I haven’t been in love with my husband for many years….. I was only important to him during our first years of marriage. But even though I felt that he didn’t love me, I always did everything possible to save my marriage, for his sake and for my children; but I just can’t do it anymore….

My husband was only committed to keeping food on the table. I had to figure out everything else… fighting all the time….

Now he has asked me to forgive him and has acknowledged his error…. He has tried to change, but I don’t have any romantic feelings for him. I only love him as a friend and as the father of my children. I have suffered many years from this situation that keeps me feeling sad and distressed. What do you advise me to do?

Dear Friend,

Though we are sorry to hear about your suffering during the past number of years, and though we understand how difficult it is to forgive bad behavior that has continued such a long time, we are very pleased to hear that your husband has acknowledged the error of his ways and has asked for forgiveness. And we are also very pleased that you still care for him as a friend.

We think that it would be very good for the two of you to go to marriage counseling. However, if that is not an option, we do have some other suggestions.

Your instincts have been right to try and save your marriage, and your children are certainly better off because of that. We believe that children are the most important consideration when there are marriage difficulties. You and your husband chose to give them life, and now there is nothing more important than their well-being.

However, “What about me?” we can hear you saying. “What about my feelings? And what about how I’ve been treated for so many years?” You say that you just can’t do it anymore, and you are hoping that we agree with you.

We advise you to speak to your medical doctor about your feelings of wanting to give up. Only a professional can examine your physical and emotional health to know if there is something that has caused you to want to give up. Years of neglect could have caused changes in your brain that need to be treated.

This is not an all-or-nothing situation. We are not asking you to get over the suffering in three quick steps. Instead, tell your husband that you appreciate him asking for forgiveness, but that it’s going to take a while for you to be ready to forgive. It took years to get into this situation, and it might take years to get out of it. But it is worth it!

In the meantime, agree to live as good friends, caring for the children, but sleeping independently until your feelings change. If he is sincere in his wish to change, then you will experience it for yourself by his actions and not just his words.

Finally, there are two reasons for which you will eventually need to forgive your husband: God will not forgive us our sins unless we forgive others, and unforgiveness steals joy from us each day and plants dangerous seeds in our hearts.

We wish you well,