Category Archives: Discernment Counseling

I Never Loved You – How to Respond When Your Spouse Says This Hurtful Phrase

i-never-loved-you

“I Never  Loved You.”

If your spouse has said this to you, I’m sorry.  It is incredibly painful to hear. 

At one point I said this in my own marriage, and my husband still remembers how it made him feel all these years later. 

Those words devastated him. 

He just couldn’t wrap his brain around them.  How could I say them? What if they were true? Was our entire life together, up to that point, a lie?

Here is the really strange thing:  I absolutely meant it when I said those words to him. 

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how our marriage got to such a low point. 

I felt nothing for him but contempt. 

I was so angry, and then I was just so defeated I felt nothing at all, which was worse in so many ways.  I felt this anger and then this apathy for so long I couldn’t remember ever feeling love. 

I remembered our wedding, but the memory became duller.  The colors were less vivid – the day less joyful.

The “I Never Loved You” Syndrome is Clinically Studied and Personally Proven – by me.

John Gottman has research that shows if you feel negatively about someone long enough, something happens in the brain to literally change your memories of that person.  He calls it “negative sentiment override”.  As a clinician, that is fascinating and a little unbelievable.  But I’m telling you, when it happens TO you, it is mind blowing. 

I’m a rational person.  I make big decisions every day with my business.  I know my own mind and thoughts. 

And yet, I was deluded into thinking I never really loved my husband.  I thank God every day I came to my senses. 

It took several key factors for me to be able to come back to reality. 

I’ve listed them here for you so that if your spouse has told you this, you can at least have some guideline to help you get through this.

“Drop the Rope”

The more my husband fought me on my feelings, the more determined I became in making them real. 

When my husband believed me and stopped pressuring me to see things his way, or explain how I could feel these things, I was able to take a step back and breathe. 

We call this technique “drop the rope.” When my husband quit telling me he loved me every day, I was able to stop squirming and feeling so uncomfortable around him every minute.  I knew he loved me.  But when he would say it often, it would make me feel itchy.  I just wanted him to go away. 

When he pulled back, I stopped dreading being around him. 

For months we lived as roommates but I was no longer avoiding and running from him. Over time, things just got easier, and one day I felt myself wanting to be with him.  It was confusing!  But I could explore those feelings without any threat because he wasn’t pressuring me. 

I didn’t feel pushed to make a decision about divorce or reconciliation. 

Honestly, I don’t know how my husband was able to emotionally stand this time.  It was so hard for him to just wait for months to see if I could possibly want to be married again. He was so lonely and hurt.  I was so self-absorbed and distant.  Now, I want to shake myself and say, “you selfish little twit” but during that time, I was not in my right mind.  My husband’s patience allowed me time to work it out and come to my senses. 

He never pressured me for sex.  Which is good. 

I’m sure that would have sent me to the guest room or to an apartment.  He created a very safe environment for me.

He didn’t let me treat him badly or rudely. 

He stood up for himself appropriately.  If he had allowed me take advantage of the situation by letting me have my way all the time, or talking ugly to him I would have lost all respect for him. 

When I was really angry I would lash out at him, and he would calmly tell me that I could live there with him and have all the space I needed to figure things out, but I could not be abusive. 

He told me I had to clean it up or move out.  Wow!  That took courage.  But it also made me look at him in a different way.  It made him more attractive to me. 

I was a complete fool during that awful time in our marriage.  But I eventually did come to my senses and I’m hoping your spouse will also.  In the meantime, you have to know how to give your spouse space but maintain your dignity and respect at the same time. 

What Doesn’t Work

There is a popular program out there that gives really bad advice to people in this situation.  They tell you to buy your spouse gifts and write them cards every day.  I’m telling you, this would have made things much worse for us.  I would have felt suffocated.  I would have felt pity for my husband and his pathetic attempts to win me back.  I would have left him.

Our Trained Coaches Can Help

Our coaches are trained in techniques like “drop the rope” and “yank the chain”. They kind of sound like torture devices!  But our techniques can really work if you know when and how to use them.  Our coaches get relationship training from the top experts in this country and we meet weekly to train and stay up-to-date on the latest research. 

Look, you are in a tough spot.  It can be confusing to know where to turn for advice. Make sure you work with someone who knows what they are doing.  When I opened a new business, I hired a business coach.  I wanted to avoid costly mistakes.  Be smart about your relationship.  Hire a good marriage coach and work with them regularly. 

Your life is worth this investment.  Your family is worth fighting for. 

We can help you navigate through the next several months.  I won’t lie.  This is going to be difficult.  So make sure you get all the help and support you need. 

Call us at 972-441-4432 or send us an email here.

In the meantime, take care of yourself.  Find things you enjoy and indulge.  You need some self-love right now. If I could, I would give you a big hug and some chocolate.  It always makes me feel better. ☺


Kim

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How I almost ruined my family’s life by asking for a divorce. {A letter to my younger self}


Almost ruined family by asking for a divorce - a letter to my younger selfMany years ago I almost ruined my life.  Even worse, I almost ruined my kids’ lives by seeking a divorce.

There was a dark period in my marriage when I swear I think I lost my mind.  It is the only explanation I have when I look back at my actions and my feelings.  I have a strong need to share this experience even though now it is incredibly humiliating to me, because I see so many people lost in the same mire of complex emotions and making permanent decisions based on temporary insanity.

Let me start at the beginning.

I married my husband when I was 25 years old.  I loved him, but from the very beginning, I questioned if I loved him enough.  I never felt that intensity that often comes when falling in love.  

He was my best friend, and he was a good man.  I knew he would make an excellent husband and father.  But I often worried something was missing on my end.  That worry didn’t stop me from marrying him, though.

The first several years of our marriage were hard.  We struggled with family dynamics and setting appropriate boundaries.  I don’t want to tell too much about our history because it would be painful for family members we both love, but strained relations caused us a lot of marital discord.  It brought out the worst in both of us and highlighted our flaws to each other.  

I started building a lot of resentment toward my husband for what I believed were failures on his part to protect me or stand up for me.  My husband is a conflict avoider, and he tried to make everyone happy which resulted in no one being really happy.  Especially me.  

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One day I realized I didn’t love my husband anymore.  In fact, I didn’t even like him anymore.  I wanted a divorce.

Over time, my resentment had turned into contempt, and I was often hostile and angry with him.  It was difficult even showing him basic kindness or respect.

I wanted a divorce, but I was raised believing marriage was forever.  Divorce is very frowned upon in my family.  My religious beliefs also forbade a divorce unless there was infidelity.  

But still the day came when I asked my husband for a divorce, and he surprised me by agreeing.  I had made him so miserable with my snarky, angry disposition for so long, he didn’t see any other way either.  We were a mess.  And we had two young kids who were going to be collateral damage.  

But I was too self-absorbed in my own unhappiness to see what was really happening.  

I wish I could go back now and talk to my younger, clueless self.  I would have a very frank and honest conversation that would be painful to hear, but it would save me years of misery. It would save my husband years of misery as well.  I couldn’t see this when I was in that dark place of my marriage but I see it clearly now.

Here is what I wish I could go back and say to my younger self during those dark days when I tortured myself with “should I stay or should I go” questions.

Kim,

You need to get over yourself.  Seriously.

What gives you the right to put anyone under a microscope and judge him as unworthy of even your respect? You are feeling so superior to your husband as you focus on his every flaw.

Just how do you think you would measure up to the same kind of intense, negative scrutiny?  

This negative lens you use to view your husband has allowed you to rewrite history.

Whether you believe it or not, you chose this person because you loved him.  But even more importantly, you promised to love him every day for the rest of your life.  What you focus on expands.  

Try spending one month–one entire month–and think only about his good qualities.  You will be surprised at how your feelings will change.  

Your marriage doesn’t have a chance if you keep holding on to everything your husband is not.  

When you promised to love, honor and cherish him did you include “as long as you feel like doing it” in your vows?  

Everyone has a “bad deal” in their marriage.  Something they wish they could change.  Your husband also has a bad deal in you!  It is incredibly selfish of you to break your vows because you aren’t feeling in love.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself and start figuring out how to change your feelings.

Your husband has never wavered in his devotion to you.  Not once.  

And I’ll take that kind of committed love any day over the passionate, high octane, romantic feelings that never last but consume you with intensity.  You may think that sounds boring.  At one time, I thought so too.  

But can you imagine loving someone that intensely and knowing that any moment they can or will fall out of love with you?  And then they are gone?  

You could never be fully yourself with bad breath and bed hair.  

Too much reality and they may lose their feelings and leave you.  

You want the guy who is going to show up for you every single day because he said he would, whether he feels it or not.  I promise you…THAT is being IN love.  

THAT is true, lasting, deep, committed love. Stop believing the lie that it isn’t.

Sure, mature love can feel boring at times.  It can also feel sexless and tired and lonely.  

But it also feels comfortable and secure like a heated blanket on a cold day.  It is what builds a FAMILY.  Family sticks together and makes it work.  You know this.  It’s just right now you are stuck feeling like an angry victim who is trapped in a marriage that isn’t working.  Trust me on this, you are the one who needs the most work.  

Sincerely,

Your older, wiser and happily married self

So many clients tell me they are not “in love” with their spouse.  They say this because they believe the lie that feeling in love is what true love looks like.

Being IN love translates to being in lust.  

Let’s call it what it really is, so we know what we are dealing with.  

There are dozens of reasons why you may not feel in lust with your spouse.

But love has nothing to do with it.  Is it important?  Yes.  

The fastest way to kill passion in any relationship is when neediness shows up in either spouse.  No matter how subtle, any kind of neediness douses the flames of passion.  

Differences in marriage are sexy.  

In many ways, becoming too familiar kills passion.  The only way to keep it alive in a long-term relationship is to allow your partner to be an individual – to have thoughts and feelings that may not align with yours.  

In marriages, we often become too enmeshed with our partners.  

We stop doing things apart.  

We stop the things that form our individuality and allow us to bring outside energy back into the relationship.  

I wasn’t in lust with my husband because I felt he was pushing my needs and wants to the side for his own comfort.  I was angry and resentful.  We had also become enmeshed.  We got busy raising kids and making a living.  We stopped having fun alone and together.

I could acknowledge my husband was a good person and I had feelings of deep affection for him, but I didn’t want to be married anymore.  I convinced myself I didn’t love him in that way a wife should love her husband.  

Now, I know it is hogwash.  

No matter how much you are convinced you married the wrong person, you need to hold off making a decision about divorce until you get a clearer view of how you messed things up.  

Think long and hard about your kids.  If you leave their mom or dad, you will cause them severe damage.

We put so much emphasis on how we are feeling.  But listen up people: our feelings change.  Often.

One minute I love my kids, and the next I want to kill them.  

One day I love my husband, and I appreciate his gifts.  

The next day I feel he should be lucky to have me in his life and I wonder how long I can put up with his flaws.

But I get it.  I was there.  I was at the point of making a permanent, life-long decision based entirely on my feelings.  

The reason I got to that point is because those negative feelings were lasting a long time.

So much time feeling negatively toward my spouse fooled me into thinking the good feelings and passion were gone for good.  That this time, I wouldn’t be able to resurrect my desire to love my husband and even allow him to touch me again.

But not anymore.

Mostly how mature love feels depends directly on how much effort I put into the relationship.  

When I spend time nurturing my marriage, I reap the fruits of my labor.  

When I take my husband for granted, I have to deal with that harvest as well.  

Twenty six years I ago I promised to love him forever.  I have decided to keep that promise.

If my story resonates with you, you are in what we call a “one up position.”  

You are feeling superior to your spouse.  It isn’t a nice place to be, and you aren’t being very nice either.  This is what it means to be selfish and self-absorbed.  

The only way to get out of this place is humility.  

You need a big dose of honesty!  And it will be painful to see.  

You will fight to justify and defend your position.

You will get angry.  

But you are hurting people and trying to rationalize it by focusing on how you deserve to be happy, even at the expense of your spouse and your children.  

If you continue down this path, you will very likely come to your senses one day and wonder how you threw it all away.  

You will feel guilt and remorse but the damage will be done.  

You will be divorced and your spouse will probably move on without you.  

Your kids will experience childhood trauma that will adversely influence the decisions they make as adults.  

All because you acted on your feelings instead of your common sense.  

If you are miserable enough in your marriage to want to leave, use everything in your power to save it first.  Find a good marriage counselor who will tell you the truth even if it hurts.  

You owe it to the person you promised to love forever to at the very least, do intensive counseling.  

Even if you feel it is hopeless.  

Even if it is expensive and you think you can’t afford the costs.  

You have no excuses.   

Contact The Marriage Place for marriage counseling–alone or with your spouse today.  Appointments can be made online or by calling 972.441.4432.

Other articles of note:

Psychology Today: The impact of divorce on children and adolescence 

Focus on the Family: How could divorce affect my children?

Engage with Love: Your spouse wants a divorce and you don’t.

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