Ask Evie: Help! I Don’t Know If I Should Stay Married To My Husband Of 15 Years

By Evie
·  7 min read
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Welcome to Ask Evie, our advice column. Readers can submit their questions, and our editors will dish out their best advice!

READER’S QUESTION: “Hi, I have been married for 15 years to a man who I met when I was 19. We got married by the time I was 20. We only dated for around 8 months. He is 9 years older than me, and I thought I was in love with him. I wanted to get married to someone who had stability in their life because that is what I felt I lacked. He had a good job, he was responsible, and he was honest. To be truthful, he was and still is what most women want out of a husband. He is a great provider, a wonderful dad, and he is religious. There isn’t anything he can’t fix around the house and with our cars. 

Now that I am older and can look back on it, I was never attracted to him physically. I was attracted to his independence and desire to care for someone. Therein lies the problem though. I am not physically attracted to him. It never caused a problem until recent years, and I know I don’t deserve him. This is causing problems in our marriage that I don’t know how to fix. The only thing I know to do is stay where I am not 100 percent happy, or leave and hope that we both can find someone else. He loves me more than I deserve, and it kills me knowing that I can’t give him 100 percent like he does for me. I cry a lot about this because I truly feel guilty and because I don’t want to hurt him. However, he can feel something has changed. And truth be told, I have told him a little about how I feel, but I don’t want to be brutal. He does take care of himself as best as he can by exercising and eating healthy most of the time, and he limits alcohol to a few drinks a year. 

On top of all of that, we have a daughter together. They love each other so much, and I know if we are not together in the future, she will lack a present father in her home. I know the damage divorce does to kids because my parents were divorced, and it really does have a negative impact on kids. I am so torn about what to do. If you can give me advice, please do."

EVIE’S ADVICE: While physical attraction is important, 15 years and a daughter later, now is probably not the best time to realize that. You have several very serious reasons to work through this period in your marriage. It sounds like you like, respect, and admire your husband. He treats you well. You have a daughter and her health and happiness to consider. There are all the negative consequences of divorce, some of which you have already experienced as a child firsthand. On the other hand, you have realized that you’re not physically attracted to your husband over a decade into your marriage. While this is a serious realization, is it worth ending your marriage and breaking your family over? 

Let’s consider another point: Are any of us going to be extremely attracted to each other at 87 years old? Only time will tell. The wonderful thing about women is we can make someone we love even more attractive in our minds. Your husband has to have something you find sexy! Whether it’s his eyes, cologne, back muscles, etc., amplify that in your mind. If you keep thinking about how unattractive he is, your brain will focus on that and will keep finding more information to confirm it. If you keep telling yourself he’s sexy, your brain will start to believe it.

Invest more in your physical encounters instead of withdrawing. It feels counterintuitive, but it works along the same lines as rewiring your brain. Think of your favorite Hollywood starlet or supermodel, buy some sexy lingerie, light some candles, put on your favorite perfume, and ask what would she do? Maybe how attracted your husband is to you will turn you on in return.

If we don’t feel attractive and sexy and vibrant, it’s hard to imagine finding anyone else attractive.

Some other things to consider: How is your self-confidence and health? Often when we are not taking care of ourselves, our sex life flounders. If we don’t feel attractive and sexy and vibrant, it’s hard to imagine finding anyone else attractive. Furthermore, good husbands (which yours sounds like one) want to please their wives – both in and out of the bedroom. Maybe you need to have a few conversations about what you do find pleasing about each other, and what turns you on/off, and what you need sexually. Do you need more romantic gestures? More flirting? More foreplay? A second honeymoon? A weekly date night?

Even with those small adjustments, some days you might not be feeling as attracted to him as others. Are you in your luteal phase? Are you on birth control or another medication that can negatively impact your libido? Has he not made you feel as loved, appreciated, or safe as usual? Women usually want to feel loved to have sex. Or maybe it’s more stressful as a mother with responsibilities and taking care of your daughter. See if someone in your family can watch her for the night, then rent a nice hotel room, and remember what it was that attracted you to each other in the first place.

Keep in mind, that, as flawed human beings, none of us “deserve” to be loved unconditionally – it’s one of the miracles of the world that we can fall in love and choose to love another flawed human who, throughout our lives together, will continuously say or do things that hurt us. Yet we choose forgiveness, generosity, kindness, and love day after day, through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health.

We choose forgiveness, generosity, kindness, and love day after day, through the good times and the bad.

Ultimately, though, we strongly advise that you attend counseling, as an individual and as a couple. This is a complex situation, and a wise and impartial guide can help you sort through all the factors and feelings. It might be prudent for you to attend counseling on your own, so you can sort out what feelings are healthy and proportionate, and which are not. All feelings are valid, in the sense that something has caused you to feel that way, but not all feelings are accurate with reality or are appropriate. We need to analyze our emotions and decide which are good to act on and which are not, just like we do with our actions. This might clarify some or all of your situation and help you better understand what you want to prioritize moving forward.

You and your husband should also attend counseling together and discuss your relationship. Remember, though, you will need to keep an open mind and be willing to really hear and consider his thoughts, feelings, and desires during the counseling process. When looking for a good counselor, here are some things to consider:

  • You need to feel safe and comfortable talking to them.

  • A good counselor both listens attentively and asks questions that challenge you to go deeper.

  • A good counselor also promotes the truth, even if it’s painful, as well as promotes personal responsibility, prudent choices, and healthy boundaries.

  • A good counselor will help you analyze your thought processes, emotions, self talk, and choices without taking sides or passing judgment.

  • The counselor is there to help you work through issues and find healing – if you’re not making progress, either you’re not doing the work, or the counselor is not giving you good advice.

All in all, your husband sounds like a great man, and divorce is a huge deal, especially with children involved. Before you throw in the towel, we recommend really, truly giving your marriage another shot. If you rewire your brain, put things into perspective, and seek out good quality counseling, it will help a ton. You’ll never regret taking the time and energy to try to make your marriage work.

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