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Help me save my marriage

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  April 23, 2010 08:59 AM

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I think this makes the best-of list for Love Letters lines:

"How do you convince someone you'll love them till death without dying?"

Q: Hi Meredith,

I must admit I never thought I would be the guy asking for advice on my relationship, but here I am ... on the verge of a divorce from my college love. I need help because I don't want to lose her, but she seems to be bent on becoming a new person and starting a new life.

So let me preface this story of an ending by telling you a little bit about the beginning. Many years ago, when we met in college, she had the courage to call me up blindly and tell me that she had been stalking me for a couple weeks. This was our freshman year. Her confidence and overall attractiveness sold me. We met and instantly liked each other. It wasn't instant love or a passionate college romance, but we had fun and grew to really love each other by college graduation. In fact I knew that someday I would marry her.

She moved in a year after graduation. We did everything together and we enjoyed many of the same things. But as we grew more accustomed to each other, I think some of that sparkle in our eyes started disappearing. The love got stronger but sex was rare. I was OK with that. The problem was, she wasn't OK with that. Over the years I think she started to doubt her attractiveness and self worth, even though I would constantly give her praise and attention. She needed actions not words, and I tried, but the pressure of my job, my sick parents, and everything else pertaining to daily life was weighing on me. I had a hard time being the romantic that she wanted me to, even though I tried my hardest.

The issues persisted year after year, and we had conversations on a quarterly basis about how we'd fix it, but we never did. Both of us just talked, agreed, and then crossed our arms. She didn't do anything and neither did I. I'm not sure why. She started gaining a lot of weight and started working late just to avoid me, and I feel like she would try and say things just to annoy me so that I would hate her. But all I kept doing was trying to get her out of her rut. Maybe I was too supportive. I don't know. Maybe I was a friend and not a lover. Again, I'm not sure. But as our friendship grew, our passion disappeared.

Fast forward to last year, we're in marriage counseling, she's in exit mode and I'm trying to convince her to look forward not back. I have a new job. My parents are still sick, but I'm more comfortable now with their situation. I was and still am a changed man, and I have been constantly fighting, hoping that she'll have an epiphany of some sort -- an epiphany about who I am and how much I really mean to her.

For the past two years, she has been telling me that she is confused. She doesn't know what she wants, but she knows that she has a hard time forgetting our past. She has a hard time processing the downs, and she doesn't focus on the ups. She's depressed and upset and no matter how much I tell her I love her, she doesn't believe me. "Why now?" she would ask. "Why do you try hard now?" And all I could do was say that "When times got bad, I realized what I really wanted, and it was you" -- and that was the honest truth.

I love and I want my wife more than ever, but she tells me she can't get past what's happened. She can't get over the doubt. She moved out of the house and it has been months now since I last saw her. I cry every day, I'm on a rollercoaster of emotions. I still want her as my wife but how do you convince someone you love them till death without dying? We were born to be together, but a blip in our past is blinding her future. I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep her. Is there anything I can do???


– Dog Willing to Try New Tricks


A: First of all, DWTTNT, what you're describing doesn't sound like a blip to me. I'm not trying to make you feel worse, but your wife dealt with years of rejection and self-doubt.

I feel for her. It probably took a great deal of courage for her to make the decision to let you go. Then, just as she's feeling confident about her choice, you rally. Talk about confusing.

I don't know what you can do to fix this besides words followed by actions, assuming she's open to either. It's about classic, consistent wooing. It's about showing her that you want what she wants.

But before you do any more lobbying, please think about what you really desire. She felt unattractive because you didn't want to sleep with her. Do you want to sleep with her now? She felt as though the romance was gone. Are you feeing romantic about her now?

If your angst and pain over the loss of her is really about losing your best friend, think hard about whether you should be begging her to come home. Some people are very happy just being best friends with their partner after a decade or so. Your wife has made it clear that she wants more, that her definition of marriage involves romance and passion from start to finish. If you can't live up to that expectation (or have no desire to), consider what's best for both of you.

You both love each other to death. I don't think she's really questioning that. She's questioning whether you have similar goals for your marriage. Do you?

Readers? What can he do to get her back? Should he get her back? Is this too little, too late? Why isn’t she responding to his new agenda? Help.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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