Awhile back, I wrote a blog post on Divorced Girl Smiling called: “The Two Most Important Words when it comes to Mr. Right.” The two words were “trust” and “loyalty.” Here is a response I received from a man thinking of separating.
Jackie, You stressed two must-have’s for a successful relationship; trust and loyalty. But is that enough? I’m in a 30 year marriage which has been a mixed bag throughout the entire time, although I can say that I have been in love with my wife for most of the time, if not all of it.
I can also say that we’ve been through some incredibly stressful and difficult times as most people face in life, which naturally strains, changes and challenges the relationship. We have clearly grown apart in who we are today. I do believe that we have a good deal of trust and loyalty, although due to the various stressors in our lives there has been lots of negativity, resentment, and unforgettable behavior in our relationship, which makes me question if I love her and to my lesser concern…if she loves me.
I accept that it won’t be like it was 30 years ago, but is my love for her still there and just buried beneath tons of negative feelings? At many times, there is so much resentment, anger and maybe even hatred towards one another because of our problems. It’s very possible that one or both of us have fallen out of love with the other, which is the way it seems. We both deserve to be happy of course, but as we are in our early and mid-50s, there’s not too much time left to get on the road to happiness without making some decisions and acting quickly.
So I guess my question is, putting trust and loyalty aside for the moment, how do you know if you are still in love with someone when you really don’t feel it? And what can we and/or do to turn around what has been a very difficult, maddening, and almost unbearable existence/relationship for the last 5+ years? Do we just move on and start a solo journey or fresh start towards our own happiness?
Confused & Contemplating
Wow. So first of all, I commend both you and your wife for staying together for 30 years. We both know that’s not easy to do, and with life’s problems, many people choose to leave. Furthermore, the fact that you say you still have trust and loyalty is so wonderful, because as we all know, when things get rocky, many people choose to cheat, and it doesn’t sound like either of you have done that.
When I say that trust and loyalty are the most important things in a relationship, that doesn’t mean they are the ONLY important things. They are just the deal breakers, because without those two things, you can forget about a successful relationship.
Here’s the key to the answer of the question: should we stay or leave each other. You have to BOTH want it to work. That is the whole thing. If you sit down with each other and say, “What do we want and need to do for us to survive (and even thrive)?” that is the first step. Is it counseling? Is it date nights? Is it giving each other a little space? Make a list and tackle each thing.
Trust me, I get where you are coming from. It’s not easy to live with someone for that long without driving each other nuts. There are probably things she does and says that bug the crap out of you and vice versa. But the reason I think you have a chance is because there IS trust and loyalty.
Yes, we are getting older and may feel like you don’t have much time left. That is a very valid concern. And yes, if you got divorced, chances are you would date and date and date at the beginning, and then you’d fall madly in love with some woman and have an amazing few months of infatuation and new love. But ask yourself if you can recreate that with your wife, your best friend. Because that IS possible, you know. But it takes a lot of effort, and again you both have to want it.
Resentment and anger can really cover feelings of attraction and lust and even love. So, how do you get that cover off? Talk about it. Get your feelings out on the table. And if you feel heard and understood, maybe it helps get rid of a lot of that.
I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you not to minimize the strengths in your relationship: trust and loyalty.
Good luck to you. I will have my fingers crossed that you will email me some good news in the future!!
Michael C. Craven
Thank you for your article. I found this interesting.
-Michael C. Craven, Chicago Divorce Attorney http://www.divorcelawyerschicago.org/