When you say you are no longer in love with your husband or wife what do you mean? I hear “I care about him; I just don’t love him any more.” Yet doesn’t love mean caring? Do you mean that you no longer experience “butterflies in the stomach” feelings when with your wife? Is your infatuation over? But infatuation is not love.
Often when a person says “I no longer love my husband or wife,” they have already begun an infatuation with someone else. They had no intention of beginning an affair—“It just happened.” But they have begun to invest romantic feelings elsewhere. They have begun to withdraw from the marriage.
We may decide we no longer are in love when we begin to see our husband or wife’s flaws; when we discover he or she isn’t as perfect as we expected or thought. We may decide we are no longer in love when we are angry at him or her or when there is a power struggle going on. Our partner may have done something to hurt or even to betray us. Anger that we hold on to becomes resentment and this blocks our ability to love the other person. We may decide we are no longer in love when we feel bored with our partner or too distant from him or her. The marriage has become routine or stale. There’s little connection. We fail to see our own part in contributing to this and we don’t realize that we can help change it. We may decide we are no longer in love when our current relationship seems as frustrating or as hurtful to us as our childhood relationships were.
We can find many reasons for believing our marriage is untenable. Society today supports leaving a relationship which doesn’t fulfill us. There are some marriages that cannot be salvaged but many, or even most, can be.
Marriage is a very complex relationship. We bring to it all our hopes and dreams and all of our unmet childhood needs. The infatuation stage brings us together in a bond with our partner that makes us blind to his or her flaws and leads us to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to our marriage. But we must move beyond this stage and beyond the power struggle phase to a more mature love.
A mature love accepts the other person, flaws and all. Mature love includes forgiveness, understanding, acceptance, kindness and affection. How can you love your partner when you don’t even like him or her? How can you love when you believe you are the one who has been wronged? We can choose to love by acting as we would if we felt love. Feelings often follow our actions rather than the other way around. Love is not just a wonderful emotion that we respond to. Love requires hard work and giving of ourselves.
Marital therapy is recommended to help you understand the unhappiness in your marriage and (if you decide to do so) to work on rebuilding your love and commitment to each other.
“Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8