Does this sound like you? “Me and my husband co-habitat, we simply co-exist. We are not fooling each other.”
What does a cohabitating situation look like? Both come home, maybe they speak maybe they don’t. If they do it’s cold, reactionary, and cordial. They don’t really care how each other’s day was, but out of some form of responsibility they inquire half listening. They may have a joint account to pay bills, or have each taken certain bills stating their intent to pay them. They sleep in the same bed or they sleep in separate rooms. When the kids are around they don’t pretend to be in love and they also don’t act as though they can’t stand each other. They each have separate friends; go on separate vacations, of course only when the kids aren’t involved. There is absolutely not intimacy, bottom line their time together is one of tolerance.
It begs the question; how does one get to this point? Neither one is hot or cold.
Whatever the original attraction was, that something, that brought you both together has not been nurtured throughout the relationship. So many times whether lengthy or short-term what we thought we liked about a person, soon fades and we find ourselves asking, what in the world did we find attractive about this person in the first place. Maybe the person was a brick house and now she’s simply a house. Maybe the person had sex two or three times a week, now one or the other has become a sex camel, learning how to go without for long periods of time and when you do finally come together it’s not necessarily for mutual gratification but for individual sexual release. Maybe he was romantic, caring deeply about the needs and desires of his wife, and now he could care less. Or maybe he was never romantic and that boyish quality has now soured and you want more than what was promised. Maybe each has grown a part, goals and dreams have changed without consulting and including both in the change process. Just maybe, even though the individual’s actions didn’t show their ability to perform what they promised, you went into the relationship hoping that the individual would actually live up to your expectations, void of any proof that the person possessed the ability or the fortitude to fulfill their promises. Were you actually hearing what you wanted to hear while everything screamed, “It ain’t going to happen”.
Maybe you went into this relationship believing one or the other would grow up and grow out of childish behavior and yet it never happened. Maybe you tried over a long period of time to make the marriage work but the other was non-responsive so you reached a place of “screw it”. The list can go on and on and yet at the end of the day the bottom line is both have said, “I want out. There’s got to be more to marriage than what I have.”
This is an extremely dangerous place to be. Both parties are very vulnerable. Temptation has greater reign and influence in their lives. It always seems the grass is greener on the other side. Just remember grass not tested may turn out to be turf (fake). Both parties have played a role in their demise. Both parties checked out, one sooner than the other. Both have given up, and yet through a sense of responsibility they stay usually because of the kids, or it’s cheaper to keep her or him.
This situation can only be salvaged if both parties desire it to be. Believe it or not one or the other can initiate and recapture many of the things that were lost. It only takes one to begin the rekindling and the other will slowly but surely understand your intent.
Here are some quick suggestions geared to repairing what is truly not irreparable.
- Look deep inside and spend some time analyzing yourself, your motives, your desires, and what value you bring into the life of your spouse.
- Spend time looking deeply into the heart of your spouse. Reintroduce yourself to him or her.
- Ask your spouse’s forgiveness for having checked out on him or her and state your desire to engage in conversation to re-evaluate where you both go from here. Don’t be afraid to ask him/her what they want, be prepared for the hard and painful answers. Don’t get angry if your spouse doesn’t apologize in return. Remember you have reached a place of potential reconciliation before the other. They’re numb just as you have been for a while.
- Expect skepticism. In the mind of another, what is he/she up to? What is her/his agenda?
- Find ways to compliment your spouse genuinely. Don’t make it obvious but subtle. Don’t be pushy, overbearing, or impatient. Whatever it took to get you both to this place didn’t happen overnight and it will not take one attempt to right a ship that has gone wrong.
- Find ways to spend time together with a focus on what the other would like to do. Once again you can’t go in like gangbusters’; you have to make the change noticeable but not overly so.
- While looking into self, honestly assess have you let yourself go? I am not necessarily talking about weight, just in your overall appearance. Your hair, clothing, aroma? How do you prepare for bed at night? If a woman, purchase or dust off those great night apparel’s that used to excite. Both could possibly use and appreciate a makeover. You don’t have to go out and buy a wardrobe just give yourself that same attention you gave when you first dated.
- Accept your role in the break down. Acknowledge the signs, if honest you saw, and work through how you can ensure no duplication in the future. If things were unhealthy don’t embrace the unhealthy behavior, let your spouse know how the unhealthy behaviors makes you feel and your desire to eradicate them from your marriage completely.
- Get counseling. Find a counselor that both can embrace. There is nothing worse than going to a counselor that appears to be taking sides. It would be nice to find a male and female, who are already on one accord, to mediate the proceedings. When in counseling, don’t accuse or berate, or complain, simply state the facts without making it personal. By talking about how things made you feel and not crucifying the individual leaves some room for honest assessment, consideration, and possible reconciliation.
- Remind your spouse that you truly do love them. More importantly remind yourself.
Pray for you and your spouse.
Clearly this will only work if you truly want this. There is no guarantee that your spouse will return the sentiments, just be prepared if you truly want this to fight for this reunion with your very being.
Trust God and leave the rest to Him.
We are told after having done all you can in your physical and mental strength stand, let God yield the increase, the ultimate outcome.
My heart cries for you who have checked out of your marriage. Marriage is a good thing. It’s the two imperfect people who mess up the good that God made. I pray success and peace for your marriage, for your family, and for your heart.