When you get married you are full of love and hope for the future. It doesn’t occur to a newly married couple that at some point they may feel disconnected from their spouse and dissatisfied with their marriage. But, unfortunately, many couples will find themselves in precisely this circumstance. If you can relate then you’ve probably found yourself feeling confused, sad, and wondering why you’re just now seeing the signs that the love is gone in your marriage.
All marriages go through ups and downs, that’s just the way it is. Understanding that and preparing yourself for handling those times is an important part of protecting the commitment you and your spouse have made to each other. And it’s never too late to do this. Many will have entered into marriage not really thinking about these things, but taking time at any point to recognize and discuss the fact that “through good times and bad” wasn’t just a random phrase is a positive thing to do. This will also help you recognize when there is something truly wrong. Love between two people doesn’t disappear overnight, it occurs over time and there are signs along the way. So just what are the signs the love is gone in your marriage and what can you do about it?
These Signs May Mean The Love Is Gone From Your Marriage
The biggest threat to the love in any relationship is neglect. Many couples get into a routine and allow their relationship to go on autopilot thinking that if things start out okay they will always be okay. This isn’t even close to true.
The reality is that the longer a relationship goes on the more work and effort it will require in order to keep the love alive and prevent one (or both) partners from falling out of love. Without the right effort all of the obstacles that life can throw at you can take their toll, and pretty soon the love you once shared feels like a distant memory. So if you’re marriage is struggling and you’re wondering if there’s still hope, consider the following signs to see if the love may really be gone from your marriage.
- You’re relieved when they’re gone, or dread coming home. Home should be a comforting space where you can relax, feel safe, and enjoy the people you love. When the mere presence of your spouse disrupts that feeling then there is a problem. If you enjoy your home more when they’re gone it could be a sign that the love has gone from your marriage.
- There’s no laughter or smiling between you. Part of having a partner in life is enjoying their company. That means being able to smile and laugh together. In fact, being able to make each other laugh and smile is one of the biggest factors in a successful relationship, and it’s something that creates closeness and a bond. Without that you and your spouse are more likely to become easily irritated and bothered by each other and this can lead to larger disruptions to your marriage.
- Intimacy doesn’t even occur to you. If night after night sleeping is the only thing you do with your spouse in bed, your connection to one another has likely become strained. And if the idea of being intimate with your spouse doesn’t even occur to you, or sound at all appealing when it does, the love in your marriage is suffering. Not having intimacy in a marriage will also mean that growing apart is much more likely.
- You feel like your life is none of their business. Most married couples have aspects of their lives that aren’t shared like jobs, hobbies, or certain social activities and friends. Keeping your own identity and enjoying things individually in addition to as a couple is healthy. But if you have gotten to the point that you do more individually than together, and don’t feel like you need or want to share anything about those parts of your life with your spouse at all, it could be a sign that the love is gone in your marriage.
- The brightest version of your future doesn’t include them. We all think about what our future might look like. Travel, relocation, new jobs, and long awaited adventures are just some of the things we might look forward to. If you are imagining those things and not seeing a spot for your spouse in your version it says a lot about the strength of your relationship.
- You no longer plan for things together. The larger things in life that require planning, like home remodels or moving, retirement, or big vacations are usually discussed together by married couples. But if doing that seems like more of an investment in a future together than you’re willing to commit to, there’s clearly a problem and you may be facing a situation where the love has gone from your marriage.
- You don’t know how they feel, and don’t really care. Most people in a happy and healthy marriage have an interest and concern for the feelings of their spouse. They respect each other’s opinions and steer clear of hurtful behavior. If your marriage is struggling and the love is fading this concern may not be there, or may be seriously diminished. Finding yourself more interested in whether you’re happy and not caring much about how your spouse feels is an indication of an unhealthy dynamic.
These are not all the signs that the love is gone in your marriage but they are the most prominent. If you find that you can relate to any or all of these then you will need to take time to consider what the next steps are. Living in a loveless marriage is an unhappy state for both partners and something will need to change.
Can You Bring The Love Back To Your Marriage?
The good news is that even if the love has gone from your marriage it doesn’t have to mean the end. It’s entirely possible to bring the love back if you and your spouse are willing to put in a little time and effort.
Dr. Kurt works with couples on a regular basis that are struggling because they feel like the love is gone. One of the things he helps them understand is this:
Most people use a simple test to determine if the love is gone in their marriage. They ask themselves, Do I love my spouse or am I 'in love' with them? With the definition of 'in love' being things like excited to see them, can't wait to be together again, passionate sex -- all the things that were there in the very beginning. But this is an unfair and unrealistic way to define love in any marriage that's beyond the honeymoon stage. I'm not saying if you feel there is no longer any love that you're wrong. What I mean is that as relationships grow and mature the way partners love each other needs too as well. And unfortunately most of us don't know this or how to do it. Which is why when the love is gone it can come back again when you learn how."
Generally speaking, feeling that you and your spouse are no longer in love is a result of the failure to nurture that love and work to keep your relationship healthy. Consider love like a plant - just because it’s living and thriving one minute doesn’t mean you can stick it in a corner and forget to water it and give it sun. You have to take care of it in order for it to grow - if you don’t it will die.
Relationships and love are very similar, especially as time goes on. The initial effort that couples put into a marriage can stop altogether as life gets busy and they assume that since things were good to start they always will be. Without making the effort to keep your marriage strong it will weaken over time and eventually the love will fade.
What that effort looks like might be slightly different for each couple, but it will always include prioritizing your spouse, spending time together, and maintaining good communication.
Protecting Your Marriage And The Love Between You
As stated earlier, every marriage will have good times and bad, there’s no getting around that. There may even be times when you wonder if your marriage is strong enough to survive whatever it is you’re facing. Brief periods like this, as difficult as they are, are normal in a long-term relationship.
It’s wise to discuss the possibility of these darker times with your spouse. This can be done at any time, and probably should be revisited at different points throughout your marriage. While you can’t entirely determine how they will be handled before they occur, you can make a commitment to do all you can to work through them when they arise. You can also agree to use the best methods for communicating with each other when times are tough. It may seem silly, or unnecessary, but when emotions run high and a marriage is stressed being able to reflect back on your agreed upon methods for handling things and your commitment to each other can feel like an anchor that holds you together and gives you a baseline for how to work together.
You can also work daily to protect your marriage from losing the love. Making a point each day to pay attention to each other and connect will not only keep you each happier and more satisfied with your relationship, but it will strengthen your bond as well. The stronger things are between you when you inevitably face tough times, the more quickly and effectively you will get through them.
If you’re not sure what that means, consider the following ideas.
- Make a point to say, “I love you” daily and mean it. This means looking your spouse in the eyes and saying those words with intention and not just casually at the end of a phone call.
- Do something fun together at least once a week. This doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal - it can be a walk together, a movie, a cup of coffee, or just relaxing together in bed.
- Keep the intimacy alive. This can be tough at different points in life, especially with kids around or when you’re tired and stressed. But keeping that intimate connection will help strengthen your emotional connection. This doesn’t have to mean sex every night - kissing and cuddling count too.
- Talk. Seems simple, but many couples forget to do this. This means talking about things beyond the normal just bills, household responsibilities, or family. Ask about each other’s day, discuss world events, or even just news from your friends that your spouse may not have heard. Doing this will keep you close.
These are just a few things that can help you avoid losing the love in your marriage. There are many other efforts you can make as well, and what works for you will be different than what works for others. As a couple you will need to determine what the best approach will be.
If you are worried that you are seeing signs the love is gone in your marriage don’t give up hope. Many couples have experienced the same thing and, with time and effort, have been able avoid a divorce and make their relationship healthy again.
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