'I Love Parenting With My Husband, But Don't Feel An Emotional Connection With Him'

Should she leave him?

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The spark, the chemistry, the feels. Nothing can describe it well enough but everyone knows what it feels like to have a connection with someone. You feel a deep sense of belonging to that person. One that can’t be replaced or substituted.

This is why this week’s reader, Beth, is concerned about her marriage. She doesn’t feel a connection with her husband.

She writes: “I’m stuck. My husband was once very difficult to be married to. There would be days of long silent treatments over trivial inconveniences, etc.”

“Since we adopted our daughter our marriage has ‘thrived’ in the sense that the silent days are gone and we are working well together as a parenting team for the most part.”

“But I don’t feel a connection to him anymore or that longing for affection from him, even though he gives it more readily now,” Beth adds.

“I understand we may have never had a strong connection, to begin with, but how do I develop one now?”

Beth evidently loves her husband but feels like something is missing, what should she do? Counselling Directory members Mia Muscat and Amanda Watson weigh in.

What would you say to this reader?

Watson wants Beth to consider the glue that keeps her and her husband together beyond having a child. “When was the last time you complimented and praised each other without taking each other for granted?” Watson asks.

“I would suggest that you try to work on the 3 E’s together in terms of how you are giving and receiving: effort, energy, and enthusiasm in the relationship.

“What does love and affection look like for both of you?”

“You may want to consider putting your relationship to the front of the queue and spend some time together outside of just the domestic sphere and parenting roles,” Watson suggests.

How can having children change the dynamics of a relationship?

“When a child arrives, our focus shifts. We become full-time carers for our little ones, we give and receive love to and from them,” Muscat says.

“This can and often does interfere with the love and affection we did have/wanted from our partner. Previously you wanted affection from your husband but weren’t getting it.”

Factors such as stress, worry, fatigue, time, etc. can take over and not allow a focus on the relationship.

“You don’t mention your daughter’s age or the adoption process, but I imagine this may have taken its toll on you both and maybe you are overcompensating in order to try to be the best parents possible but have somehow neglected each other,” Watson adds.

She wants to know what Beth does for fun and pleasure - is there an opportunity to induce more joy and vitality in your lives?

What practical advice would you give this reader?

Muscat believes that Beth may have put some barriers up around her husband because she’s been hurt by the way he used to behave.

“From what you’ve said it seems that becoming a father has softened him (parenting well and being able to give you love and affection). Try to notice yourself around him, do you tense up if he tries to give you a kiss or a hug?”
Additionally, she thinks Beth and her husband should try to put aside some alone time for just the two of them.
“Maybe a date night would be a good idea (if you have a babysitter) or you could make date nights at home, once the little one is asleep. (Date nights may feel uncomfortable or forced to start with, try to stay with it and allow it to develop.).”
Watson echoes this and advises taking turns organising dates where both parties are involved in planning and choosing what they do.
“This may provide you both some excitement of trying new things and perhaps pushing each other out of your comfort zone by agreeing to do something to please the other person even if it is not something you usually enjoy.”
Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.
Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost UK