Relationship Connection: Is there any way I can stop this divorce?

Question

I’m in a bit of a rough spot with my marriage. I’ve been married 11 years and have no children. A few months ago, my husband told me he’s not in love with me and that he’s been “faking” it for the past four years.

He wants to file for divorce and in the six months we have to wait for it to be final, he wants to see if we can work it out rather than just going our separate ways right away. He said he’s trying to see if he can feel anything for me. To me, I feel like he hasn’t made much of an effort because I’m always the one who asks him for a hug, puts my arm around him, gives him a kiss on the cheek, etc. He never makes efforts on his own.

He seems wrapped up in the TV and his phone. It just bothers me because he says he wants to work on our marriage but his actions are telling me something else. We’ve been reading a marriage book together, but when I read it out loud, he doesn’t seem that interested. When it’s his turn to read, he tries to read through it fast and I ask him to slow down because I can’t understand. I’m literally out of ideas and I don’t know what to do anymore.

I’ve had so much stress and anxiety over these past few months, cried myself to sleep, even wished I weren’t here anymore because I’m tired of suffering in this pain. We’ve been best friends since I was 7 years old and it breaks my heart to know that I could lose my husband and best friend forever. If you have any advice for me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Answer

Before you do anything to fix your broken relationship, it’s critical you get some personal help immediately so you can be safe emotionally and physically. The overwhelming stress you’re experiencing in your marriage is a signal you need to get support so you don’t have to do this alone. The thoughts of wanting to die aren’t something you should take lightly. Reach outside of yourself and let others know of your struggle.

While a professional counselor is an excellent option, it may take days or weeks to find one with whom you feel comfortable. Recognize you can get help immediately by talking with a friend or family member about your plight. This isn’t a time to minimize the seriousness of your pain and go through this alone. If the thoughts of wanting to die persist even after getting emotional support, make sure you get professional help immediately or go to the hospital so you can be safe. Your life matters.

With respect to your failing marriage, this is an important time to become more fierce in your commitment and loyalty to your promises.

Musician and actor Jon Bon Jovi said the secret to keeping his 26-year marriage together is because of something his wife told him; “If I ever decide to leave, she is coming with me,” he said. While I certainly don’t want to be flippant about your situation by sharing this comment, I believe there is some important wisdom in his comment.

Just because your husband wants to leave doesn’t mean you have to turn and walk the other way. You are not divorced yet. If you want to stay married, keep facing your marriage until he decides he’s done. While you obviously can’t force him to love you or stay with you, please know you still have a voice and can use it to fight for your marriage. You need to know you’ve faced your marriage and done everything you can do to keep your union intact.

Even though you and I both agree that his plan to file divorce papers as the opening gesture toward fixing his marriage isn’t the most effective plan, please see that he’s recognizing something is wrong and is making room to work on it.

You don’t need to panic right now. You’re both recognizing this marriage isn’t working well. I agree that you both need to divorce the old patterns in your marriage and build new ones. I just think you should stay married while you do that work.

Tell him you agree that you both need to create a new marriage because the old one isn’t working. Let him know with no uncertain doubt that you are fully committed to working on building a new relationship that will last. Virtually all couples reach a point in their marriage where they realize there are patterns that aren’t working. His response is dramatic, but he’s doing something to try and fix it.

Go with the momentum and look honestly at yourself and encourage him to do the same.

Don’t wait until he files papers. Get the professional and social support you need to repair this marriage. You can do an Internet search for “Hold Me Tight marriage workshop” and find one in your area. This is a great opportunity to get the education and support you both need to rebuild a new marriage.

It sounds like he’s still willing to work on your marriage. Don’t fast-forward to the worst possible outcome and miss out on an opportunity in the here and now to do something with your marriage.

Stay connected!

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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • native born new mexican June 3, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Here are some questions: Is this guy really worth staying in this marriage for? It sounds like there is a pattern of you doing all or most of the giving and him doing little or nothing to reciprocate. Is that really how you want to live the rest of your life? You can’t make him be a loving, caring person but you can wear yourself out trying to deserve and win his love and attention which you can never succeed in doing. If he is not caring and giving with you I have an idea he isn’t very good to other people either. I bet if his siblings felt at liberty to open up to you they could give you an ear full about how he has really always been the way he is being now with you. You can go down a list of things – if I lose weight he will love me, if I work harder and bring in more money he will love me, This I don’t love you stuff is his problem and not yours. If you are doing your best to carry your end of the marriage by being responsible and honest and being careful about not doing behaviors that clearly are not acceptable and that no one would like to live with or around then in my view he has some personal problems that he needs to change or not only will he not succeed in a marriage with you he won’t succeed in a marriage with any one because he can’t be married. Is he worth being around and is marriage to him worth saving?

  • ladybugavenger June 3, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Divorce him, you don’t need this stress, stress kills….so he’s literally killing you

  • 42214 June 3, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Try having a child to see if it brings you closer together. Just kidding, divorce him ASAP and move on with your life

  • homer498 June 4, 2015 at 8:34 am

    I had to lookup the stats on this author, and a few of his other articles before I commented on what I already knew. First of all, a masters in marriage & family counseling qualifies you professionally to apply for a PhD program in counseling, and that’s it. Anything else is unregulated quackery that the State of Utah is extremely fond of ignoring thanks to the “church”. Every ex-wife in Utah has a story about “Seeing the bishop” and being told to stick with their emotionally, mentally and physically abusive husband for the sake of the family/church rolls. Additionally his specialization in pornography is more proof of his total quackery. If you know a guy that doesn’t like pornography, he’s either gay or dying; probably dying. Either way …. total nonsense!

  • anybody home June 6, 2015 at 11:28 am

    He’s gone, girl. He’s got somebody else in mind and is using the six months “let me see if I still feel anything for you” to ease his guilt. Or to get the finances in shape so you don’t get much of anything. I’ve been where you are and know how painful it is to lose both a husband and a friend, but you’re kidding yourself to think things are going to change for the better. I agree with the counselor – get some emotional support because you’ll be going through hell for a while, but the best words of advice I received: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” Eventually you’re out of hell and happy again. Feeling your pain, but the guy is NOT worth it. Don’t let him keep driving the decisions about your life. Take charge of your own life – you have one…and don’t even think of killing yourself over a guy. Never.

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