Real Needs, Real Love?
Q: I have been in 30 years of a bad marriage. I spent the last 17 years sticking by my commitment to stay married for the sake of the kids, as I wanted to raise them in a two-parent family. But it was at the price of deep emotional contact that might have fulfilled our own needs. She called me a pervert (I am not), and I am now devoid of all/any remaining love for her. She, too, has suffered from her needs not being met by me through the years. Neither of us had a clue what each other's real needs were and it has come to this: a very sorrowful and real divorce. She says she loves me now. I believe she does, BUT my love for her has died. Is it possible for REAL love for her to be refound? If so, how? Can love be manufactured? What a mess. -- Scott, 55
Dr. Susan: Has she shown in any way that she actually does love you now? Or is she only afraid of being divorced and on her own after all this time? I won't say it's impossible for you to rediscover your old loving feelings for her, but there is no simple way to do that. You must decide if there's enough left of your feelings to begin again. Just a tiny spark is needed to get a mild fire going. It would be worth considering some counseling to get you two talking to each other in ways you've neglected for so many years. The result could be REAL love, but of course not the same as you had 30 years ago. Too much neglect takes a toll. Both of you need to relearn the habit of affection and caring. My own book Loving in Flow explores how some long-marrieds went through very hard times and then rebuilt satisfying relationships.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.