Love doesn’t stop just because time passes. Finding where the damage is occurring can plug the love leak.
I want to tell you about 10 key reasons that our love disappears and how to get it back. If you can identify any of the ways that love is being lost in your marriage, you can work on changing that. Some of these things just require a little effort. You must be careful not to fall into the trap of waiting until you feel more loving before you start being more loving. The love we feel toward our spouse is largely created by the loving things WE do for our spouse and our relationship. Take care of your husband’s or wife’s love, and not only will you get more love in return, you will love your husband or wife more, too.
1. Not telling and showing our husband or wife how much we care.
There are reasons that we stop caring so much about our spouse. Usually, it’s because we feel less care and concern from our spouse. When we stop feeling cared for, we often stop caring back. Our spouse then feels even more uncared for and treats us even worse. This is a vicious cycle that often happens between needy partners. Being the first to give undeserved loving kindness can break this cycle before it gets out of hand.
2. Not telling our spouse, “I love you.”
What makes it so hard to say these three little words? Well, they’re not little words at all. They are words that make us feel vulnerable. They touch close to our fear that maybe our spouse doesn’t love us anymore. And, we don’t feel that we can say them sincerely. Can our spouses tell when they look in our eyes if our love is true? Sometimes they can; sometimes they can’t. Women often place more importance on these words than men, who place more importance on behavior. What that means is that if you are a man, you need to say “I love you” more often than you think is necessary. Wives should not have to adjust to less verbal assurance any more than husbands should adjust to less behavioral assurance.
3. Openly questioning whether or not we love our spouse any more.
It’s one thing to think such things, but once they are said, they set a pattern in motion. “I’m just not sure I love you anymore.” What can our spouse say to that? Our spouse is not likely to react by doing anything that increases our love. In fact, we are likely to get reactive behavior that comes from the insecurity we triggered. If you want to let your spouse know your feelings about the relationship, say it in a positive way. Something like, “I want our love for each other to grow deeper and deeper,” is no less true, but won’t trigger insecure behavior in our spouse. Another benefit is that when we say things in a positive way, it helps us to behave in a more loving way.
4. Not doing the little things, that show our kindness and thoughtfulness,
We used to do them, didn’t we? Our spouses did them too. They made us smile. They made us feel important. They made our spouses feel important. Once we stop doing the little things, our spouses don’t have to hear the words, “I’m not sure if I love you anymore,” they can feel something missing. Something that would be there if they were really important. Something they can’t ask us for, because asking would make it not really count. What were those little things you used to do? Did you buy little presents for him? Tickle her? Send him cards just because? Send text messages just to say, “I miss you”? Bring back the feelings by bringing back the behavior.
5. No longer affectionately touching or kissing.
There was a time when all we wanted to do was to touch or kiss our spouse. Holding hands was a special thing, and we didn’t need extra space on the bed when we slept at night. When did touching become routine? An expected action instead of a desired one? Was there a day when that just suddenly changed? If you are feeling like his or her touch doesn’t mean so much any more, start touching him or her like you really mean it. Put love and affection back into your touching and kissing. Do it in a way that your spouse can’t doubt your affection.
6. Having sex less and less.
Joining in mind and body. What can be emotionally and physically more wonderful? But, if that’s true, then why do many couples do it less and less? You can put the same intentionality into your sex that you do into your touching and kissing. Make your spouse feel like you enjoy him or her physically. Put the effort into your sex life that you would like your spouse to put into something that you care about. Don’t just expect the feelings to come naturally. Be intentional about what you are doing. Many times sex can become better for both of you just by being more verbal during sex. Don’t think about what you would like to say. Think about what your spouse would like to hear.
7. No longer dating our spouse or doing activities together.
It’s such a big world and time goes by so quickly. Are you really enjoying your life together? Have you fallen into a maintenance routine of always going to the same restaurant? Did you stop one on one dating after you had a child? Part of what helped us to enjoy our early dating what the newness of our relationship, as well as a newness of what we did together. No matter your age or physical ability, the world is full of things to do and places to go where you can enjoy being with each other. If you are finding it hard to imagine having a good time with your spouse, then it’s time to start doing different things with your spouse. Don’t wait for your spouse to initiate this.
8. Less and less talking about intimate subjects.
One of the things that helps to build love is the sharing of parts of ourselves that we would not trust the rest of the world with. Intimate talk means sharing things that are personal and meaningful. Intimate talk is letting our spouse hear about parts of our emotions and thinking that others don’t hear. In order to have intimate talk, you need to have a spouse who listens well and treats your thoughts and feelings sensitively. That goes for your spouse, too. Another aspect to this is don’t be quick to share all your thoughts and feelings with everyone else. Save some aspect of yourself for your spouse. If you are not good at this, you can work on it by asking yourself what is important to your spouse about what he or she has experienced. That is, don’t be fact-focused. Rarely are the facts as important as their meaning to you, and to your spouse.
9. Not planning for future things that you can both look forward to.
The motivation to stay together depends on being able to imagine a good future together. As a future together starts to look more bleak, loving feelings start to evaporate. Make sure that you talk about the special times you want to have with your spouse in the future and how you are looking forward to sharing the rest of your life together. Help your spouse to see a connection between your current relationship and your future one. You, also, need to avoid seeing that the grass might be greener with someone else. If your grass is not green, then it is time to take better care of it! A shared dream and vision for the future is more important than the reality of it ever coming true. Don’t get so caught up in the realities of daily life that you don’t take time to dream and share your ideas about your future together. Many people never hear such things from their spouse and so don’t even know if their spouse wants to have a future with them. When you imagine your spouse as part of a happy future for yourself, it helps to keep your love alive.
10. Avoiding each other.
You may notice when your spouse avoids you, but not when you are avoiding your spouse. Although it may seem like an easy way to deal with problems, when we avoid someone we also shut down our emotions toward them. Over time, this can become a habit that leads to total loss of loving feelings for both. Of course, you also need to be careful of the opposite mistake–not setting any boundaries around abusive behavior. Loving sometimes requires us to go to our mutual corners, but only for a very short time. Then we reconnect with love, forgiveness, and a willingness to be part of the solution and not just a problem finder. A cooperative attitude keeps our spouse loving us and us loving them.
Is the love already gone?
If you are finding it hard to do these loving things, it may be because you need to protect yourself from some harmful behavior that your spouse is continuing to do. Or, it may be because you have already been rejected by your spouse. Either of these reasons is cause for great concern and for action–but not for despair. Each day, people are getting help through marriage coaching and counseling and are refusing to let their marriage end. Even if your spouse is not ready to work with you, there is a lot you can do through marriage coaching to create that desire in your spouse.