“I don’t love you anymore.” Could a spouse hear anything more painful than this? Whenever I hear of couples ending a marriage because they have “fallen out of love” it makes me wince. This is one of the most misunderstood marital concepts that causes countless unnecessary divorces. People mistakenly believe that being in love just happens of its own accord.
“You’re lucky,” my friend told me. “You love your husband.” It wasn’t a matter of luck. It’s a matter of directed shaping of how I see my husband and how I want to feel towards him. Sure, there was instant “chemistry” from the beginning. But throughout 23 years of marriage, as a body’s natural chemistry continually changes, believe me, being in love also can ebb and flow with those changes.
There were times when I asked myself, “Do I love him? Am I in love with him?” Momentary anger, depression or resentment numbed my reasoning and blunted my true feelings. I’m thankful that he had the good sense to wait out those periods with me. Only maturity over time showed me how I endangered our fragile relationship unwittingly.
Why people fall out of love
*Loss of mutual respect. It’s one thing to love someone and a different matter to like him. Being in love requires actually liking each other. Respecting who he is. But, there are times when you may lose respect for each other because of a disappointment or difference in values. This doesn’t have to be permanent. Respect is earned and lost; gained and regained as you both evolve as separate human beings. My own marriage is proof of this.
*Role changes. There are expectations and ideals of being a “boyfriend and girlfriend” and very different notions of “husband and wife.” Added life responsibilities make people approach marriage with a new seriousness that replaces a formerly fun-loving relationship. This takes away the romance. Romance throws caution to the wind. So, if you’re one to complain that romance is missing from your marriage, ask yourself if you’ve been placing too many demands, expectations and responsibilities upon each other.
*Need for thrills and excitement. Sometimes, a person mistakenly attaches the adrenaline surge of the initial love stages to “real” love when, in fact, it is the opposite. The thrill of infatuation is not the deep, lasting and satisfying feeling of true love. Unfortunately, some people are addicted to this feeling and hop from relationship to relationship in order to get the next fix.
*Health problems. An unhealthy mind clouds perception. A depressed person, for example, may feel he or she doesn’t love anyone anymore when the truth is that they simply can’t feel anything accurately until their depression lifts.
*Lack of courtesies. When you feel completely safe with someone, you tend to let down your guard. It’s comfortable to be able to “be yourself.” But feeling comfortable and familiar with your spouse shouldn’t give you the green light to drop the common courtesies that you extend to others. Saying “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me” and “I’m sorry” are essential to a respectful marital relationship and romance. If you want more romance in your life ask yourself if you treat your spouse the courtesy you would give a mysterious lover or like a taken- for- granted old shoe. Lack of courtesy is lack of appreciation.
Lovers fall out of love when they change how they view each other. The twinkle in the eyes fade when they choose to see the dullness over the dazzle, both of which exist within every human being. Benjamin Franklin once said, "You need to go into marriage with both eyes open; afterward with your eyes half shut."
If you feel you’ve fallen out of love with your spouse, take a good look again with new eyes and see the wonderfulness you once saw. Or maybe, someone else will.