I'm a New Zealand educated Health Psychologist and I specialize in helping people cope with psychological issues related to health and disease. Today we are going to talk about … when you no longer feel anything for your wife.
It’s a toughie, that’s for sure. Maybe one day you realise it—that for whatever reason, IT is just not there anymore. That spark, that feeling, that desire, that ‘something’ that used to give you a bounce in your step or something to look forward to, is no longer there.
Does this sound like you? Are you bored? Do you come home wishing you were somewhere else? Or with someone else? Do you feel like your relationship has come to the end of the road? That you’ll just never see eye-to-eye anymore? That you are simply just very different people? Are you scared you might not be able to feel the same way again? If the rest of life is going pretty well, you don’t identify with any feelings of depression, and there is no overt abuse or fear in the relationship, then it could be a case of unmet needs, different value systems, the development of different trajectories, or loss of respect, trust, real and honest communication, or love over time.
The first thing to remember is that regardless of what you might believe about relationships, none of them are perfect. It’s a beautiful thing to be supported through the ups and downs of life, but just know that the absolute love of your life is still likely going to have a few faults or slip-ups on occasion. Life changes and people change too.
The second thing to remember when you’re feeling down or frustrated about your wife or relationship as a whole, is that you are more likely to develop a pattern of ONLY seeing it in that light. Indeed, if you’ve told yourself that “I should never have got married” or “I just don’t feel anything anymore”, then you’ve thrown a great big negative label on it. This means that you’ll be less likely to remember any good things about your relationship from the past, and you’ll become blind to what IS still working well right here and now. Become aware if you have developed fixed or limiting beliefs about the situation.
The third thing to know is that trust and respect are monumental in a relationship. If these have broken down or been abused, then one can feel suffocated and trapped, and then it’s tough to put the pieces back together unless you are both absolutely willing to do so.
Deal breakers can also come about because your wife might have trodden on your value systems, perhaps gradually over a long period of time, or maybe even all in one fell swoop. By value systems, we are talking very broadly about your guiding principles; the things that are so important to you, the things you do each day, the things that define you; and your attitudes and beliefs towards them. Interestingly, your values are also the things that you wish to see in others within your relationships also. So, for example, if health and exercise are of high value to you, you might struggle to live with a woman who is relatively sedentary. If you believe in spending a little money here and there for enjoyment, you might get irritated by someone with a constant penny-pinching mindset. If your wife has an affair, the strength of your beliefs with respect to loyalty or faithfulness in a marriage might have a lot to do with the outcome of that situation. A lot of it also depends on how much those differences affect your quality of life, and that of your children, and how much you can adapt to let some things simply be. If you are giving up a lot to please your wife and getting little in return, that is also something to be addressed, because the children will learn these ‘values’ also.
In a nutshell, it’s obviously a smoother ride when you have more in common together, when you feel someone has your back, and when there is respect for each other’s limitations, similarities and differences, as well as goals and dreams, in order that we feel more supported and more aligned with each other as we face the world.
When we are not feeling it anymore, we have to assume that these conditions must have changed in some way; and we need to look closely at, and take responsibility for, both our role and the role of our spouse during the time period of change, to figure out what has been changing and why. We also need to get on the same page together and talk about it openly—what do we both want from this point forward? These kinds of situations can’t sort themselves out organically without some kind of navigation plan to disrupt the apathy.
Furthermore, before you decide to end it, and especially when there are children involved, keep in mind that there was likely *something* of value—the glue—that held you together previously, and then take a good look at all the remaining factors that currently connect you both together positively, regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant they might appear to you at this stage. Are there positive attributions of your wife that you could you possibly dismissed or underestimated in the recent past? Moreover:
- Can you still have the odd laugh, or fun, together?
- Can you talk amicably about some things?
- Do you both pitch in to help each other if need be?
- When you are both with the children, do you feel like a family?
- Is there anything about her that you still find attractive, physically or mentally?
- Would you defend your wife if someone said something uncalled for about her?
- Does thinking about old times bring up nice feelings for you?
- Do you notice yourself messaging or calling your wife first when you have some sort of news to share?
- Do you share any regular habits or hobbies together?
- It times were suddenly to get tough, would you reach out to your wife for emotional support; and would she be there for you?
Some of the smallest things done regularly can make for more connection in a relationship—you just have to be in tune with what you are looking for (and missing out on) and know how to get it. Even when we think it’s the end of the road, it might actually be not.