The COVID-19 pandemic has put stress and strain on all facets of our lives, perhaps none as significantly as marriages. Chances are you’re reading this because you’ve felt this rift in your relationship with your wife, and you may be wondering, has she lost that loving feeling? And if so, what do I do?
Hope is not lost, gentlemen. Below, I offer you some ideas on how to think and what to do when you’re asking, “Does my wife love me?“
Ask yourself, what do I mean by the word “love?”
Are you wondering if she isn’t committed to your marriage anymore? Or does her not loving you mean she’s acting irritable, disrespectful, or mean toward you? Or does it mean she seems distant and non-engaging? These are all very different iterations of what it may mean to feel unloved. Nail down what it is about “love” that she doesn’t seem to be delivering at the moment as you perceive it.
Then ask, “What are the observable characteristics I’ve seen that makes me think this way?“
When you’re in the same room, does she clam up and avoid talking to you? Does she not seem as interested in sex and continually reject your advances? When you try to talk about anything, does she respond negatively or withdraw? These are all observable behaviors you can see in your spouse. However, one word of caution: as you take note of the things you see, you are not stockpiling ammunition to bring down on your spouse later on. You aren’t building your argument to prove that your wife doesn’t love you.
Rather, the purpose for noticing these behaviors is two-fold: first, it helps you consider the next bullet point below. And secondly, when it does come time to talk with your wife about your concerns (which is addressed later on), it is easier to explain to your spouse things that you “see” rather than things that you “feel.”
Consider other factors outside of yourself that may be causing what you observe in your wife.
It’s very easy to think the issue is with you when you feel as though your wife isn’t being as loving toward you as before. But before we jump to conclusions and become defensive, we need to consider whether you see your wife acting the way she does for entirely different reasons.
If she has been experiencing the stress, strain, and anxiety of everything going on in her world, she may not be withdrawing from you; she may just be withdrawing.
In the words of Billy Joel, “Tell her about it.”
Bring your concerns up to her. Be sure to pick a time and place where you can focus and the air isn’t thick with tension. Ask her if this is a good time to talk or whether another time would be better.
Be gentle and kind in your words, and avoid placing blame or assuming motives. Tell her what you observe, and use “I” statements. For example, I am concerned for our relationship. When we are in the same room, I see us not talking as much as we used to, and I feel like you’re avoiding eye contact with me. I just want to be sure I’m not doing anything that you see is a problem, or if the problem may be something else.
And then… listen. Just listen. Ask questions. Become a passionate detective with the goal to learn and understand. And I can’t stress this enough: avoid coming off defensively. Here’s the thing: the problem may be something you’re doing or not doing. And now you’ve given her the platform to voice her issue. Hear her concern, listen to understand rather than rebut, and make it your goal to come to a resolution with her rather than to defend yourself.
Memorize these words: How Can I Help?
If your wife indicates that you are indeed doing something (or not doing something) that is contributing to the problem, the next step is to understand what you can do differently to make your relationship stronger.
However, it might be that those other factors mentioned above are at play. If that is the case, your job is to support. And not for the sake of “gaining her love back,” but so that your wife can be the best version of herself she can.
Keep in mind the way you can help may simply be to be present and to listen. Guys can be fixers. We like to fix problems. Sometimes, our wives don’t want things fixed as much as they want to be understood. (I know—this seems counterintuitive to most husbands. But if we can learn this one little lesson, it changes the landscape of our marriage so much more for the better.)
Lead the dance.
The thing is, even if the issue isn’t you, and you do listen and help your wife to feel understood about what she’s feeling, there’s a possibility that she’s not going to pop back immediately into full-on love-dovey mode. Things like this take time to process and work through. Take the initiative and show her how much you love her. Speak her love language. Write her love notes, send her flowers, be extra diligent with laundry and cleaning, take the kids away from her for a while so she can rest—anything that helps her to feel loved and supported. When we lead the dance and take initiative without her having to ask, more often than not our spouse will get excited about dancing again.
Don’t be afraid to seek help.
If you’re still questioning your wife’s love, problems persist or you find difficulty in reaching a resolution, consider seeing a marriage counselor together. And again, you might have to be the one to lead the dance and bring this up to your wife.
Fellow husbands, we are in challenging times. Our marriages are being challenged. And it may seem like your wife just isn’t that into you anymore. But hope is rarely lost. You have within your power the tools to contribute positively to your marriage, even when your spouse doesn’t seem to show the love.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***