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Can you live in a marriage with NO romantic involvement?

Mark h
Community Member

Hi Everyone.

Thanks for reading this.

I need some advice and support. My wife of 23 years has recently told me that she wants a separation and I have to be honest in saying that this is all down to me and her not having any more trust in the relationship. I haven't cheated on her or been abusive in any way, far from it in fact. Those that know me would say that I am an 'over generous, fun, caring type' but I must admit I have done a lot of stupid stuff in my past. I have suffered from severe anxiety and depression most of my life and I am now 49 years old. I also have a psychologist and psychiatrist who help me get through but I am highly successful and love my family beyond words. My depression and more anxiety is due to an abusive childhood that has continued even to this day. I now live in Australia and my family are overseas so it is considerably easier now but it was very tough growing up.

I am finding it so hard to cope with the fact that my marriage seems to be over and I just want to fix everything but I know I can't. My wife has had her faults too but nothing like mine. She says that she cannot see any kind of 'Romantic' relationship anymore but then sometimes she (after having a few drinks at night) tells me that she still loves me. She went away for three days with a friend and then yesterday she calls to say that she just wanted to hear my voice. We are not arguing, fighting or anything...it's all quite amicable but we have a business together and two teenage boys who live with us in the house. They have been told by the way and are coping fine. We still do the same things but she seems to be moving on with her life much quicker than I am. She hasn't found anybody else but it almost seems like it's a relief that she is not in this anymore. We still sleep in the same bed (but clothed), we still watch TV and chat. She says I am still her best friend but she needs complete space. She also seems to be without emotion too.

I have tried to talk, explain and ask for her forgiveness here but right now, it's a very confusing time. This all happened 4 weeks ago too so it's very new. I have only two friends both of which are husbands of my wife's friends which is awkward. She keeps telling me that I need to manage my own happiness now but it's hard to move on.

I have sobbed so much. I regret everything but should I now move on and do the kindest thing by leaving? I still want to fight for us but if it's only me fighting, then maybe I should admit defeat?

9 Replies 9

Community Member

Good morning Mark

We’re sorry it has taken a little longer than usual to reply but your post is very important to us. Long term marriages like yours deserve deep thought and sensitive discussion. Reading through your life achievements around business, children and marriage, you can consider yourself a success. Although, we tend to mark ourselves harder than people outside our inner circle.

We’ve all done “stupid stuff” we regret and while you don’t describe in detail what these transgressions were, the tone suggests mistakes and embarrassing events rather than malicious intent.

When a spouse tells you it’s over, it’s a shock that will leave you confused and questioning your view of everything that you have achieved and you thought was solid. You feel rudderless and a loss of control and confidence. I know this because I have been here too.

Here is my advice. Don’t try and persuade or put pressure on your wife to save the marriage. You are almost certainly pushing her further way by pleading. She has probably been considering her future for many years. This isn’t an impulsive decision on her part.

As you say, there is only one person in the marriage working to save it. You. You cannot win this fight unless your wife has a change of heart. To have a change of heart she needs to arrive at the decision by herself. Even if you beg, plead and threaten and she gives in and returns, it’s a false victory. It’s not true reconciliation.

Work on yourself. Try and become the man your wife fell in love with all those years ago. Take care of your physical and emotional health. Avoid moping and over use of alcohol. Develop hobbies and interests. Cooperate with your wife and maintain your kind and considerate nature. This is not easy but by your selfless actions you might remind your wife what she is losing.

There are no guarantees in life Mark but you’re still relatively young with a lot to live for.

Mark h
Community Member
Thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot and I have been thinking the same points you raised which is good. I do need to cut down on the alcohol for sure but I am going to the gym and now playing golf too even though some days all I want to do is sleep and not get out of bed. I will be kind to myself even though all of my dreams for the future are lost with my wife it seems. I will give her the space she needs and I have told myself not to plead or talk about reconciliation again unless she wants to talk about it of course. What a huge wake up call but I will get through this. Appreciate your kindness in replying. Take care. Mark

Community Member

Yes, you will get through this. You’re allowed to have sad moments, they are a natural part of grieving.

I know it sounds corny but every time life knocks you down, you have to think of it as an opportunity for personal growth, no matter how bitter or sad you feel.

It sounds like your boys are handling things well and this situation may be an opportunity for you to put some more work in with them. They’ll probably marry some day and you can be the proud and beaming father at the wedding, knowing you have modelled strong male behaviour during adversity.

Community Member
Hi Mark, I’m in a similar boat aged 50 and my wife of 26 years says she doesn’t love me anymore. She says she’s scared to get divorced as she hasn’t worked in 20 years and wouldn’t know how to get a job or fend for herself. We have therefore decided to stay in this loveless marriage and now haven’t spoken since last October. It’s very hard and I have cried my eyes out but with help of friends and my psychiatrist I have realised I need to look after number one. By first healing myself I can then give my love and strength to my amazing daughters. I don’t know how long we can live like this but by filling my life with my children and amazing friends it makes it easier. Plus the last thing I want is to sell our dream house in a fire sale. Stay strong, look after yourself, you never know what the future holds. All the very best. Anthony

Thanks Anthony. That must be so hard for you and I do wish you all the very best for the future. You will get through this and I will too. I am still living in the same house as my wife and my two boys but I know the end is here. The good thing is that we are amicable with each other and even continue to watch movies and have meals together. I know one day I will have to let her go but I am hoping that time will heal us both before that happens. take care of yourself too and remember to smile at something everyday. Best. Mark

Community Member

Dear Mark,

I understand this may not be what you want to hear right now, but I'd like to share as a female, and as my perspective, when we down to the very bottom, Romance may not be the key in terms of making or breaking a marriage, but it is a very important part of our spirit.

Without a little bit of Romance, we can live but certainly not very well.

This may be different from what other people are saying, but from what I read, it seems your marriage is far from 'over'. I can tell that your wife is still expecting something, and she wanted to see some changes from you as a person and the patterns of your relationship.

I'm not going to suggest things like bring flowers to her, or taking her to fancy dinner, that sort of thing, what I see here, is maybe you should open up to your wife. The good the bad and the ugly, rely on her and trust her with everything.

Yeah, I heard myself, and I know this is incredibly difficult.

You know, it's not always a bad thing when 2 people fight, and letting it all out. From what I get, you may lack some of that. Be emotional, be vulnerable, even if you have to fake it at first, it gets easier.

I truly hope you two can work things out, and just, please trust me on this, she really REALLY loves you.

Mark h
Community Member

Thanks so much Alyca. I really appreciate all of your feedback and I do completely understand everything that you have said.

My wife has now said that she wishes to move out and she has found somewhere that will allow her space to understand what she really wants. She has trust issues with me for sure and this is where the problems arise from. I don't know you at all so I hope you don't mind me telling you this but two nights ago my eldest son threw a party here and so my wife and I went out for dinner which was good. We both came back had a few more glasses of wine and then one thing led to another and before I knew it we slept together for the first time in at least the last few months. We hugged,, she told me that she still had feelings for me and we fell asleep in each others arms. The problem is that the very next day, she told me that she was even more confused and whilst I was on that high of 'maybe this can be fixed'...she said that she still needs to move out and that I shouldn't read too much into that night. I have never sobbed so hard today and believe me when I say that I have mental health flaws for sure but I am a good person and have done everything I can do to make her life so happy. I cook, clean, maybe spoil her too much etc but to see this all gone is just devastating. I now feel like I am right back at the start of my separation journey which is incredibly hard.

I really appreciate your kind words. She said that there may be a 'glimmer' of hope for our future which is why she is moving out as otherwise, she would simply ask to sell our property and move on. It's still hard though especially as the word 'glimmer' to me sounds like a very slim chance.

Hi mate and very sorry about the situation.

Can't help but wonder though if you cooked cleaned spoiled ur w and did everything to make her happy , what exactly did she do through all this to make you happy? You know , it goes both ways - or it has to if it's gonna work anyway.


Community Member


It really sounds like things may have become stale and not interesting in your marriage, however, it is salvageable. I would be inclined to focus on you right now and by that, I mean, improving some things that can help you to grow and to become a better person, not only for you, but for her.

I would suggest things like taking up new hobbies, improving you mental and physical wellness, become fit and healthy, let go of things from the past, learn to be happy, invest in helpful reading such as relationship books on how to be the best in your relationship.

You want to take this time to focus on bettering yourself and making yourself the happiest you can be. You want your Wife to see a new you, a more happier, loving and full of life you (not saying you're aren't but there are reasons why she wants space).

Think about what brought you both together in the beginning, think about what attracted your Wife to you, what things she liked about you, think about what changed and from there, put in an action plan to follow and make things great.

You need her to see you in a different, happy and glowing from. If she goes out and dates others, know that she will be missing you but there needs to be a change somewhere in you the dynamic of your relationship. This is not only about pleasing her, it's about pleasing yourself.

Learn to speak with your heart and heal with you head. You are more stronger, powerful, courageous and loving then you realise, you need to see the great in you.

I wish you the best on your journey my friend and know that things can become better, for both of you.