I came back early from Iraq to save my marriage. My husband refuses to see me, he says he fell out of love, he is not cheating, and he just thinks he can love someone more than he loves me. He is cold and distant and won't talk about the hurt he feels from my deployment. How do I get him to talk about his feelings and emotions instead of walking away from our marriage?
-Ready to Talk in Illinois
Dear Ready to Talk,
You probably already know that you may not ever get him to talk about his feelings and emotions--some people are like clams or become like clams after a trauma or when their feelings become intense. Of course, regardless what he told you, he might have his eye on someone else. Another possibility is that he heard false rumors about you while you were on deployment.
In my experience (which doesn't make the following a fact), someone acting like your husband may be trying (through distorted thinking) to protect your feelings by not leading you on. He may also be feeling so much emotional pain and perhaps accumulated loneliness that he doesn't think he can trust you with his hurt feelings.
Regardless of the truth, this situation has probably been brewing for a long time by the time it surfaces. One or both of you stopped treating the other as a really special person in your life.
Perhaps you think that, during that period, you couldn't give the time and consideration to your spouse due to life circumstances such as deployment, children, work, travel, or family obligations. It's difficult to be logical when you're hurting inside.
Be the best spouse you can be, and be gently persistent about your commitment to him and to your marriage.
In my experience, the in-love feeling can come back if you both want it and you are both willing to work for it, but from your description he is not wanting to or willing to work for it. Even if he were, once you are being good to each other, it could take some time before the in-love feeling comes back.
Ask your husband to read some self-help materials. Or, if he is willing, you could search out a marriage therapist. The base will have lists of local therapists, but I recommend, if you can afford it, to check out the website for Marriage Friendly Therapists for a therapist who has passed their standards to be registered. I am certified by the Marriage-Friendly Registry. It is very important to find a therapist who will protect your marriage instead of encouraging you to dissolve it.
Wishing you all best wishes in working toward putting your marriage together.
If you want to work with me, I offer marriage counseling in Maryland, to couples from all over the world. I am intentionally out-of-network for all insurance plans. My fees are based on $260 per hour, with a 45 minute session costing $195. I also have self-help programs available.