I think I've fallen out of love with my husband. What now?
February 12, 2015 9:14 AM   Subscribe

More detail below the cut, but mostly I'm seeking some experience and wisdom from the hivemind on the more existential aspects of this realization, and maybe a reality check if needed. Thanks.

Two years into our marriage, and about two years of living with his active alcoholism and subsequent rehab, I've ceased being emotionally charged most of the time. It dawned on me last night, as I went to bed alone again after he crashed out on the couch covered in pretzel crumbs, that I think I might not love him anymore.

At the beginning of 2015 after a month's separation he finally did what I asked and went to rehab, under threat of not being able to come home again. He did some inpatient followed by intensive outpatient and has now been abstinent from alcohol for six weeks. However, his behavior towards me hasn't really changed, and if anything, has gotten worse because now I know he's not under the influence of alcohol when he treats me poorly. From a 30,000 foot view, I think this may be a fundamental disconnect between my own 12-step belief in alcoholism as a disease ("he can't help it") and his newly-found empowerment belief ("I can choose not to drink, I can make different choices"). It's at the point where he tells me without telling me that he chooses to treat me this way, and I'm so spent from the years of pain and misery that I'm not sure I want to continue down this path, even though he's done exactly what I asked of him. I got what I wanted, and I'm still not happy. I hope someone in the future reads this question and learns from it.

Now that he is home from rehab, he spends 90% of his time at home in front of the TV, playing video games and eating junk food. I get that there is something psychological going on here ("fill the hole") but I just... can't bring myself to care anymore? Like, now that you're not filling the hole with booze, go ahead, fill the hole with whatever, I can't fill it for you and I'm no longer interested in telling you how unhealthy your filling of choice is. Our communication and conflict resolution skills are pitiful at best - we learned this in marriage counseling before he went to rehab - and I'm not convinced that it's worth putting the time and energy into fixing them by going back to marriage counseling if I don't actually love him anymore. He knows I am not happy, but I don't think he is concerned about my leaving him, especially since he just did what I asked him to do, and went to rehab and stopped drinking. His thoughts there are not without precedent; I am extremely risk averse.

I'm not really asking for advice on whether it's time to separate or divorce or whatever, or whether I'm justified in feeling this way, because feelings are so individual. But I'm interested in whether you yourself have faced or watched a situation like this, and what you did, your timeline, etc. Is it possible that my feeling of falling out of love is fleeting? Is this a normal part of the growing apart of two people, or do all marriages go through periods of intense existential questioning on the part of either partner? Some days I feel like I would rather disappear into a hole in the ground that go through the shame and uncertainty of divorce, and I should be grateful for what I have even if I am not happy - that I should just seek my happiness elsewhere through other paths of personal fulfillment. (Thanks, 12-step, for burning into my brain that I can find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.) Some days I consider the alternative - being alone again, trying to find a life partner again after I am substantially older and less attractive - to be worse than staying together. Sometimes I even wonder whether I'd be capable of having a quiet side relationship with someone who does fulfill my needs while maintaining my marriage. I don't actively despise him, hate him, or feel contempt towards him. I just don't think I love him anymore. If you kick a puppy enough times...

So, um, whatever thoughts you have would be appreciated. I don't have a throwaway email, but if you comment that you'd be happy to offer private insight, I'll PM you.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
So my ex-husband tried to stop drinking for the first time two years into our marriage, and my experience sounds extremely similar to what you are going through now. There was a full year of him taking time off work and just sitting at home, not doing anything and feeling sorry for himself. I really really wish I would have left at that point.

He drank on and off for the next year, all while claiming to be sober and going to meetings. I am the child of an alcoholic and was very familiar with the "he can't help it" and alcohol as a disease line of thinking, so I was always sympathetic to his struggle and efforts.

Eventually AA started working for him and he finally stopped drinking (after a suicide attempt which landed him in a mental hospital for a week). I was so exhausted from the drama that I just stopped caring. I tried really hard to be supportive and stay in love with him, but I was so damaged by all the time he spent drinking, lying, endangering himself and others, spending money, etc. that I just couldn't bring myself to care about him the way I did.

He replaced one addiction with another, and threw himself into AA so that it became his entire life, all he did, all he talked about, the only friends he had. When I realized this was going to be the rest of our life together, basically having completely separate lives with nothing in common and my carrying around all the resentment, I left him.

I was also terrified of the embarrassment surrounding divorce, trying to start over, how I would ever find someone, basically all the same worries you are having. I got to the point when I needed to take the risk and end it. It was the best decision I ever made. People will judge you, but they'll get over it. You'll be so happy that you won't care. It's exhausting to care for an alcoholic, sober or not, and once you relieve yourself of that duty, you'll realize just how much of a toll it has taken on you.

PM me if you want to talk or want me to tell you just how awesome it is to be single after my experience. It's been a little over a year and I made some big changes, and I am the absolute happiest I've ever been in my life.
posted by elvissa at 9:36 AM on February 12, 2015 [50 favorites]

You are always justified in feeling however you feel. Alcoholism can rip the soul out of relationships, even after the drinking stops.

But I will say that the few months after my husband got out of rehab were very, very hard. Even harder than when he was in active addiction. You're basically rebuilding your life and your relationship from scratch, all while waiting for the other shoe to drop because, if you're like me, you're really just waiting around expecting him to decide to drink again. If he is in recovery (i.e., going to meetings, working with a sponsor) and really committed to the process, I think it's likely his behavior will improve with time and that maybe your feelings will change. If he's not doing those things, and is instead just living the same life except without getting drunk, that's a different situation and may not be sustainable. Either way, though, I think what you're feeling is natural and that, if you can, it might be worth hanging in there for a few more months to see what happens.
posted by something something at 9:37 AM on February 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

This is a good time for you both to be in couples counseling. I have reasons, but lets cover a couple of things.

You're allowed to be completely done with the situation. It's draining to be living with someone who is an addict, and in recovery. Post rehab can really suck, especially if your husband and it's early days yet. One supposes that you married him while he was using, and your relationship has materially changed. He is a completely different person, and as he progresses in recovery, he'll continue to change. Lots of marriages can't survive recovery, for myriad reasons.

That said, his recovery shouldn't rest on your shoulders. You don't owe it to him to stay married just because he got sober.

Why couples counseling? Because you have to navigate an negotiate a new normal. You're allowed to say, "I appreciate the effort it took to get sober and while that's great, we still have serious issues and I want us to work them out with a therapist."

There are some serious issues if he's not working (I can't tell from your question.) Part of recovery is giving back, and it's not just stacking chairs at the meeting, it's contributing, in a meaningful way to relationships and to the running of the household.

Is he in a 12-step program? If so, is he going to meetings?

6 weeks out is a good start, but we're not out of the woods yet. Also, are you aware that recovery often includes relapse? What happens then?

He should be in private counseling, you should be in private counseling, and you should be in couples counseling so that you can openly discuss your issues, your frustrations and your doubts constructively.

You don't have to decide today, you can decide on your own time, but don't stuff down your feelings and frustrations. It's perfectly okay to say, "Pete, I'm really happy that you're doing well in recovery. I know that it's a struggle for you. I'm frustrated because I was hoping that while you were sober that we would work on re-connecting in our marriage and it doesn't seem to be happening. Right now I feel like we're living different lives and it makes me sad."

You matter just as much as he matters. It's not your job to fix him. Are you attending Al-Anon meetings? What do other say about this very common experience that you can use in your life.

It may be that you should never have married, or should have split up long ago. If that's the case, when you're ready, move forward with leaving.

As for the shame and uncertainty of divorce, I don't really understand shame. Marriages end. There's no shame. Shame implies fault, or wrong-doing. It's a relationship that just didn't work out, it's not anyone's fault. Also, YOU are living your life. What other people think about it immaterial. Let them think! Who cares? Do they pay your rent? No.

Uncertainty, everything is uncertain. Fragile recovery is the most stressful, uncertain thing I can think of. You can survive uncertainty.

But get counseling and fellowship. This is a treacherous path to tread alone.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:51 AM on February 12, 2015 [9 favorites]

I can only answer to my experience with parts of this. A year ago I sat down to a conversation with my husband in which I wasn't really certain I wouldn't be asking for a divorce. It didn't quite go that way, but in the ensuing (and previous) weeks, I searched for apartments and jobs in other cities and daydreamed about the single life to come. I still loved him, but I was not in love with him then. I think if we hadn't been married, I would have ended it there. Today, things are so, so different. I am so happy to be married to him. I don't think all relationships/people go through this wide fluctuation, but some definitely do. It happens.

But this isn't really about normal fluctuations in feelings. You and he are going through a lot, and I don't know that you can necessarily trust your feelings at face value right now. I do think you should give you, him, and your marriage a chance to find your footing.

That said, the part about treating you poorly... that's another issue, and that maybe more than anything else should be what the decision is made on. I'm know he's going through a lot right now - I'm sure he's feeling raw and probably judged and he's lost his coping mechanism. But you deserve someone who treats you kindly, even when he's under a lot of stress. I don't know how vehement to be without knowing what "treating you poorly" means, but whatever it is, it's not okay. The mistreatment has to stop. Neither addiction nor recovery is an acceptable excuse for treating your partner poorly.
posted by obfuscation at 9:51 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

Falling out of love or simply not feeling into your spouse is a normal thing for married couples, but that's not really the issue here. The issue is that he's treating you poorly and has been for years. You are framing it as him giving you everything you asked for/wanted. Clearly when you married him you didn't ask for him to treat you poorly. Clearly what you wanted was for him to stop drinking and become a decent, loving husband.

Staying with someone who treats you poorly and who is an alcoholic who didn't stop without serious external pressure is not risk-averse. It's more like self-flagellation than it is staying in a lifeboat. Divorce is awesome and not shameful if you need to do it to be happy. Dating sucks, but not as much as you might think, and is way better than trying to orchestrate an affair.

I agree that you should talk to a therapist. You're really hard on yourself in this question and I think you could benefit from structured support.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:07 AM on February 12, 2015 [21 favorites]

I fell out of love with an ex boyfriend. We were living together, so kind of a close situation. The lightbulb moment was when he'd been away for nearly three weeks. He came back, and inside I just thought "meh."

It took a week or two to work up the courage, and my timing of actually saying "this is over" was poor to say the least. Still, it ended up being best for both of us.

The bottom line is that he's treating you like crap. You deserve better. Perhaps one more round of counselling to see if this is temporary or not, and make your decision from there.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:08 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

There is one thing in your question I actively identify with -- N0 N0 N0 -- it is not sustainable to stay in a home environment where you are treated poorly.

I know for certain you would be happier living alone rather than with someone who treats you poorly. Again, your situation is not sustainable. You can not live with being treated poorly indefinitely.

TBH, not loving your partner + being treated badly by them = Break Up Soon.

The drinking or all the rest really does not matter, it is a distraction. You can't live in your own home as an adult and accept crappy treatment from your spouse. You just can not. Anyway, it isn't necessary, you have options, so you may as well draw a boundary and cease putting up with crappy treatment.
posted by jbenben at 10:12 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I knew I no longer loved my ex-husband when I realized that the sound of his car in the driveway didn't make me happy. In fact, it made me anxious and resentful that soon I'd be catering to him instead of doing whatever it was that I was doing at the time. He had issues with substance abuse, too and cleaned up only to replace one addiction with another, over and over. At that time, it was the internet and the world of conspiracy theories. I got happy again when I realized that I didn't owe him anything, that his misery was his alone to deal with, and that I deserved to be happy. I've been very happy being single, not having to take into account his feelings or opinions about anything anymore and I think he's been happier too, without a spouse who resented his presence, even if she wasn't saying anything about it.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 10:19 AM on February 12, 2015 [11 favorites]

So much to consider here, but a few points:

1) My gauge for the end of my own first marriage was very much the question, "Would I be happier alone for the rest of my life?" When I got to the decision point, the answer was definitively Yes. As it happens, getting to this point is exactly what prepares you to find and enter your next relationship in a healthy frame of mind. You do not exist for the sake of your relationship; it exists to serve you and the partner you share it with.

2) I am concerned about the fact that your partner entered rehab under duress (not that you forced him; more on this below). I don't know his inner thoughts or anything, but quitting because someone else wants you to tends to be a flawed proposition. I would not be surprised to hear that he resents this at some level because his motivation was more external than intrinsic. That's something for him to work through and also NOT something you should feel guilty about in any way. You were unquestionably right to set that boundary, but for the rehab to work, he also has to want that outcome for himself.

3) On preview, internet fraud detective squad touched on what I noticed most prominently about your post. You say you "got what you wanted." But I don't think that's the case. When you told him he needed to go to rehab, it seems to me you were asking for him to take a step toward repairing your marriage. He made exactly one single concession to your needs, and has not progressed further (with the caveat that, as others have noted here, it is still early days for his recovery). But this is not what you wanted! You had a goal in mind, which was a sustainable, fulfilling, restored relationship, and for which rehab was the necessary first step. You are under no obligation to stay just because technically he met the first requirement you laid out.
posted by Smells of Detroit at 10:28 AM on February 12, 2015 [12 favorites]

In a very different context, we went through what you're describing. As in, got to the other side of the bridge and were able to look back and agree, jesus, that was weird. Let's not let that happen again, ok? And so I home in on this from your post:

Our communication and conflict resolution skills are pitiful at best - we learned this in marriage counseling before he went to rehab - and I'm not convinced that it's worth putting the time and energy into fixing them by going back to marriage counseling if I don't actually love him anymore

Which I look at and sort of edit to this bit, which reminds me of... me, then. Us, then:

Our communication and conflict resolution skills are pitiful at best and I'm not convinced that it's worth putting the time and energy into fixing them

We had a big, overarching, looming problem. As we eventually learned in our chaotic period, the frustration we felt toward each other wasn't limited to the situation between us--instead, it was just this thing that each of us carried in our personalities that probably wouldn't go awayby swapping out the current partner with a different one. We had internal issues that compounded our personal reactions to our shared situation. And that was a startling, all-of-a-sudden realization. Communication is key, and if you aren't sure that's worth working on I don't know if you'll luck into a situation where communication isn't essential (although that's a legitimate goal if it's indeed what you want).

And so, my advice to you would be that however you resolve your marriage--by ending it, or working more, or whatever--is to not ignore the awareness that your risk aversion, or anything else that you recognize as contributing to your current duress, won't go away because you change the people in your life, or even your habits as your husband can attest. Recognize yourself and don't be startled by your personal motivations as you move forward.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:40 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

A friend of mine who enjoys a healthy, loving marriage after years and years and years of fraught, drama-filled faux relationships followed by twenty years of counseling, tells this story:

He is an actor. She is a playwright. She wrote an excellent play and, after many, many rounds of readings and workshops and false-starts, she finally got a production at a great venue with a great director with a great company. She had been a stay-at-home parent for ten years while he worked steadily in large-profile gigs and off-Broadway and in film and TV, and her ship had finally come in. They were ecstatic.

It just so happened that there was a role in her play for him. And he wanted to play that role in the production. And she wanted him to play it, too. The director, however, had other plans. He would get an audition for the role but there were no guarantees.

So, during the lead-up to the production, before auditions, he would occasionally attempt to discuss the matter with his wife. And he felt awkward about it and so did she, but they typically discussed these kinds of things - when they were involved in separate artistic situations that didn't include the other. Now, well, this was a horse of a different color. Things were very awkward for a couple of weeks. She felt pressured, and as if he were trying to steal her thunder. He felt cheated and shunted to the side, and guilty for feeling that way.

Finally, she told him, very simply, that he could, and should!, have his own really complicated feelings about the situation. He just needed to have them without making her privy to what exactly those feelings were. She loved him, she wished him well in his audition, but the emotional baggage handling was up to him. And, after some fuming and talking it out with people like me and grappling, he accepted what was, in my humble opinion, a supremely healthy boundary she'd set for her own and, ultimately, their marriage's well-being.

This is what a functioning marriage looks like. She set a boundary and stuck to it. He had his feelings but respected hers, too. They both pursued individually what they wanted, and trusted the other one to be honest and fair. Nobody had to change for anybody else, and nobody had to do anything for the other person's sake that didn't sit well with them. They communicated well and honestly. She didn't set that boundary for his sake, or so that he would stop being who he is, or so that he'd be a better husband. She set it so she could make space in her marriage for her to be her best self and experience fully her own hard work and sacrifices for their family and grit paying off in spectacular fashion.

That's what's hard to accept, I think. That doing and being your absolute best for another person doesn't change that person. Once you're able to see this kind of thinking for what it is - born out of narcissistic wounds and co-dependence on other, similarly wounded people - you'll begin to gain some perspective and think differently about what a healthy, functional marriage looks like from the inside. I think this is starting to happen for you and that you're experiencing it as "falling out of love" with your husband. With the excuse of his drinking out of the way, he is still the same abusive asshole you wanted him to stop being, both because of you, and for you. This is not how it works.

Let the scales continue to fall from your eyes. Good luck.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 11:21 AM on February 12, 2015 [25 favorites]

I can't speak for alcoholism, but I can relate to being in a marriage with someone who didn't treat me the way I deserved, and the fear and embarrassment of leaving them.
We were married for 2 years and for most of that time I tried desperately to get him to care/pay attention to me/not go to the bar every night until 6am.
I finally came to a point, which you yourself said, when I didn't care about his shit anymore. Him crying to me when I said I would leave just didn't get to me anymore. I finally cared more about myself than I did him. That's how it should be. No matter what happens in life, we have to be our own priority and our biggest advocate.
I was initially so scared to leave. I was financially dependent on him, I'm an immigrant and I was terrified I would be deported. I had adopted his entire life here because I had no family or friends here. My father reacted negatively and didn't talk to me for a couple months which was very hard. My mother fully supported me (she had wanted to leave my father on and off for around 35 years). It wasn't actually embarrassing. The relief of not dealing with someone elses problems, and not having someone else making me miserable was immeasurable.
I'm going to be honest. It is really hard. It's scary and difficult but you will be amazed at how strong and resilient you are. I have honestly never felt ashamed or embarrassed about being divorced. It's like a medal from a battle, I'm proud I chose a better life and that I got through it.
I was single for two years and now I'm with an absolutely incredible man who has shown me what love and companionship really should be. I am happier and more healthy than I've ever been. After 1.5 years together we're moving in together. You deserve that. You deserve everything.
posted by shesbenevolent at 11:52 AM on February 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

I watched a situation like this in what was then a close friend's marriage. She is a difficult and unreliable person herself, which is why I no longer think of her as a friend, but what I am about to describe was all about her husband's problems, not her. Their relationship always involved plenty of alcohol, and I think that masked until well after they were married that he was truly an alcoholic. I think that hit home for her when she found out just how much beer, emptied and still full, he had hidden in the garage where he retired every night. Their relationship by then was very troubled. He was abusive in his own ways -- angry, withholding, insisting on humiliating sex games. They did some counseling, which was a dead end, and she really insisted he stop drinking, and ultimately he did.

The thing is, he was still an angry, depressed, withholding spouse after he stopped drinking. Alcoholism is a problem of its own, but addressing it is often is not a solution to additional behaviors like abusiveness or additional mental health problems like depression.

Your husband sounds very depressed, very withholding of affection, and perhaps -- I am not sure but some of your words hint at it -- at least verbally abusive toward you. These sound like problems independent of alcoholism to me.

I'd add that although we all go through stages of being a lot less in love with our partners -- I've been angry enough at times at my beloved Bear at times to think about leaving -- this sounds a good deal more like me about being with someone who at bottom is not a partner at all, because he is not ever caring or attentive or supportive, which are sorta minimum partner obligations in committed relationships.

I second that counseling might help you by reinforcing you as you make your plans to end this relationship, but I think you should move on. Being alone is better than being with someone who does not value you and is not kind to you. Certainly you deserve so much more than that from your lover, boyfriend, or husband.

Hope this helps. Thinking of you.
posted by bearwife at 12:17 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Amongst all this other advice, consider a possible confounding factor that's plagued me: I progressively prefer to be alone regardless of who the other people might be in my life. I, too, cringed at the sound of my wife's car pulling into the garage. For a while, I thought I didn't love her anymore. But then I realized, I cringed at the din of my children in the house. I also internally cringe at any invitation from a co-worker to got out, from friends to just hangout, or to attend any obligatory social functions. This occurs all the while when everyone around me, to a person, would consider me extremely social, talkative, outgoing, and heck, even popular. In short, I have a problem I need to deal with and the first step I've taken is to stop blaming others for my bouts of unhapiniess and/or anxiety.

So ask yourself (and my read of you says your answer is no) are you just trying to escape and be alone?
posted by teg4rvn at 12:40 PM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

I went through some issues with my then-husband a decade ago. We'd only been married a short time when things fell apart - I had health issues that led to extremely painful sex which he couldn't wrap his head around, and he had a real addiction to World of Warcraft. And we really sucked at communication. Well we finally addressed his videogame addiction over a period of months, and my health problem was slowly resolved. But I'd fallen out of love with him. Since our marriage was so new, and I'm Catholic, and we'd addressed the problem, I felt I had no other choice but to try and keep things going, and hopefully we'd find our way back to love. So I stayed.

There was some resentment between us, for sure. It felt like he blamed me for taking away his videogames, that it was a huge sacrifice on his part that I should recognize and be immensely appreciative of. Because he was never really in the wrong for it, but he conceded to my wishes. I should be showering him in affection and rewarding him for his efforts. And I had gone from being ignored and mistreated to suddenly having attention demanded of me all the time, but not in any way I could appreciate, he was simply demanding and not sweet or affectionate (because he resented me). Just because the main problem was addressed, didn't mean it fixed all other problems formed in its wake. The main resentment subsided, but I knew I continued to resent him in little seething ways. In the end I never did fall back in love with him.

I stayed with him another two years, but I cheated on him with another unhappily married man. It was great to feel loved again, and someone who empathized with me, but to be honest it felt like a cheap substitute for the real relationship I wanted. The burden of sneaking around, realizing the relationship really wasn't likely to go anywhere despite promises, the little key parts of a relationship like sleeping a night together and cooking together, these diminished my satisfaction. And I knew if he ever found out, he'd divorce me in a heartbeat.

I finally found the resolve to leave him after moving away temporarily "for work" and realizing how much happier I was without him around. Divorce is definitely tough to go through, I did lose some friends along the way who chose sides, but other friends and much of my family surprised me in their supportiveness. I enjoyed getting back into dating and have had to restrain myself here from including my full essay on the matter. But it's not as fearsome as you make it out to be. In the end it will come down to whether you're happier with him, or without him... even if without him means being alone.

I got married again two years ago. I can say a lot about this marriage, how I wouldn't have married this man if I hadn't learned so much from my previous experiences, and how this one isn't perfect by any means. But I love this man most dearly, and it is through constant work and relationship maintenance that we stay in love. I won't let it slide into ambivalence, ever.
posted by lizbunny at 12:44 PM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

You don't mention kids. If you have kids, IMO, with the information you've given us (IE, just not in love, husband is lazy) your problems are surmountable with time and effort.

If you have no kids, cut and run and don't give it a second thought- just my opinion. Divorce is much easier without kids.
posted by quincunx at 12:53 PM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

In my experience, no, it wasn't a fleeting feeling. And it expanded, stretched into the feelings you aren't having yet. Contempt was my main feeling towards him, with a little bit of pity. I never hated him, but I know that would've come.

As far as the fear of starting over, please don't let that get in your way. Of course you'll have those fears, and it's not like it's a walk in the damn park. It will be hard. But nowhere near as hard as staying married to someone you don't love.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 2:09 PM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

OP, I have to disagree with quincunx. If there are kids, all the more reason to fix it fast or leave. Children need healthy relationships and boundaries modeled for them; they can and will absolutely pick up when one parent doesn't love the other and is seething.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:54 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's love as an emotion and love as an action. I suspect that what you are feeling is falling out of love the action, since it doesn't sound like the emotion has been there for awhile. The emotion is happy and content and positive, remember that? You are describing a love that has been a lot of work, patience and understanding on your part, and that is love the action. And like someone said above, it sounds like you are done.
In my experience every relationship has it's ups and downs as far as whether emotion-love or action-love is more dominant, but I've never had a good relationship lose the action-love part, at least for more than a day or two (big fight length). For me, it's never come back from longer than that and has been a reliable sign (to me) that the relationship is over.
In a way falling out of love the action is easier to deal with because it's more rational in the first place. If you are just tired of doing something (burnt out, done with it, over the situation) you can carefully weigh the pros and cons of pushing through anyway (fake it til you make it) and follow the best option for you. There's no messy emotion to cloud things. If you decide to stay with your husband that should mean that you have consciously decided that staying is best in the long run and faking the action-love until you feel it should follow a good decision. But also, if you decide to leave you should also have no regrets. It is a lot of work faking the action-love with an alcoholic who isn't doing his part, and if you honestly believe that he isn't going to meet you halfway before you are torn to shreds then cutting ties now is best for both of you.
I've been married and divorced and in a couple long relationships, now one over a decade, and I would say that paying attention to what I can make myself do (action-love? yea or nay) over what I feel (emotion-love? maybe, maybe not) has never led to regrets. Good luck.
posted by dness2 at 3:33 PM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

However, his behavior towards me hasn't really changed, and if anything, has gotten worse because now I know he's not under the influence of alcohol when he treats me poorly.

Not that it's an excuse, but if he's an alcoholic and is only recently dry, everything about him is really raw. If you're not willing to put up with it, that's totally fair, but his behavior now isn't necessarily indicative of how he "really" is underneath the alcoholism.
posted by spaltavian at 7:25 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would be happy to provide private insight, if you would like to PM me.
posted by nightrecordings at 8:28 PM on February 12, 2015

My parents have been successfully married for something like 40 years. I say "successfully" because I know that every moment of every one of those 40 years wasn't necessarily happy. Sometimes, from my observation point, they seemed to be coasting, or reserving energy. Overall, I'd describe them as deeply loving each other, but not sparkling with love at all times.

Not married, personally, but I've certainly experienced a sort of "flat" emotional response to partners, sometimes, and they to me.

If you don't feel contempt for him, that might be a hopeful sign that you are feeling temporarily -- not terminally -- exhausted. And you have every right to be. Addiction and recovery are a bitch for everyone involved.

I was actually just talking to someone today about how it took at least six months for my post-addiction haze/malaise to start dissipating. And it was probably a year before my positive qualities had fully returned to outweighing my negative ones. I'm sure it's irritating and draining to see your husband lying around, and/or being a jerk. But if he's engaged in his recovery work (AA, counseling, volunteering, however that expresses), that phase should pass. It's true that -- as others are saying -- relationships don't always survive recoveries, but they sometimes do, too. Just because he quit drinking doesn't mean he's too fragile to do his part in your marriage. Tell him how he's hurting you, and insist he start working on getting some forward momentum going.
posted by credible hulk at 11:05 PM on February 12, 2015

Spouse of (recovering) alcoholic here. All couples - especially those of us married to alcoholics - feel that way from time to time. IMHO, it'd be weird if you constantly felt a spark. Marriage is a long haul, man, and it'll include times when you want nothing more than to go out for a proverbial pack of cigarettes and never come back.

That said, he's gotta go to AA meetings if he really is an alcoholic. The missus says he sounds like a dry drunk. If he doesn't engage AA, her bet is that he's unlikely to change.
posted by jpe at 6:17 AM on February 13, 2015

I fell out of love with my ex-husband. No alcohol was involved, but an addiction to video games (and porn to a lesser degree) was. He also had a lack of interest in finding a job. I told him that I wanted him to go to therapy with me. This was after about 8 months of misery.

He said he wouldn't go to therapy because "You're the one who's unhappy, not me." I gave him a month to come around, and then told him I was filing. He was floored. The best decision I've ever made. Once the love was gone, it was gone.
posted by getawaysticks at 10:26 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

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