This is a preview. The full article appears in Neil's book: Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship

Dear Neil: I’m married, but I’m not in an intimate relationship, and I’m not happily married, either. We lead almost entirely separate lives, and we sleep in separate bedrooms. I am not at all confident that she loves me; she certainly doesn’t act like she likes or loves me. We are married in name, but not in spirit. Is there anything I can do to change this problem? We are evangelical Christians, and we don’t believe in divorce.

Unhappy in Florida

Dear Unhappy: In every marriage there are actually three separate marriages: The marriage of the church (married in the eyes of God), the marriage of the state (your marriage certificate, which makes it legal in the eyes of the law) and the psychological marriage. For many people, the three marriages are not aligned. Some people psychologically marry way before they actually get legally married, and other people may psychologically divorce even though they remain married in the eyes of the church and the law.

Of the three marriages, you determine which one is the most significant and valuable to you. People who remain married because they think that their marriage has been blessed by God tend to stay together—whether they love each other (and enjoy each other’s company) or not. People who stay together because their marriage has been sanctioned by the law are, on the whole, less committed to remain together when the going gets really tough. People who are psychologically married will fight with everything they’ve got to preserve the relationship and to avoid a divorce. They tend to feel more intense and more passionate toward each other than either of the others.

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Tagged: psychological divorce   psychological marriage  

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