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I Don't Love You Anymore
Mom with a View

I Don't Love You Anymore

A true story of love, courage and incredible strength.

by

I read an incredible article in the NY Times the other day, a true story of love and strength that didn’t involve sunsets and romance and star gazing. It was a story of courage and commitment and selflessness.

When I teach women about marriage I often point out that once in a while their husband may walk into the house at the end of the day in a very bad mood. (Let’s stipulate up front that the reverse could also be true; of course women are sometimes in bad moods too!) He may yell or otherwise express displeasure. Our instinctive reaction is to be defensive. We feel attacked and we respond in kind. The situation rapidly deteriorates.

The wise wife (the one with an abnormal amount of self-control) recognizes that she is NOT the source of her husband’s frustration. The wise wife patiently replies, “It seems like you had a rough day at work. What can I do to help you?” This is the absolutely correct response. And almost never practiced.

Yet the woman in the NY Times piece (08/02/09) went above and beyond. When Laura Munson’s husband of 20 years told her, “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out,” she didn’t react out of emotion. With a tremendous exertion of will power (this is more difficult than the adrenaline-charged lifting of a whole car!), she stated calmly, “I’m not buying it.”

She knew it wasn’t about her or the children, and refused to play her scripted part.

She was able to see beyond herself. She was able to recognize that her husband was “in the grip of ...a profound and far more troubling meltdown that comes not in childhood but in midlife, when we perceive that our personal trajectory is no longer arcing reliably upward as it once did,” that “his new endeavor hadn’t been going so well, and his ability to be the breadwinner was in rapid decline. He’d been miserable about this, felt useless, was losing himself emotionally and letting himself go physically.”

It wasn’t about her or the children and she refused to play her scripted part. She refused to participate in this all too common and destructive scenario.

Instead, like the woman whose husband comes home snarling at the end of a hard day at the office, she patiently and quietly repeated, “I don’t buy it.”

And then she waited. For four long months where each day must have seemed like an eternity. For four long months where she was a single mom. She waited while he didn’t come home for dinner and missed important family occasions. She kept her mouth shut (she deserves a medal for this alone) and she waited.

In the end, her husband came back. Slowly, gradually, not in a dramatic moment of realization, not in a grand epiphany.

She recognized his return in the little things -- in mowing the lawn, in fixing a door, in speaking of the future.

He is one lucky man, to have a wife who wouldn’t allow him to throw away his family, to denounce the past 20 years, to allow mid-life confusion and discouragement to destroy his life.

And she is one wise and tough woman, to have the courage of her convictions and the patience to wait him out. With just an iota of her selflessness and self-control we would all have dramatically better marriages.

Published: August 23, 2009


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Visitor Comments: 41

(41) , November 1, 2010 9:49 PM

When a man distances himself from his wife and his family in manners which have been described in these posts, it is almost always becuase he is in another relationship. He will convince himself that his wife or family is the problem so that he can justify his selfish behavior. There are two issues here 1) The disatiisfaction in his marriage 2) the disatisfaction with himself. The wife can only reasonably address the first of these issues and if after much self reflection , she can truly say she did her best to nurture and/or repair the relationship, then she must for her own good and the good of her childen, remove herself , or her husband from the destructive situation wether she still loves him or not. This is not about love, this decisionis about the physical and emotional 'well being' for all parties. So, usually this means one or the other moves out from the marital home. This does not have to mean divorce, only to provide distance so that clarity can be acheived. When clarity is acheived, then practical and wize decisions can be made. Both parties have a right to acheive "Clarity". but it is impossible to acheive this when both parties are bickering, arguing or behaving destructively within the walls of the marital home. With this clarity, the wife may determine that she does not want to remain in the marriage, does not want to 'work thru it', etc. And the husband may determine that he has made an error in judgment, or infact does not want to remain married ect. Either way, the decision to separate is empowering for both parties . Empowerment bring strength, strength brings resolution.. in one form or another. Remember the Cardinal rule, ladies.. If it hurts, its not love..

(40) Anonymous, July 12, 2010 5:36 AM

@Anonymous

I hope you have great family and friends who will help you during this awful period. Those who do are your true friends and loved ones. Those who do not... are garbage.

(39) Anonymous, July 12, 2010 5:32 AM

Interesting story

Powerful stuff. But one question. Was she "not" playing her part because she thought he was confused and acted for them both? Or did she realize he was being honest but couldn't handle a separation and divorce? P.S. He probably had sex with multiple prostitutes during those 4 months. Got tired, lost money, banned from every bar in town. So... he went back.... for more money.

(38) Marion, June 3, 2010 1:07 AM

I don't buy it

I don't buy it, this man who left home was off somewhere else. Where was he? "She didn't play her scripted part", i.e. she played hard to get (so he wanted her more than the bit on the side). I'm sorry, but most women don't get pandered to by men "how can I help you"- I have never heard that, from the nights when I wooke up to feed our babies all night until today. Yet I have helped him build his sheds, landscaped, mowed etc etc. I wouldn't be able to live with a man who went off "somewhere" and came back without an explanation...no STDs for me thanks. I hope everything works out fine for this woman and her husband...but I don't buy it.

(37) Anonymous, February 20, 2010 9:30 AM

Not married but living with my significant other for 20 yrs. He slowly stopped coming home little by little a few nights a week then he started coming home at around 6am everyday even though he had to be in work at 9am. Then he started to emotionally damage our children by not taking them places when he promised he would and not coming home to put them to bed which we have always done together since the kids were born. My sons would sit in bed and cry because Dad wasn't home and my sons would beg me to call but he wouldn't answer his phone. I was desperate to know why he was doing the things he was doing and of course I suspected he was cheating which of course he thoroughly denied till finally it got to the point where he just didn't come home one day and didn't call home or answer his phone for four days. When he finally called he said he was never coming home again because he was tired of the fighting. I explained to him there would be no fighting if he came home at night to his family and especially at the least to put his children to bed so they could have peace of mind. I think that the children who unconditionally loved him deserved to think there was a divorce going on not to think that their father abandoned them and that after 20 yrs. together I deserved the courtesy of being treated with the love he once had for me to be told it just wasn't working for him anymore. I am devastated. He has left his kids without food or heat in this snow and storm ridden winter and refuses to help his own children.It is hard to move on because i was financially dependent on him. He insisted I not work any more when we moved in together and then 20 yrs and 4kids later here I am writing this letter. Who would hire a woman who has been a stay at home mom for 20 yrs.and I'd more than likely only make minimum wage which would not support 4 kids. I also have some health problems that have slowly gotten worse and would prevent me from working full time. Very devastated and lost

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