Dear WholeFamily Counselor,
My wife and I have been going to marriage therapy since October. The problem is that she says that she loves me only like a best friend and not as a husband. The problem in our marriage has been communication. We were both raised in families where communication was a problem. Therapy has helped me communicate but my wife still has difficulty doing the same. In addition to my wife and I seeing therapist separately, we are seeing one together.
This whole situation is extremely difficult for me. We have two daughters, a three-year-old and a ten-month-old. I have recently got on medication due to the anxiety this has caused. I have changed in so many positive ways since the beginning of therapy but my wife's feelings are still the same. The therapist states that if she gets out of the house, has own career etc. then she will most likely get feelings back for me. This has not happened yet.
Please advise. I love her dearly and will do whatever it takes for a happy marriage.
Loved as a friend
Dear "Loved as a Friend,"
Since you "love your wife very much and will do whatever it takes for a happy marriage," you need to be clear about what is really happening between the two of you if you want to put your marriage back on the right track.
You and your wife have problems in communication. Beyond the problem of communication, there is the problem of your feeling differently about each other. Your wife "loves you as a friend and not as a husband" while you love your wife both as friend and as a wife.
These two problems are not necessarily related and while your communication has improved with therapy, your wife's feelings have not changed yet. It is very hard and painful for you.
It strikes me that you are overlooking one important factor, which might influence the way your wife feels. You have a three-year-old daughter and a ten-month-old baby daughter, which means that she has gone through two pregnancies and caring for two small babies in the last four years. While joyful, these can be trying times for the new mother and could divert her attention away from her husband and even affect the attraction she has for him. It is a possibility that at this time your wife needs her husband to be her best friend.
My advice to you is to give it time. Meanwhile, don't pressure your wife about her feelings for you. Be supportive of her and enjoy your young children together. While sex and physical intimacy are crucial for a good whole relationship, it cannot always be judged during these years of pregnancy and new parenthood. I do not underestimate your difficulty but do not let it take over and deprive you of the happiness you can have in your life with your wife and children.
If the situation does not change allowing it all the time you can, you will then have to reconsider your options.
Silvet Sufar-Shalit, PhD