“I Never Loved You.”
If your spouse has said this to you, I’m sorry. It is incredibly painful to hear.
At one point I said this in my own marriage, and my husband still remembers how it made him feel all these years later.
Those words devastated him.
He just couldn’t wrap his brain around them. How could I say them? What if they were true? Was our entire life together, up to that point, a lie?
Here is the really strange thing: I absolutely meant it when I said those words to him.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how our marriage got to such a low point.
I felt nothing for him but contempt.
I was so angry, and then I was just so defeated I felt nothing at all, which was worse in so many ways. I felt this anger and then this apathy for so long I couldn’t remember ever feeling love.
I remembered our wedding, but the memory became duller. The colors were less vivid – the day less joyful.
The “I Never Really Loved You” Syndrome is Clinically Studied and Personally Proven – by me.
John Gottman has research that shows if you feel negatively about someone long enough, something happens in the brain to literally change your memories of that person. He calls it “negative sentiment override”. As a clinician, that is fascinating and a little unbelievable. But I’m telling you, when it happens TO you, it is mind blowing.
I’m a rational person. I make big decisions every day with my business. I know my own mind and thoughts.
And yet, I was deluded into thinking I never really loved my husband. I thank God every day I came to my senses.
It took several key factors for me to be able to come back to reality.
I’ve listed them here for you so that if your spouse has told you this, you can at least have some guideline to help you get through this.
“Drop the Rope”
The more my husband fought me on my feelings, the more determined I became in making them real.
When my husband believed me and stopped pressuring me to see things his way or explain how I could feel these things, I was able to take a step back and breathe.
We call this technique “drop the rope.” When my husband quit telling me he loved me every day, I was able to stop squirming and feeling so uncomfortable around him every minute. I knew he loved me. But when he would say it often, it would make me feel itchy. I just wanted him to go away.
When he pulled back, I stopped dreading being around him.
For months we lived as roommates but I was no longer avoiding and running from him. Over time, things just got easier, and one day I felt myself wanting to be with him. It was confusing! But I could explore those feelings without any threat because he wasn’t pressuring me.
I didn’t feel pushed to make a decision about divorce or reconciliation.
Honestly, I don’t know how my husband was able to emotionally stand this time. It was so hard for him to just wait for months to see if I could possibly want to be married again. He was so lonely and hurt. I was so self-absorbed and distant. Now, I want to shake myself and say, “you selfish little twit” but during that time, I was not in my right mind. My husband’s patience allowed me time to work it out and come to my senses.
He never pressured me for sex. Which is good.
I’m sure that would have sent me to the guest room or to an apartment. He created a very safe environment for me.
He didn’t let me treat him badly or rudely.
He stood up for himself appropriately. If he had allowed me take advantage of the situation by letting me have my way all the time, or talking ugly to him I would have lost all respect for him.
When I was really angry I would lash out at him, and he would calmly tell me that I could live there with him and have all the space I needed to figure things out, but I could not be abusive.
He told me I had to clean it up or move out. Wow! That took courage. But it also made me look at him in a different way. It made him more attractive to me.
I was a complete fool during that awful time in our marriage. But I eventually did come to my senses and I’m hoping your spouse will also. In the meantime, you have to know how to give your spouse space but maintain your dignity and respect at the same time.
What Doesn’t Work
There is a popular program out there that gives really bad advice to people in this situation. They tell you to buy your spouse gifts and write them cards every day. I’m telling you, this would have made things much worse for us. I would have felt suffocated. I would have felt pity for my husband and his pathetic attempts to win me back. I would have left him.
Our Trained Coaches Can Help
Our coaches are trained in techniques like “drop the rope” and “yank the chain”. They kind of sound like torture devices! But our techniques can really work if you know when and how to use them. Our coaches get relationship training from the top experts in this country and we meet weekly to train and stay up-to-date on the latest research.
Look, you are in a tough spot. It can be confusing to know where to turn for advice. Make sure you work with someone who knows what they are doing. When I opened a new business, I hired a business coach. I wanted to avoid costly mistakes. Be smart about your relationship. Hire a good marriage coach and work with them regularly.
Your life is worth this investment. Your family is worth fighting for.
We can help you navigate through the next several months. I won’t lie. This is going to be difficult. So make sure you get all the help and support you need.
Call us at 972-441-4432 or send us an email here.
In the meantime, take care of yourself. Find things you enjoy and indulge. You need some self-love right now. If I could, I would give you a big hug and some chocolate. It always makes me feel better. ☺