Dear Dr. Bill,
My husband and I have been married for 19 years and have two teenagers. But I don’t feel like I love him anymore. I care about him and the thought of hurting him kills me. But we are very different — he’s quiet, reserved, and prefers stay home watching TV. I’m outgoing and like to try new things and travel. For years I’ve tried not to let these differences bother me, but lately everything about him seems to annoy me — to the point I feel I can’t live with him anymore.
I’ve told my husband how I feel and he says that he’s willing to try to change because he doesn’t want to lose me. We’re still friends— but I really don’t love him like a wife should. So should do we do?
I’d encourage you to back up a bit. When you made your wedding vows, did you promise to stay with your husband “until my feelings change”?
Marriage—and love for that matter—is about so much more than feelings. From a Christian perspective, marriage is based on commitment, self-sacrifice and putting our spouse’s needs ahead of our own.
Your feelings are telling you that your marriage lacks excitement and intimacy. But remember that you were once very much in love with your husband. It’s likely that while you you’ve been raising your kids, you haven’t been intentional about keeping your marriage alive. Relationships, like cars, need regular maintenance. Without it, engines fail and couples grow apart.
The good news is that your husband is willing to work on the relationship. Many women who’ve been married for 20 years would KILL for a husband like that.
The question is, are you willing to work on the marriage? If so, the best place to start is by seeing an experienced marriage and family therapist. He or she can help get your marriage back on track—and believe it or not—you may find that feelings you thought were gone forever will begin to return.
Thanks for writing Jackie. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.