Tuesday, May 06, 2008

When You Fall Out of Love

A short post, call it Therapydoc Unsolicited.

Jack writes about a friend of his who has fallen out of love with her spouse. She's having difficulty, as one might expect, having sex. But she does it anyway.

Which is martyrdom, not that martyrdom is bad or good. That would be a contextual thing.

I commented on the post:
Jack, she's lucky to have you for a friend. But please tell me that you told her to get a therapist, right? One who does marital, too. One who can get her boy in the room.

You don't always love your spouse is the truth.

You don't always anything over time.
Life, especially the life of a relationship, is much too complicated for that.



Leora said...

I like your comment, especially this:

You don't always anything over time.

My therapist has said that she sees marriage relationships feel like they are falling apart when both people are feeling down.

Jack Steiner said...

You don't always anything over time.

Very true. The question is at what point do you decide that you're never going to get that feeling back.

And then, what do you do.

therapydoc said...

So much to say here. Maybe it should be a whole post.

In a nutshell it would be, depends upon this. depends upon that. and let's not forget this. and don't forget that.
oh, and this. and that.

So many variables, like you yourself said: Relationships are complicated. If they were simple. . .

Jack Steiner said...

I had a discussion with several friends about this, all of whom are divorced.

Friend A said that things had gotten so bad between them that therapy wasn't even a question. He just wanted out.

Five years later he says that he had no regrets.

Friend B told me that had he not gone to counseling he never could have left because he would have felt like he gave up.

Friend C told me a different story. She explained that once the intimacy had died between them things got really bad. In some ways it really outlined gender differences.

She said that sex with her husband grew to become an impossible burden that she dreaded. When they fought he expected to have their traditional "make up sex" and she wanted to make up a reason to run away.

One thing that was apparent to me is that from the outside you can never really tell what is happening in a marriage.

therapydoc said...

Absolutely right. And people assume things are so cozy, they're even jealous of other people.

When in fact, so many people are living in unbearable relationships. Unless you talk girlfriend to girlfriend (or in your case, J., boyfriend to boyfriend/girlfriend, who's to know?

Makes the case for getting to know people a lot better, making more of our friendships. People need support, too, not just therapy. Support more, sometimes.

kg said...

Speaking as one who has been to that spot where sex was dreaded because of the trouble our relationship was in
And that did therapy---both of us separately and then together and then a tune up....
Sometimes it can be pretty tough. I was pretty sure I'd be happy alone. But after all the work,
It is so much better than it ever was before. It was worth the effort and misery at the time to get to this point.
I know it doesn't work for everyone. But sometimes it does work well! I wouldn't have dreamed how much better things are (and this is 8 years later, so the changes have lasted)

therapydoc said...

KG, such a great story. The reason I try to persuade couples to stay in therapy is that they bring so much of their own junk to the next relationship.

Fix it here, fix it there. Eventually you have to fix it.

The relationship's only as healthy as the two in it(and sometimes three, four, five, or more, depending upon the extent of extended family interference).

And like you say, it takes a long time and lots and lots of therapy, individual, marital, back, forth, until we get it right. But when it happens, Ah.

Anonymous said...

How does one fall out of love? That's always been a mystery to me. Do the cute little quirks become big annoyances? Do you wake up one day and say, "EWWWWWWWWW!"? Does it happen when you're just not paying attention?

I understand the cases where a spouse cheats, lies, steals, or reveals some big dark secret -- some cataclysmic event that changes EVERYTHING -- and you have to decide what you'll do. But that doesn't sound like what happened here, or happens in most cases. So how does love just go away?

therapydoc said...

It doesn't just go away. Not at all.

We think in terms of attachment. And detachment. The longer the attachment, the harder the detachment.

How that happens is a very convoluted psychological web of fears, disappointment, anger. But mostly fear.

But this is a very shallow treatment of your question, Estee.

therapydoc said...

I'd have to write a book, wouldn't I, to answer it in full.

Anonymous said...

how does fear cause someone to fall out of love? i.e. what are they fearing? and why are they fearing it now and not when the first fell in love (assuming they did)?

Jack Steiner said...

Mazal Tov on the CNN write-up. That is pretty cool.

therapydoc said...

Thanks Jack.

Billy, it's fear of intimacy that underlies many relationship problems. In fact, when people get too close, that's when the fighting begins.

And when the fighting begins, the "in love" thing goes out the window.

But that's just one example, and there are dozens more.

Anonymous said...

I believe in therapy but both must be willing to make the necessary changes otherwise it doesn't work..I've been there. The lack of intimacy totally kills the relationship and I 'm at a point where I've had enough.

therapydoc said...

Yup. Takes 2 to tango, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

What do you do when one spouse had A LOT of therapy with their ex-spouse and feels that therapy is a waste of time? If the intimacy in the marriage is gone, what else is there besides counseling?

Isle Dance said...

Well said. Very well said.

therapydoc said...

Thanks, Isle.

Anonymous said...

Things started going downhill with my husband when I realized he was never, ever going to make me a priority over his parents. Eventually, to get through sex, I started fantasizing about my therapist.

(oops, did I type that out loud?)

therapydoc said...

Did I post that (comment)?