He Loves Her as a 'Person'
Q: Me and my husband have been married for 17 years, and I love him with all my heart. But now he tells me he loves me, but not as a wife, just as a person. We still have sex but that is all the affection he shows me anymore. What do I do? Do I need to move on, or should I wait and see if it can work out? He has been like this for at least 3 months. -- April, 36
Dr. Susan: Three months or so isn't that long a time in the context of a 17-year marriage. You married young and so many changes must have occurred in both your lives since then. If he showed you affection before, there's a chance he'll come around to being willing to show it again. It may be that he's going through a stage, or is depressed. Obviously he cares for you physically, or at least finds you attractive, since you continue to have sex. I don't suggest moving on until you get deeper into what he means when he says he doesn't love you as a wife. Does he want a divorce so he can pursue other women? Is he saying he wants to be with other women and stay married to you "as a person"? Could you tolerate that? Sometimes these are bumps in the road that smooth out in a year or two. It's been found that a lot of people who are unhappy in their marriages, but who stay together, admit they're much happier five years later. I know you're suffering now. Is he willing to try some counseling with you to see if that helps? Or to take a relationship course? Or read a book about what real love is? If he isn't, that's not a good sign. You'll know when it's time to give up, but right now seems a little early.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.