When there's no spark left, stay married or not
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When there’s no spark left, stay married or not?

Intuitive advice columnist DearJames answers a question about a marriage of more than a quarter century, in which the love and intimacy is now gone.

From serious to silly, monumental to mundane, or somewhere in between, DearJames responds to questions asked by his readers. The answers may be just what you were looking for, or may provide you with a whole new perspective on things.
The question

I am over 50 and have been married for more than 26 years. We have one child — early 20s, independent but still at home.

I have fallen out of love with my husband. I love him but there is NO spark. I have come to this realization within the last couple of years since becoming an (almost) ’empty nester.’ I was too busy to realize this sooner. I have tried talking to him and we have tried counseling; counseling failed due to a poor counselor.

There is no intimacy between us. I know this is something I can’t live without. I have never cheated on him, but I have had some recent temptations. He is (too) agreeable with anything I suggest, but it never accomplishes anything. He ‘listens’ to me and agrees, but everything seems to go in one ear and out the other. He is not abusive or addicted to anything (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.).

He can’t possibly be happy with the way things are. I asked him if he was gay and he said no. He has difficulty with physical intimacy due to his being overweight and some medications he takes. He gives little effort to lose weight and get off his meds. I don’t know if I should stay or not. – NO Spark

DearJames answers: When marriage intimacy is gone

Dear NO Spark,

Asking someone for directions is easy: understanding them so you arrive at your intended destination requires a whole other set of skills. It requires comprehension, awareness, vulnerability, consciousness, action, determination, trust, confidence, commitment and courage, just to name a few.

Similarly, marriage is an equally perplexing dichotomy, for it’s just as easy to say yes and walk down the aisle as it is to ask for directions — yet understanding what marriage truly requires one to comprehend it with far greater depth, appreciation, openness and understanding.

Marriage is something you choose every single day. It doesn’t stop at the altar after you say “I do.”



And time and time again, this is where couples falter… they forget to choose marriage on a daily basis.

In an instant, years become seconds, and, before you realize it, life happened, and you find yourself residing in the dingy old development you helped create: Point of complacency, an unfulfilling, beige-colored life, built by its very own occupants.

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You are where you are, because you each chose it. You have not only the opportunity, but the ability to chose differently.

The spark vanished when you and your husband weren’t looking — choosing instead to prioritize everything and everyone else over the hopes, dreams, desires and commitments you made to one another.

In this, you are both faced with a defining life choice: Do I seek to understand the true meaning of marriage with this partner; OR, do I seek to understand it on my own or potentially with another? In either case, the imperative is to know and understand the metaphor; everywhere I go… there I am.

Each of you need to reflect upon the choices you have made — and continue to make — during the course of this marriage; own those choices; where appropriate, atone for them; and then discern if you are each willing to begin anew.

Rediscovering one another, while at times proving difficult, may just offer you far greater rewards, than divorcing, only to realize you’ve either repeated the lesson with someone new or deprived yourself of it altogether.

In either case, it is a lesson you have yet to explore.

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