Mark: Jill and I hear it all the time: “I’m not so sure I love my spouse anymore.”
It’s entirely possible that thought has entered your mind at some point. If it hasn’t, it’s entirely possible it might someday.
Jill: Honestly, it’s bound to happen to most of us because feelings are fickle. They come and go. They’re positive and negative. Hopeful and hopeless.
Mark: What you and I do and say when we feel like the love goes away is very important. How we communicate our feelings to our spouse makes all the difference in the world.
Jill: What you don’t say is equally as important. Here are a few statements to stay away from:
“I love you, but I am not ‘in love’ with you.”
Hollywood has done a great disservice in painting an incorrect picture of what real love looks like. Love is a choice, a decision…not a feeling. Throughout marriage there will be times you feel “in love” and times you choose to love. Both are normal.
“I don’t love you anymore.”
This is often delivered by a fact-driven spouse to an emotion-driven spouse. The communicating spouse probably feels relieved that he or she has now communicated their feelings, but the spouse on the receiving end is likely blind-sided by this rejecting statement.
“I want a divorce.”
Culturally, we believe if the “in love” feelings go away, it’s time to leave the relationship. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. When the feelings go away, it’s actually a red flag reminding you it’s time to do whatever it takes to light the fire again.
Mark: That brings us to the five things to say when the love goes away.
“I’m feeling distant from you, and I don’t like that feeling. We have to figure out a way to close that gap.”
This is honest communication that describes what’s happening relationally when we lose that lovin’ feeling. It introduces the need for change and invites conversation about it.
“It feels like we’ve become more like roommates than lovers. Could we talk about some ways we could turn that around?”
This identifies how the relationship feels to you but also attempts to start solving the problem together as a team. Don’t be surprised if your spouse doesn’t feel the same way you do, however. Levels of contentment can be different from person to person.
“I’m feeling alone in marriage. It’s not necessarily you…it’s very likely it’s me, but I don’t want to just ignore it and hope it goes away. Could we set up some counseling or marriage coaching appointments to help us figure out how to stay better connected in the midst of everyday life?”
This is an “I feel” statement that helps keep defensiveness at bay. It asks for help without making a rejecting statement to your spouse.
“Remember when we ________________________. I miss that part of us. Could we see if we could reclaim that in our marriage? What’s one step we could take to do that?”
This reminds your spouse that you have special memories together and that those memories are important to you. It also communicates the problem of a “creeping separateness” with a solution-minded goal.
Finally, say to yourself, “I need to invest in my marriage.”
When the feelings of love disappear we’re easily tempted to look elsewhere. The truth is that the grass is greener where you water it. Let your spouse know you’re going to “up the investment” with communication similar to one of the above statements, while leading yourself well with a reminder to choose to love and invest in this relationship you committed to on your wedding day.
Jill: When we feel distance in marriage, what we say and do makes a difference. If you’re tempted to tell your spouse, “I don’t love you anymore,” think again. You have other options that will communicate your concern without blindsiding your spouse. These will also help you take the next right step to move your relationship in a positive direction.
What about you? What do you need to do to take the next right step in your marriage? Consider becoming a No More Perfect Date Night member as part of your 2019 strategy for growing your marriage!
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