-- Question for John --
My husband walked out on me and our children six months ago. He said he loved me but was not in love with me, no passion, no spark and no click. He said he was unhappy and felt I was too controlling. He also said he felt like he had a chain around his ankle. He also told me that he has been feeling this way five years now. There is no other woman in his life.
He has also mentioned that he feels like he is a prisoner of his own mind and how he feels like there is something missing inside and he cannot find it. He has asked for divorce a few times in these six months but has never done anything about it.
I would appreciate anything you can tell me about what you think. I love this man with all my heart and he has always been a good husband and father before this all happened. Now he still cares for his children but seems to not want anything to do with me. He still seems on the defensive.
Is there anything I can try to get him to fall back in love with me? He has told my brother that he does love me with all his heart and no matter what he always will. I believe that he does but somehow it is buried deep down somewhere because he has also said that he has a calous on his heart.
Is there anything I can do to help him with this?
-- Answer from John --
What you describe is completely understandable from both your points of view. There are patterns going on in the relationship that have never been examined or opened up to transformation. There are internal patterns going on inside of him that have fit into those relationship patterns — and this has ended up with him closing down — and he does not know how to get out of or get beyond those things. And now his feeling of “in love” has been hidden behind the wall that has built up.
This is not necessarily the end of the line. Frequently, even at this end-stage of a marriage, couples can still move beyond the patterns that have trapped them — both patterns between them, and the interlocking patterns within each person. It does take courage and motivation to do this. And some degree of hope that things could possibly change.
You are still motivated, so I’m not as worried about that. But he seems to have run out of motivation and has suffered for years. So he is the one that will need to become reinspired that some kind of shift is indeed possible.
The only thing you can do in that regard is to show him an entirely new and different kind of behavior pattern coming from you. For years he has been reacting to whatever the global pattern is (which I cannot specify short of doing serious information gathering with both of you). This global pattern has everything in it — his stuff, your stuff, including how you act and talk with him when there are difficult issues to deal with.
The only thing you have a choice about is to change how you act and talk — and this is the only thing that he will respond to. For years he has come to expect certain behaviors from you that have caused him — rightly or incorrectly — to react by closing down, being hurt, getting defensive, and whatever other patterns are part of his particular pattern of reacting to what he “believes” is threatening. Mind you, this does not literally mean you “cause” him to react. It is more like the interplay of two different people’s patterns. Nobody is the good guy here. This is just your typical unconscious marital stressors being channeled through each of your own styles and internal patterns.
So you will need to figure out how you can be different. You need to figure out exactly what you are doing that triggers him to close down — and then do the opposite. This will be the clearest demonstration to him that there is the possibility of him coming out from behind that wall and exploring relationship with you again. The love is still there. But his “in love” feelings are hidden behind the wall of pain, stress and closing down. He needs to see that there is a break in that wall — mainly by you showing him a different part of yourself. This will be the most powerful thing you can do.