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Do you crave romantic love?
By Andrew Rusbatch
Today's newsletter and team consultation centers around the issue of one partner falling out of love, and not knowing what he wants. The issue came to the fore when he admitted that he had been having an affair, and the feelings in the relationship have been turbulent since that time.
The wife is committed to saving the relationship and doesn't know how to react, and the husband is not sure whether he wants to stay in the relationship.
There are also jealousy issues in the relationship, and the wife finds it hard when her husband gets attention on any level from females, even if it appears only as friends.
The idea of a partner wanting out of the relationship is hard enough, but this client is finding it hard with the uncertainty that her husband feels about their future. Having an affair has made him re-evaluate his future in the relationship and added to her feelings of insecurity.
I have removed any references that may identify the client, but felt that the response to this client is worthy of sharing with so many other couples out there in similarly harrowing circumstances.
Here is my response:
Thanks for your email.
I have read your email closely and looked at the situation you are in, and have a few areas that I consider worth mentioning and some areas for you to work on.
The situation you find yourself in is not uncommon, when your husband tells you he loves you but is not "in love". This would have to be one of the most commonly used phrases when it comes to identifying why there is a problem in the relationship, yet the explanation in itself serves little purpose.
I believe this phrase is used a lot due to the confusion surrounding what we are expected to do when the romantic love for your partner starts to wane, which it will at some stage in the relationship. All marriages and relationships go through stages, from infatuation to lust, to romantic love or the honeymoon period, to utter chaos and the spawning of real love.
The fact that you have been married for a number of years would indicate you are well past the honeymoon stage, and into what we call real love. Real love is when you realize your partner is not perfect, but you still love them. You love them for their differences rather than in spite of them.
However the trap people fall into with marriage is that real love does require maintenance. Every day we are called to find new ways of loving our partner and expressing this love as we grow in love and understanding together.
If you neglect the need to maintain your love, it becomes easy to fall into habits, perhaps take each other for granted, and one day wake up and find your relationship isn't at all what you had imagined it would be.
I think this is the stage you are at. Ending the affair has finally made your husband sit up and realize that the relationship he has with you is not as strong as it once was. Saying he isn't "in love" with you doesn't mean it's over.
All it means is that he has forgotten how to love. You have taken each other for granted for so long that you have both stopped making the effort.
Take a look at Chapter 7 of Book 2: Love is a Doing Word. This is going to teach you and your husband new ways to show love for each other and reassure and support each other in the relationship.
The love that your husband felt in the affair was lust, and comparing the intensity of this feeling with your marriage will cause him to re-evaluate what he feels for you.
You need to point out to him that the lust he felt for the other woman was a temporary thing, and if he had stayed with her it would have died and either moved to the next stage or the relationship would have ended.
Every relationship goes through this. Yours did, and the relationship with the other woman would have too. Perhaps your husband fell in love with the lust. But it was just lust, not real love. Real love is what has kept you two together all this time.
So that's the first point. The second point I want to look at is your need for reassurance. I noted your reaction when your husband was friends with a married woman several years ago, and fate meant you were able to move your husband away from this situation.
This didn't fix the jealousy or mistrust however, and this is an issue I feel you need to work on. When your husband talks to other women, what is your first motivation to react?
I want you to look at your motivations for jealousy and identify what part of your past this touches on. These feelings may touch on some past wounds, either from a past relationship or a childhood memory.
I would encourage you to spend some time thinking about your motivations and feelings, and whether you can revisit this time and find new ways to process the hurt and jealousy.
The thing you need to remember here is that your husband had every opportunity to continue the affair and leave you, but he didn't. He stayed in the marriage because he loves you and is committed to you.
This gives you a good foundation upon which you can look at dealing with your issues and recreating the love that once existed in your marriage.
There are a number of exercises that you can do either on your own or as a couple, and these are at the end of every chapter. I have every faith that if you can look at new ways of recreating romantic love then you have every chance you can turn this around.
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