Fallen out of love?
Quite often I’m visited by a couple where one partner no longer feels the love they once had. To them it seems that the love has gone. It can be easy for them to wonder if it will ever return. They may think that it does not seem likely.
It may be that both partners feel this at the same time. It is not uncommon.
Many marriages go through at least three distinct stages:
1) romantic love, 2) disillusionment and distraction, and 3) adjustment with contentment (Larson, 2003).
1. Romantic love
Romantic love typically occurs when you are first dating. This kind of love sweeps you off your feet.
It usually starts before a couple gets married and can continue within the first several years after couples begin living together.
Sometimes, after a while, the fire of romantic love seems to dwindle. It can seem that there is much less love. Or that the love has gone.
This is often when couples come to see me. They may wonder where the huge love has gone. Sometimes they are very sad. To them there seems little hope.
3. Contentment and greater enduring happiness
Victor Harris calls this Stage 3. He says the following:
“Stage 3 inevitably occurs as couples contemplate whether or not they would like their marriages to continue.
The reality is that more than 40% of couples eventually decide to dissolve their marital unions. The rest decide to adjust to marriage with contentment or resignation—the latter resigning themselves to the fact that their marriages probably aren’t going to get much better.
However, a growing number of married couples have decided to work on their marital friendship by gaining new relationship knowledge and skills. These couples tend to adjust to the realities of long-term marriages with contentment.”
I’ve noticed, (Henk speaking here), that when couples start dating regularly again, even for very short dates that might last just 15 minutes, the romantic love returns.
It may be that you go on a picnic. Or a bike ride, Or a short walk together and chat.
Couple dates like this, along with learning new relationship skills, can help to kindle a new kind of love – a love that is more enduring. This seems especially noticable if you also are both working on the relationship together. If you are offering goodwill as you try new relationship tools and skills. The love can be huge again and your partner seems to even take your breath away.
Victor Harris continues:
“In fact, two independent statewide studies found that of the people surveyed who considered their marriages to be in serious trouble at some point (i.e., who faced Stage 3), more than 90% said that they were glad they were still together (Johnson et al., 2002; Schramm, Marshall, Harris, & George, 2003).
What does this all mean? It means that there are many things we can do as couples to improve our marital friendships. It also means that we are more likely to be glad we are still together if we are willing to work on our marriages and gain new relationship knowledge and skills (Harris, 2022).”
Learn what You Can Do
There are some things you can do to adjust to the realities of long-term marriage and have full love as well as contentment. Read here how researchers have found that couples utilize at least four general strategies (Duncan, Childs, & Larson, 2010): More…
So falling out of love seems common, and it’s quite possible to regain that love, in even greater abundance, as the years of marriage go by. Just do the four things discussed on that link.
By Henk Ensing
Contact me to work on any of these steps to grow love in the relationship. In addition, if you want to learn new relationship skills, book a session so I can meet with you both as a couple.