Trying to Rekindle the Spark

By Annie Lane

February 2, 2021 4 min read

Dear Annie: I have been married for 10 years this month. I am at the end of my rope with my husband.

My husband was a widower when we first met, and he was very affectionate and romantic.

But now, for him to try to be romantic or affectionate is like a chore — one that he refuses to do. This is the first time I have ever experienced somebody who is emotionally lazy.

I find myself wondering why I'm even in this relationship still, because there is no financial support, no sex life and no emotional support of any kind. I do love him and have asked that he go to counseling, which refuses to do, as he does not see that he has a problem.

Other than counseling, is there any way that I can get him to revive our emotional life? — Emotionally Starved

Dear Emotionally Starved: The fact that he was affectionate and romantic in the beginning shows that you had a spark and you have the potential to get it back. It's called the honeymoon phase for a reason; it doesn't necessarily last unless you work at it. And working at it takes two. Ask yourself whether you are affectionate and romantic with him. It could be that you noticed him getting lazy and your reaction was to subconsciously pull away or push him to the point where boundaries are blurred.

He could also be suffering from depression, which can show up as avoidance. Regardless of what is going on between his ears, a good trained professional will help you get to the root of it. If you want this marriage to work, sit your husband down and tell him outside support is absolutely needed to get back to where you were. And instead of recommending counseling for him, why not go to couples therapy?

Hi, Annie: In reading the letter from Disappointed, who was upset that her son's girlfriend doesn't help with meal cleanup, I wanted to share what works for my husband and I.

I was raised in a household where my father participated in both meal preparation and cleanup. I remember being stunned — and, frankly appalled — when going to my then-boyfriend's house for large family dinners where the women were expected to do all of the cooking and cleaning, and the men sat around chatting, watching ball games or otherwise entertaining themselves.

There is no mention in the letter about what the men are doing, but it's very clear they are not involved in any of the labor (except maybe carving the turkey). The girlfriend's apparent refusal to help is a bit odd and, yes, rude, but why is the girlfriend expected to pitch in and not the son? As you mentioned in your response, perhaps if the son were regularly engaged in participating in the work, his guest would be, too.

My husband and I have a rule for daily meals — born out of my messy cooking habits: Whoever cooks cleans. We trade off cooking for everyday meals and share the labor when entertaining larger groups. I'm eternally thankful that he didn't absorb his family's relegation of the entertaining grunt work to women. — Everyone Should Chip In

Dear Everyone Should Chip In: I couldn't agree more. What a great compromise.

"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette - is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]

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