Have you ever been walking through a quiet parkade at night when suddenly you sense someone behind you? You know that hammer of panic you feel in the pit of your stomach? Well, that’s nothing compared to the hammer of panic a wife feels when she hears these words from her husband: “I don’t think I love you anymore. I want a divorce.”
Back to the parkade. Let me ask you: in our scenario, what do you do? Do you drop to your knees and beg whoever is following you to stop? Do you cry and plead with them to spare you? Do you break into a panic-stricken run and bolt for the nearest exit? Probably not. More likely, you start thinking and assessing your situation. “Is this person really a serial murderer or just someone walking to their car?” And, inevitably, it turns out to be the latter. You breathe a sigh of relief, congratulate yourself for keeping your cool, and drive out of the parkade to live another day.
And that’s how you should respond to this panic-inducing situation.
By thinking and assessing your situation
To help you get started, I’ll present six common reasons why a husband might say he doesn’t love his wife anymore, and why he may even bring up the dreaded “d” word.
1. He’s being honest. It may be that the marriage has deeper issues and was either never particularly happy or has grown so over the years. The interactions between you may be overtly negative or just quietly unpleasant, but regardless, it isn’t working for him… and if you’re honest with yourself, maybe it’s not working for you either.
2. He’s feeling hopeless. Perhaps you were happy at one time, maybe even very happy, but you’ve grown apart over the years and the sex has stopped or nearly so. Sex is very important to men, and if he isn’t getting any—and doesn’t see a future with you where he will—he may decide to call it quits. Sex and love, especially for men, are two sides of the same coin.
3. He’s feeling unappreciated. Whether it’s for how hard he’s worked over the years, how he contributes to the housework or child-raising duties, or how he performs in bed, he just isn’t feeling like you appreciate him.
4. He’s having a midlife crisis. If this is the case, he may be rewriting your history and blaming his unhappiness on you. That kind of self-indulgence or ego, especially when combined with the true self-reflection that accompanies midlife, can spell divorce.
5. He’s having an affair. It’s not unusual for a man (or a woman, for that matter) to feel like he’s in love with an affair partner… and if he loves her, then he doesn’t really love you. And no, you won’t change his mind by trying to convince him otherwise.
6. He’s about to have an affair with a close female “friend.” Make no mistake: overly close friendships of that type that often transition into infidelity can be just as alluring as an affair itself, and men (yes, and women) often feel that they are in love with their friend.
These reasons are by no means exclusive, but in my experience, they cover the vast majority of situations where a husband says he doesn’t love his wife anymore and asks for a divorce.
So let me ask you: What numbers, 1 through 6, do you think apply in your situation? There can be more than one. Think about it. Assess your situation and find the reason why he is speaking those scary words.
Because if you want to fix what’s broken in your marriage, you need to make sure you’re hammering the right nail.
All right, you say. I’ve identified the reason. Now what?
Now it’s up to you. You can try to drag him to counseling. Maybe he’ll go and maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll be honest and truly cooperative when he gets there, maybe he won’t. Or you can spend every waking moment scouring the internet for tidbits of free advice. Or you can talk to a therapist…and talk, and talk.
If you’re more serious about saving your marriage, however, I have more realistic and proven options for you, ones that address the specific crisis or crises you are facing head on. Because trust me, avoiding them and hoping for the best is your worst option of all.
So let’s turn to your options
Click on the red links to learn more about each one, and to hear an extended audio introduction for each.
For the first three reasons (he’s being honest, he’s feeling hopeless, he’s feeling unappreciated), I suggest you consider the Marriage SOS™ online crash course New You, Renewed Marriage // Improving Interactions and Intimacy. It has helped countless people reconnect with their spouse and break through everything from defensiveness to apathy to restore passion.
For the fourth reason (he’s having a midlife crisis), I recommend the crash course Conquer His Midlife Crisis // Strategies for Wives for a start-to-finish solution for this confusing, painful, and potentially marriage-destroying situation. This is a determined and unique course that faces the male midlife crisis head on, to help a woman save both her marriage and her dignity.
For the fifth reason (he’s having an affair), you won’t find a more empowering, realistic or effective resource than the crash course Overcoming Infidelity // For Betrayed Spouses. Like all Marriage SOS™ courses, it assumes that you are dealing with a resistant (e.g. uncooperative, unfaithful, dishonest, etc.) partner and does not shy away from insights and strategies to help you successfully manage this. It has pulled many marriages around the world from the brink of divorce.
For the sixth reason (he’s close to having an affair with a female “friend”), I recommend the crash course Prevent Infidelity // End Their Inappropriate Friendship. This program takes you by the hand and shows you how to motivate your husband to end the friendship freely, and to focus on your marriage.
So there you have it. Six real-world reasons—six sticking-out nails—that you can try to hammer back into place and rebuild what may seem like a marriage that is broken beyond repair. It might not be. You might just need the right tools to fix it.
Debra Macleod, BA, JD, is the founder of MARRIAGE SOS™, a proven and no-nonsense way to save a sinking marriage. She has served as an expert resource for major media around the world, from The New York Times and Entrepreneur to ELLE and Men’s Health.
Visit her homepage to see all Marriage SOS™ Online Crash Courses or book a phone consult.