Q: My partner and I have been married 10 years. We have a family, a house and good jobs. In many ways we have the perfect life - we've both been faithful and we rarely argue. But I don't think I love her any more and have been thinking about leaving. My friends think I'm mad. What's wrong with me?
A: I don't think there's anything wrong with you - long-term relationships are hard and we have to keep actively working at them. Unfortunately, we get sold all sorts of unhelpful ideas about romance, finding "the one" or a soul match (whatever that means) that can make it seem that if we find the right person and fall in love deeply enough we'll live happily ever after.
It's not just a fairy tale, it's a myth, and a damaging one.
Despite what the greeting card section at your local gift store might tell you, love is what you know it to be from experience. It also changes over time, and we tend to confuse a number of things and lump them all together under the idea of "love".
Firstly I'd encourage you to reflect on these questions: What was your experience of love growing up? What was the quality of your relationship with your parents, and your early family life like, emotionally?
Is your family effusive, emotional, loving? Or are they more cool, distant, reserved? Of course, your early experiences may have also been troubling, neglectful, explosive or outright abusive.
All of this colours - or taints - our expectations of what love is, and can be.
We can also confuse love for lust - that initial flush of desire for a stranger, and the excitement of discovering who they are, and revealing ourselves to them - or falling in love - what some call the honeymoon period, where our rose-tinted glasses make it seem that all our lover does is wonderful and without fault.
Both of these states are necessary - not to mention quite wonderful - but they only serve as the entree to the ongoing state of committed attachment and long-term commitment.
For most people, once they slide into this state, their past experiences come to the fore, for good or for ill, and things can start to seem more complicated and less emotionally straightforward.
From the little you've told me it seems you've defaulted in your relationship to a bit too much emotional distance, and lost the connection. It's natural, and a common mistake to feel that the absence of that feeling means something - and it does, just not what you think it does.
It means - likely both of you - have fallen out of the habit of doing loving, connected behaviours. Like many busy people in this increasingly hectic world, you've likely prioritised the "business" of being married over loving behaviours.
Now, this might seem like a long-winded way of saying "book in a date night" - and in some ways it is. And of course taking the time, if resources allow, to do something special like going out to dinner is always a good idea.
But what is more important than pinning it all on the big-ticket items is the small, everyday versions of what a loving relationship looks like.
It might be helpful to think back to what you did differently on a regular basis when you were in the honeymoon period. Did you hold hands in public, hug more, kiss when you leave in the morning, have sex more, sit closer together on the couch?
Whatever you do, do something every day. And build in taking even just 10 uninterrupted minutes to talk to each other. No phones, no distraction. Ask how her day was, and then actually listen.
Because, ultimately, love isn't big things. It's a collection of small things, practised regularly. And feelings follow behaviours, if we choose to act in a loving way the feelings will naturally follow.