You fought for her.
You met her, you fell in love, and you fought to win her love.
You did this instinctively by courting her, wooing her, sharing your thoughts and dreams with her. Connecting with her.
Then life happened. Marriage and work and children all competed for your attention. The day-to-day routine dulled your senses. Stress took its toll. Without even realizing it, your relationship became the collateral damage of a busy and demanding life.
It’s a familiar story. But if it goes unchecked, the damage builds up. There is disconnect, apathy. And eventually loneliness.
It’s no one’s fault, really. It’s the kind of normal that can happen easily, effortlessly. This isn’t about assigning blame. It’s about turning it around before it’s too late. And alerting you to the signs of what “too late” looks like.
Because she will feel the cold draft of the relationship before you will.
Roughly 70% of divorces are initiated by women. Many men say they are blindsided by this. It has been give a name, Sudden Divorce Syndrome.
Except there’s nothing sudden about it. It’s usually a slow death.
She’ll tell you she needs more. She’ll tell you that she feels alone. Or disconnected. This is her, asking you to fight.
Resist the urge to chalk it up to nagging or a demanding wife. To ignore it is to tell her you can’t be bothered. To brush it off is to refuse to fight.
It is her feeling unheard. Forgotten. Dismissed.
It is her feeling like her needs are a nuisance. An annoying fly that you swat away in frustration and agitation.
It is her feeling like her role in your life has become nothing more than functional.
It is her feeling like she is sending up flares and you don’t notice as you go about your day.
It is her feeling like she’s fighting for the marriage, begging you to join her. Only to realize she’s all alone on the battlefield.
She wants you to fight. To do the gritty work of staying engaged in the marriage. It’s not glamorous or sexy, but it’s real. It’s necessary.
If you don’t listen or if you minimize it or ignore it—
She ends up feeling rejected. Unimportant. Forsaken.
The feelings of emptiness suffocate a marriage. Alone. Tired. Years of trying to be heard, years of trying to connect. Her words muffled by the roar of a busy life. Talking. Pleading. Yelling. Only to get a shrug. Or a passing glance. Or platitudes.
Then—she feels nothing. The lack of feeling takes over where love used to reside.
Eventually she becomes silent.
And silence is not golden.
Too often men interpret that silence as contentment. She’s not nagging or complaining or saying she’s unhappy, so things must be good.
Silence is the distress signal. Silence means she’s either given up or is on the verge. She is going into self protection mode. She is steeling herself.
You may feel content, even happy. Things are peaceful, on the surface. But the routine you find so comforting could be her cold reality.
She needs more.
She needs to feel like you still find her worth the fight.
She wants you to care enough to hear her when she says she needs more from you. And to hear it as a desire to strengthen your relationship, not as a criticism.
She will feel alone, long before you do.
She will feel the loneliness and disappointment sink into her bones before you realize anything’s wrong.
She will think of all the times she tried to tell you. She will feel the sharp pain of not being worth the fight with every plea of hers that went unnoticed or brushed aside. You heard her. Her request for more connection, or her asking you to help her fix what is hurting your relationship… chance are you didn’t realize it was not just a wistful notion. That it was a desperate cry.
You didn’t realize that there’s only so many times she’ll ask before she gives up. And in that place will be bitterness or emptiness.
She needs you to wake up and see that she can’t live in a numb place of detachment.
Feeling alone when you’re next to the person who swore they’d love you forever is the most empty place to be.
If you see the light go out in her eyes you might be too late. There will come a point where no amount of fighting will fix what took you too long to see was broken.
Don’t let this happen.
If you allow complacency to take over where passion should be you are flirting with losing her.
Apathy is the death of relationships.
You have to fight for her.
Fight in the I will stop at nothing to keep us together and I will bend and twist and step outside of my comfort zone and do whatever it takes kind of way.
You fight for what you had and what you still want. You fight so that you don’t lose her.
It’s not bringing home flowers or buying her expensive jewelry. This fight can’t be purchased at the mall.
It’s showing up. Emotionally and physically. Over and over.
It’s not giving up.
It’s refusing to accept just existing together.
It means calling her out if she’s not putting up a fight too.
It means not just giving in or appeasing her. Don’t become a “yes” man. That’s just a different form of apathy.
It means honesty.
It means telling her what you need from her.
It means being able to tell her what you want. And if you don’t have the words, tell her you’re trying.
It means pulling her back to you when she tries to pull away.
It means not dismissing her requests for going to therapy with her.
It means figuring out your ancient hurts and issues that are affecting her. And insisting that she figure out hers.
It means getting back to what you fought for when you met her. When she made your breath catch and your senses come alive, when she was the reason you woke up and wanted to take on the world. Find that feeling. It may be buried under obligations and hurt and maybe even bitterness. But if you can find any of it still residing somewhere inside of you, then you can’t give up on her. You fight.
Fight to show her that you will never leave. That you will never give up on her.
Don’t be the guy who didn’t fight. The one who has regrets because the person he loved now loves someone else. The guy who realizes too late that he needed to fight for the relationship.
The landscape is littered with the broken hearts of the too little too late.
Be Lloyd Dobler holding the boom box over your head. Be the fool in the rain. Be the guy who didn’t just let her go because it was too hard. Be the guy who gets to spend his life with the person he loves, not the guy watching her walk away with some other dude.
If you listen hard enough, she’s been telling you how to fight. She’s been telling you what she needs and what she wants. And if she’s not telling you? Ask her. And then tell her what you need for her to fight for you. But don’t let it die because you took the path of least resistance. Don’t go gently. Don’t be the guy who is blindsided.
If you love her, fight for her.
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