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When Your Husband Doesn't Love You ....

Dec 11, 1995

How can I get my husband to spend more time with me? He works and works and works and even when he spends time at home he's still working. He's not spending quality time at home or helping to make any lifelong memories with his family. He's always tense, and unable to relax. He doesn't talk to the kids except for yelling at them. He doesn't respond when I suggest that we work on our relationship, and he won't read anything on the topic. Marriage counseling has brought only a temporary result. If I say that I want a relationship after so many years, he says that I'm accusing him. What can I do?
Lonely and Frustrated

I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. I think that many couples are struggling with similar difficulties. There are both short term and long-term methods that might help rekindle the relationship with your husband. For the short-term, even though marriage counseling has had only a temporary effect, it might be very helpful to try again, with a more intensive "marriage-encounter" program.

One of them that you might try is called "Retrouvaille", which means "rediscovery". I have a link to their web page on our sub-page, the "HeartThread Resource Guide". They have offices all over the world: a good place to start would be their Washington, DC area office at (301) 257-6406. Retrouvaille is a Catholic program, but they welcome couples from any faith.

The program takes place over a weekend. Their literature quotes one couple as saying, "We are finally (after 18 years) getting to know each other in a new light. We like what we see and we are experiencing true love, as we never thought possible."

I think that in every relationship, both partners need to learn and grow and take responsibility. (Which is why a third party is often helpful.) Given that fact, the healthiest attitude for each partner to take is that "everything depends upon me." In other words, if I don't love the other adequately, what can I say?

Now for the long-term strategy. I don't believe that one can endure this type of situation without thinking about the long-range aspect of the relationship. If you stay married until you die, then you may have until you're both eighty or ninety to resolve the situation. If you believe that there is an after-life, then you have a very long time indeed to win your husband's heart of true love.

When you have children, you might think about their feelings after you and your husband reach the ripe old age of eighty-five, and tell them, "We finally, after all this time, can tell you that we're head over heels in love!"

I only mention the issue of patience because sometimes people take many years to grow and change. Isn't it basic that each person needs to learn how to give unselfish love to the other? Isn't it also true that many, many people have never received adequate unselfish love, and have never learned how to give it to others, much less feel it themselves?

If that is true, then a husband or wife may find themselves dealing with a spouse who is emotionally damaged or underdeveloped. What can one do, in that case? Doesn't it feel sometimes like you're pouring water into the sand? I suggest that you pursue four methods.

First, realizing that he needs to receive more love in order to develop as a person, commit yourself to the lifelong prospect of simply giving parental love to him, again and again and again.

Second, realizing that he doesn't feel close enough to you, as a spouse, serve him and love him with the old-fashioned method of "courting". What was courting, after all, but a concerted effort to shower the other with love and affection, smiles and gifts, until a very real feeling of love was returned?

Third, communicate to the degree that you both can truly understand each other. Communicate with the commitment that your mutual communication will educate you both about better ways to build a marriage of true love. True love requires education as well as effort, and couples need to embark on that journey together.

Fourth, examine yourself with real honesty. Are there things about you that you might change that bother your husband? On the positive side, are there things that you might alter that would inspire him or attract him more?

Finally, never give up! As I told my four year old today, "True love is the strongest power in the universe." EVERYONE likes true love.

Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”

~ Deus est auctor amoris et decoris. ~

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Peter Falkenberg Brown
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