I am in some deep relationship trouble. My husband (52 years old) of 8 years (lived together for 5 years before we got married) has told me that he wants to move out. He said we are friends but the passion was gone long ago. My first reaction was to say – I think we should go for help, like therapy or something.
I have been on the Internet looking for books, DVDs or whatever else might help. I feel like I am grasping at straws – I am not sure I want it to end. I think we have both been too lazy to nurture our relationship and now we both don’t even have a clue as to how to fix it now that it is completely broken. Can you give me any kind of advise as to what to do now. He is planning to move out. I am stressing and don’t know what to do.
The sad truth is that far too many couples get lazy about nurturing their relationships only to wake up one day to realize something has gone terribly astray. Keep in mind that the root word of “emergency” is “emergence”! This means that whether the relationship lasts or not, great growth can emerge out of this situation.
So, let’s see if we can unravel some options for your next steps.
First, you said you weren’t sure you want the relationship to end, which means to me you are also not sure you want it to continue. So, as a first step, I invite you to decide what you really want, otherwise any action you take may be moving in the wrong direction.
Keep in mind that “wanting it to last” may come with quite a few changes and a bit of work. Since I do not know the totality of your circumstance, only you can evaluate whether you are willing to take on all that would need to happen in order to make this relationship thrive. While I am a huge advocate of the power one person taking responsibility has for saving a relationship, I also acknowledge that some relationships should not be saved.
Do some soul searching and ask some questions:
Is he a good man that I respect?
Can I accept him the way he is or do I have a list of things he would have to change for me to be happy?
Am I safe in this relationship—emotionally and physically?
Are substances/addictions (alcohol/drugs) impairing our ability to create a healthy relationship?
Do we have common values and lifestyle choices?
Once you determine that you want not only the relationship to last,but that you also want a lasting relationship with him, take a look at yourself.
How have I been showing up in this relationship?
What is it like to be married to me?
What is it like to come home from work to me?
What is it like to make love with me—or how do I respond when my husband wants to make love with me?
Do a little self-observation to see if you can see what he sees and feels and experiences. This will be valuable insight whether you continue with him, or begin a new relationship down the road.
Next, do you know if your husband is willing to try or has he already made up his mind? The challenge you face is that you cannot “make” your husband change his mind and if he is the one calling it off, he is the one with the power. If he has 100% made up his mind, or gotten involved with someone else, your desires will be somewhat irrelevant to the outcome.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take action. I am a firm believer that relationship “issues” serve to grow us as individuals, regardless of whether the relationship lasts. With that said I invite you to take responsibility for your current situation and see what you can do differently to bring about different results (with or without your husband).
What I mean by that is if you think counseling is needed—go, with or without him. If you think being more intimate is needed, see if your husband is willing to work on rekindling the flames. If you think you have been lazy, get motivated. If you think you have “let yourself go,” get in shape. If you feel like you are boring, get involved.
Notice, that none of these suggestions require involving your husband or changing him, as that approach never works. Gain self-mastery first. People change in response to other people, not as a directive from other people.
If your husband is interested in coaching or counseling, or investing some energy into seeing if you can make the relationship healthy again, then I suggest you both give yourselves a period of time during which divorce will not be an option—and living miserably is not either. With those two options eliminated, and some focused attention on what you want to create, you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
I wish you the best,
Intellectual Foreplay Question: If you gave just 5% more attention to growing your relationship, what would you do differently?
Love Tip: Seldom does anything improve from neglect, especially one’s love life.