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“I Love You, But I’m Not in Love with You.” What Does It Mean?

I’ve been a marriage counselor for fifty years now. I’ve heard these words from both women and men. Whether you’re a man hearing them from your spouse or a woman hearing them from yours, the feeling is devastating. Most of the people I’ve counseled felt blindsided. “I never saw it coming,” one man said. “I felt like my heart was ripped to pieces,” a distraught woman told me.

When they hear these words, most people feel it’s the end—the end of the life they had built together or, for some, it feels like the end of life itself. When it happened to me, my wife and I had been married for ten years and we had two beautiful children. We had drifted apart, but I figured it was just natural, what with the kids and having to work all the time. I never expected to hear the words, “Jed, I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore.”

At first, I got cold, then I got hot. I was stunned. I wanted to run and hide. I wanted to beat the shit out of her. We talked and we talked some more. She cried and tried to comfort her. I was ashamed to tell anyone about what was happening. After the first sleepless night, I went to work as usual and did my job. The pattern continued for many weeks. But I was dying inside. I lived in a daze. I felt hollow. She took my lack of emotional response as confirmation that our relationship was over.

I had no idea what had really gone on until many years later when I was remarried and hit a similar point in our marriage. By then I had been in a men’s group, I knew myself a lot better, and I wasn’t devastated. We could really talk to each other and listen to each other. We’re still happily married after forty years and we wrote the book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationship and Why the Best is Still to Cometo share with others how to get through these difficult times.

We learned that the disillusionment that underlies the words, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore,” is not the end, but occurs in the third stage of a potentially good marriage. If we work through stage 3, we can move on to Stage 4, Real, Lasting Love, and Stage 5, Finding Your Calling as a Couple. But even so, it was a struggle. I wish I had known about Steve Horsmon and his program, How to Diffuse the Divorce Bomb.

Steve partnered with his long-time friend and men’s coach, Tim Wade, to co-create this powerful, imaginative, and humorous dive into what really works for men who are facing divorce. Here’s how Steve is described by Tim. “Steve used to be a Good Guy who tried to please everyone in his life (except himself of course). Today he is a Great Man who teaches other Good Guys who struggle in their relationships with women to become the confident men that their partners crave. From his years of experience as a coach, he knows how women think and the many traps that men fall into.

“When it comes to telling it like it is, Steve is a straight shooter with a heart of gold. You’ll never meet a more honest, openhearted man and he generously shares his strength and knowledge with men from around the world.”

When I first began counseling couples in 1968, it was usually the men who fell out of love and left physically or emotionally. It was usually the men who had the affair or office romance and the women who were devasted and did everything they could to cling to the man in the hopes they could save their marriage. There are still a lot of women in this situation. I counsel them regularly in my practice.

But increasingly it is a man who is hearing the words, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore,” from a woman who has fallen out of love. It’s the man who feels like he’s been kicked in the gut and doesn’t know what to do. In fact, its women who initiate two-thirds of the divorces today and it’s the men who are totally caught off guard.

Steve says, “Maybe your wife has grown distant and told you that she ‘needs space.’

Or seemingly out of the blue she declares, ‘This just isn’t working.’ Or she’s already dropped the Divorce Bomb on you.”

In these situations, men do one of three things. Most put their heads in the sand, deny what’s going on, and hope for the best. Some panic, react with righteous indignation and retaliate. A few smart men reach out for help from men who understand what’s really going on and how to deal effectively with the problem.

If you are in this situation, know someone who is, or just want to know what’s available should the need ever arise, check out Steve and Tim’s powerful and effective program,  How to Diffuse the Divorce BombAs always, your comments are appreciated. Feel free to sign up for my weekly articles below.

This article first appeared on Jed’s blog.

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