Falling Out of Love
“Three years ago, [my husband] became depressed, and criticized our home, our life; everything was wrong,” writes an anonymous woman from Christchurch, New Zealand. “I kept quiet but became hurt and resentful. I felt used and unloved. I have heard enough of comments such as ‘grow a brain,’ ‘you’re full of s _ _ _,’ ‘you’re a spoiled brat.’
“I arrived at the point where I wanted to leave. My husband comes from a broken home, and under no circumstances wanted us to separate. But here now is the big problem: I have withdrawn from the intimate side of our relationship. I don’t like sex at all and don’t want to share my feelings. My husband says he is sorry and will change. He says I am not trying to improve things; that he ‘demands’ I ‘pull my socks up’ and ‘love him again.’ Also, ‘why should he support someone who doesn’t love him?’
“In your experience, is there any way out of this type of situation? I have ‘fallen out of love.’ Is it possible to rebuild something from this point?”
“When you’re in love, you put up with things that, when you’re out of love, you cite.” Judith Martin
It sounds like your husband is an emotional bully and that you’ve permitted yourself to be bullied by him for some time. That is now in your way of opening back up to him. You may be afraid that he will control, dominate and bully you again if you emotionally recommit to him.
I would also guess that your husband behaved in his marriage to you the way his parents conducted their marriage. Our role models are strong enough that even if our parents’ marriage wasn’t ideal, most of us will replicate their marriage anyway, even if it is bad.
Love is not a commitment, or an obligation, or a responsibility; it is a feeling. You can make a commitment to someone, but you cannot promise a feeling. Since love is a feeling, it is not possible to promise that you will love someone forever. While you can make a commitment to stay with someone forever, you cannot promise what you are going to feel forever. Regardless of all the popular mythology, when we talk about love, we are not necessarily talking about forever.
One of the barriers that stops us from loving more is the price or cost we have attached to love. Most of us are capable of loving more, but we regulate the amount of love we offer because we have the association that to love someone more, or to accept love from them, means that they can make a lot of demands on us, or hurt us, or tell us what to do, or violate us in some way, and we won’t be able to do anything about it because we love them.
For starters, your husband could ask you what it is you need from him in order for you to be willing to emotionally open yourself once again.
Love is voluntary and it cannot be forced. Don’t try, therefore, to “make” someone love you. It doesn’t work. Love is something you do; someone doesn’t do it to you. It’s like a verb, it requires your active participation. You choose to be in love; it is a conscious choice. More than just a feeling, therefore, love is also a decision.
“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new.” Ursula K. LeGuin