One of our StrongMarriageNow Community members asked Dr. Dana, “I feel my wife slipping away. She has separated from me and I feel crushed. I’ve tried really hard to show her love, but it just seems to push her away. She appears checked out. Nothing seems to work. I don’t want her to give up. Please help.”
Here’s a transcript of Dr. Dana’s answer to the question from a recent StrongMarriageNow Community call:
“Well, I’m going to assume you mean that she’s pulling away from you not necessarily physically at this point, but that she’s pulling away from you emotionally – that you’re feeling disconnected. The way to answer that, interestingly enough, is to bring up another author’s famous work.
“Many of you have probably heard of the book called The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In that book, he explains that we all have a different way that we feel loved. For some people, it’s acts of service. In other words, someone doing something for them. For some people, it’s words of affection. For yet others, it’s physical touch. For others, it’s gifts. The fifth love language is quality time. I bring this up because I’m wondering if your wife isn’t feeling loved by you in her preferred ‘Love Language.’
“The classic example of this is a woman who complains that her husband doesn’t love her, and he looks at her and says, ‘I don’t understand. I work hard all day. I do so much for you.’ And she says, ‘But, you never tell me you love me!’
“His way of expressing love is acts of service. Her way of feeling loved is through words and expression, so they’re missing each other.
“It sounds to me like you and your wife are missing each other in this way. I would recommend sitting down with your wife and exploring what would make her feel loved. What would make her feel connected to you? What could you do to show her how much you love her? Explore why isn’t she isn’t feeling it from you. Why isn’t that translating? Basically, have a loving conversation and ask her what she needs.
“And, perhaps you’ve already had this conversation – but often times this conversation can play out as follows: she might say, ‘Well, I just wish that you’d spend more time with me.’ Then the other person says, ‘But I do spend time. I try.’ And then they engage in an argument, which shuts the other person down.
“My advice is to stay quiet and just listen to what she says. When you do respond, simply ask questions to make sure you really understand what she’s talking about. If you’re not sure how to do that, we’ve got a Listening Exercise in our StrongMarriageNow System. Based on the listening exercise that we teach there, I would stay quiet rather than to ask questions or refute your partner’s point.
“Listen and remain open to find out what’s really going on. Why isn’t she feeling connected? Why isn’t she feeling loved? The goal of the conversation is to arrive at a place where you can express your love, and show her in a way that she will truly feel it.
“Another element that can get in the way of understanding what’s going on is when we get frustrated. This happens when we want to say love, but we’re expressing it with an edge. My best way to explain that is: we aggressively say something like, ‘Damn it, I’m loving you!’
“Unfortunately, the listener hears the aggression and frustration – and not the love. Because the communication is edged with those negative emotions, it interferes with making the connection we long for.
“So, please be sure take a look at yourself. Explore whether or not you are truly expressing your love in a sincere, kind way – or if, after this long time, your tone of voice is reflecting your frustration and fear. Be sure that your feelings and words communicate what you truly intend and want to accomplish. By communicating patiently, kindly, and lovingly, you’ll achieve the goal of more love and connection in your relationship.”
To participate in our next monthly call and get your question answered, try our StrongMarriageNow Community for free. We’ve also got a powerful webinar, 5 Secrets to Save Your Marriage, that has helped many couples save their marriages from the brink of divorce.
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Wishing you more love and connection in your marriage,
Dr. Dana and Amy, StrongMarriageNow.com