Speaking of unexpected surprises, here are a few I’ve cataloged along my way working with unsuspecting husbands.
“I just don’t feel that way about you anymore.”
“I think of you more as a friend now than anything else. There’s no spark anymore.”
“We just don’t connect anymore – never did really.”
“I don’t trust you anymore to take care of me.”
“I think we need to separate so I can find myself.”
“I need time away from you so I can work on myself.”
“And the crowd favorite…I love you but I’m not ‘in-love’ with you anymore.”
When I talk with women who have used these lines they say, “I can’t believe he was so shocked and upset. How could he not know how bad things have been?”
And the husbands say the same thing I said when it was my turn, “Because I didn’t think things were that bad. Really, I didn’t.”
Maybe our relationship pain tolerance is higher than women. Maybe our expectations are too low. Maybe their expectations are too high.
Whatever gets a man to this point in his marriage, his next step is fairly predictable.
I Gotta Do Something Now!
When panic arrives a man is inspired into action. Any action. He will say or do or try anything he can to pull her back from the brink. He’s a talented problem solver and troubleshooter at work so this thing shouldn’t be so hard.
A little tweak here or there should get her right back on track. Buy her flowers. Take her on date. Plan a vacation. Initiate really deep conversations – every day. Surprise her with a new car. (yeah, even that one doesn’t work).
The problem with this plan of attack is that the solution – if there is one – has nothing to do with doing
anything. But doing something is all we can think of. We are men of action and problems get solved by taking action – doing something, dammit. Whatever it takes.
I’m sorry to tell you this. There is nothing you can do . At this point, the best thing you can work on is who you are being – not what you’re
Who you need to be – for both of you – is a calm, cool-headed man who knows he is going to be okay. You’ll need to be a man unafraid of asking other men for support. You’ll need to be a man who doesn’t require his wife to make him feel like a whole man.
You’re already whole. You’re already okay.
Here is Exactly What She’s Thinking
Sorry, again. I have no idea exactly what she’s thinking and the chances are neither does she. This is why trying to do something to “fix it” is a waste of time. She won’t respond to any desperate act of heroism on your part and it will likely make her respect you even less.
Many wives have described their feelings at this point like this:
“I’m plagued with doubt every day. I don’t know what I should do.”
“I feel riddled with anxiety and sadness for feeling this way.”
“I’m ashamed of wanting to move away from him, he’s a good man.”
“I feel so stuck and insignificant. I don’t know who I am anymore.”
“I can feel good about everything when we’re apart but when he comes home I get sick to my stomach.”
“I hate feeling the way I do. I just want to run away.”
See what I mean. No bouquet of roses, heartfelt talk or a brand new Mustang convertible will even touch this stuff.
Obviously, I’m not talking about a wife who has made a clear-headed, well planned, measured decision to end a relationship. I’m talking about something much more emotionally complex and distressing. Even she isn’t sure what’s going on. It could be related to depression, anxiety, hormonal changes or all three. Or something else. Therapist Sheryl Paul specializes in “relationship anxiety” and makes a living working with women with these symptoms. It’s seriously debilitating stuff.
That’s why you need to chill. You don’t have any control here.
You’re going to have to take a step back, take a deep breath and be a different man than you’re used to being. She needs your empathy more than she needs you to fix her. Your power now is in your ability to empathize with her feelings. You don’t have to understand what she is experiencing to do this.
And the very best thing you can do for yourself is to pretend you’ve witnessed an alien abduction. They may bring your wife back and they may not.
The impending uncertainty in your life is going to suck. You will want to scream, complain and argue. You will want to know how long this will last and when the aliens will return with your wife.
And you will consider relieving your pain quickly by just ending it now – before it gets worse.
How This is Going to End
Sorry, again. I can’t tell you how it’s going to end. But what I can tell you is this.
How you choose to respond to this new reality will determine how the next 10 years of your life will go.
If you implode into a messy, sticky puddle of anxiety, despair and self-loathing you will lock in a mindset and emotional state which can ruin you. And it will certainly drive her away faster and farther.
You’re going to have to be a little selfish. This means taking care of yourself so you can be more present with her. It means strengthening your emotional health and positive mindset, so you can be a safer harbor for her. Be this guy and you’ll stand the best chance of fighting off the aliens.
And this is the guy whose next 10 years can be amazing no matter what happens in the end.
If you are a husband facing aliens right now, I know this may feel like little consolation. You wanted a solution. You wanted a Hail Mary play.
You want to fix it and you think I’m telling you to “work on yourself”.
No. I’m telling you to not waste of this unique opportunity. These are the times that will either bury a man in resentment and guilt or motivate him to create a new chapter in his life.
The latter is more fun.
If you’re man trying to “save” his relationship, I wrote a free ebook to help you see another way to go about it. Download “The Hard-to-Swallow Secret to Saving Your Marriage” By clicking here
About The Author
Goodguys2greatmen is a blog run by Steve Horsmon. Steve is relationship Coach in Livermore, Colorado. He has appeared on local television, blog radio, telesummits, and podcasts all related to maintaining healthy relationships. Steve provides intensely personal, action oriented coaching services for men. He provides 1-on-1 coaching, private retreats and workshops designed to give men new knowledge, skills and mindset to achieve their relationship goals.