(last updated Feb 10th 2021)
Often I get asked if I think there is hope for a person in a troubled marriage. This obviously differs from marriage to marriage, and no one can say for sure what the future holds.
If your partner has lost all affection for you and/or is putting you down, I think you need to ask yourself the following questions before making your mind upon how you want to proceed:
1. How much do you have invested in your relationship?
I had three kids with Steve and no money to leave if I wanted to. Dealing with Steve’s narcissism wasn’t something I would go through for just anyone. I left a long term boyfriend who was abusive before I met Steve with no regrets. I actually advise on how best to end your marriage safely, towards the end of Back From the Looking Glass. The steps we offer in this book are primarily about ending the conflict. Whether you divorce or stay together should depend on several factors which only you can judge. If you have children or fear for your safety, ending the conflict first can be even more important if you do decide on divorce.
More people are injured in domestic violence episodes in the two month period after one partner leaves than at any other time in a marriage. Statistically, children fare much better in family breakups where the conflict is resolved before partners separate.
2. Have you got any idea of what is going on in their world?
- Is your partner distant because they have another love interest (real or imaginary)?
- Do they create fights whenever you try and hold them accountable?
- Are they needy and demanding, blaming everything on you?
- Or perhaps they are proud and arrogant and always needing someone to put down?
The answers to these questions will make a lot of difference to whether there is hope. For instance, if your partner is in love with someone else, this may look similar to a case of narcissistic false pride, but is in fact very different. If your partner has made a firm decision to leave, there is probably not much you can do to stop them.
3. Are you codependent?
Do you worry your partner is using you, but keep giving because you fear if you don’t, they will leave? If so working through the steps we offer will help you as much as it will help them.
4. Will you (and your kids) be in even more danger if you leave?
Before you worry about bringing the love back to your marriage, first you need to think about your safety. If you are in a violent or abusive relationship and/or worry about leaving your kids alone with your partner if you end up sharing custody, no matter what the future might bring—you need a plan of action to protect yourself and your children.
5. Are you chasing an unhealthy dream?
- Are you hoping for a hero to come and rescue you?
- Do you want a partner who will love things about you, that, in reality, are antisocial and unattractive?
- Do you long for your partner to take care of you in ways that an adult shouldn’t expect to be taken care of?
It’s easy to see the problems in others but not always easy to see them in ourselves.
6. What if the Abuse is Passive?
Dealing with the silent treatment and lack of affection in a marriage can be just as heartbreaking and upsetting as insults and abuse (and will probably also make you angry). It would be best if you decided how you are going to deal with this. I wonder what you are doing now? Asking for change will probably not work. Personally, I would find out what the issue is and decide how to confront it best head-on.
Hang in there!
Are you ready to get started? Our Introductory Membership subscription gives you access to Back From the Looking Glass & 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence, plus Kim’s series on dealing with verbal abuse. You will also gain access to Kim’s Group where you will have access to private Facebook page forums where you can converse with other members and receive ongoing support and assistance from our group.