an abusive relationship, and that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Just the opposite actually. You have a “good” guy that works too much, but doesn’t show you the same attention to detail that he apparently puts into his career. If that’s the case than I get it. You want more from him. Tell him what you need. Ask your therapist how to express your feelings to him if you’re having trouble doing that on your own.
In most cases men have a “life” scorecard, and we review it often. Good job? Check: and my boss seems to be happy with me. Beautiful wife? Check: she’s amazing. Nice house? You bet: and a 48″ big screen HDTV. Happy marriage? Of course: I mean, if my wife was unhappy than she would let me know, right? It’s your job, LW, to let him know what you need from him to get back on track.
Skyblossom August 24, 2011, 5:25 pm
Yes, every relationship goes through mundane times! It’s how you handle those mundane times that determines whether your relationship lasts. You tend to sink into those down times together but it only takes one of you to start pulling you out. If you’re feeling this way there is a high probability that your husband feels the same way and he’s probably also at a loss as to what to do. That may also be why he spends so much time at work. You didn’t say whether he has one of those demanding careers that requires you to be a workaholic at the beginning. I’ve found that when someone spends huge amounts of time at work, or the gym or volunteering they are often avoiding being at home.
Since you can change your own actions much easier than you can change his it will be easier for you to work on your end of it but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help him work on his end of it. Have things spiraled down so that you feed off each other negatively? Are you upset when he comes home because he’s worked so late and then he feels that going home is unpleasant so he works even longer hours and then you are more upset? You can change your bit in that by trying to be pleasant and supportive when he comes home (and maybe you already are) and make home a place he wants to be if it isn’t right now. As someone said above, try to flirt more, touch him more, hug him as you pass him in the kitchen or living room, stop to stroke his arm or just lean your head against his shoulder. Thank him when he does something you appreciate and let him know you like what he’s done. If he gets the feeling that you never like the things he does for you he will give up, why bother? Give positive feedback on the bits he does get right without focusing on what he didn’t get right. This needs to be a me and you situation so you need to let him know what you would like romantically but also ask what he would like and his wants may not be romantic but still be needed for postive feelings.
If you want to get away for a vacation that is longer than a few days he may need to schedule it far in advance. Ask him what he needs so that he can get away for a longer time. Ask him about his ideas for time away from work. What would he like to do and where would he like to go? Can you find something that you both want to do, not something where one of you would be settling just to make the other happy. Also, finding something to do together can build a relationship if you’re both having fun. Relaxing together and talking also helps.
Many people expect their marriage to make them happy but the reverse is true. It’s up to you to make your marriage happy. You sound unhappy in general and maybe you need to find the reason for your unhappiness. You can pull your marriage out of this mundane stage and you’ll be glad that you did when you hit an up stage. Also know that it will happen again from time to time and the two of you will need to pull it up every time. We all go through this so you aren’t alone. Every marriage is unique so if you try something and it doesn’t work try something else and don’t feel bad that someone’s perfect solution does nothing for you. I think the worst part of being in a mundane stage is that you just don’t care at that point because you don’t feel that loving feeling but you have to make the effort anyway. This will happen no matter what relationship you are in so if you leave this marriage and start over you will have to learn to deal with this down stage anyway.
Meredith August 24, 2011, 10:41 pm
This sounds a lot like what happened with me and my husband in the second yr of our marriage. We rushed into marriage, I got pregnant by surprise soon after, and once the baby was born the problems multiplied and my resentment festered. It took a marriage counselor to sort it out for us, but she basically said the same thing Wendy is saying. It’s so easy to start resenting your husband and looking for things he doesn’t do right. The romantic feelings usually wane as a result of the anger and resentment you’ve built up towards him. You gotta totally reverse the way you think about him as a man and a husband and come at it with a positive approach. He works too much? So does my husband. But you know what? Now I admire his incredibly strong work ethic and ability to provide for our family. Now I thank the good heavens above I don’t have a lazy bum for a husband like some women do. He’s not romantic? But you can admire and be thankful that he’s practical, reliable and steadfast. Things improved 200% for my marriage once we both stopped pointing fingers and started actively working on the things we could do as individuals to be a better spouse to one another. I think you’ll be surprised how much things can improve if you start initiating romantic gestures and go out of your way to be exceedingly kind to your husband every day, even if you don’t necessarily feel like it. I wish you the best!