Long Term Marriage Woes
Visitor's Question from a 41-50 year old Female
I've been married for 17 years. I married for the wrong reasons and have "never" been in love w/ him. I've been "choosing" to love him in spite of my wrong decisions up until now.
I'm tired of trying to make our relationship what I dream it should be. He has let me down too many times and I can't find any strength or Hope to try again. In the past, I would do what it takes to have a good relationship but the "Feelings" of being in love would never be there or come about. I would then begin to run out of fuel-- he doesn't contribute much to the relationship to keep me going.
Is this kind of relationship worth holding on to? Wouldn't "falling in love" benefit a relationship?
First, everybody who marries does so for some right reasons and some wrong reasons. There is no perfect marriage. After a few years, the reasons WHY you married really become irrelevant. Some people marry to escape home, some marry because they're forced to by parents, some marry for financial reasons, some marry to not be alone. The source really doesn't matter after you're with someone for 3 or 4 years. What matters now is how you choose to relate to this person.
You may say that you're not in love with him, but undoubtedly you mean that movie/tv version of love where there are sparks flying, romance blooming, flowers, candles, trips to Vegas. I have to tell you that that sort of romance, while maybe a part of new love's 'courtship' stage, is really not a normal day to day part of most peoples' lives. I list the stages of love here -
and after 5 years or so, relationships settle down into a comfortable, best-friends sort of atmosphere where the two of you understand each other, know each others good AND bad traits, know how to get along, how to get chores done, have the house maintained, socialize with friends, etc. That long term comfort IS love, that you've chosen to stay together, to care for each other and to work together to maintain your world.
It's easy to dream of dashing prince charmings and handsome strangers with the wealth of books, movies and TV shows that constantly push those ideas into our faces. It's easy to think these things just "happen" if you find the right guy. But the reality is that each of us makes our own world out of what we have. Escapist fantasies are fun, but if they start to destroy your joy in your real world, they have taken control of you.
If you have a guy that has stayed with you for 17 years, you have something that many women dream about! I know many, many single women who would be quite happy with a reliable, there-for-you partner.
Instead of focussing on how you guys got together - 17 years ago - and how that was the source of your trouble, I think you need to start afresh. You have a guy that has been with you for 17 years, and together you have created a home, have friends, have family, have a world. That is something to treasure. Your immediately family of him-and-you is one that has stood the test of time and has many shared memories. If you want to bring you two even closer, it is something you both can work on together.
I have lots of tips on keeping the love alive here -
but in essence you must work at remaining great friends. This doesn't just "happen" in ANY relationship. It always takes effort. So sit down with him (or alone) and make a list of fun things you'd like to do. They might be to go biking, or visit Niagara Falls, or learn Italian, or learn to cook desserts. Now start working on a project with him! Go to cooking lessons together. Get bikes and start biking. You two will be learning new things together and having fun. That's the key to any relationship, to constantly think about and implement things that you enjoy.
Sure, it might be you that is doing the planning of this. In EVERY relationship there is always someone better at planning than the other. That's a normal thing! Don't take it as a sign that he doesn't care. Just arrange for fun events, and enjoy your time together!
-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at RomanceClass.com