General Question

justdontknow's avatar

Do I love my wife?

Asked by justdontknow (82points) December 5th, 2009

I can’t tell if I still love my wife. I’ve been out of work and feeling pretty depressed about my whole life. My wife and I are home all the time and we get on each other nerves. We’ve lost a lot of the tenderness we used to have in our relationship. How do I know if I still love her or if this is just a downturn in the relationship because of our current situation?

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40 Answers

filmfann's avatar

Welcome to Fluther. Lurve.
You are in a pressure cooker. Being out of work is tough on the spirit.
Trust yourself, and make sure you stay in the marriage for now.

PapaLeo's avatar

A better question would be, “Do I love myself?” If you have a feeling of self worth and are producing and being a valued member of society, you’ll have the balance necessary to be able to accept other people in your life. See your wife in this difficult period for what she is, and is always meant to be: love, support, encouragement, someone to talk to (someone who will listen) and the one person who can and should help you through this difficult period. It will get better, and after that everything will be gravy. You’ll have had this experience as shared and something to look back on.

Good luck.

justdontknow's avatar

@PapaLeo I hope you’re right. These days I haven’t been seeing much light at the end of the tunnel.

jrpowell's avatar

Totally due to your situation. Hang in there. Things will get better soon. Here is a fun (sad) fact. For every point the unemployment rate rises the rate of males put into mental institutions goes up 6 percent.

It will get better. Give it some time before doing something drastic.

And keep in mind we only have a paragraph to go off of. Maybe some counseling would help.

Good luck.

gemiwing's avatar

Think of things that you liked about her and make a point of looking for them. They’re probably still there, you’re just dealing with so much that you’re not seeing them as clearly.

For tenderness and closeness- work at it. Turn off the tv and computer. Take her and go for a walk- hold hands. It will help release endorphins and give you an association between her and feeling good.

When she does something that makes you smile- tell her so. Compliment her and she will most likely compliment you back, creating a more supportive circle.

Mostly- don’t forget you are both on the same team.

augustlan's avatar

Right now is not the time to make any major decisions on your relationship. In order to take the pressure off, make sure one or the other of you gets out of the house on a regular basis. Alone time is a wonderful thing, and even the best of couples benefits from it.

Try to have some fun together, free fun is available… take a drive to look at Christmas lights if nothing else.

Good luck in your job search and in your relationship!

justdontknow's avatar

@johnpowell I didn’t know that statistic but it makes sense to me right now. The strange thing is how different everything looks when you’ve been out of work.

justdontknow's avatar

@gemiwing “Mostly- don’t forget you are both on the same team.” Yes, that’s easy to forget when you’re yelling at each other.

justdontknow's avatar

@augustlan My wife has been asking for alone time but to be honest I haven’t taken that request seriously because I spend so much time at the computer and have a hard time disconnecting from it.

holden's avatar

Maybe you need to revisit the time when you were most in love. What has changed since then? It could be, as others have suggested, that you’re in a transitional phase brought on by the stress from the loss of your job. It may have nothing to do with you or your wife at all. Focus on treating your depression. Once you’re able to love yourself you will be able to love your wife again.

jrpowell's avatar

@justdontknow :: You need to take the request seriously. My sister just divorced her husband because he spent to much time on the computer.

It was pretty sad when she had me babysit because he was in the garage and couldn’t be bothered to keep an eye on his kids.

jrpowell's avatar

And flip the script. How would you answer this question?

My husband lost his job and has become distant. I ask to spend some “together” time and he just wants to sit in front of the computer. What should I do?

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Unplug, get out and find a way to do some volunteer work. You will feel better about yourself because of it, will meet some new people, and use skills you haven’t used in a long time. The value of work, aside from compensation, is the structure and the social interaction.

Aside from the things you’ve always done for compensation, think about what really jazzes you, and follow those.

Less brooding and more doing.

fireinthepriory's avatar

I agree with @PandoraBoxx. You could even just do things around the house. It sounds like your relationship problems are stemming from your general feelings of unworthiness, which is a common thing to feel when you’re out of work.

Turn it around and use your free time for good. Think of something you always wanted to get done while you were working, but never had time to do (paint a room, put together a shed in the backyard, volunteer for such and such) and do it! Schedule your days till they’re jam-packed. Doing things will make you feel better about yourself, because you’ll be productive. Leave yourself an hour or two of computer time a day, but don’t get sucked in all day. See if there’s something you and your wife can do together. Completing things together will make you both feel better; like you’re a team again.

Supacase's avatar

Marriages go through tough times. This is one of them. Don’t make any decisions right now that you might regret later. I know its tough (we’re going through one right now ourselves) but try to hang in there. Maybe do some fun things together to remember why you like being together – watch a funny movie, play a board game, cook a special dinner together.

justdontknow's avatar

@PandoraBoxx “Less brooding and more doing” – if ever there was advice that applied to me, it would be that. Thanks.

justdontknow's avatar

@PandoraBoxx My wife actually suggested I should do some volunteer work to get my mojo back. Again I ignored that advice.

marinelife's avatar

Sometimes when we are in crisis or stressed beyond bearing we turn away and sometimes we turn toward each other. You are both heartsick and worried. Now is the time that you need one another.

My husband was laid off in April. He looked for weeks with no response. Then, after three months, he got a few interviews. He did not get any of the jobs even though the interviews went well. There were so many people applying. My sister and brother have both been out of work more than a year.

I know how dreadful it is. My observation has been that it is even harder for men. In our culture (the U.S.) our job is often our identity.

Remember that you are not your job. You are more. You are a husband. You are someone with other interests: hunting, bowling, sailing, rebuilding cars, bird watching. I don’t know what yours are, but I know that you have them.

To feel better about your marriage and your wife, first work on feeling better about yourself.

Take a designated part of the day and spend it looking for work even though that is depressing. Set up something visual on the wall in the office or where you do your job hunting. Charts that list the contacts you’ve made that week, the applications you filled out or resumes and cover letters you submitted. Leave space for interviews and other follow-up. Note: this chart is also handy when you have to show what you’ve done for unemployment. Some days take your laptop (or the want ads) and head out in work attire to a local coffee shop. Sit and have coffee and do your work. Network with friends and acquaintances who are employed. Send them your resume. It is great just to get out of the house for a few hours.

Set aside some hours a week to volunteer. If you have the skills or inclination, consider Habitat for Humanity or another group that does physical labor. Nothing like making yourself tired to lift depression and give you a sense you did something good for the world.

Consider if your budget allows a getaway for the two of you. If not, create a wife appreciation day at home. Draw her a bath, make her dinner, tell her you know that you have been taking out your hard time on her and you appreciate her hanging in with you and supporting you.

You can do this. You are worth it. She is worth it. Your marriage is worth it.

Take care.

justdontknow's avatar

@Marina Thanks. A lot of great advice from your experience with your husband. I appreciate it.

Sonnerr's avatar

I think that the gravity of the situation is this, if you loved your wife, you wouldn’t have doubt. You wouldn’t have asked the question in the first place. But then again, it could be some kind of other influence that is inducing such a rash question to surface. And I think that that is right, the better question is: “Do you love yourself?” because one can not love someone else if he/she doesn’t love themselves first.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

If you’re a typical American then a big part of who you feel you are is made up by what you earn so if you’re now out of work and being hard on yourself, feeling less worthy somehow then you’re probably angry your wife is also witnessing your bad run. Maybe you avoiding her by spending so much time online is a distraction from facing her much and feeling worse. If you didn’t act this way towards her before then chalk it up to something your brain is trying until you find work and feel confident again. Break away and make yourself start spending time with her again until it becomes less tense and you two start to talk about what’s going on to feel safe in each other and re bond.

Jeruba's avatar

@justdontknow, listen to your wife. She is telling you she loves you, and she is also telling you what steps you can take while there’s still time. Augustlan is right: this is no time to make drastic decisions. Being out of work can drag anybody down.

Someone I know very well thought he’d lost his love for his wife. But she knew better. It took him three years to pull out of his depression, but finally he said, “I never stopped loving you. I thought I had, but I hadn’t.” And she said, “I know.”

While you’re taking things seriously for a moment—because it is serious, darlin’—take seriously the advice you see here about getting out and doing something positive. There’s nothing like feeling proud of yourself for a real accomplishment to lift your spirits out of the toilet.

wundayatta's avatar

What amazingly good advice you are getting here, @justdontknow! I’ll just pass on one thing my psychiatrist told me when I was severely depressed. He said, “Never make any important decisions while you are depressed.”

Whey you’re depressed, it seems, we do not make the decisions we would make when we are our normal selves. The question of whether you love your wife or not is moot because you are in no position to even think about it, much less take action. Focus on the things people have spoken about above. This question you’ve asked is really just noise in your life. It helps you in no way. Do with it what you do with any distracting noise. Turn down the volume or shut it off. It’ll be easier to focus on finding a job and reducing computer time and connecting to the people in your life.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I lurve what Jeruba has written for you. It takes a lot of love and strength for a partner to hang in there with a depressed one and not become distant themselves, to start questioning themselves and their importance to you.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Don’t make any drastic decisions about leaving your wife when you’re going through such a difficult situation right now. Being unemployed is very stressful and being depressed during this time is completely normal. Wait it out and things will eventually get better with your financial situation. If at that point you still feel the same way about your wife, then you may want to consider whether or not you should be with her.

gymnastchick729's avatar

If you did, would you be questioning it?

Jeruba's avatar

A depressed person can even question whether he ought to be alive. That does not mean the answer is no. A depressed person is not thinking right.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have never been out of work because I always took whatever job was available rather than wait for a job worthy of my skills. I have had some pretty crumby jobs in my life but always managed to learn something and meet some really interesting people and keep food on the table. Seems no matter where I go there is always a sign in someone’s window saying help wanted. So take what you can get or if you can afford it, volunteer as was suggested above. If you are at home, paint the house, do something. Nothing made me more annoyed than when I was working an my husband was sitting around being non productive.

I did eventually get rid of the husband because his job as ceo of general motors never materialized and I got tired of supporting him while he waited.

Zen_Again's avatar

I am only replying to the question, the idea of asking such a question , and from your chosen (one-time?) nickname for that specific purpose @justdontknow – Nope. Not if you had to ask us.

marinelife's avatar

@ All who say that if you have to ask, you can’t love someone. I do not think that is true.

All of you are lucky if you have never been so lost in depression or grief or anger or usually a whole welter of emotions at once, but if you ever have you know exactly how likely it is for a human being to project some of those feelings on those closest to them.

That is exactly why professionals strongly suggest not making life-changing decisions while you are in crisis.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I agree with @Marina. Sometimes life leaves you devoid of any emotions at all. Life is just one big thing of…grayness. There is no color. No joy, no excitement, no anger. Just nothingness. You can’t validly decide what you do or don’t feel in that state.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’m going to back up what Marina has written about depression being projected on loved ones. When you care and love a depressed person, you can’t help but get in that place with them sometimes. You start to question that person’s feelings for you, you get tired and wonder if they’re ever going to move forward, you wonder if it’s a bit your fault they struggle so hard, up and down. In the meantime, the depressed person starts to see you crumble at the edges, the person they might have counted on to be consistently strong and positive, the sunshine in their gloom, you are becoming a bit like them and it frightens them, panics them and both people feel swept away.

Zen_Again's avatar

Edit: I agree with @Marina (which I find myself doing most of the time) after having re-read the details part.

Sorry about my quip – in fact, who knows – maybe you’ll get over this rough patch and things will work out. Stay positive and bon chance.


DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I have been in your situation (in previous lives).....not just once, either.

It’s not about whether you love your wife or not…..okay? You aren’t in a good space to decide that. And don’t go out to try to find someone else to make you feel better. The last thing another woman needs is an unemployed guy telling her his problems and trying to get into her knickers. Be courageous and face your problems with your wife.
After you get your act together, then you can decide what to do. But now, is not the time, because both of you are under tremendous strain.

I agree with a previous posting…do NOT sit around and mope all day. The worst thing you can do for your marriage is to mope and sit on the sofa while your wife is busy mopping, scrubbing, vacuuming, tidying, cleaning, cooking, dusting all around you——It is the most nerve-wracking, antagonistic thing a man can do. Sure, you want to lie low and stay out of the way. But what women want men to do is to VOLUNTEER without being told TO HELP around the house. Find a project, paint a room, paint the garage doors, organize the washroom, clean the carpets, fix that leaky faucet….just please…._be productive. She will really appreciate that and you will also feel better about yourself. If you cannot think of things to do, ask your wife to please make a list of things she might want to get done that you can help with. And tell her to leave you a new list everyday or work on it together everyday.

Try taking a walk everyday with your wife….just to clear your heads. Make an appointment to do that everyday. No matter what. Four o’clock rolls around and you take a walk to clear your heads and make a promise NOT to talk about your situation as all you are going to do is enjoy the time you have. Then, come home and cook dinner together.

I also suggest that you go to church together….find a church that suits you. If you are non-denominational, find a Unity Church or Church of Religious Science which emphasizes positive thinking and positive living and is not hellfire and brimstone. If you left a church, then go back to it, find inspiration when you can.Read positive books and magazines. Go to the library and get books and inspiring DVD’s. Don’t watch tripe.

I have a friend who had a high-powered job and then his hours were cut. When his hours were cut, he decided to use the time to try something new. He took one art class and then another and discovered that this was his passion. He was eventually laid off completely and now is thinking about going back at mid-life to study art. This is not an option for people who may have family responsibilities, etc. But I give you this illustration to show you that in every situation there is another approach.

Another thing that is important that you could do…and would improve your love and your marriage and your head-space….CLEAR OUT YOUR HOUSE. If your house is messy and cluttered, your mind will be cluttered and the mess will get you down even more. Messy houses make depression worse.

If both of you are home, decide that you are going to have a big clear out of useless junk and tidy up the house….give things away to Goodwill or have a sale. Clearing clutter makes room for more good to come into your life.

Do you love your wife? Love emerges only when you can see it clearly. Right now, your life glasses need adjusting and you do that by working on yourself, your environment and your life….the answer will come when you are coming from a point of power and not powerlessness.

Good luck.

justdontknow's avatar

@all Thanks for all the great advice. There seems to be a common theme here. Basically that my perspective is distorted and I need to try to get back on my feet through action rather than rumination before making any drastic decisions. Message received.

belakyre's avatar

Forgive me from borrowing from religion, if you’re not religious. But in Hinduism (What I’m currently learning in Hinduism now), they have this idea that all of us are part of a single thing. Therefore, to love or hate someone is to love or hate yourself (Kinda weird that way, but it simplifies things down). Christianity’s Golden Rule (Or Confuscius’s Silver Rule, if you prefer him) states to love your neighbor as you would love yourself (Or do not to your neighbor if you do not wish the same done unto you for the silver rule). Your role as a husband is to keep your side of the bond and relationship, and it means always being there for her, and to make her feel what you want to feel as well: love and happiness.
Furthermore, all relationships go through crisises (is that how you spell that in plural?). Being upset with your life because you’re out of a job is quite understandable (even though I’m too young to have a job). However, if this downturn is because of the job situation, then I suggest that you do something about it by doing all you can to get a job. Remember that just because you’re experiencing a few problems doesn’t mean that its the end of the world. To love someone is to see them through a crisis, not to just feel affection for them. Love is sacrifice, and there’s a lot to sacrifice in order to right things. You need to give your wife and the job prospect some more time, and if you believe in a God, pray.
That’s all I can say.
I wish you the best of luck in this,

Jeruba's avatar

Bravo, @justdontknow. You have just made an excellent first step. Some people come around here asking for advice and get a lot of sincere responses, but they listen with their mouths. You listened with your ears (figuratively speaking). Well done.

Please come back here to this thread after a bit and tell us how (and what) you’re doing.

Jeruba's avatar

Afterthought: @justdontknow, if you’d like to share a goal, no matter how modest, and receive lots of support and encouragement while you work on it, come on over to the progress thread and tell us about it.

skfinkel's avatar

I would concur with so many others here who are saying this is not about whether or not you love your wife. My guess is yes, you do. But you are having a hard time. So many people make the mistake of leaving their spouses when they are in trouble, instead of turning toward them to help. They should teach us this in grade school! Anyway, think of your spouse as a person who loves you and will be there for you now and when the current problems are gone. And, then if necessary, you can do the same for her some day. That’s what marriage is all about.

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