"I love you, but I'm not sure I'm in love with you."
The message hits you in the stomach and leaves you trying to understand what it means for your relationship - and how you should respond. It is normal to feel anxious and helpless in the face of losing your partner's commitment to the relationship. In a desperate effort to save the relationship, you can diminish yourself by reaching out to a partner whom has nothing to offer in return except rejection.
I am trained as a psychologist, but also have
an undergraduate and a masters degree in family studies/marriage and family therapy. I have previously worked in a church-based psychological clinic and did training at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.
My most important training has come from counseling with married couples and couples in committed relationships for more than 30 years (hey, I started young). I have learned that marriage is difficult.
Marriage counselors recognize that many relationships reach a point in which one or both are questioning their commitment. The relationship has lost its joy and now feels like a sentence. Such a crisis can trigger a new and improved relationship - if the crisis is managed in a proper manner.
Couples in crisis naturally respond with great emotion, emotion that can be destructive. I have learned how to help couples keep emotions from destroying a fragile relationship.
Often a marital crisis is revealed through the discovery that one partner is having an affair. An affair is, more often than not, an expression of an uncertain commitment to the relationship. The affair can become the focus rather than what led to the uncertain commitment.
Although the rejected partner often initially seeks counseling, I am also able to help the partner who is uncertain about his or her commitment to the relationship. Sitting on a fence is uncomfortable. The distancing partner is sitting on a fence of ambivalence, struggling to decide whether or not to commit to the relationship or leave. This is an important decision that deserves effective decision-making.
If this sounds like what is happening in your relationship, I hope that you will seek help. A marriage is precious and you can take steps to preserve your marriage. Even if you are convinced that you are headed to a divorce, you owe it to yourself to do all you can to create a cooperative relationship that will facilitate good decisions. I hope you will act soon!