When your spouse says “I don’t love you anymore” you can be reasonably certain your marriage is beyond salvation. It means that even though you may be surprised or you may want to work on your relationship, they’ve reach a point where that is no longer possible.
Kimberly had been married for eighteen years when her husband told her he didn’t love her anymore. Here’s Kimberly:
He presented me with that statement and politely asked me what I thought. I said, “Well, obviously you’ve been thinking about this for awhile, so I need some time.”
I was surprised. At the time I knew that marriages had up and down periods. I knew something was wrong, because he had been very distant for quite awhile and it took a lot of coaxing and convincing for him to actually tell me what the problem was. But I was definitely surprised that he didn’t love me anymore. I thought maybe he felt that there were things that we needed to work, but just to say that was a jolt. Yes, for sure.
I took a few days to think about it and I came back to him and said, “Let’s get some counseling. Maybe there’s things that we can change.” And he said, “No, you’re not going to change and it won’t work.”
Also at that point we had actually decided that we would stay together for the kids. “So, okay, we’ll live together. There’s no love or you have no more love but we can still stay together for the kids because they’re still pretty young.”
That was okay for a couple of months and then at Christmas time we went to my parents for Christmas and he was very uncomfortable there, couldn’t wait to get out of there. When we did go home after, he went out by himself and didn’t come home for about three days.
When he arrived home, he arrived to a note that I had written to him that basically said, “If you can’t be a husband or a father, you can’t live here anymore.” And so he left. Went and lived with his mother for awhile while we went through the proceedings to get officially divorced.
I was torn. I still loved him, so I was sad to see him go. On the other hand, I felt if he’s not even going to be bothered to hang around the house at Christmas time with the kids, then staying together for the kids is hypocritical because he wasn’t around for the kids. So, that’s why I wrote that note. “If you’re not going to be here for me or your children, then what the heck’s the point?” To my mind there’s obviously nothing left there. There’s no point in hanging on.
The Divorce Coach Says
I was the one to say, “I don’t love you anymore,” that I wanted a divorce. Like Kimberly, my husband was surprised. It wasn’t that he didn’t know my deep unhappiness and dissatisfaction with our marriage but maybe he hadn’t taken our previous conversations seriously enough. I think he’d been expecting a list of behaviors that he could work on. I couldn’t give him that list because I felt that if I did, he might work on them and then expect everything to be OK. I felt it would never be OK and to ask him to work on our relationship would be deceptive, holding out false hope.
At his request, I did agree to try … we even went on a family vacation which I will forever remember as the worst vacation I’ve been on. It quickly became evident to me that I couldn’t work on our relationship. I was past the point of no return.
We did not discuss a separation (which may have been helpful) and nor did we discuss staying together to raise our children. I like that Kimberly and her husband discussed this as an option even though it eventually didn’t work out. I suspect that often times it’s just one spouse who decides to stick it out for the sake of the children and the other spouse has no idea and then there’s no negotiation about what staying together for the children means in terms of acceptable/expected behaviors.
Ultimately, he started to see a therapist and I agreed to attend a meeting with that therapist. It was in the therapist’s office, with the therapist’s assistance that I think my husband truly heard that our marriage was over. So working with a therapist might be what you need to do.
You might also find these Tips For Coping When Your Spouse Wants A Divorce helpful.
I do wonder what my ex would say about the conversation .. would he say he was surprised? Would he say it was unfair? Would he say he understood?
Are you dealing with mental illness? What’s the biggest challenge for you? What advice have you found particularly helpful?