Dear Harlan: My wife and I have been drifting apart for several years. We have kids; we both work; life is busy. I never thought this would happen to us. I don’t expect you to be able to fix it here, but I’m curious how you can handle rejection when it’s from your spouse of 15 years. I’ve tried to connect with her, but she pushes me away. I ask her to go on dates, but she says she’s too tired to go out after a long week. I asked if she wants to go on a vacation for the weekend, and she tells me we can’t leave the kids. We have tried marriage counseling, but it gets better for a few weeks and then we fall back into old routines. I have stopped trying because I’m getting tired of hearing “no.” At what point do I just give up on the relationship? I’m not happy, and I’m tired of trying.
— Tired of Trying
Dear Tired of Trying: Don’t give up. At least, not yet. I get the sense you still love her and want to be with her. I understand it’s painful to get rejected. It can wear a guy down. But I have a few suggestions before calling it quits. The first suggestion is to stop trying to get something from her. Instead of asking to get something, ask what she wants. Ask what she needs without expecting her to ask you the same question. Ask her without conditions. Ask her without expecting something in return. Shift your expectations. Next, do a lot of reading. Check out “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. Read it on your own. Invite her to read it with you. Tune in to what will give her a sense of love and connection. Next, check out “The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family and Friendships” by John Gottman. This book will help you and your wife connect in a more meaningful way. If your wife is reluctant to invest in reading or engaging with you, take on the project by yourself. If you find she’s not able to invest, suggest she see her doctor to make sure there isn’t something medical. Finally, get in the best shape of your life. What I mean is, work to be your physical, emotional and spiritual best. Invest in you. Love yourself. If your wife still isn’t interested in listening, engaging or interacting, consider making a change. After your self-reflection, self-improvement and education, you’ll be much better equipped to decide what you want, how to get it and if you should stay in this marriage.