Direct Answers – What If

What If?

My husband and I have been together 27 years, married for 22. We were high school sweethearts. I was 16 when we met and he was 18. He dated several girls before me, while I had never dated.

A while ago we quarreled over his use of social media. I found some flirts he sent. They were hurtful and disrespectful to me and I asked him to stop.

I also asked him why. All he could say was, "I love you, but I'm not in love with you." I'm not sure what this means or how to interpret it. Almost a year after that discussion he seems loving toward me and caters to me like things were before.

I'm confused. Is he playing with me until our 12-year-old daughter turns 18, then he'll leave me? Or what exactly?

~ Belinda

Belinda, when someone loves you, it would never come into their mind to say "I love you, but I'm not in love with you." Those words mean "I'm open to falling in love with someone else."

Because thought precedes action, your husband may have felt this way a long time before telling you. Saying he is not in love with you was his fair play, but it may be all the fair play that is in him. He gave you a warning. In the future he can say, "Remember, I told you."

It's as if you have suddenly been made into an insurance company. You have to calculate the risk that a hurricane or earthquake will devastate an area you are insuring. The one thing you can't do is bury the problem from consciousness.

As an insurance company all you can do is mitigate risk. What are you going to do if he left tomorrow? Do you need a job, a better job or more education? Do you need to be more involved in handling the finances?

Above all don't make major financial decisions—like an addition to the house—which will hobble you if your circumstances change.

But you are not an insurance company. You are a woman who wants love. Imagine you are standing at the altar again at 21. The groom says, "I love you, but I'm not in love with you." Would you say, I do? You wouldn't say yes then. Do you say yes now?

The thing your husband overlooked is that two can play this game. You might want to control your own destiny. You might think, better to have this happen at 43 than when I am 50.

In many marriages, the ideal person a wandering spouse has in mind is a fantasy and never comes along. Or they realize, I didn't think through all the undesirable consequences of a split. The worst case of all is what you might think is best. He says, "I didn't mean it, honey" and slyly continues to look for love.

And nothing might happen. But you have to be open to all of what life throws at people. Because when your spouse is not in love with you, it no longer is a partnership. Now there is him and there is you. Two individuals. As an individual, what is right for you?

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column for the week of March 28, 2016

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