“I just don’t think he loves me anymore” Sarah confided during one of our coaching sessions. “I try to make him happy and yet it all seems to go totally unrecognised. He takes me for granted. I can’t remember the last time he did something for me or made me feel special”.

Sarah has been married to James for 9 years and they have two children, 4 and 6 years old. They started out happy and madly in love, however as the years have gone by they have drifted apart. He works long hours and she is always busy with the children. Sadly as so often happens, now that both kids are at school, Sarah has looked up and realised that the sparkle has gone in her marriage. 

I hear so many similar stories from male and female clients about how their intimate connection has fizzled after years of marriage. Of course relationship dynamics change over time, however keeping the love alive is vital. 

It is interesting that there are so many different types of love. The love we have for our children, the love we have for our friends and the very special kind of love we feel for our partner. On top of this we all define “love” in our own way and represent something different to each of us. It can mean being kind, loyal, having your back, friendship, intimacy, reliability or even a partner in crime! It’s important to define what love with your partner means to you so you know if you have it. And if not you know what is missing!

I have learned from working with hundreds of clients around the world, if you are in a loveless marriage it is usually because it has waned over time. The daily routines of work and children can be all consuming and all too often we stop working on our relationship and shift our focus onto the rest of life instead. Just as Sarah found out, it’s easy to let it slide and then when circumstances change and we have time to look up, it can be too late. 

The good news is there are things you can do to save your marriage and reignite the love. Obviously if you can work with your partner on this it will give it a higher chance of success, but don’t worry if this is not an option for you as there are plenty of things you can do to kickstart the process on your own.

If you can work together then good communication is key. Find a good time to initiate a conversation when you can both talk and not be interrupted. Start by telling each other all the things you love and appreciate about the relationship and this enables you both to relax a little. Then allow each other to talk openly about the things that you are not happy with and would like to change. Keep the tone friendly and non-judgemental as this is all about finding a way forward. Then work together to identify some actions you can both agree to improve the situation. Commit to doing these for the next three months and to support each other along the way. 

If you are working on your own to save your marriage then you need to take back some control over the situation. Remember that you can’t control other people so the best way to do this is to start with you. If you feel good about yourself and sexy then it will be easier to inject those feelings back into your relationship. So have a think about what would help you achieve this. 

Serena had been trying to talk to her husband about feeling unloved for the last six months but every time she did he just closed off and changed the subject. “He just doesn’t want to talk about it and it always ends in an argument which makes me feel even worse”. So she decided to take her control back and make some changes for herself. She started pilates and going for daily walks. Her friend was a hairdresser and she asked her for some help with a new hairstyle that would suit her face. As her exercise routine started to pay off she revamped her wardrobe with some leather trousers and a lot more colour. Serena had a fine arts degree and started to visit museums and art galleries when she had spare time on her own, rather than waiting for her husband to join her.

Step by step she gained a new sense of confidence and started to feel better about herself. This shone through and her husband responded by asking to join her on some of her museum trips as she was so animated when she told him about them afterwards. Their bond and connection reignited as Serena rediscovered her own identity again and they were able to have a meaningful discussion about how they had gotten so far off track. 

It’s important to take responsibility for your part in a loveless marriage and take a look at how it has dwindled. For some it will be possible to save. For others it is not so simple. However by working on yourself you will have boosted your confidence and be able to make better decisions if you do separate. 

Caroline had tried for years to win back the love of her husband but she had finally realised it wasn’t coming back and accepted she had to make some decisions. He had been unfaithful many times and she had tolerated it for many different reasons, including being very afraid of feeling lonely. She started on a plan to rediscover her own identity as she felt she had lost herself in the marriage. Caroline had loved singing in the church choir but had stopped going along years ago. By joining the group again she began her self-discovery which led to her feeling much more strongly that she deserved better from her husband and eventually gave her the courage to make the decision to leave for good.

Clients often tell me they are worried about being lonely if they break up. However the irony is that If you are in a loveless marriage it can feel like the loneliest place in the world. Unrequited love from a partner means rejection every day and this is soul destroying. Staying in an unhappy marriage is toxic and if it can’t be resurrected then the healthy wise choice is to leave. 

If you have a good support team around you then coming out of a marriage can actually be a time when you feel very loved by friends who support you. Caroline wasn’t sure who she could turn to but we created a support team of friends, family members, legal and financial advisors and exercise buddies that would be able to help her with every area of her divorce. It was a vital safety net for her and one that provided so much reassurance and help. 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and leaving a loveless marriage is liberating in so many ways. Think carefully about how you leave and address all your areas of concern with experts in that area before you make your decision. Leaving a toxic relationship gives you the opportunity to redesign your life just the way you want it and .. when you are ready … to experience romantic love again. 

You only live once so make it count!