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squeeky 21st February 2005 05:07 AM

I don't love my wife and never have...
Help! I didn't want to get married but I did anyway. It has been almost 7 years. My wife knows that I don't love her even though I do my best to convince her otherwise. She often accuses me of resenting her for "forcing" me to marry her. She accuses me of not loving her. I do my best to lie to her so she thinks I love her. One time I admitted it with disastrous consequences so I retracted it and said, "That's not what I meant..."

I am respectful and most of the time we get along okay.

We've been to couples counseling. The counselor gave us advise on how to improve our relationship but not how to deal with the real problem. My lack of love makes her unhappy. I am unhappy. I have been faithful even though sometimes I wish I could find someone to love. I don't know what to do.

We have two wonderful children whom I love very much. If it weren't for them, I would have left a long time ago.

Do you stay in this relationship? Can we achieve happiness?

I've spent a lot of time analyzing "why" I chose to get married and I have some theories. (I'd be happy to discuss them if anyone cares but the purpose of this posting is to solicit feedback about what to do in this type of relationship).

Concerned Reader 21st February 2005 01:45 PM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
Dear Squeeky

Under the heading 'Articles' (just on the green column to the left of this post) there are many items which examine love from many perspectives. There is no doubt that if you can be married to the person you love, you are very fortunate.

You wrote: "I am respectful and most of the time we get along okay."

That strikes me as a very good way of living. It may not amount to what you would recognize as love, but it certainly qualifies as a mature and committed way of living your life, honouring your vows, and especially loving your children. I'm sorry you are not happy, but it still looks like a very good approximation of a man doing something which I would recognize as love.

You don't say how old the children are, but there is an old-fashioned view which says you should 'stick together for the sake of the children'. The evidence is patchy (the articles refer to the Exeter study and there has been a more recent one) but to date it appears that being the child of married blood-parents amounts to a subtle advantage.

There are no invariable rules here, so if you broke up the marriage the children would be alright and your relationship to them would continue, but it would probably change.

The following is purely personal and based only on my own observations.

When marriages break up it introduces more change than the person who initiated it may expect. If the marriage was hell on earth (violent, abusive, destructive) everyone would say that it is probably best to end it. But if the marriage was 'ho-hum' and workable, then it is not clear that initiator is going to be much happier outside the marriage than they were in it. This goes double if the problems within the marriage are actually to do with the attitudes and behaviours which undermined the marriage. They just take their unhappiness to a new place, but this time they are a bit poorer and more alone.

Subsequent relationships may not be anything like as straight forward as the pool of prospective partners shrinks. They may include complicated second families, and statistically they tend to last for a shorter time.

The children of the first marriage don't adopt a studied neutrality in this. They may not say much outright, but they do hold their own opinions in private. They hold them very, very strongly. I have seen many adults shocked when their child does not want to endorse their new world-view, and I'm getting to the stage of wanting to say in an exasperated tone "What did you expect?"

From what I see, the children of divorced parents tend to re-classify the relationship and downgrade it from something unique, something you only get one of, to a special-status friendship. This sounds good, until you see that other non-parents are eligible for the same status - such as step-fathers and step-mothers. There is nothing quite so galling as finding one is obliged to compete, stand in line, or take turns for one's own children.

So if I were a betting person, I would say 'back the marriage'. Find a way to fix it, improve it, or make it more tolerable because the alternatives are much riskier. Leaving the marriage might work, sure, you might find exactly the right person, but if you come unstuck then you could be much worse off than you are at present.

Make the decision to leave only after you have tried everything else. Be very sure that the marriage is the source of your unhappiness, because if the source is inside you, then it will just travel with you.

On a note about the marriage: was there something unusual about the circumstances which affected your decision then and is still operating now? I know some people marry and regret that decision - they sometimes post on this board - but you went on to have two children. That would normally be taken to indicate satisfaction rather than unhappiness.

Made My Bed 21st February 2005 07:00 PM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
17 years ago I married a woman I didn't love. We were good friends and got along great but there was no love on my part. After 15 years on the dating scene I hadn't fallen in love with anyone so I chose to go with someone I was at least comfortable with. The sex was terrible and we refrained from sex for long periods at a time. Now, in my late 40's I see myself getting old and very much regret having never been in love with anyone. I feel I am more capable of love now than I was in my teens. 20. or 30's. Why I suddenly started to crave the feeling of being truly in love at this late date I'll never know. I guess the thought of a life lived without love is just too much to bear.

I have children too, they are still quite young and I feel a great responsibility to be there for them. So for me, despite feeling very depressed about all this, there are few if any choices. Everyone has to make a decision, especially with children involved, but I'd hate to see anyone else end up in my shoes.

Squeeky2 21st February 2005 10:10 PM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
Thank you, I will read the articles.

I guess I'll go into why I got married in the first place. I would really like to know if the problems would follow me.

I have never been assertive about how I feel. I grew up in an environment that taught me to conceal my feelings to avoid ridicule and pain. I am an attractive, fit, smart, ambitious, moral person, but when I got married, I was young, naive and lacked self-confidence.

When I first met my wife, I was not attracted to her in the least. However, after she persisted for several weeks (we saw each other often in church-related singles activities) I agreed to go on a date with her. She convinced me that I should take her snow skiing because she knew of my interest in skiing and said that she used to snow ski competitively. I thought that it would be great to ski with someone who could ski better than me and hoped that she would teach me a few things. I viewed it as a casual date with someone whom I would never have considered as a potential spouse or even as a girlfriend.

She really wasn't all that good of a skier. On the 3rd run, she fell and hurt her knee bad enough to require surgery. She had just quit her job and didn’t have insurance or any money. I felt somewhat responsible because I had pushed her to go on more challenging terrain. So, I stayed around to take care of her while she recovered. I brought her flowers, movies, meals, etc. I did all that I could while politely trying to take leave of her. Thus began our relationship.

Things were complicated by the fact that that very same week, I had taken another girl from the same church setting, on a first date skiing and she had also fallen and had damaged her knee bad enough to require surgery too. So, they both showed up on Sunday following the skiing adventure to see each other on crutches. Of course two people on crutches in the same church get a lot of attention so people began talking. Another girl that I had been on a few dates with also chimed in to let everyone know of our relationship. To summarize, I had created a true social debacle.

I didn’t want to date my wife, but because she persisted, I acquiesced so as to not hurt feelings. I thought I could go a little longer and then break it off nicely. In fact, I tried several times to break it off but each time my wife’s persistence kept us together. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. When the time came and out of a feeling of duty, I proposed. Most women want diamonds and the bigger, the better. In-line with my feelings for her and not wanting to get married, I did a despicable thing; I bought a plane gold band—as cheap as they come. I didn’t engrave it either because I planned on taking it back. But she consented to be married.

As the marriage date loomed near, I hoped that someone would try and talk some sense into me. Even during the marriage ceremony itself, I was screaming in my head for someone to stop me or at least let me know that I didn’t “have” to get married. (Just to be clear, I had free agency and could have stopped it at any time.) But I put all those things out of my mind as “normal” and that everyone probably is a little reluctant. I proceeded by ignoring my heart and conscience. I couldn’t dispel thoughts that my wife’s parents had spent a lot of time and money preparing for the union. I carefully reviewed all of the cerebral facts like the fact that my roommates had just been married and I needed to find a new place to live. And that I didn’t know of anyone with whom I would rather be at that point in my life at the ripe old age of 22. I perceived that my opportunity to meet other eligible women was not that great having just moved from a small city to the largest city in the state. I asked myself, “Is this my best chance for happiness? If I hold out for someone ‘better’, will they really exist or are they a figment of my imagination?” But in the end, the overriding factor was that I couldn’t break my wife’s heart. So, I put on my happy façade and ignored the inner turmoil.

That was almost 7 years ago when we got married and now not hardly a day goes by that I don’t regret making that decision. I wish I had suffered the angst of separation back then. If I could undo it all like I can “undo” a mistyped word, I would. But, on the other hand, I really love my children. I want the best for them. I would like them to see a happy and loving relationship. I would like to feel fulfilled….

Now, my question to everyone who has been patient enough to read this, is not loving someone justification for separation to at least find out if you can be happier apart knowing that the other person loves you? Should I start over now, while I am still young (I’ll be 30 soon)? Can I be happier? I plan on being very much involved in the lives of my children and I may even spend more time with them because I won't be coming up with reasons to work late or to go on a long bike ride but in the end, what will happen to my kids? Is there really someone out there with whom I could be happier? Is it my marriage that is causing my unhappiness or something else? Will I make the same mistakes or different mistakes with similar consequences?

Sierra 22nd February 2005 12:01 AM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
Whenever I post my stuff gets either deleted before anyone sees it, gets locked or I get banned from the forum.

I am sorry you (several) feel the way you do, but this is what I mean that people need to spend a great deal of time looking realisticly at people and relationships. If you make bad choices up front some of this stuff is not fixable.

One poster in here is 17 but figures she will wait till 19 to get married. In 5 years she will have two kids, a whole host of new problems and be back in here asking for more advice.

The honest answer is that there may not be a fix to the problems you created.


smackie9 22nd February 2005 03:29 AM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
Dear Squeeky, You have sacrificed so much to make everyone else happy. If you feel you are missing out on the thrill of love and passion, then go for it. Being in a loveless marriage is like being in prison. You are obviously are very lonely and feeling trapped. You only live once. I think you've already made your mind up, haven't you.

Squeeky2 22nd February 2005 04:17 AM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
Yes, I really want to separate but I don't know if it's the right thing to do. Is there a right thing to do in a case like this? The longer I wait, the more we both will wish I had done it sooner. But, maybe I could go on being unhappy for several more years.

She knows that I am not happy but I avoid discussing it. She has had dreams for years of me running off either by myself or with someone.

Has anyone divorced from an unhappy marriage and found a fulfilling and loving marriage?

Squeeky2 22nd February 2005 04:19 AM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
If you were the wife in this situation, what would you want?

bal 22nd February 2005 02:23 PM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
Hi Squeaky! Indeed you have a dilemma.
For what it's worth, I've been married for nearly ten years, and have five beautiful (most of the time!) children.
I married my wife on the basis of several things:
1. We'd already had two children, and I felt I had to do the 'honourable' thing
2. I'd been offered a job in the US and we needed to marry before emigrating to avoid visa compliations
3. I liked her more than any of the other women I'd been out with since my most 'emotional' relationship ended
She has told me to leave previously and perceives a lack of true love in me. However she also confesses to feeling the same about me! (She also liked me the most of anyone she'd been out with since her most loving relationship ended).
In summary now, if anything we've grown closer together. We're more attracted to one another than we ever have been, have a better sex life (when we manage to find some peace and quiet and energy!) and are about to emigrate to Australia for a 'new life'.
We have heated rows from time to time and both have some emotional hangups, but I can't see things falling apart now - we been through too much and have too much together. I couldn't conceive how upset the children would be if we ever split up.
I think we were both emotionally weak when we met. I probably still am, and she's the more expressive one, both positively and negatively!
I can't really advise you on what to do, but thought it might help if you felt that you weren't alone in having these thoughts.

smackie9 22nd February 2005 03:04 PM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
If my husband didn't love me and he was misrable, I would send him off myself. I couldn't live like that. But you will get both opinions here, to stay and not to stay. Both decisions are painful.

Kate 22nd February 2005 09:26 PM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
What is love? There's a big question. Is it feeling warm fuzzy or hot passionate feeligsn for soemone or is it a commitment or is it a desire to make the other person happy?

Is it something we feel and then do or do and then feel?

Is it about what we get out of it or what we give?

Can it grow or does it just come and go?

Some more thoughts here and some ideas here on how to make it happen.


smackie9 23rd February 2005 02:58 AM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
Dear Squeeky, There is no right or wrong here. Just follow your heart.

squeeky 28th February 2005 03:57 AM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
Well, I told my wife that I wanted to separate. After the tears and the initial shock and a sleepless night, I think we're working through it and will stay together in large part due to her desire to stay together. I was relieved that I could finally be completely honest. I half expected her to throw me out of the house but she put that burden on me-- if I wanted to leave she would let me but she wants to work it out. I was completely honest with her. We are going to go to couples counseling again to try and work things out. She refused to give up because she loves me.

I think that one of the biggest comforts was the advice that I received from my religious leader. He shared some powerful insights that I would like to share with you. He said that two people, who are willing to work at it, could achieve a happy relationship. I believe him and therefore I’m going to try and repair my marriage.

Thank you to everyone who has commented here I appreciate the different perspectives.

justmarried 7th March 2005 10:15 AM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
wow! your situation is fairly similar to mine. I have recently seperated from my wife. We married last august but have been together over 7 yrs. I realise I got married to "get married" and not "be married". 6 weeks after the honnymoon I admited that i was not in love with her any more and although I tryed desperatly to sort my head out after that and convince her I did I eventually had to admit to myself that we did not have a future and it could not go on like this!

squeeky 9th March 2005 02:49 AM

Re: I don't love my wife and never have...
Why is it that so many people can sympathize with this plight? Is it really true that we married the "wrong" person? Do you believe that there is a right person or only a "right" way to have a relationship? In other words, if both people in the relationship do everything right and you get along, does that constitute a successful marriage or is there supposed to be something else?

Also regarding your post above, do you feel that you made the right decision or do you have regrets? If you have regrets, do you think it is normal "break-up angst" or do you feel it is something else?

I don't know what the "right" thing is. Right now, it seems like the right thing to do in my situation is to try and work things out with my wife. I'm trying to focus on her good qualities.

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