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Thread: Tips for getting through a good marriage without any real love?

  1. #1
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    Tips for getting through a good marriage without any real love?

    Help, I'm trapped in a wonderful marriage! I joke but this is what it amounts to and it has become incredibly hard and I'm desperately unhappy. I will add context below on how this all happened but here's the tldr version:

    - Been together 18 years, married for maybe 13, with kids.
    - My wife is fantastic. My best friend, a great mother to our kids, a great business partner (that's how tied together we are). An amazing person.
    - We get on great, never argue and we try to be good parents (mostly, we're successful at it).
    - Romantic love is not there. It's long gone. No passion, barely any sex and it's boring sex.
    - I haven't felt that fire in more than a decade and that emptiness has grown into a deep hurt.

    I thought this could improve as we have talked some of it out over the years. It didn't improve and I realised last year that it has gone beyond the point where that aspect could get better between us. It's done. So I'm at a point where I feel like there is no way out (nor should I want a way out of most of it) and now I exist to be a good dad to my kids and at least a good husband to my wife and then I'll die and that's it - that sounds terribly dramatic, I know. It's quite ridiculous but the feelings go deep and go dark.

    So the question is: how do I make the best of it?

    Are there ways I can fill the voids while living out my life? Things I can do or elements I can add to my life so I can continue without feeling like I'm just existing and little more? Am I missing something?

    Any tips?

    Keep in mind that “stop whining and get on with it” is an appropriate response – maybe this is more normal than I think. More likely there is no answer - I can't imagine what I haven't played out already in my mind over the years. But I figured this must be something some people go through, maybe those in arranged marriages? I'm not the first person to get here. Any thoughts would be really appreciated.



    THE CONTEXT:

    I didn't have many relationships in my teens or early 20s. I was shy, awkward and panic set in every time with my early relationships. I met my wife (she wasn't my wife at the time – that would have been a real surprise) and she was so funny and we got on so well. We were comfortable together. Only with hindsight, I'm realising I missed some passion even early on – I remember having a conversation with a friend about my cold feet just before we got married but I was reassured that passionate love can be dramatic love and there was never any drama with my wife and wasn't that a good thing?

    And I remember my father in law telling me that “love is a choice”. I made that choice and did so very willingly.

    The early years were fun and yet (again only really seeing this with hindsight) the sex was infrequent, dull and then after the kids that dropped right off. My unhappy feelings would come in waves over the years but I'd try to attribute them to different things. When I realised what was truly missing (sex is a big part of it but it's more the spark, the feelings, the passion), I did talk about it with my wife and it became clear that things were different for her – she retained all that love without a need for sex or passion. It's like she could feel deep love with companionship alone. And while I don't know this for certain, even the love she described then seemed stronger than mine and I don't really want to think about the idea that maybe we didn't go into this equally. That maybe I didn't know enough about love or myself before getting into it (don't get me wrong – I was in love with her). But as I brought up the subject again over the years, she always had reasons why we didn't have much sex and said that would get better. And I tried what I could to be a better partner to hopefully inspire an improvement. A few times we slightly increased just the frequency of sex and it helped fill a basic physical need to some extent in the short term but I'm realising that it still didn't bring the passion I hoped it would. And it never lasted long. And yeah, it has been about as dull as sex can be and maybe that in itself is a sign that something just wasn't there or a sign of a big difference in our desires or needs – and I never really wanted to push too hard on that out of respect for her.

    Meanwhile we made a life together: kids, pets, house and even went into business together. And the thing is – most of those elements are REALLY good. We have struggles and worries but who doesn't? I feel like I should be happy. That I should look at what I have rather than what I don't have. That maybe I'm yearning for feelings that we leave behind in teenage years. And that makes me feel incredibly selfish when I can't push the unhappiness down. And maybe I am.

    While I sometimes play out fantasies of just throwing it all in and leaving, the reality of leaving or doing anything dramatic like that would be wrong for many reasons. It would be the most destructive thing I could do and make all our lives worse, throwing away all the good for my wife, family and me with no guarantee of me ever finding that happiness. I have neighbours who live alone and isn't my situation better than that? I have seen people break up with their partners and I don't envy any of them. That stuff is really hard.

    And yet the unhappiness makes me feel like, in my 40s, I've missed out on life and it's essentially over in terms of my own story – I feel older than my years and like it's too late for me and now it's about being a good memory for my kids who I want to bring up strong and independent. At night (I don't sleep well), I fantasise about do-overs. About waking up and being 15 again and being able to plan a whole new life from there. It's very silly, I know. And as I write that, it seems childish. Not just seems, it IS childish. But it doesn't go away. I work a lot and I think I manage to get through much of this by just burying myself in work but it gets harder and harder to do that. And I feel like I'm just working my life away.

    Last year was the year I realised that this aspect wasn't going to get better. We had sex just five times in a 12 month period (again, I feel I should stress it's not just the physical aspect but I feel that's all tied together – there's a reason they call it making love, right?). But unlike previous years, when we talked about addressing that, part of me felt that maybe having more sex would make it worse in that I was always holding onto hope that this would improve. And it's not going to improve. Yes, the lack of good sex is a huge frustration especially after all this time but it's a symptom of a larger problem – that connection is missing. And it had been missing for a long time and it's not coming back.

    So we're housemates with kids. Good housemates with good kids.

    And when those aspects are good, and they are, I feel like the problem is me. I trawled through the boards looking for people in similar situations to see what advice I could find and what struck me was that other people have far bigger problems than I do. I'm torn between feeling that I deserve to feel love and I have only one life so should live it well and, on the other hand, knowing that other things in my life are good and I'm being selfish and maybe even there's a bit of “the grass is always greener” at work. So that's it really. I'm sure there are other details, other personal baggage that might be relevant but this is long enough as it is.

    Any help or advice or perspective would be hugely appreciated. I have no idea what I expect anyone to offer or say but I feel I need to put it out there and I searched online for articles and posts that might help but I'm at a loss.

  2. #2
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    If you started with genuine love and an authentic marriage, then it's most likely a case of simple neglect.

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    Does love only relate to sex or is there love without sex?

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    This story made me feel really sad, especially the fantasies about being 15 again and starting your life over. I can’t give advice as I’m no expert on life or love, sounds like you are in a really hard place, the waiting place, watching life kind of pass you by but not being able to do anything about it. Wish I could give some advice but I wish all the best and hope whatever you do you have a great life.

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    If you could start your life over would you do it without your kids? Don’t get caught in midlife crisis or wishing for some wild sex life as a teen . You can’t go back to being a teen so no bother wishing for it . And are you sure this is a real wish to not be married or a midlife crisis ?

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    Originally Posted by ~Seraphim ~
    Does love only relate to sex or is there love without sex?
    There are many types of love and perhaps, with that in mind, the topic title isn’t entirely accurate but I mean lovers love rather than friend love, companion love. And as I tried to get across, sex is one thing (and I know that’s a need some have more than others) but there is also passion - that fire, that desire. The two are intertwined but are still two separate needs in a way.

    As for whether it’s a midlife crisis, well, the timing fits. But how long do they last? This has been going on more than a decade. It’s possible I have just really mastered the midlife crisis and I’m not letting it go. If it was that, what would I do with that information though? The result and the situation doesn’t really change, unfortunately. But is it possible that this is one big long midlife crisis? Sure, I guess it is.

    Starting over without my kids - my kids are amazing and I love them to bits. A huge part of the reason that I wouldn’t destroy what I have here in spite of everything is that I wouldn’t ever want to be separated from them. Are they gone in my do-over fantasies? Yep, that’s a complete restart. I know I can’t go back (or can I?). I know I can’t relive the past (but maybe...?). And I know part of that is pining for a past that didn’t exist for me (or did it... I’m joking now, obviously). I think what that is is an escape. A mental ‘out’ that my mind just goes on. I know it’s silly. I know it’s unhelpful. But knowing it and making my brain not do it are very different things.

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    Well, mental fantasizing or using it as an escape IS a form of midlife crisis.

    Why not rebuild the fire? Go away on a holiday with your wife , JUST your wife ,take her on dates , romance her.

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    Have you considered counseling? Actually working on this instead of just saying it doesn’t work?

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    Originally Posted by arjumand
    Have you considered counseling? Actually working on this instead of just saying it doesn’t work?
    Only in the early years. We did some counselling many, many years ago. And yeah, I've been thinking of that very recently that maybe we should do it again. In truth, I'm a little afraid of what would come from it. That it might push the situation over the edge. I'm nervous about that. But yes, maybe it's a good idea. I don't know.

    I should stress that it's a bit more than "just saying it doesn't work" - I probably wrote a bit too much so maybe the time frame didn't fully come through but this has been a very long road with markers and conversations and attempts to improve along the way. It isn't something that just happened or was just decided or declared. What has changed is that I find it harder and harder to stop it all leaking out, like I could keep it in my sticking my fingers over the holes year on year and now I've run out of fingers. And yeah, last year was the first time that I felt it's just gone. That we didn't fix it well enough or get us on the right path and whatever embers might have been there are dead (I'm mixing metaphors all over the place) but, maybe more than that, it could be just that we have different needs.

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    Honestly, its time to stop talking about it ad time to start doing. Be romantic and sweet with your wife. Bring her flowers if you used to at the begining of your marriage. take her away on a getaway away from the kids. I don't have kids, but have had house guests and believe me, its not too sexy having sex with other people in the house -- you have to be quiet and to the point if at all. Are you touching her non sexually - hugs, holding her close, etc,? If she is in her high 40s or more, it could also be due to hormonal changes. Feminine moisture products may help.

    What were the circumstances in which you had sex those 5 times? was their wine involved? Were the kids away at friends? what was it? There must have been contributing factors. are you only counting penetration as sex?

    Sounds like you otherwise have a good marriage and its worth fighting for.

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