Living in a Loveless Marriage: Will My Marriage Ever Get Better?

Reader Question of the Week
Every Monday I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at it! Today I want to tackle a really heavy one: what do you do when you’re living in a loveless marriage?

I’ve received a number of heartbreaking emails in the last few days from women at the end of the proverbial marriage rope. They are so sad. Their husbands seem to be always hostile or distant. They’re dying from lack of affection. Their marriages are loveless. And they don’t know what to do. Here’s one:

It took me a long time to figure out why I was so angry at him for so many years. It felt like he was holding back love and affection from me and that he didn’t care about or for me. Even when I tell him I would like to be hugged or touched he could barely do it. I feel rejected from my husband. Being a Christian I do not believe in leaving and I really do not want to. I feel like a prisoner in this loveless marriage. I cannot leave for the commitment I made but I am dying inside with lack of affection. What am I to do? How much daily rejection can I keep taking. I touch him nicely on the shoulders or back and he acts like I am not even there. He has all sorts of “good” reasons to not be affectionate to me they all stem to something I said or did years ago.

And here’s another:

We’ve been married for three years, and he completely ignores me. He works all day, and comes home and barely acknowledges me. He checks out what I’ve made for dinner and if he doesn’t like it he orders in. Then he spends the rest of the night in front of the television. I feel trapped.

Both women are so sad because there seems to be no relationship left. It’s a completely loveless marriage–they don’t communicate, there’s only anger, and they feel trapped. And so today I’d like to talk to those of you who do feel alone in your marriage.

Living in a Loveless Marriage: How to find that love again

I know there are so many of you reading this blog that feel desperate. Your marriages don’t bring you joy. You almost feel like it’s a prison sentence. You’re sad all the time because he really seems like he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care if you’re sad. He doesn’t care if you’re exhausted. He’s hostile, and he’s angry, and he seems almost happy when you’re upset.

Now, in some cases you could be living with an emotionally abusive mate, and if you fear this is so, I really advise talking to a couple, or a counselor, who knows both of you in real life and getting their perspective. You may need to take steps to get yourself safe from abuse.

But from the emails I’ve read, it doesn’t look like that is the case. It looks like this is a longstsanding relationship issue, and after years of unmet needs the marriage has deteriorated to something totally loveless.

And now I’m about to tell you something that may be difficult to hear. I’m not trying to hurt anyone, but I want to be truly helpful, and saying, “I know it’s hard, and that’s really, really sad” isn’t always the most helpful thing.

It is extremely rare that only one person in the marriage feels as if they are not getting their needs met.

If you’re feeling like you’re not getting your needs met–for affection, for love, for caring–the odds are almost 100% that he feels exactly the same way.

Here’s what happens: you both enter marriage needing essentially the same thing–you both want to feel cherished, connected, and loved. The problem is that the way that you experience these things is very different. So you’re both looking for very different things from each other. And the longer you go without getting them, the more a negative cycle is born. She withdraws and gets sad. He feels angry at her for blaming him for being a bad husband, when she’s not accepting him either. So he may withdraw, or even get hostile. I don’t mean violent; I just mean that there’s this air in the house like he’s always angry, and she’s always on the verge of tears.

That’s not healthy.

So let’s ask ourselves some questions, and then I’ll point you to some resources that may help.

1. If you feel like this is a completely loveless marriage, then ask: was there ever love there? When you married him, was the interaction this bad?

Look back to when you were first married. Did he ignore you? Did he fail to show you any affection? Was he angry all the time?

I highly doubt it, because few of us would marry someone who treated us this way.

Chances are when you were dating he did talk to you, and he did laugh with you, and you did love him (and he loved you). Otherwise why would you have married him?

When I read these emails sometimes, they paint a picture of such a BAD man. And yet, while it may be true in very few instances that someone is married to an antisocial personality, few of us are married to people who are essentially horrible like this. He is not a bad person. Instead, the interaction between you has caused these negative cycles to develop, and that has caused him to withdraw and become unaffectionate and angry.

It is not that he is bad; it is that the way that you treated each other was bad.

Certainly some men may be nicer before they are married, and then once they are married they don’t make as much of an effort. That’s true for women, too! But if this is truly a loveless marriage, not just a lazy marriage, there’s more going on here. And I believe that in most cases, it’s a history of treating each other badly, of hearts broken because needs have not been met, of choosing to withdraw or become angry, and reinforcing this dynamic.

2. If the Lovelessness is more a negative dynamic, then you have the power to do something about it.

If the problems in your marriage are not because your husband doesn’t love you, but more because you’ve settled into this awful way of relating to each other, then you also have the power to do something about it. If the way that you treated each other caused you both to become entrenched into this way of seeing each other, then choosing to start acting differently can also start changing it as well.

I’m not saying that you can fix everything; nobody can fix everything on their own. But by taking that first step, by being the “peacemaker” that Jesus talked about in Matthew 5, you can start getting your marriage on better footing.

Living in a Loveless Marriage: Our responsibility for making it better.

3. Work first on Showing Kindness

And what should that first step be? How about simply showing kindness to him? When you have this cycle of negativity, he senses the anger and disappointment that you have in him, and it likely makes him angry, too. So how do you break that? Just be kind, and you may start to break down that wall, brick by brick. We show kindness to strangers even if they don’t return it, but somehow when it comes to marriage, we start to ask, “does he deserve this?”, or say, “he never does it for me, so why should I do it for him?” Yet this kind of tit for tat only makes everything worse.

Someone has to be the first one to do the right thing, even if that right thing isn’t reciprocated.

You do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing, not because it will magically fix everything.

So do little things. If you want some ideas, check out these posts:

How to Show Kindness to Your Husband

25 Quick Ways to Show Your Husband Love

4. Work next on Your Friendship

Start doing little things everyday to be kind. Look for ways to be kind. Hopefully that will start to wear down some of the tension in the marriage. Once you’ve done that, work at trying to do things together.

Often when we feel like we’re in a completely loveles marriage, we want to start with tackling the big issues: you don’t show me affection, you’re always angry, you never talk to me. But you can’t start dealing with issues until you’ve built some goodwill up. Think of this like the “Love Bank”. Every time you deal with a problem you’re making a withdrawal, because that takes a toll on a person. But you’re not allowed to go into debt in the Love Bank. So if you have no balance–if you feel totally negative towards each other, as if it’s a totally loveless marriage–then you can’t start making withdrawals. There’s nothing there to work with.

So you have to make those deposits first, by spending a few weeks just being kind, and now by trying to work on your friendship.

I’ve got some articles on how to do that, but let me say that I’m not talking about doing everything together. I just mean finding some things, even if they’re quick things, that you can do without animosity. Maybe it’s taking a walk with him after dinner, or joining him in jogging, or helping him figure out the bills, or watching his favourite TV show with him and getting him a cup of coffee when you do. It doesn’t matter what it is; just spend some time doing something together.

Here are some articles that can help with that:

Revive Your Friendship

Benefits of Walking Together

My Husband Never Wants to Spend Time with Me

5. Then Tackle the Big Things

Once you’re showing kindness and laughing more, you can start tackling the big things. That likely will mean taking some responsibility for your sex life, and trying to throw yourself into it, if you’ve been neglecting it. Often when we women start to feel as if our husbands don’t love us, we withdraw sexually, which makes everything worse, and which is also wrong, in and of itself. If you have no idea where to start, suggest to him that you try 31 Days to Great Sex. It will get you talking and laughing again, and that’s probably most of your problem!

And you may have to tackle some other hard issues, too. I’ve got lots of articles on this blog for specific issues; you can check out a partial list of the most common marriage problems here. But let me leave you with some big picture articles:

Invest In Your Marriage (it’s worth it!)

Changing the Dynamic in Your Marriage

I Messed Up. Those are Freeing Words!

The Vow Matters

Final Thoughts To Fix a Loveless Marriage

If you’re in that negative cycle right now, feeling as if he doesn’t appreciate you, doesn’t care about you, and doesn’t love you, can you take a step back for a moment and realize that your husband probably feels the same way? And instead of giving up on the relationship, can you realize that your best chance for lifelong happiness is to invest now in your marriage. It’s to get over these feelings of helplessness, and start to DO love until you FEEL love. Do the right thing. Change that dynamic. Start learning to have fun with him again instead of always feeling hurt and like you’re going to cry.

I know it’s hard. I know you feel paralyzed. But you simply must make a decision to DO something about it. There is nothing magical I can tell you that can make him change; but I do know that he is likely hurting, too. So if you can change the way you think about your marriage, you’ll likely be able to break that negative cycle.

UPDATE: If you’re dealing with a marriage in which he is doing something that jeopardizes everything–using porn, not supporting the family, being abusive–then I’d suggest this post for a fuller perspective: Are You a Spouse or an Enabler?

31 Days to Great Sex
31 Days to Great Sex is here (only $4.99!) It's the best $5 you'll ever spend on your marriage!

Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

Find out more here.


  1. I loved your advice, Sheila. What hit me in the question was “It took me a long time to figure out why I was so angry at him for so many years.” My husband and I were watching Cedar Cove last night and it occurred to me that most of the women in the show were very angry with the men in their lives. Being angry at someone never solves anything. It just makes it worse and I think this is most women’s first reaction when their husbands are not living up to their expectations. The relationship spirals downward from there. Love wins others, never anger.
    Lori Alexander recently posted…Duck Dynasty Calls For RepentanceMy Profile

    • Thanks, Lori! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • You are right, Lori. Love is what we want to be expressing. However, it is very important that, when you notice you are angry, you let it inform you about what the frustration, hurt, fear or expectation that is not being met is about. Anger is healthy. It tells you when your boundaries–even ones you don’t consciously know about–are being crossed. What you DO with anger is the important thing. Anger that goes underground, becomes “sneaky anger”, potshots, offhand comments, sarcasm. Ignoring anger is perilous. It informs you in ways that you might not otherwise notice.
      Rhoberta Shaler PhD – The Relationship Help Doctor recently posted…Relationship Help: Am I Living with a Passive-Aggressive Man?My Profile

  2. Anonymous Please says:

    My situation is so confusing, I am at a loss. I used to “do” all of the “right” things, understanding that when the house is clean, meals prepared, and money managed, my hubby was “happy.” But he was never truly engaged, and I still don’t understand why. He has never asked questions, other than “what’s for dinner?” Very rarely did he initiate sex, and the little conversation we had was me trying to get him to participate, while he would sit with a glazed look until he told me he was “tired.” I quickly learned that he was dishonest with me on a regular basis, especially where finances were concerned. (Recently he has even done something that was illegal, and I’ve only found out because our financial accounts were frozen.) He claims he is depressed, which I believe to be true, but will not seek help for it.

    All of that said, I still do nice things for him, as I am able, but it’s getting more and more difficult. We have tried to get help for our relationship, but he was dishonest there, too, and has forbidden me from talking about much of what we need help with…which leaves me looking bitter and angry. (Honestly, I fight constantly not to be…but lose the battle a lot at this point.) Meanwhile, he has perfected the role of victim, even in simple conversation.

    A couple of weeks ago I initiated a fight (a rare occurrence.) During the episode, I noticed that every thing he said was a “poor me” reference. Every conversation we ever have is centered around him–his needs, wants and desires. I feel like there is no room for *me* in my own marriage. (That isn’t a call for sympathy, but rather an analytical observation. The truth is, I’m at a loss as to how to change it, though.)

    I have read your post about the difference between submission and being a doormat, which gave me a lot to think about, and this post makes some really good points, too. I guess my ultimate question is this: Knowing that you can’t change another person, how can I create a situation/environment that engages a husband who is seemingly not interested in anything, not even sex?

    • Hi Anonymous,

      I see a number of red flags in your email that I would think warrant some outside help. If you think that he’s being dishonest with the finances, and doing something illegal, I would either get the police involved (depending on how illegal this is!) or at least talk to a pastor, counselor, or mentor couple. I know he has said that you aren’t to talk to anybody, but that is not the biblical model found in Matthew 18. Sometimes we have to bring others in. And if he is depressed, then he needs help with that, too, and sometimes we have to cause a confrontation to make him get the help he needs.

      I think maybe this post may be the most helpful for you: Are you a spouse or an enabler? Take a look at that and see if that gives you some ideas of what to do now.

      I’m so sorry, though. I know it must be lonely, and I do think that bringing some light onto the situation may in the end be more helpful.

    • My husband was exactly the same way. Finally this past year I found out why. He was engaged in some very shameful activities. We are in counseling now. He has finally come clean about everything. In counseling I remarked once about how he always made every situation about him. He told me that he wanted to make sure he was in control of the conversation so I wouldn’t ask difficult questions.

      You and your husband will be in my prayers.

  3. Hi,
    I just asked for prayer in a group and right after I sent it, your post appeared! Call it a fast answered prayer?!
    Thank you for your post, and I know there is always hope, but the feeling that this hope is so so so far away, and sometimes it feels it won’t be in my earthly life, is just sad and makes me feel defeated. I know I have to work on a lot of areas in our marriage but (and I know there shouldn’t be a but), I am trying to be kind, to reconnect with him and no matter what, he is not changing… I know only god can, I just do not know how to get over my own feelings, shut them away in prayer doesn’t work… I do not know how to give him grace and not get mad at him….for the things he keeps doing….
    Sandra recently posted…Monday, MondayMy Profile

  4. Great post. The movie Fireproof is a great example of you changing yourself instead of trying to change someone else. Within that movie is “The Love Dare” is a great help and can also be a Home group or bible study. I loved the movie Fireproof that someone lent me, so much that I bought it myself. It does make a difference.

  5. I feel hopeless about my loveless marriage. At times I feel like God is punishing me by making me be joined for the rest of my life with someone who really doesn’t care about me or marriage. My husband was raised in a family that believes that even if you are not living as one (physically, emotionally) that is okay as long as you stay legally married. He is also from a culture that refuses counseling. About 7 years into our marriage my husband admitted that he cheated on me early in our marriage. By the time he told me, we had three children and it was so far in the past that I didn’t feel the situation merited divorce. As serious as that situation was, he would not go to counseling or “allow” me to go (I’m a SAH/homeschooling mom so I don’t have the money or time to go on my own). Based on the cheating, the overall way my needs are ignored unless he needs/wants something, and comments he’s made, I highly suspect that my husband wishes he wasn’t married to me but because of his familial/”Christian” beliefs he won’t divorce. I realize that my faith to our marriage will ultimately be rewarded, but it’s so disappointing to think that I have a lifetime of never feeling loved or cherished ahead of me. I’m also afraid that this idea of a loveless marriage being as good as it gets will somehow be passed down to our children like it has been for my husband.

    • Hi Anonymous, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this, but have you gone to your pastor? Usually churches can help you find someone to talk to who can walk you through these really difficult things. I hate to think of you being so alone! I’d really recommend asking your pastor for help. And maybe this post will help: Are you a spouse or an enabler? I don’t think marriage should be an excuse not to grow; and sometimes by doing nothing in a marriage, we give our spouses a “cover” so that they don’t have to grow into better people at all. That doesn’t seem to be what God had in mind, which is why God advocated in the New Testament that we do get help from the body!

      Prayers for you,

  6. Wow! I could have written those letters to you a year ago. Then I went and did some fairly destructive things in my marriage, which didn’t make things any better… When I read that email it made my heart ache for those women and for who I was a year ago. As I started to read more {on blogs like this one and many more} about what was happening in my marriage, I discovered how common this really is. I actually wrote a series on this called “Surviving a Mid-Wife Crisis” {}. Everything you said is so true. It’s probably not one-sided. But the good news…. you CAN turn it around. It just takes communication and some really intentional conversations. Great advice… hope you don’t mind if I shared my links here… :)
    AJ Collins recently posted…Dear mom crying in the corner, you got this. OWN IT!My Profile

  7. I too, have been hitting the bottom of our marriage, feeling it was loveless and wondering if this was it for the rest of my life.

    From reading another blog, I found the book “The Surrendered Wife”, and I was stunned to see how much I felt like I was the author. It really made an impact on my *own* behavior, when I had been blaming all the problems on my husband. It has helped me tremendously in my attitude towards my husband, but I have a loooong way to go. I now have a surrendered wife partner, which helps tremendously share victories and weaknesses. We also put more of a Christian emphasis on our behavior, since it is a secular book (although I believe the author is Christian).

  8. This may seem off topic but just stay with me for a minute. As I read these comments and stories of “loveless marriages” I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s really the marriage that is the issue or if’ there is something else. Shortly after my husband & I were married a friend recommended the book Wild at Heart by John Eldridge. It’s a beautiful, Christian book about how men are different than women, not just in marriage but in the people they are and in the needs that they have. It will help a wife understand her husband as well as a mom understand her sons. (It does have it’s critics.) I don’t know any of the commenters above but maybe it’s not the marriage that is making the husbands unhappy but something in him. When a husband comes home from work, checks the menu for supper, decided take-out is better, and watches tv till he falls asleep in the chair it’s easy for a wife to feel like she’s failed. (And easy for a wife to want to shout BIG JERK!) Maybe he’s so dissatisfied with his life outside of the marriage that he shuts down. Eldridge talks about a mans need for adventure, for something that makes his adreneline pump, for something to satisfy his soul. Ultimatly God is the only one who satisfies our deepest longings but maybe tied to the advice Sheila gives some of the advice Eldridge gives could nudge him in the right direciton and help improve his person selfworth & image which in turn will improve the marriage relationship as well.

  9. I figured why I am so angry. He cheated on with a girl on my birthday. He took her to his Mothers and my brothers house. He also took her to his Dad’s death bed. He is controlling I am not allowed to visit friends or go out without him.

  10. Hello-
    I have been married to my husband for 25 years. Every year it seems more difficult to stay. My husband has always been an overbearing, dominant man- ” my way or the highway” kind of thinking…but I was so in love when we first met. He did nice things for me, send cards and flowers, u know the drill. After we got married, things began to change. As long as I did what he wanted, things were ok, but if I had an opinion, it would get ugly. He would constantly nit pick EVERYTHING. The house or car weren’t clean enough, I put things in the wrong place..whatever. The problem was, he changed his mind about what he wanted constantly, so you could never quite know what would set him off that day. He would scream and yell at me, curse at me, call me vulgar names and throw things( not AT me, but still). The only thing that was constant was his desire for sex. No matter how often I had sex with him, it was never enough. It became a vicious cycle. I would say no to sex, piss him off, so he would spend the next few days berating me for every perceived misdeed, until I apologized for being wrong( whether I was at fault or not, I was ALWAYS the one who had to admit the wrongdoing) and had sex. Then he would be nice until something else made him angry, and the cycle would begin again. He didn’t want me to go to college, he did that himself. He wanted to wait to have children, so I waited…17 years while he attended college and I worked 3 jobs to put him thru. He had an affair that he claimed wasn’t sexual, which I do not believe. But he said he loved her, and was prepared to leave. I begged him to stay, and we worked thru it, but I don’t really trust that he wouldn’t do it again if the chance arose. He spent many hours watching porn on TV & interenet, which I turned a blind eye to for a long time. He continued doing this for years, and if I complained too much about how he treated me, disobeyed or disagreed with him he would threaten to leave and take the kids.I was panicked he would . I longed to be held tenderly and given love without strings attached. The children have given me that unconditional love, so I no longer even seek it from him. I don’t think I love him anymore, and I am sure that I don’t like him. I hate when he is around. He complains constantly about everything: me, the kids, his job, traffic, anything. I am happiest when I spend time with my children. They are the only real joy in my life. 2 years ago, I confronted him about the porn, and told him I didn’t like it or him anymore. I told him if things didn’t change, I would be leaving. He denied the porn, which was a flat out lie, but he did seem to stop after that. However, he hasn’t changed his personality much. Since we waited so long for kids, our girls are still very young ( 7&4) so I hate to leave, since it would be hard on them. But by the same token, I don’t want my girls growing up thinking this is a way that a father/ husband should treat a women. I am miserable and depressed often, and dream of being with a man who loves, honors and respects me, and treats me as such. One who meets MY needs for a change instead of me always doing everything for him. Most of all, I am just tired. Tired of dealing with it all. Sorry for the long winded rant, but even if no one ever reads this…I have to tell someone. Please pray for me.

    • Danielle says:

      You should watch the movie Fireproof, and get you hands on a copy of The Love Dare. You are right though, in that the porn, name calling, throwing things, those are not things your precious children should be exposed to.

  11. Ugh, this is a timely article! My stuffer (with his feelings) husband recently revealed he’s been “done” for months. Now he’s shut down and won’t even say I love you. I’ve got a lot to work on in my behaviors and how I handle stress, I’ve completely stopped blogging and am looking for a full time job outside of the home because we have virtually no income, and am trying to work on my walk with God. We’ve had so many life stresses: house, baby, finances, and my family has treated me poorly (as I did to them) so that stress got in the way of a lot of things. We’re in therapy but he says he is apathetic now and he’s close to being done. I’m all – what about for better or for worse?? Just praying his heart softens and that God changes me and guides me. It’s very hard. Prayers appreciated!

  12. @Erin: dunno if you’ll read this, but y your biggest error is not confronting him and holding v your ground and getting counseling.

    I actually recommend reading a book called ‘Your Personality Tree’ (b/c I get the feeling you are both similar personalities to my parents), the ‘The 5 Love Languages’, ‘Love & Respect’ and lastly ‘Boundaries’.

    My mother lives a similar life to you, my dad was the same way, but you what is the one thing I am glad For?

    That my parents stuck it out and didn’t divorce and guess what? Things did improve over time b/c my mom started keeping HEALTHY boundaries and started giving my dad REAL affection, and my dad did eventuality get a wake up call and mellow out.

    It’s worse to start a legacy of divorce than to show your daughters you will take neglect. My mom suffered a lot, but it taught me that no matter what a marriage is wish more than hurt feelings.

    And if I can be blunt, you have done just as much harm as him by being manipulative by with holding sex and now using your children as a crutch. Get over it, such it up and start surrendering yourself to God and looking outside your own needs b/c really, you’ll get yours met when you lay them down and start improving yourself and meeting your husband where he is at and getting counseling together.

    He obviously cares about you or he wouldn’t have quit the porn, even though he denied looking at it, so you clearly mean more to him then porn.

    I hope you read this and realize giving up isn’t worth it. I’ve Bern in your site, but I just look at my parents and remember it took them 40yrs to have a good marriage, and you know what even if it took me that long it would still be worth it, but thankfully it didn’t. So don’t leave, get Godly and biblically sibs counseling and stay in the fight and cling to God and your husband, not your children.

    God Bless ~Amy

  13. I am assuming the spouses are without addictions, narccistic tendencies, and a history of childhood abuse and emotional neglect (if only I had known these things before I married. It’s true–love is blind) . I have tried everything to “fix” my marriage–professional counseling (which my husband did not want to go to), face to face discussion with my husband, crying, pleading, even kindness… but until there is “team” effort and a common desire for the marriage to improve, it won’t. It takes two and A LOT COMMUNICATION,and I’ve basically been told it’s my problem by my husband. So, there you go… It’s stressful and emotionally wearing to want a fulfilling marriage and know that it is not possible, especially with someone who is truly not capable of understanding what a love filled marriage should be. Things were initially fine, until I realized it was me who was doing all the giving and getting all the heartache. I’ve pretty much given up….and have put things in God’s hands, and have stopped beating my head against a wall. However, it still hurts. Am trying to focus on empowering myself and changing myself per therapist recommendations, as I know my husband won’t and quite honestly, can’t. The only one who is disappointed in things is me. Why put expectations on a relationship knowing I will be the only one who will suffer?! So, I have no more expectations….

  14. My wife one day informed me that she does not want a relationship with me. My whole world tumbled and I dealt with anxiety and depression. She is a Christian woman but love and affection are components of a healthy marriage. I can’t wait till the kids grow up a bit more so I can file a divorce. Hindsight is 20/20 but I if I had do this over again I would not get married. A marriage can be a bowl of ripe cherries. When the years past with the stressors and hardships all you have left is a bowl of pits.


  16. Needing help says:

    My husband and I met when we were teenagers and both of us were not saved. We dated briefly in 8th grade. But didn’t start dating again til he was 18 and I was 17, almost 18. The first time we dated he was sweet and I was a partier. So when we dated the second time thats what we thought we were getting. I thought “yay” the sweet guy and he thought “yes” the partier! But we both had changed. I was no longer the party person but he was. And he was not longer the same sweet guy he was before. Like I said we weren’t saved yet and got pregnant 3 months into the relationship and had our first daughter. We both admit we would not be together if it wasn’t for her. We both came from divorced homes and didnt want to do that to her. 3 months after she was born we got pregnant with next child and came to know the Lord through a crisis pregnancy center. During this time my husband never pursued sex with me and never acted interested. There was many nights I went to bed crying. I once caught him masturbating to a hardly dressed woman dancing on regular t.v. it was not porn. It devastated me. Because I was perusing him in that way. And he was always to tired etc. So about that tome we stopped saying “love you” to eachother and we started French kissing maybe once a year and it was awkward. No intimacy in our marriage at all. Still had sex but with no kissing etc. But I was just happy to be having sex! It was lacking intimacy but I would take that over nothing. I knew from dating that my husband grew up around porn and that it was out in the open in his house as a teen. But he didn’t seem like it did anything to him and it was no big thing. I think I was more interested to see it as a teen dating than him (before Christ of course). So I knew about that, but as far as I knew he wasn’t going to it. Now idk…I did find porn in his belongings about 3 different times over the years. He claimed to be sorry and wouldn’t do it again type thing. It was devastating to me each time it happened because I like sex and wanted it with him. In early 2012 I found something had been searched on my phone and I just lost it. I had just given birth to our now 8th baby and couldn’t believe it. He was “very sorry” and says. He said he heard two guys talking at a gas station about a name of a sexual act and was curious if it was something we were doing. And that he never clicked on a site. He stopped himself. But I also have filtering on my phone so he could have just not been able to see it. Idk there has been lies all throughout the marriage. About dumb stuff and serious stuff like the porn. I never know what is true and what is not. Last May (almost a year ago) I found a porn DVD in his truck. Just 3 days before I asked him how things were going and if he was behaving. He said “yep” he hadn’t seen anything. Then I found that dvd. He says he never watched it. That he found it at the gas station bathroom and he took it instead of leaving it. He said he had no intentions of watching it and doesn’t know why he grabbed it but he did. He said that he will sometimes get curious if porn has changed over the years since he was around it as a teen. And if he comes acrossed porn he just makes the dumb choice of looking out if curiosity to see if it has changed. But after this last May I lost it and started smoking again after 15 and a half years of not smoking. :( he had always struggled with smoking over the years and I knew that but did not grill him over it. He was trying not to but he said he would go months at a time without it but he recently came clean he was only going at most a week at a time. All these years I had no idea. So it then became a battle for both of us again. I also went on a little drinking binge to numb the pain. (This was last year I am not drinking now and no longer smoking) but that is how devastating it was to me. It did help me to see that Christ had He been number one in my life I might not have fallen so hard. But I did. Since then things got alot better we started kissing regularly again like when we were dating and saying “I love you” again. But I was still smoking and whenever thinks bothered me or fear doubt cripped in I coukd go have a cigarette to calm my nerves. I know not right. But this past year I have been just trying to survive. 5 and a half weeks ago I quit smoking and everything changed I felt like I had to completely pull away from our marriage so I won’t get hurt again. Almost like a survival mode. My stress level has been enormous to the point my body is doing weird things and drs say it is from stress. And my once favorite stress relief (sex) has now become the source of my stress. My self esteem is gone! I have birthed 8 kids I can’t compete with porn. And can’t bare the thought that my husband would even want to look at it. I am ready to be done with the marriage as painfully as it would be because I can’t keep living this way. I need to be strong for our kids. Also I did catch our teenage son looking at porn since all this which devastating me even more so. I had filters on that he bypassed finding out on of my passwords. This last year has been too much. We did go to our pastor for all the issues and he pretty much asked my husband “do you think you have a problem”?…and kinda since it is not all the time it is like a slip up kind of thing. But with all the lies idk what is true and not. And as far as our son he said boys will be boys. They are curious. Love him. Let him know its wrong but don’t condemn him. Butwith everything I am tired and ccan’t do it any longer. Idk if that constitutes grounds for leaving but if not I feel traps too like some of these other women. Because I wanna do whats right but i don’t feel like I can ever trust him again after this last time. It is always when I think things are good between us to that the porn comes up. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Also he has been on the couch for the last few weeks and we are hardly talking. Sorry so long.

  17. Hi Sheila,

    My husband and I were married last September and just a few weeks ago we both mentioned divorce. Needless to say I was heartbroken. This is his second marriage and he comes from a divorced family. His father has been married 3 times. I love him very much and i don’t want a divorce but he seems to think its ok. I always think back to our beautiful wedding and the vows we made to each other and I really believe in them. We have been fighting so much lately about so many things. We’ve had some work done to our new home and everything was done without my knowledge or input. I feel that he is being a little unfair and when i try to talk to him about us first perhaps discussing plans he tells me how we need all these things and to shut up about it. Another issue is his extreme messiness. I like to keep a tidy home and I don’t even ask he clean just put his things away. He won’t even do that. We bought this big house and all i do is pick up after him after working all day and taking care of our 2 puppies and making meals. It’s becoming difficult and frustrating not to mention disgusting. Today I came home and there was take out sitting on the table, pop cans and his clothes everywhere after I cleaned all evening the night before. It makes me feel that he doesn’t value what I do and doesn’t have respect for our home. He is very quiet around me. Some evenings we won’t even talk to each other. Like zero conversation. He does however talk on his phone all the time and watch tv. This kills me. Sometimes he comes home and doesn’t even give me so much as a hello. It’s so hurtful and I feel totally unloved. We just fight about so many things. He calls dinner crap and won’t eat. But I’m tired somedays and I don’t have the energy to make a big elaborate meal. Needless to say, he chooses to sleep on the couch every night. Even if we don’t argue, he won’t come to bed. He’ll make me have sex with him at odd times. It’s not intimate it’s very awkward. I give him little kisses and hugs most days but he doesn’t reciprocate. He actually pushes me away and says he’s tired or busy. My dad passed away last year and I’m still really sad about it. When I am upset he tells me to stop. There is no comfort or love. I feel bad when I am sad so I try to hide it and cry when he is not home. We have been trying for a baby but it’s not working out. Maybe this is why he is so mad at me. His previous girlfriends used to wear a lot of make up all the time and always get dressed up. I do my best to look nice but since the wedding I have gained 10lbs. I know it’s not that much but maybe the attraction has disappeared. I am so hurt and feel so alone in this marriage that I don’t know what to do. I am too ashamed to talked to my friends and family about it. I don’t want a divorce I just want to be happy and for him to be happy. When I ask ‘is everything ok honey’ he says yes and that seems to be the end of it. I’m so sad and I just want to be a normal family. I suggested we see a therapist but he declined. What should I do? I feel like I can’t even cry anymore.
    Please help :(

  18. This is exactly what I’m going through . What really hit home for me was when one of the women mentioned that her husband wasn’t even affectionate when she asked for a hug or anything and this was me .
    We are not married but have two kids . 5yrs old and 6 months old so we are a couple however this is the reason why I haven’t been eager for marriage in the first place .this past week we argued about my beautiful best friend. She is thin, toned , beautiful , chatty , smart , outgoing, rich and a stay at home mom who seems to be perfect in every way .
    Recently I’ve noticed that out of all my friends she is the only one he likes and got mad at me when I mentioned how she flirts . Some people seem to have the need to flirt to make themselves feel better I guess and she seems to be just that way . Don’t get me wrong , she is my friend and I love her , she is a really good friend and has supported me through my recent surgery with my last baby’s medical struggles , but I’m very jealous ( there , I said it ) of how happy he seems with her , not to mention she has told me more than 4 times now , how good looking he is IN FRONT OF HIM! She is in a happy marriage with two kids but it just bothers me how I feel with both together and now I’m starting to think its his LACK OF LOVE AND AFFECTION that makes it worse . He thinks I’m crazy and says nothing would ever happen anyway because she is married and we are a couple to which I asked ” I would have preferred you told me it would never happen because YOU LOVE ME OR AT LEAST LIKE ME”! I started to cry at that point and he never even hugged me … I’m so upset :-(

  19. Hi Sheila, I have been married to a man for over 25 years, whom I never loved. We basically, don’t have a healthy sex life, which has made me very depressed over the years. He is a good man and tries really hard to make me happy and I have tried really hard to make myself love him. But, the main problem is I have never found him attractive, no matter what he does or what I do. We have 2 kids and they both have social issues, which I am sure the result of our un-healthy relationship. My 14 year old daughter wants me to seek help and she wants to see both of us happy; but I am very afraid and confused. I need help :(
    Freshta recently posted…Reader Question: How Do I Defeat Sexual Temptation?My Profile

  20. 'LOOKING FOR A CHANGE' says:

    Wives can be uncooperative, unsupportive, unloving and hostile too!!
    We have been married for 30 years, well at least on paper. In reality there is very little unity between the two of us now. We tend to live separate lives and merely return home at the end of the day. Every attempt of mine to build unity in the family,(we are parents of 2,) and indeed in our marriage gets nowhere. How can there be unity when One party doesn’t communicate, doesn’t initiate, and responds to such efforts of mine in hostility, accusation and withdrawal. It makes for an impossible state of affairs. ‘HOW CAN TWO WALK TOGETHER UNLESS THERE BE AGREEMENT’ .
    I continually ask what the reasons are, but get NOTHING back by way of reason, explanation or indeed acknowledgement to my enquiries. When she does speak, it is to hurl more and more blame at me, and Never acknowledging any misgivings on her part. I mean NEVER.
    As Christian’s, our walk should be better. If we really are Christians, that is. We are supposed to be the most loving, forgiving and amiable of individuals, however, Christianity lived through the perspective of the soul, rather than the spirit is a contradiction to the name of Christ.
    As the appointed spiritual covering of the marriage and the family, my effectiveness is nullified if my ‘wife’ wont walk in agreement. I am not referring to downtrodden submission, ( I hate that also) but having a mutual vision for our lives, marriage and family. How can it work? After 30 years it would be evident that it just isn’t going to.
    We have gone through books, spoken with our church leadership, had Christian based counselling, confided in good friends, shared scriptures, prayed. Alll of which seem good for the moment, however things soon slip back to usual.
    I am really now out of ideas, patience, and probably, out of love, due to the utter disappointment that my life with her has become.
    The primary reason for holding on for so long is because I really don’t want to dishonour my vows before God. I know God hates divorce, but all I can see now is either final separation or a miserable life together with her. Between a rock and hard place or what!!!

  21. I have to say at times like this it feels like when I followed advice like this last I made the wrong decision. We’ve been together ten years and I dont feel like I’ve ever really been happy. I stayed with her because I felt bad about leaving her. Dragging it out ten years and feeling hurt again really doesnt make it better. I dont feel loved or wanted. I feel like shes not being honest with me about it either. Think twice before you commit to throwing away any chance of happiness.

  22. My wife and I met in 2001, it was love at first sight. We were the couple that all of our friends wanted to be. We laughed, we played, and we had great sex. About a year later we decided to move in together, and a couple of years after that we were married. We now have two beautiful daughters together, but there no longer feels like there is an “us” anymore. We both have good jobs, make a good living, and have little debt. Somewhere along the line we lost each other, and I know we both feel each other slipping away, even though we are afraid to admit it. Many of the things that you have said in your article are true for me, a man, that only wants to feel something other than the emptiness. For the last four years I have felt like a single parent, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids by myself. I find that I am easily agitated by the little things anymore, like when my wife leaves the table after supper and leaves her dishes for me to clean up, after I had prepared the meal. I find myself thinking that I hate her. We don’t talk anymore, other than the courtesy “how was your day.” We rarely have sex, which I of course resent even though I rarely attempt to initiate anymore. I no longer have any friends, unless you consider co-workers friends, all were discarded years ago because my wife does not trust me. I have no contact with anyone outside of work or picking up the kids at daycare. I live two seperate lives, the one at home, and the guy that jokes around and talks to people at work. I have thoughts of leaving my wife, engaging in an affair, or just ending my life. The last option I can’t do because my children need me. My best “friends” at work, one guy and one girl, encourage me to get a divorce or have an affair. I feel that if the opportunity arose I would cheat on my wife, something that I have never done before. I know that this makes me a coward, or a jerk, or whatever anyone else would want to call me. I used to be a good person, but now I feel like an empty shell walking in the darkness, and I’m scared.

    • John you still are a good person. I am going through the same thing, and sometimes good people do things that aren’t good. This thing called life, is hard… Marriage is hard…
      I have been married almost 12 years.
      I am sad, miserable and hurt…
      It started off with us being so happy… I couldn’t see myself without him. 7.5 years in, I felt like a resentment. He stopped touching me, loving me and talking to me. Like he curled up and went into a shell.. I tried fixing myself, doing things to change myself, until I realized it wasn’t me. I told him I was lonely, and he just stared at me. Since I can be honest, I felt like garbage… Like nothing.. I couldn’t even turn to my spouse. I didn’t know what to do.. years later, nothing much has changed.. we have gone 10 months with no sex, then 8 months no sex… right now we are on another bout of no sex and I just feel, he is taking me for granted. How long do you expect your spouse, who is a horny woman, to go without sex? Or does he care? I want the basics, love, appreciation and a date here and there. What happened? I am going to school and trying to get out of this marriage soon enough, staying for the kids for now, I don’t foresee any flames coming back to this marriage…

  23. My wedding was arranged. since my first day of wedding i never felt like i am loved for what i am. The most comments i got when i tired to talk to him was initially don disturb me. But i found he loves spending time with my parents. I could realize he spoke to me happily when they spoke to him happily. If they do something he doesn’t like he becomes hostile to me. I am pretty sure i am not imagining. right now he is in different country. After long time of 6 months he got me tourist visa, came home(online) early than usual. I was so happy, thought he might have came because finally we are gonna live together for sometime. He attended my call, asked y did i call him, then said he needs to go out and asked me to cut. i did not cut n was just sitting idly without talking to him. He did not go anywhere. He is just being home and cooking. then from the way he spoke i learned he has called my parents and there was some friction. its been only 6 months since my wedding and it has been this way all the time. now i don know what should i do. i tried to talk to my parents and told them to adjust him for my sake. But they say they have their freedom and can’t adjust for him. I am left with more sorrows and don know what to do.

    Help me if you can please

    • I am so sorry you’re going through this, but I just don’t have any experience with arranged marriages, and I don’t know what to tell you. I will say a prayer that you will find a way to build a life together, but I will also ask that if you ever feel in danger, please seek out a women’s organization that can help you. Again, I’m so sorry.

  24. It hurts so bad. How did I get here? My husband, after only a month into our marriage started acting strange towards me. He has been treating me really badly. He shows no affection towards me, and I feel he derives pleasure in seeing me hurt.
    I married my husband in April of this year, and found out that he is still in love with his ex girlfriend whom he has a daughter with. How do I stay in a marriage when he doesn’t love me.
    We have no children together. I feel like a third wheel, and deep down I think he regrets marrying me. When we have any type of disagreement or argument, no matter how small, he tells me maybe we should go our separate ways. But I want my marriage to work (I promised myself that If I ever got married again I will do what ever it takes to make it work). And so, I always have to be the one to beg for forgiveness even when I did nothing wrong.
    I came across text messages he sent to his ex only a few weeks back, in it, he was practically begging her to marry him (even though we are married). He is giving her the impression that he is still single. When I asked him about the messages, he didn’t deny being in love with her. I asked him to make a choice once and for all, and he said he wanted to stay married to me. But how can I ever trust him again? I want love and security. I don’t have either of those now. What’s the guarantee he won’t dump me the moment his ex agrees to take him back? And he still refuses to inform her that he is married. They see each other weekly because he picks up his little girl on the weekends. I’m in a big mess, please give me an honest opinion. I just don’t see any future with him any more.

    • That’s a really tough one. It’s certainly wrong for him to be in a marriage where he’s sending love texts to another woman. He definitely needs to make a choice.

      At the same time, that other woman is the mother of his child, and for that child’s sake, he likely should have gotten together with that woman.

      I’d get the book Boundaries in Marriage or Love Must Be Tough and read them. They talk about how to set real boundaries and how to let your spouse know that flirting with others will not be tolerated. I hope that helps! I’m so sorry for all the pain you’re going through.

  25. I am in a similar situation but somewhat husband bever comoliments n
    me,never aopreciates anything i do infact since he is the bread winner everything has to be the way he wants no acknowledgenent if the fact that i am a human too and like different things.
    i am not allowed to think for myself i have to do what he says.the only time he ever talks to me is to tell me to get him this or that or to shout at me because of his dogs n cats whivh he really doesnt care about or care for except provide the money for their food.
    we live in his mothers house and though i try my best to look after her house he always messes things up by letting either his cats n dogs ruin his mothers ge doesnt understand that this comes down on me as deffinitely his mother will blame me, but he doesnt see it that way he simply says tell my mother to talk to me which she will never do and he knows that.
    he shows n
    me no affection and the only time he will have sex with me is when he is drunk.
    i did try several times but in vain to show him affection and initiate sex but he alwsys had something or the other more important.
    i really want to leave but this is my second marriage and i cant go back home.

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.


  1. […] in my post about living in a loveless marriage, I talked about the concept of a “Love Bank”: think of your relationship as a bank […]

  2. […] just hear the heartbreak in these women’s letters. The first woman, as far as I know, is in a loveless marriage but not necessarily in one that involves an affair. The second one looks like it […]

  3. […] Living in a Loveless Marriage – A great post about what to do when you have fallen or are starting to fall out of love with your spouse. […]

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge