Relationship Connection: Should I just accept my loveless marriage?

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Question

My husband and I are in our early 60s and have been married for 42 years. He says he has not been in love with me for the last 30 years. We have 5 children, 8 grandchildren and a cordial friendship. We sleep in separate rooms and have for 10 years. He says I snore so he started sleeping in the basement.  

Our last child just left home, so it is more apparent than ever that our relationship is seriously lacking. I’m not sure what to do. I don’t intend to get a divorce because I love him and we have been married a long time, but I’m sad that we don’t have a loving and caring relationship.

The truth is that for years I anguished over the lack of love from him but gradually the pain has subsided. He has no desire to be near me or hold my hand or show me any affection. He never talks with me about anything other than his day at work, or the weather. He seems perfectly content with things the way they are.

I wish we had a real marriage relationship but I’m terrified to bring anything up. Sharing my feelings never helped anyway and I’m afraid I will start feeling that same old pain again.  At this point in life is it better to just deal with what is, rather than make things worse?

Answer

You’ve spent years trying to ignore the awful pain of emotional and physical abandonment from your husband. Now that your children have all left the home, the old pain is bubbling to the surface. Because your husband has avoided and neglected you for so many years, it’s completely normal for you to feel this pain. It’s destructive to any marriage when one partner acts like they don’t need the other person.

Even though your pain doesn’t matter to your husband, it still matters. It’s a sign that you opened up to love and that you have the ability to love another person. He is important to you as someone who can love you and someone to whom you can show love.

All marriages require accepting things we can’t change. It’s one thing to accept personality differences or parenting philosophies, but accepting that your husband hasn’t loved you for 30 years would be unbearable for any wife. You’ve chosen to stay in this marriage, so let’s talk about how you can endure the conditions of a loveless marriage.

First, are there things you need to be accountable for that may have created this situation? His emotional abandonment is an extreme reaction, for sure, but if there are things that you may have done that hurt him earlier in the marriage, see what you can do to take accountability and repair.

Next, recognize that the pain of your marriage can make you want to numb out or it can propel you toward seeking answers of how you can build a life full of purpose. It’s easy to hide in hobbies, numb out with screens, or find other ways to distract yourself. Your pain is real and you don’t need to numb it out. As you build a life with purpose and meaning, it will help you cope with a difficult marriage.

I’m not suggesting you avoid your husband. If you are staying in this marriage out of hope that somehow he can change his heart, then look for openings when you can connect with him. If he is open to talking, taking a walk, or sharing an experience, then make room for those opportunities. However, please don’t sit around and wait for him to be available. You have much to create and offer your family and your community.

If you are choosing to say, then you do have to accept the reality of how he feels and how he’s treating you. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to suppress those feelings and live beneath your privilege. Let the pain remind you that love and connection is important to you. Find ways to express and offer your heart to those around you. There are many lonely hearts who could use the empathy, compassion, and support you can offer.
Stay connected!

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

Instagram: @geoffsteurer    

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • ladybugavenger October 5, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    You’ve been in a loveless marriage for 30 years. You got 12 good years out of it. 42 years, why stop now? Just suck it up and live your life together, separately.

    Orrrrrrrr divorce him and throw a party ?

    Make a choice lady

  • digger October 6, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Get Out ! Move On, BE HAPPY< LIFE IS SHORT!!
    Better Yet KICK HIS BUTT OUT N YES THROW A PARTY< AND IF YOUR LDS< LEAVE IT!

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