You can bring back that loving feeling, but you've got to do the work.
You began your marriage with hopes and dreams of what life together would be like. You had marriage expectations of one another for the present and the future.
As a wife, you may have viewed your husband as a knight in shining armor. You thought he’d whisk you away to live happily ever after. You didn’t believe your marriage would face storms or difficult seasons. Instead, you believed that love would carry you through it all.
Then life together began — working, having children, buying a house, and paying the bills. You hadn’t counted on sharing your togetherness with other people, activities or work.
You believe your spouse changed and that now he doesn’t resemble the person you married — maybe you both are so worn down by all the troubles and responsibilities of life that you no longer are that young, blissful, dreamy couple you were when the marriage began.
Disillusionment sets in and you start to feel miserable in your marriage. This kind of misery can lead to distorted thinking and negative feelings about one another.
You begin to think and perhaps even say things like this out loud to your friends:
- “I don’t think I love my spouse anymore.”
- “Is this all there is to marriage?”
- “Is this all I can ever hope for?
- "Is this as good as it will ever be?”
You start to believe that all the excitement and passion is gone from your relationship forever. As the Righteous Brothers sang, “You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling and it’s gone, gone, gone. Whoa, whoa, whoa.”
This kind of disillusionment does NOT have to destroy your marriage.
You allowed yourself to believe that the dream you once had was a reality, but in truth, life stressors ARE the reality. Raising children is pleasurable, but it is also difficult. Work demands can be overwhelming. Financial obligations are extremely stressful. Illnesses that we certainly never expected do get in the way of happily ever after.
Dealing with grief, loss, and transitions in life are especially draining. Where is the fun, the excitement, and the passion that you once had for each other?
It is still there, but it takes work from both you and your partner.
If you are the only one suffering from disillusionment, it's important to take responsibility for your feelings. Don’t blame your unhappiness on your spouse. There is a real possibility that you've been trying to make your spouse be the person you wanted rather than the person he or she really is.
There are a number of steps spouses can take to bring back loving feelings and counteract the disillusionment in marriage when it sets in. It starts with spending time talking about the future as you share a positive vision for your marriage.
You can help strengthen your commitment to one another by following these 7 steps to cure the disillusionment in your marriage.
1. Listen to each other.
Don’t become defensive or feel you have to rebut comments. You might have to clarify what you have heard.
Afterward, share your own thoughts and feelings without blaming your spouse for making you feel this way. Be honest in sharing your thoughts and feelings.
2. When there is conflict call “time out.”
Arrange a specific time and place where you will be able to talk later when you are both calm and free from outside distractions.
3. Do something nice for one another.
Be polite to your spouse. You teach your children manners, such as saying please and thank you. It is important to say please and thank you to your spouse as well.
Consider writing your spouse a love note every once in awhile letting him or her know how much you love and appreciate what your spouse does for you and your family.
4. Work on solving problems together.
You don’t have to butt heads about things. Work toward a solution that will be mutually satisfying for both of you.
5. Make time for each other — even amidst all the busy-ness of life.
This is extremely important and you will need to be intentional about making it happen. Life has a way of keeping couples apart, so you have to work harder at being together. Give yourselves opportunities to relax and have fun together in spite of difficult situations.
6. Continue to work on your communication skills.
You CAN grow in your ability to communicate well with each other again, but you must make a conscious choice to do so.
7. Say “I love you” often — and mean it!
Everyone needs to hear those words on a regular basis. It helps you to know that your love and commitment to each other go deep and the roots are intertwined.
Marriage relationships are not always grand and glorious, but your marriage can be really good and withstand the storms of life!
Be willing to do some work along the way to preserve your marriage. It is so worth it.
Most couples will face some form disillusionment in their marriages. Used positively, that disillusionment can actually help marriages grow and mature.
Marriage can be better than a couple ever imagined it would be.
Dr. Deborah McFadden is a couple’s counselor at Village Counseling Center. Receive your free copy of the Better Life Magazine filled with articles with topics from taking good care of yourself, resolving conflicts in your relationship and discovering how to have success in your life.