Love Him or Leave Him?

Hey Dr. Welch,

I need some relationship advice for a friend, I hope you can help!

My friend is almost 29 and she’s been married for about four years—-and she’s ready to call it quits on the marriage. She feels like no matter what she does, she can’t make him happy, she feels like she gives and gives to him but gets nothing in return. She told me she’s done trying, and so she’s emotionally checked out of the marriage. Recently, he’s noticed that she’s withdrawing and now HE’S trying really hard.

She said that she still loves him, but it’s not the love she was expecting to feel towards him so it’s really confusing to her. She wants the marriage to work but she doesn’t know if going to counseling is worth it because she doesn’t have any feelings of love for him anymore. 

The other issue is that she works with older women who are encouraging her to leave him. They’ve basically told her that she has one foot out the door so she might as well leave and put herself first.

What can I say to encourage her to stick with it and work through this rough patch? I greatly appreciate your time and thoughts!

This is such a common relationship problem. The good news: THIS MARRIAGE IS NOT OVER! Your friend is one confused gal. And no wonder! There’s a lot of background noise crap that’s making it tough for her to focus on the real issues and her real feelings. And even BETTER good news: Both aren’t ready to check out of the marriage at the same time! One partner is still fighting to keep the marriage. 

Lesson 1 from this: Never, EVER listen to the Hens who are dissatisfied with their own relationships/marriages. People enjoy other peoples’ misery, and if you give them enough time or attention they’ll eventually entangle you into their miserable miserableness. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re considering breaking off a relationship or going down the divorce path, be sure to surround yourself with people who have nothing but your best interests at heart—yours and your partner’s.

Lesson 2 from this: Your friend isn’t falling out of love with her husband. How do I know? She gave you a couple of huge hints when she told you she just doesn’t “feel” love toward him anymore and that she doesn’t have the “feelings” of love. The good news is–she shouldn’t have the same “feelings” of love she had when she married him four years ago.  Love transitions over time from the all-consuming, passionate, gotta-have-it fiery hot feelings to a calm, steady, mature love. If she wanted to leave, believe me, she’d be out the door. She needs to understand the difference between her initial drive-thru kind of love (passionate love) and what she’s feeling now (emotionally mature love)…and that this emotionally mature love is waaaaay better. She just needs to give it the time and attention it needs to take root.

When you talk to her again, remind her that while some people are telling her that’s she’s got one foot out of the door so she might as well leave, she’s also still got one foot in the marriage…so she might as well stick around and try to make it work. Counseling is a great option for this couple, as is a get-away marriage retreat where they focus on nothing but themselves and their relationship. 

This is one marriage that can be–and probably should be–saved!

dr. w 

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