By Glyndora Condon, MS MFT LPC
As a clinician I often hear clients state that they have fallen out of love. Often this is followed with; I should be happy but am not. I deserve to be happy don’t I? If one marries and expects this union to be without discord or hardships then one has deluded oneself. Marriage is the oldest institution that God has created and it requires commitment, longsuffering, patience, endurance, trust, and investment of emotional, financial, physical, spiritual, and cognitive self of 100%. Some believe they will meet their mate at the 50% mark but then who is to say when they have reached that mark? If one is limiting their investment from the on start then the union will falter since this limits commitment and sacrifice for and with our spouse.
One does not fall out of love. One changes focus to see the negatives which then leads to the obsession of thinking only on the negatives. Negative seeking leads to bitterness and resentment as one feels victimized, cheated, and neglected. It will not take long before the same spouse who one adored quickly changes to regret and anger. Leading to this delusion are multiple breaches of boundaries that both parties are rendering; thus growing more distortions of thoughts, the feelings of discontentment and being trapped. Each reacts to each perceived injury with the need of retaliation. This furthers the chasm between them and creates a negative filter through which most all words and actions then are funneled through. The emotional boundary then becomes so hurt that defenses rise –and with this thick and high wall, one begins choosing to stop loving and to move on.
What then can we do to restart that love? There are a few tools that can and does reverse the damage and helps restore and even grow a positive environment where one can feel safe to love once again: Praise (seeking the good and speaking those things we admire) with diligence (endurance), discipline (taking charge of my thoughts and tongue, my body language, and facial cues); and then locating the root of the Problem: Not theirs but my own since I can only change me. At no time can I seek counsel from a coworker, family, or friend of the opposite sex since this is a very fragile and high risk time where do-gooders may create transference of feelings and needs and this then could lead to unfaithfulness and adultery. I must remain exclusive with my mate and speak to my mate, and possibly employ the aid of a professional counselor who can help me identify distortions, implement coping tools, increase communication, and cultivate healthy conflict resolution skills.
Next, I need to remember to create Excitement: Seeking activities and ways to bond with my mate. What can we learn and do together which gives us both joy, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of team work, and excitement? This is time to brainstorm. In addition, this is a time to learn about our mate. What is their love language and how do they want this provided? This is a time for creativity and releasing what I thought loved them, while adopting the want to love them in a way that they understand. This is also a time to share who I am and what I like with the willingness to experiment with healthy options. Following this ingredient is my releasing fear and to allow myself to become Expectant: What’s next was a question that made butterflies flutter within my tummy during young love. Where can we go? What can we talk about? Imagining all the giggles and touches brings much planning and willingness to step out of our comfort zone (or rut). Turning our focus to those of positive regards, anticipating and appreciating each other brings excitement and expectant behaviors back into the forum.
Another vital ingredient is: Expensive since this relationship will mean a sacrifice of my time and wants as I seek to please, services, grow, and invest into my mate. This is not me time but us time, and his or her time that I seek. It is letting go of unnecessary time spent with social media, my phone, my friends, my family, my work; perhaps taking a lesser paying position; or allowing myself to stop saying yes to sports, gaming, and all others so as to have time to grow us. We can rationalize these yeses. Parents become so busy getting their children all their toys and into all of their activities while thinking this is good-yet, they stop having time with their children. Mates do the same. It is not the biggest and nicest things and being busy that grows relationships; but, it is the closeness and quality time that shouts, I respect you and want to be here for you-which do.
We have focused on the negatives which began depleting our reservoir of love, respect, adoration, or honor and made it easy to be blind to the goodness. Our promise and oath was with God in regards to our mate and therefore we will need to repent and to turn our focus back to a marriage that God intended for us; a one of sacrifice and service with a heart of love.