Husband Just a Friend

Q: My spouse and I have been together 9 years and married for 5. I know he loves me, and he is a good father to our 2-year-old son and a good all-around person. But only in the past couple of years have I been finding out who I really am. My spouse and I don't share the same interests, but I stood by him because I loved him. Now I'm falling out of love with him, and it gets worse every day. I even find myself wishing I was with someone else that I could have a good conversation with.

I did finally share my feelings, and it was one of the hardest talks I've ever had. I find that I want my space and want to live by myself for a while. Each time I mention anything he just says, "I don't care what you do, just come home to me." I love him but like a friend, not a husband. Now I don't know what to do. Should we separate or what? My family will not support me if I do separate from him, and some of my friends say I should stick it out because I am lucky to have him. I am so confused. — Jennifer, 33

Dr. Susan: Over time, many couples go through precisely the same disillusionment as you. The amazing thing is that, over a longer period of time, things often get better. Studies have found that many couples go through this hard period, but if they stay together (and really do like one another!), they will reach a point when they are happier than they've ever been. If you're telling the truth and you haven't already connected with someone new, my advice would be to stay, not run.

I wonder if the two of you have allowed yourselves to get into a deep rut of sameness. Even though your child takes a lot of your time, the two of you can surely find ways to freshen up your lives with a new joint interest. Perhaps make a list of interests, have him do the same, then brainstorm and find some overlapping areas. So long as your most important values are not in conflict, the rest can be worked on.

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