“I care about you… but I’m just not in love with you anymore.” These are some of the most chilling words a person can hear, especially if they are committed to their marriage and in love with their spouse.
When one person begins to feel indifferent about their partner and marriage they enter the “red” or “danger” zone of their relationship. Understandably, but unfortunately, most people react to the emotional withdrawal of their partner with incredible fear and desperation – the very reaction that can lead to a loss of self-respect, increased anger and even more physical and emotional isolation. In other words, sometimes the harder you try, the worse it gets.
If you have been rejected by your spouse and he or she is currently unwilling to constructively address the problems, I recommend that you carefully think through your response by considering the tips in this two-part blog post.
Live, Work and Relate Well!
1. Go “on the record” with what you think, feel and want.
During a low-conflict time, calmly and objectively state what you have observed in your spouse without criticism, ridicule or negative judgment. Next, reiterate your love for him or her and your strong, ongoing commitment to the marriage. Assertively request that your spouse participate with you in counseling with a pastor or marriage therapist. However, if they refuse, it is important not to repeatedly beg them to change their mind as this will likely drive them further away.
2. Resist the urge to over pursue.
Feelings of desperation can make you want to “go after” your disengaged mate. This will only result in him or her having more power over you and the situation because it reveals how strongly you want the relationship to work. According to the Principle of Least Interest, the person demonstrating the least amount of interest in a relationship possesses the most power.
Instead of engaging in a heavy pursuit, draw a line in the sand and commit to not moving beyond it. This means that after you “go on record” with your honest feelings and desire for your marriage to work, you will not pursue with constant physical, emotional or verbal expressions of affection or with anger, hostility or criticism. You will also stop reminding your mate about how sad or upset you are and you will give them the space they need (and often ask for) without playing the victim or martyr.
Once you have committed to and followed through with this step you will want to initiate step three. We will cover steps 3-5 in Part II of our next post.