My Marriage Has Died: What Can I Do to Resuscitate It?
Dear Dr. Buckingham,
Where do I begin? I have been married for 19 years and I don’t know where my marriage stands! At year 12, my husband was arrested then later sentenced to 10 years! Before his sentence, while out on bail, we both got jobs and lease to purchase a home. The marriage was strong and loving!
During his sentence (he did 5 1/2 years) so much happened: I lost both parents within two months of each other and I was their caregiver. I had to resign from my job, place everything in storage and move across the country to care for them but that was an honor and blessing. I had several surgeries while he was away. I felt so alone but our communication and love was very strong!
Fast forward to now. When he got out, I felt so alone and neglected! I know prison can change a person but with the communication we had, I figured that things would be okay and it wouldn’t take long to get the strong love back!
We have been in two different states as I having been helping my active duty children with my grandchildren in Hawaii and Texas. Our conversations are nonexistent and there’s normally silence unless I start up a conversation. I got more attention from him while he was in prison than I do now! I’m at a loss because I truly care for my husband. My Marriage Has Died: What Can I Do to Resuscitate It? Any words of encouragement would be appreciated!
Blessings for health and happiness,
Mrs. Alone and Neglected
Dear Mrs. Alone and Neglected,
The best thing that you can do to resuscitate your marriage is to physically reconnect with your husband. You all have been separated due to his prison sentence and now due to you helping your children. The saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is true to some extent. Individuals in long distance relationships often report having more meaningful interactions than those who see each other daily. However, their report of having meaningful interaction decrease when the time away from each other is extended beyond expectations.
All healthy relationships have three levels of intimacy which include physical, emotional and spiritual. While physical intimacy (proximity, etc.) cannot sustain a marriage, it is needed to intensify emotional and spiritual connections. You were connected with your husband through conversation, but not through experience.
While physical intimacy cannot sustain a marriage, it is needed to intensify emotional and spiritual connections.
As you stated, “I lost both parents within 2 months of each other as I was their caregiver! I had to resign from my job, place everything in storage and move across the country to care for them which was an honor and blessing! I had several surgeries while he was away! I felt so alone but our communication and love was very strong!”
Based on the aforementioned statement, you primarily felt connected with your husband through communication and love. Good communication and the presence of love is helpful in restoring relationships, but so is physical proximity. In order to get to know your husband again, I believe that you all must reunite. Phone conversations can only go so far. Psychological closeness, which can be sustained via telephone, cannot prosper without common experience.
Your husband is probably silent on the phone because he probably does not know what to say. In therapy, I have heard women mention “jail talk” which includes intense conversations with men who make them feel good. The men say the right things and appear to be emotionally mature. I mention this because I want you to think about the quality of conversations that you had with your husband before and after prison.
If your marriage is to be resuscitated, you have to reconnect with your husband spiritually, emotionally and physically. You both are different people now. And, with so much passed time, I don’t think you’ll be able to resuscitate the marriage without some professional help.
I say this because there might be some unresolved psychological issues between the two of you. For example, he might be feeling guilty for not being available during your trials and tribulations. Also, he might be feeling anger and/or abandoned because you are not physically with him. Please get some professional help.
I wish you the best and hope that you and your husband can have what you all once had.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.
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