He Says He Doesn't Love You. Now What Do You Do?
These are the words anyone who is in a relationship--from a boyfriend/girlfriend-dating kind of thing to a 45 year-long marriage--dreads: I don't love you anymore.
Not just "I think you're ugly" or "Oh, by the way, I just slept with my secretary" or even "I don't think we should be seeing each other anymore." Pulling out the "L" word and smashing it to the floor is the ultimate act of destruction.
Deflecting, Ignoring, and Withstanding
Yet that's exactly what happened to writer Laura Munson. In a New York Times article that's already become something of a classic, Munson relates how her husband pulled out those words and followed them up with "and I'm not sure I ever did."
Devastating. Which means that the marriage would be devastated, too, right? Not so fast.
Munson decided to call his bluff, saying to him, "I don't buy it."
Even though Munson ever so modestly says that she had recently come to understand herself, she says of her husband that he "hadn't yet come to this understanding with himself."
For the next six months, she says little, letting him ride out this problem of his which she likens to a "tantrum." Then, by next Thanksgiving, his fever having apparently broken, Husband Munson "bowed his head humbly and said, 'I'm thankful for my family.'"
What can we learn from this?
"I Don't Love You": A 4-Part Realization Plan
- It's Absolute Truth. Unless your mate, spouse, boyfriend, or whatever is a raging sociopath, prone to throwing around hurtful, damaging statements such as "I don't love you" like a 2 year-old tossing Cheerios, they mean it. They mean it. It takes an iron constitution to tell someone that you don't love them anymore. It's a big deal.
- It Doesn't Go Away. Munson is under the impression that, because Husband Munson "humbly" asked for forgiveness that Thanksgiving, it's all over. Wrong. If anything, it burns even hotter in his heart. So, if you manage to beat down the person saying that he/she doesn't love you, it just means that he/she is doing a better job of keeping it under wraps.
- The Loss of Love Is Owned By The Other Person. Munson does get this point right, even though she doesn't quite say it. The other person's love is owned by that person only. Yet...
- Yet The Rest Is Not Just The Other Person. At no point in her story does Munson say that she is accountable for anything. One example: Looks are not love, by any means. But when you study photos of her, you see a once-attractive woman who let herself slide. That's only the most visible example I could find. If Husband Munson turned away from his wife, it was chiefly due to deeper, personality-based reasons and less so to the loss of her looks.
A Personal Observation
One final point. When your mate says that he/she doesn't love you anymore, surely you won't have one added factor:
Being publicly bitch-shamed as a cowed, compliant, "humble" husband in front of millions of people.
Was this article and the subsequent book her way of enacting revenge on her husband?
On that basis alone, my advice to Husband Munson: Get out, and now.