Hello Dr. Buckingham
My heart is very heavy because my husband and I have been married 34 years, and although he claims that he loves me and he wants to remain married, I don’t feel his love. He doesn’t show any affection. When I share my concerns, it seems to me that it’s not important to him. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is a good provider and has been a good father. But as for me, I feel lonely in this relationship. I don’t feel loved by my husband and there’s no intimacy. What hurts me the most is that we are both Christian and we should be helping others concerning marriage. After 30 plus years, I have concerns. I don’t feel loved, Is my marriage over?
Dear Lonely Wife,
The absence of love does not mean that your marriage is over.
Let me explain.
As most of us think about love, we associate it with optimistic thinking and positive behavior. Some of us even believe that love conquers all and that relationships can weather any storm if love is present.
At one point in my life I believed this, but not anymore. Not to sound too pessimistic, but I have witnessed too many marriages end in which I was convinced that love was present; although many would question whether love was truly present if the marriage ended.
Knowledge of love and how it works provides a road map for developing healthy self-concepts and relationships. Everyone desires love, but we often don’t know what it is or how to get it. In talking with couples about the meaning of love, I found that a good number of people agree that love is an emotion of compassion. Some individuals report feelings of exhilaration and excitement when they are in love, while others report strong, intense, and indescribable feelings towards another person. Moreover, a widespread consensus is that love should be untainted.
Personally, I define love as a powerful, compassionate and intangible emotion that directs the heart of women and men. This means that the heart is the control center that manages the emotions that influence our love. In reality, our hearts and emotions, like other things in our lives, change with conditions and circumstances. We withdraw or limit our love when our emotions are unstable and more often than not, we end up hurting others and ourselves in the process. Although we do not like the pain that is associated with withdrawing or limiting our love, we do so to manage our emotions and/or to protect our hearts.
When love is absent in relationships, I have found that compassion is lost or minimized due to internal suffering or hurt. Individuals who are in distress are often incapable of expressing love in a compassionate manner. I have also found that good-hearted people say and do bad things when they feel betrayed, wronged, belittled, unappreciated or disrespected.
Instead of expressing your concerns and talking about how you do not feel loved, try to figure out what is going on with your husband. When people change their course of behavior I try to learn about and pay attention to their underlying motives. This is important to understand because increased feelings of doubt or dislike toward self and others cause individuals to reserve their love.
As you strive to restore the love in your marriage, remember that love is by-product of good communication, respect and trust. Also, remember that love itself is not enough to prevent us from hurting each other. Human beings were created out of love to love, but we allow our emotions to distort that love.
God created us out of love and to live life without love is as harsh as living life without a soul.
I suggest that you look at the intent of your husband’s heart before give up on your marriage. If you detect that your husband is neglecting you because he lacks insight as to how to express his love appropriately, then you should provide support, seek professional counsel and pray. Basically, stick with him. If you detect that he is deliberately withdrawing his love to be spiteful then you should provide support, seek professional counsel and pray. If the deliberate behavior continues, you should consider moving on because love does hurt, but not intentionally. God created us out of love and to live life without love is as harsh as living life without a soul.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.
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