Can This Relationship Be Saved?

Dear Neil:  I recently wrote to you saying my husband is having an emotional affair.  You advised me in the paper to explore why our relationship has grown distant, and what we could do to rekindle the spark between us.  But my husband no longer wants to try.  He says we can’t recapture what we once had, and that he is unhappy.  He says that he doesn’t want to be with me anymore and that his heart is no longer in it.  I’m not willing to let go without a fight.  I think we need to give our relationship a fair shot.  We have been together for 11 years and have a 17 month-old son.  I can’t bear to think of my future without him, and I think our family deserves a chance.



Dear Rejected:  Ask him what it would take to try one more time—this time with help.  Then find a good marriage therapist who will help the two of you address what’s in the way.  If he refuses to work on the relationship, then it would be my guess that this “emotional affair” he is having is far more than that.  A relationship takes two, and if your husband is gone, you’re in this relationship by yourself. 

Dear Neil:  My husband and I married last year.   Six months later I left.  We had a great relationship until we married.  He turned from a sweet nice guy to a very controlling jealous man.  He accuses me of sleeping around all the time, or if I don’t answer the phone, he accuses me of being out with someone else.  I don’t know what to do because I still love him.

Need Help in Colorado

Dear Need Help:  Your husband’s jealousy is not about you or what you’re doing.  It’s about his insecurities and low self-esteem.  Look at what you could do—and what he would have to do—in order for the relationship to be where you’d like it to be.  After you answer those questions, you can make a more informed and less emotional decision about whether you think it is worth attempting to save your marriage.

If you decide to attempt to save the marriage, you need to have a serious, honest and blunt conversation with your husband about what it would take to patch things back together again.

Dear Neil:  I’m having a communication problem with my husband.  All he wants to do is watch sports when I am talking with him.  So we hardly talk to each other at all.  Also he tells his family what decisions he is making without even discussing them with me first.  I am so tired of this, I am about to end my marriage.  I need your advice before I make my final decision.


Dear Desperate:  It sounds like you are feeling dismissed, unacknowledged, devalued and rejected.

So start there.  Ask him for a time to talk with no interruptions, no phone calls and no TV.  Tell him you’re feeling unloved and rejected, and then ask him what has happened in order for him to be treating you so poorly.  After he talks, tell him what you’d like different in the marriage, and be sure to let him know how important this is to you.  If he is responsive to you, build on that, and keep this discussion going over time.  If he isn’t responsive, ask him what it would take—or what he would need—in order to give the marriage one last honest to God chance.

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