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Losing the desire to try and make marriage work
Our marriage has been struggling for well over a year, W says she hasn’t had any feelings for me for several years now. We are both in our forties and have been together since teenagers. Our marriage turned into a routine after kids came along and we never prioritised “us time” for a long time. I believe W took interest in another guy who was showing her attention and was secretly meeting with him last year. When I found out I felt devastated, betrayed, ashamed etc. I tried everything I could to get our marriage back on track. W wanted nothing of it, acted very selfishly for a long time and had no interest in working on the marriage. I went through many ups and downs and said we need to separate throughout the year as I didn’t see that the marriage could work if only one of us was interested.
Well, we have both made it this far, definitely not in a perfect position, W has been sleeping in the spare room for a year now, we are amicable and things are better on the day to day, but that is just because we agreed to treat us as though we are just friends and there is no expectations of any quick change. I am still gutted and wish things could progress, but I understand that if she doesn’t feel anything then you can’t push it. For me to be able to live my life without treating W as a companion, it is very confusing and I struggle to remain level in my feelings.
I can’t act normally because I would want to give a hug, hold hands or reach over for a kiss, none of that is what I should be doing if I am respecting her wishes of trying to work on a friendship basis first. We have good days every now and again, but then I get knocked back to reality when she goes and spends her time in the spare room and continues to sleep separately. She knows I struggle with this, but just says she is sorry that she is hurting me but she doesn’t know what she wants. She says she has to get over the hurt that I caused her by telling her it was over through the year, and is finding it hard to move forward.
The longer this goes, the more I find myself asking why I’m still hanging around. It doesn’t feel that she will ever have feelings for me again, she just wants to be friends. The scary thing is, the longer I live like this, I find myself having less and less feelings for her, it’s hard to keep trying when you don’t feel any love or affection in return. Looking back, there are plenty of things I have put up with that I would want changed if we work things out.
I'm really sorry to hear about how things have been going with W. I can absolutely understand how the events leading up to today would lead you to feel a little bit confused about what you should do from here on.
I am in a similar position, and relate to a lot of what you've spoken about. My ex and I were not married, but we got a dog together mid last year after about 3.5 years living together and ended up splitting this May. It ended on good terms and we were committed to remaining friends, but I do still have feelings for her, and she knows this. We just make do the best we can, but we are absolutely respectful of the fact that we are broken up.
A lot of friends have asked why we share a dog, why we stay friends, why we see each other one on one regularly...and I also ask myself the same question often. As you say, it can be confusing and it's tough to continue to remember that there are now boundaries that weren't there before.
I think the best thing that has helped me has been to, as you are starting to do, ask myself why I'm still hanging around. Personally, the biggest doubts get raised by other people I speak to, or from well-intentioned but impersonal internet posts and articles, but aren't things that come from some bad feeling inside of me. I know the reasons why the friendship we now have is important to me, and worth maintaining, and being really clear about that helps with the day-to-day interactions.
You also mentioned your own feelings and thoughts are perhaps changing, and you are seeing a few more negatives in the relationship. Things that you wouldn't be happy with if you were to get back together at some point. I think it's really valuable to consider those things, and I hope they help to ease the uncertainty and fear of the change in your relationship. It is definitely scary to have your life upended and I'm really sorry to hear that it's happened to you. I imagine there's going to be many really tough and confusing days ahead, so please feel free to keep us updated here.
Thank you James for taking the time to reply.
It just remains so confusing and hard, I have always felt (for 12 months) that the reason W always says she doesn’t know what she wants and hasn’t made a decision is not because she thinks we should work things out, but because she doesn’t want to loose the lifestyle and life we have built and enjoyed together. Needing to sell the house etc etc as well as impacts on the kids and social environment.
I have always been of the attitude that I need to make a decision on how I feel in the relationship and my feelings for W, not basing my decision on the risk of what might happen or how life will look due to my decisions. I understand my life will be turned upside down if we did split, but I am confident that I would survive and be able to make new life in some shape or form.
W has always been thrifty and careful with money and I am sure the thought of losing some of the financial security we have would be very hard for her to accept which I am sure is a big reason for her not wanting to leave.
Just checking in to see how you are going?
Has there been any improvement, or just more of the same?