“I Love Her But I Am NOT IN LOVE with Her”

by Sally R. Connolly, LMFT and John E. Turner, LMFT

Love and marriage do not always go together.  Sometimes feelings of love seem to evaporate. We frequently hear these words “I love him (her) but I am NOT IN LOVE with him (her). In this article, we want to talk about the reasons why people make this statement and say that they are not in love any more.

Why DO people fall out of love?  

It is very distressing to become aware of these feelings, "not in love" and really not know what with what to do to change them.

A lot of people contact our counseling center about love and marriage.  They report that they have fallen out of love with their spouse, or believe that their spouse is no longer in love with them.

The words we often hear are “I love him (her) but I am not in love with him (her),” most often with a disbelief that these feelings can change. One of the places to start is to begin to understand a little about how those feelings eroded within the marriage. 

Common Responses to How Feelings Changed, What Makes People Say “I Am Not in Love Anymore“.

1. Thinking that those feelings are gone begets more of the same. The more that you think about a lack of feelings of love, the more you feel a lack of feelings of love. What you look for is what you get.   Love and marriage stay together when you think loving thoughts and act in loving ways. Instead of thinking “I am not in love”; think “These are three things that I love about my spouse”.

Couples grow apart when they don't resolve conflict.
 2. Conflict. A high level of conflict or a lack of resolving conflict begins the distance and isolation cascade of love and marriage. As people find that they can no longer communicate in a way that gets heard or understood, or they feel that they have little influence on issues in the marriage, they move further and further apart.

3. Too much disrespect or contempt. This is the deadliest to love and marriage. It is extremely hard to remain in love with someone when you feel disrespected. Even gestures such as eye-rolling or “correcting” a spouse erode loving feelings in a relationship. This is a guaranteed way to discover that you are “not in love” with your spouse.
4. Someone else. When you “love” someone else, it is easy to believe that you are not in love and can no longer love the one you are with. These feelings are not always part of a sexual affair, they can come from a closeness that develops with another, sharing of thoughts and feelings that deepen a friendship until it seems to become “better” than the relationship with a spouse.

5. Mid-life crises can also bring about those “not in love” feelings. With a mid-life crisis, it may not be not a special someone … but the idea of a “different” someone or a more interesting and exciting relationship or life style.
6. Taking the marriage for granted and not finding ways to keep it vital and interesting can certainly impact love and marriage. It is easy to forget the importance of finding time for and nurturing your relationship and your partner. Healthy marriages take work and investment. Often people will invest more time, energy and money into hobbies than they do into their marriages. Taking someone for granted does not promote warm feelings of love.

7. Busyness.
People are packing more and more into their lives.  Couples with young children have the highest divorce rates because their lives are so focused on children and careers. Again, it takes effort to nurture the marriage, to avoid those “not in love” feelings in order for love and the marriage to survive and thrive.
8. Depression.
Some times when people are depressed, they think that it is because of their marriage, that the marriage is stressful and they are not in love with their spouse. They can believe that a change in partners will lift the depression. The spouse of a depressed person may also give up, believing that the living environment is too difficult.  Recognizing this and the impact that depression has on love and marriage is a good first step.

9. Influences from family and friends. Family and friends, who often hear only one side of the story, may encourage ending a marriage. When there is a “divorce culture” among friends, and it may seem that the others are happier and the “grass is greener”, it makes it harder to do the work that needs to be done to maintain love and marriage and to turn a marriage around.

10. Serious problems such as alcoholism, workaholism, etc. Love can only hang around for so long when a spouse is over-involved with work or struggles with serious addiction (gambling, shopping, etc.) or alcoholism.

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