Is my marriage over?

Dear Guys,

10 years ago I met a wonderful man and fell in love, I had one child from a previous relationship and we had 2 more children in the last 10 years.  Generally speaking we had been fairly happy as a couple and a family until recently.  In the last 2 years we have dealt with many stresses but I thought we were managing them well.  My “husband” (common-law) started a new job a year and a half ago working nights and I work days. We hardly see each other and only go to sleep together one night a week.  I too have made a change in my career recently.  I quit my job with his encouragement and support to find a new one closer to home. (I was commuting1.5hours to work).  Last week he told me he loved me but wasn’t in love with me anymore. He wants to move out and refuses to talk through what is bothering him with me or even a counselor.  I am shocked and heartbroken over this break up of my family.  Can you tell me how to understand what he may be thinking? Does he really mean  this or is something else going on?

He comes by everyday under the pretense of seeing the kids but spends all his time talking with me. When I call him he sounds annoyed, but when I ask if he’d like me not to call he won’t say yes or no?  I am confused.  So what do you guys think, is it really over?


Dear Sue,

Thanks for writing. We’re sorry you’re going through such a difficult time.

No, your marriage is not over. But unless you get him talking, and you find out what’s really going on with him, it will be.

Our first question to you is, are you sure there isn’t someone else? That was our gut reaction based on his actions. The fact that he doesn’t want to talk to a couples counselor, or you, makes us wonder. Sure, the person who initiates a break up is often much farther along in the process, but for a husband to just one day decide it’s over without talking about it, or trying to work something out, seems odd.

Working opposite schedules can put a strain on a relationship. The daily reconnection that couples typically have is very important. Even discussing mundane things is a reminder that you’re a team, and you’re working together to make it all work. Now of course, not everyone has the luxury to do this. You didn’t.

Obviously he still cares for you, but he’s forgotten why he loved you in the first place. The stereotype is, guys connect on a very physical basis, where women want more of an emotional connection. But really, both genders need a balance of both. It sounds like neither of you were getting what they needed over the course of the past two years. You’ve been able to handle the strain, and he hasn’t. The strain is no excuse though, but we’re trying to help you figure this out. A lot of couples endure much more stress than conflicting schedules. So once again, you need to get him talking somehow.

We’re pulling for you Sue. We hope you can work through this together to put the pieces of your marriage and family back in place. Communication is the key to this.

Good luck and keep us posted.


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9 Comments on Is my marriage over?

  1. A agree. My husband announced one day that he was done and didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. Turns out he had someone else standing by…someone he’d been talking to (he wouldn’t talk to me) and someone who looked “easier” to deal with than coming home and working out what was going on with him at home with me and the kids. I had 3 from a previous relationship, and we had 4 together.

    After he left (on a rare occasion we were speaking) I told him of our neighbors who were splitting up. He said “But they have a baby!” I looked at him like he fell off a turnip truck and said “We have FOUR babies. That didn’t stop YOU.”

    ARGH. Bottom line is men are selfish idiots. Good luck, Sue.

  2. This sounds so painful for Sue. I really feel for her. I hope she and her partner are able to start talking so she knows what is going on if nothing else.

  3. After ten years of common law marriage, he just may have to seek a divorce from you–and he will have to pay child support. Please check the laws in your state. If he loves you as he says, this may make him think twice about leaving, and maybe he will agree to join you in counseling.

  4. Thank-you guys for your quick response, I have been feeling the same about the oddness of his behaviour. He was still telling me he loved me right up until the day before he decided he wanted out. The whole situation just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

  5. Sue, if he does leave and does decide he knows what he’s doing and is intent on walking away and not looking back you may NEVER understand it. This is what happens when there’s no communication. Also? It isn’t YOU if you’re trying and he isn’t. If he leaves, don’t let it break you.

  6. “I love you, but I’m not in love with you”? I don’t even know what that means, when it comes to family. I guess it means different things to different people, but to me, it means, “If that’s true, you wouldn’t be moving out.” To be “in love” is nice, but implies the adrenaline rush of infatuation – it’s a fleeting, inconstant thing to begin with. Comes and goes. To really love someone is to stick it out no matter what the challenges – because it’s you two against the world, for life. Because you’re a FAMILY. In this case, it sounds way too much like, “You’re a really great person…” and you can hear the “…BUT…” a mile away, even if it’s unsaid.

    As Judie says, there’s no such thing as “common law divorce.” Once you’re considered “married” under common law, you’re just married, period – and he’d have to get a regular old divorce, with custody, child support, maybe even spousal support… look into it.

    If nothing else, he OWES you a better explanation.

  7. Well Guys…. you were right…. there is another woman, although he says he didn’t start seeing her until after. At first I really tried getting him to talk but it was to no avail, it seems he has already given his heart over to this new relationship. When you responded to my question I sent him a copy of my question and your letter… he scoffed at it.

    Thanks again for your insight,

  8. Reading this in January 2012. I’m a man and not sure if my relationship is over. I’m looking for clues that it may be, because I simply don’t feel the same anymore, after 4 years.

    There is no one else. I think some of the above comments are stereotypical. The guys gave good insight into Sue’s husband’s behavior . . . But this is not always the case.

    Something has to be wrong in a relationship for the husband to look outside. The nature of an outside relationship is somewhat moot, it’s the fact that someone is not looking, or talking inside the relationship that is relevant.

    I cannot explain my feelings. I feel low, bored, nagged at constantly. Yet I believe I am the same person I always was. It makes me want to look outside – so how do you explain this?

    It’s not even that another woman is more beautiful, as my wife is so pretty it’s difficult to understand why she got together with plain old me in the first Place (no its not a self esteem thing).

    I want to stop feeling like the relationship is slipping away, because it’s not what I want, but how do I control it? Enjoying time together just doesn’t seem possible these days, and I don’t even enjoy her cuddles in bed at night . . .

    Someone explain to me what is going on before I hurt this lady who doesn’t deserve it, and who is the mother of my young daughter.

  9. @Paul……we’ll be answering this in a post. “From a Guy’s Perspective: Is my marriage over?” Look for it soon. Thanks for your honest and self-reflective comments.

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