Wife doesn’t love me because of childhood issues

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I have two children and have been married for 10 years. This is my wife’s first marriage and me and we’ve been together for 12 years. Five months ago, my wife told me she is happy with every aspect of her life except for me. She says it’s nothing I did; it’s just that she doesn’t love me. We went to marriage counseling and it did not help. After this, my wife decided to go to individual counseling. She is now convinced that her childhood has made it impossible to be emotionally available to others. She says she cannot love me the way I deserve to be loved and she can’t accept my love. She says we’re not “over”, but she wants me to move out. Her childhood issue is that her sister was a drug addict. Because of this, her parents poured all of their money and love into her sister. She says she realized through counseling that this affected her emotionally and she pushes people away who have an emotional need for her. She says she has been unhappy in our relationship for over 5 years, but has been faking it.

I want nothing more than to save my marriage and our family, but I feel like my wife has made up her mind and I’m just fooling myself. She has told me she doesn’t love me and even if I were the only man in the world, she still wouldn’t love me because she’s not capable of it. She says it has nothing to do with another man nor does she want another man. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

A: What a difficult position you are in to feel loving toward your wife, but to also experience her pulling away. More than that, she is telling you she does not feel love for you and wants you to move out.

Since you have tried the usual route of couples counseling, and she is seeing an individual therapist, I believe it is time for you to accept what she is saying. You should get legal advice before you move out, but I do think it is time for you to pursue a life independent of the one you have with your wife.

She has been unambiguous about where she is at. It takes two people to have a committed relationship to make it work. If she is telling you that her childhood issues are preventing her from feeling love for you I would accept this. I know how difficult this is. But if you don’t make arrangements to cope with this sooner rather than later, there is a very good chance that the situation will deteriorate. I would encourage you to plan to separate, and take it from there.

I wish to reiterate my advice about getting a legal opinion before making a move. Sometime psychological needs and legal issues are complex and contradictory, particularly when there are children involved. Please be sure you know your rights before taking action.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Oct 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Wife doesn’t love me because of childhood issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/10/27/wife-doesnt-love-me-because-of-childhood-issues/