Can A Marriage Be Saved By One Spouse? (Part 1)
Dear Dr. Harley,
I am currently having marital problems. I am 29 and my wife for 7 yrs. is 28. We have 2 girls 2 & 5. The day before Mother's Day, my wife told me she was not in love with me any longer. She had been feeling this way for some time but never revealed her true feelings to me until now. To her, our marriage is over and there is no chance for recovery. She is determined to find her "happiness" somewhere else. All this time I thought I was providing her with all the happiness she wanted -- emotionally, mentally and physically. I don't drink, smoke, and I'm not abusive to her or the children. But for some reason I'm not worth a second chance.
She wants to continue to stay here until we can financially afford to separate. But I'm living an emotional roller coaster. I never thought she would stop loving me. What can I do to save my marriage when she is so determined to be by herself. She tells me she wants to find her happiness with herself. What can I do? Any advice for what feels to be a hopeless case? I will always love her and do not want to lose her.
I am not printing my answer to T.C.'s question. Instead, I am just printing the letter to show what happens when marital problems are confronted too late. T.C.'s wife did not tell him what was bothering her because she did not want to be a complainer. Little by little her love for him diminished until it had completely disappeared.
T.C. is asking the question, "can one spouse save a marriage" when the other spouse has walked out the door. It's a very different question than the question N.R. is asking. In N.R.'s case, her husband loves her. But he doesn't want to put any effort into his marriage because his needs are already being met. If he waits much longer, however, he'll be asking me T.C.'s question because N.R. will have walked out on him too. Don't let your marriage get so bad that your spouse finally gives up on you. Those marriages can be turned around, too, but it's much more difficult and the process is more painful. If your spouse tells you that there is a problem, get it fixed now, while you both still love each other. And if, like T.C., your spouse never complains, but may be harboring resentment, fill out my Love Busters Questionnaire and Emotional Needs Questionnaire anyway. It may uncover problems that need to be explained to you.