Q: I have been married for 9 years and have two children. Recently my wife told me that she was unhappy with me always working on house projects every weekend and not having enough time together. She said she feels like a single parent and that her feelings for me have changed. She does not love me anymore. I have not been trying to avoid my wife or children. I thought it was the right thing to do. I told my wife that I would stop doing things for them and do more things “with” them. My wife hurt me deeply by saying she does not love me. I love her very much and want her to love me again. What can I do to?
A: Patrick. Try to keep in mind that your wife not loving you is not about your lovability, only about your current situation. If she loved you before, she probably now has accumulated too much pain and anger to feel love. Don’t think that she can quickly change that. You will need to first determine whether she will work with you to spend more time together and try to restore a healthier emotional environment in your family. Do NOT make any demands on her to quickly change her feelings and try to love you again. Your best strategy is to reassure her that you understand that she has lost her love for you and you don’t blame her. Then, don’t look for any immediate change of heart on her part. However, if she’s willing to work with you, then see if she will make a lot of plans for scheduling in time together – time as a family as well as time as a couple away from the kids. Also, go to the section of the Marital First Aid Kit that deals with emotional-starvation syndrome. Read it and have her read it. Then try what it suggests.
Patrick. If you do find it difficult to break free of house projects, then consider that you may be very uncomfortable with emotional intensity. If this is the case, consider joining a psychotherapy group that focuses on relationship skills. You would learn a lot but also it would de-condition whatever shame or anxiety leads you to escape into responsibility. It may also be that you have a hard time playing in your time together. I don’t know but consider that as well. – Bryce Kaye