Part 1 of 3
Last week I met with Carrie for the first time and she told me she's been searching online for answers to the question, "how to save my marriage?" Like many women, Carrie’s in a marriage that’s stopped functioning in a healthy manner and as a result the enjoyment is gone. Figuring out how to save her relationship and bring the love back is not an easy task, especially since she feels she has to do it all on her own.
Carrie says the advice she's been finding through internet searches is really general and not very helpful. That’s not surprising. When you are trying to save your marriage there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. And her searches alone won’t be enough to get her husband to recognize their marriage needs saving.
What A Marriage That Needs Saving Looks Like
Every relationship is different, but most relationships that are in trouble have some similar characteristics. If you're feeling like your marriage is in trouble, read below and see if you can recognize what Carrie’s going through. Perhaps you too feel, as Carrie does, that your husband doesn’t love you anymore. Or, maybe there are other aspects of her relationship you can relate.
Carrie's husband, Al, came home after closing a big sale and said let's take the kids out to dinner. So she loaded everyone into her car and waited for him. When he sat down in the passenger seat, he erupted in a tirade of verbal abuse.
Al lit into her like a machine gun,
How many times have I told you...?"
Your car always smells like..."
Carrie had forgotten that her dirty gym clothes were still sitting on the passenger side floor. She says Al doesn't like her leaving them in her car. As she recalled the event days later, and in a moment of clarity in my office, she stated that it is “her car, not his.”
Nevertheless, that night she sat in the car paralyzed as he unloaded on her. Their 6 and 10-year-old kids sat silently in the back seat. They all eventually got to the restaurant, but Al didn't get any nicer and their 6-year-old son cried through most of the meal.
At her next counseling session she told me some of the thoughts that make her wonder how she will ever change her marriage:
- He doesn't love me
- I want to take care of my children and be happy
- He doesn't care about his family
- I don't have the ability to help (him)
- I can't take this way of life anymore
- He needs help
- I am done
Sadly, Carrie has been thinking these thoughts for quite a while. Even sadder is the fact that she's far from alone. A lot of wives have marriages that look something like hers and they have many of the same thoughts too. And like Carrie, they too have no idea what to do to save their marriage.
Can Her Marriage Be Saved?
Carrie doesn't know how to save her marriage. She's been married to Al for 14 years, and even though it wasn't like this in the beginning, it's been like this for a long time. She's thought about marriage counseling for years, but never went until now.
Just like she was too paralyzed in the car to do anything as her husband screamed at her, Carrie is also frozen in her marriage. In Carrie’s mind the biggest problem is that Al seems to have fallen out of love with her, otherwise why would he behave this way? And it seems that no matter what she does or how hard she tries she can't get Al to love her again.
What Carrie hasn’t recognized yet it is that the problems she’s experiencing may not necessarily be because the love has gone. Al’s anger and volatility could have nothing to do with his love, or lack of love, for Carrie. In fact, there’s a chance that he’s struggling with internal issues that he needs to deal with, and because she’s the person closest to him he’s taking the stress from them out on her. Of course, this doesn’t make his behavior okay. Nor does it change the way Carrie feels about her marriage.
Carrie's desperate to save her marriage, but thinks it's hopeless. Fortunately, she's finally sought professional counseling help and I'm beginning to help her learn ways she can get things to change. It won’t be easy or an overnight fix, but it is possible for her to save her marriage – even if she can’t get her husband to participate at this point.
In what ways can you relate to Carrie? Does your marriage, or maybe a friend's, look something like this? Share a thought with other readers and let them know they're not alone.
This is the first of three posts examining a marriage in which a wife feels her husband doesn't love her anymore and she seeks the expertise of a marriage counselor for help in finding out what she can do to save her marriage. In the next post we'll take a look at her husband and try to understand what's happening for him in this marriage -- I Think My Husband is Depressed. Finally, in the third post we'll look at some things Carrie can do to change her husband and save her marriage -- How Can I Save My Marriage When My Husband Won't Change. Sign-up for this blog below this article and be sure you don't miss any parts of this story (you'll get notified by email).
Editor's Note: This post was originally published February 16, 2010, updated on February 27, 2018, and has been updated again with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness
Looking for More? Check Out These Articles
- Could My Husband Be Depressed? (Part 2)
- How Can I Save My Marriage When My Husband Won't Change (Part 3)
- When You're In A Relationship Yet Feeling All Alone
- Get More Help When the Love is Gone