My husband of ten years came home from work and told me he has fallen out of love. I am shocked and devastated. We do everything together — in fact, we just came home from a dream vacation in Hawaii — and he seemed so happy. How can someone love you one minute and not the next? How can I make him love me again?
Unless you have had the experience, it is hard to describe the pain you feel when someone you love comes home and drops an emotional bomb, like the one your husband recently lobbed at you. Most people in your situation feel like they are on an emotional roller coaster, one minute angry, the next minute sad, then lonely, sometimes scared. If you are feeling a little crazed, rest assured that this is normal. I hope you have the support you need during this stressful time.
You are right to question how someone could just fall out of love like you fall off a horse. There’s got to be more to this story. But if indeed your husband’s love has turned on a dime, all the more reason to fight for your marriage. If his mind is that changeable, it’s likely to change again. Love can be rekindled. Even after serious disappointment, even betrayal, couples find their way back to love by working together and making the relationship a priority. Avoid the temptation of falling into his negative mindset. Low times are normal, and they are important signals for a course correction.
About a year after my divorce, I met “Fred”. He seemed very nice, and was very attentive to me, which I really appreciated. We slept together, and now he says he’s in love with me. I don’t feel that way about him and don’t know if I ever will. What should I do?
Time is probably going to give you the answer to this dilemma. When one person is in love and the other isn’t the situation usually gets increasingly uncomfortable. Because you appreciated and accepted Fred’s attention in the beginning of the relationship, you may feel somewhat guilty that you don’t feel the way he feels about you. If this is the case, it will be easy to begin finding fault with him to alleviate your guilt. I imagine it was far more comfortable when he was simply being attentive and not declaring his love for you because there were no overt expectations. However, when one person declares love, this sets up the expectation that the love will be returned. As long as you continue to accept his attention and favors, even if you tell him that you don’t love him, you are still misleading him. I can’t really tell by your question how unsure you are about him. Is it too early in the relationship for you to feel love for him? Is he a good match for you? Would it be OK if he found someone else who would love him as he loves you? Are you ready to be in love? If an exciting guy came along would you go out with him? Could it be that “Fred” is BTN (better than nothing)? How would you feel in his place? What is the kind thing to do? What would you want Fred to do if he were in your place? Once you answer these questions, you should have some clarity about what to do.
I’ve been divorced for two years now, and my ex still calls and e-mails me regularly. We have kids, so she usually starts off talking about them, but she always moves on to how much she loves and misses me, and wants to get back together. I have no such desire. How do I get my ex to let go while maintaining a good co-parenting relationship with her?
The best way to continue co-parenting with your ex and encourage her to let go of you as a love interest is to make sure that you are not reinforcing her fantasies of the two of you reuniting. This is tough because even being friendly can easily be misinterpreted if she still has romantic feelings for you. The kindest way to keep the separation of roles clear is to stick strictly to parenting topics and ignore any other subject. When parents divorce, the spousal unit is dissolved but the parenting unit still remains — ideally, as a co-parenting unit like you and your ex have created. This means that all the roles, rules, and behaviors that belong to the spousal unit no longer are in operation. The spousal (i.e. husband and wife) roles include being best friends, confidants, social partners, financial partners, and sexual partners. When you divorce, you should stop confiding in one another. Don’t discuss your personal life, your feelings, or your private plans unless they include the children.
This is an awkward transition because there is such a fine line between being polite and being too personal for the situation. It’s appropriate to be friendly, but as long as she has romantic feelings for you, you two can’t be close friends. This means you don’t hang out together, even if you’re lonely. Loneliness is a great motivator to get you both to move on with your lives. If she begins to confide in you about her personal life and/or feelings, simply move on to the only subject relevant to your relationship: the children. In terms of social events, your children may want to have you both present at some of their functions; however, you might consider diluting the illusion of the two of you being a couple by including other friends and family members. Under no circumstances should just the two of you go out. I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it: no flirting, no romantic affection, no sexual contact. If you want to draw the line, you have to toe it. A couple of books that might be helpful include What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During and After Divorce by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee; and Parenting After Divorce: A Guide to Resolving Conflict and Meeting Your Children’s Needs by Philip M. Stahl, Ph.D.
Do men and women’s sex drives ever match up in a relationship? One of the reasons my marriage broke up was that we only had sex about twice a month; I would have preferred every day and my ex-wife about once a month. Is there any way to resolve this problem?
The time when a man and woman’s sex drive is most likely to match up is in the very beginning of the relationship during the infatuation stage. After this short period of time, it is normal for you to have a desire discrepancy — or differing preferences for frequency and types of sexual activity. Rarely do you find two people in an ongoing relationship with exactly the same sexual desire level, but happy couples find a way to negotiate their differences in a win-win manner. It sounds like you and your ex-wife were on the right track by each moving in the other’s direction — but you didn’t move quite far enough. Although twice-a-month sex is one of the most common levels of frequency for married couples, it doesn’t come close to your preference of every day, and it wouldn’t suit a lot of individuals with a high level of sexual desire. On the other hand, few couples have sex every single day unless they both put a high priority on sex. Even so, this may be somewhat unrealistic given the demands of everyday life.
Given the fact that frequent sex is very important to you, it would be wise to make this a priority in future relationships. Be up-front about your needs and expectations. In addition, be prepared to be generous with your affection, attention, and cooperation — these vital behaviors will keep the sexual energy high between you.
Keep in mind that variations between two people add spice to your lovemaking. With cooperation and a willingness to learn, you will each invite the other into a lifelong adventure of developing a lengthy sexual repertoire.