He Loves Her as a 'Person'

Q: Me and my husband have been married for 17 years, and I love him with all my heart. But now he tells me he loves me, but not as a wife, just as a person. We still have sex but that is all the affection he shows me anymore. What do I do? Do I need to move on, or should I wait and see if it can work out? He has been like this for at least 3 months. -- April, 36

Dr. Susan: Three months or so isn't that long a time in the context of a 17-year marriage. You married young and so many changes must have occurred in both your lives since then. If he showed you affection before, there's a chance he'll come around to being willing to show it again. It may be that he's going through a stage, or is depressed. Obviously he cares for you physically, or at least finds you attractive, since you continue to have sex. I don't suggest moving on until you get deeper into what he means when he says he doesn't love you as a wife. Does he want a divorce so he can pursue other women? Is he saying he wants to be with other women and stay married to you "as a person"? Could you tolerate that? Sometimes these are bumps in the road that smooth out in a year or two. It's been found that a lot of people who are unhappy in their marriages, but who stay together, admit they're much happier five years later. I know you're suffering now. Is he willing to try some counseling with you to see if that helps? Or to take a relationship course? Or read a book about what real love is? If he isn't, that's not a good sign. You'll know when it's time to give up, but right now seems a little early.

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