I Don't Love You Anymore
Have you heard your spouse declare these terribly hurtful words, "I don’t love you anymore?" Or, has your mate implied by his or her actions that the affection between you is gone? When individuals hear these awful words or realize the reality of the estrangement in their relationship many think, How can this be happening? We used to be so in love. What happened? However, someone declaring that they don’t love you anymore is not as abnormal as you may think. Look at the high divorce statistics in our country today. Why do couples get divorced? It usually begins with them falling out of love with each other. But, be encouraged: If you have ever truly been in love in the past, there are specific things you can do to re-ignite the love between you. You should start by determining why your mate has fallen out of love with you. Understanding this critical piece of information can reveal some specific steps that will help you to begin reversing course. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of lost love in a marriage.
What has caused your mate to fall out of love with you?
The following issues are not an exhaustive list of reasons for couples falling out of love, but they will give you a good place to start. Prayerfully consider each subject area and ask God to bring understanding to your heart. Have you behaved in this manner? If so, are you willing to let God change you?
1. The lack of a love relationship with the Lord. Falling out of love with the Lord is usually the main reason why problems occur in your life, which includes your marriage. It’s really a simple equation. An intense and passionate love for God will promote an intense and passionate love for others. The apostle John explained: "If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1 John 4:20). In other words, if your love relationship with God is real then you should also have a real love for the people around you. Of course, love for others would naturally include your spouse. The evidence of your love for your spouse will be seen in the practical ways you give and serve, showing patience, kindness, and trustworthiness (1 Cor. 13). If you do not have the evidence of love toward others then your profession of love to God is a sham.
Now consider the ramifications of this lack of love for God. If you are lacking the love and the fruit of God’s Spirit in your life, what’s left? All you have is the strength of your love, your patience, and your ability. Your human love is completely inadequate to sustain you in the myriad of struggles of marriage and family life. So often people tell me that they have the willingness to do the right thing, but they simply fail to do it, which means they are basically running on their own power. Paul confessed a similar struggle: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find" (Rom. 7:18).
Where do you get the power to love, give, or serve your spouse? It only comes from the power of God ruling over the power of your selfish sinful nature. If you want to turn your selfish lifestyle around then you need to fully commit yourself to Christ. Won’t you ask Him right now to forgive you and take control of your life?
2. The lack of freedom. Freedom is an essential ingredient for any love relationship to grow and be successful. Why? Because love allows someone to make his or her own choices without being forced, coerced, or manipulated. Think about it. You freely and voluntarily chose to date and marry your spouse. No one forced you to walk down the aisle to be married. You decided to make a covenant promise to live together as long as you both would live. However, if a spouse then descends into controlling, coercive, or manipulative behavior, that love relationship is doomed. It may take many years but the love in that relationship will surely die.
Remember, God did not force you into a relationship with Himself. He allowed you the right to make a free choice to follow Him or not. He declared to the Children of Israel: "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). Many of God’s people did "not choose the fear of the Lord" (Prov. 1:29). Conversely, God declared that He willingly and freely chose to love His backslidden people. He promised the Jews: "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely" (Hosea 14:4). The Hebrew word freely means voluntarily. Jesus even gave the disciples the choice to continue walking with Him or to leave like many others had done (John 6:66-67).
Therefore, if you want the love to return to your relationship then you must turn away completely from any controlling or manipulative behavior and allow your spouse to make more choices on his or her own. Ask God to give you the trust you need to allow them this freedom. Quit trying to force your mate to love or be committed to you. Instead, lovingly give your mate the same freedom you would want them to give to you.
3. The lack of equality. Another essential ingredient for any lasting love relationship is equality. Both husband and wife must perceive that they are respected and honored as an equal partner in the relationship. But, if one spouse is used, manipulated, not consulted, not listened to, or put down by the other, the love relationship eventually breaks down. I have observed this problem in both husbands and wives. If a husband believes that headship in his home means that he must dominate and control everything, he will rarely ask his wife’s opinion and will independently make all decisions. By doing so he is declaring that she has little worth in his eyes. Or, in the same way, if a wife makes her husband feel like a child that must obey her every whim, or if she belittles him and his ideas, she is essentially declaring that she considers herself superior to him. This relationship will not prosper. For love to be maintained and grow in any relationship there must be a sense of equality in all aspects of that relationship.
Scripture makes it clear that husbands and wives and men and women are equal in the sight of God. Paul taught: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). The apostle Peter believed the same when he encouraged husbands to see their wives as heirs together with them in the kingdom. He said, "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:7). The word honor means to value or respect. The words being heirs together mean that they are joint heirs or co-heirs with each other. This word is also used in reference to the equality of Gentiles with the Jews and the promises of God (Eph. 3:6). Gentiles can access God’s promises as co-heirs with the Jews because they are equal in the sight of God. But, do you consider your spouse an equal heir of the grace of life?
The real question is this: If you believe that your spouse is an equal partner, do you treat your mate as an equal in the practical aspects of your life and marriage? It’s one thing to declare you believe a truth, but quite another to demonstrate that belief by your actions. If you are unsure about the answer, why not ask your mate if he or she senses that you respect them as an equal? Consider how you spend the money in your household, how you make your decisions, or who sits while the other works. These are the practical things that reveal equality.
4. The lack of friendship. Friendship is where you started in your relationship with your spouse. You met and enjoyed each other’s company, most likely spending time together doing something fun. Romance budded forth from that time of companionship together and you started spending more time with one another. Spending time together is exactly what brought romance between Solomon and his wife. She declared that her friendship with her husband was central to the love they enjoyed together. She said: "This is my beloved, and this is my friend" (Song of Solomon 5:16).
The problem is that many times after courtship and marriage the activities that inspired friendship between you and your spouse do not continue. Couples rarely continue to spend time with each other as they did when they first met. They don’t talk at length or pray together as they once did. They allow the daily responsibilities of life to crowd out time with each other. Conflicts are allowed to go unresolved and consequently two people grow apart.
What can you do if you want to restore your friendship with your spouse? Just go back and do your first works over again. Jesus gave similar counsel to the church at Ephesus when they had left their first love (Rev. 2:4-5). You can renew friendship in your marriage by simply taking time to talk with each other, taking walks after dinner, doing fun things that you both enjoy. These actions will bring the first love of friendship back again.
5. Not resolving your conflicts. The most basic reason that many couples lose their friendship and respect for each other and ultimately divorce is simply that they neglect to resolve the conflicts in their relationship. No one can stay in love with someone that they are holding resentment against. This fact was revealed in a recent Gallup poll where 57% of people said that they divorced due to incompatibility over arguments concerning money, family issues, or children. Therefore, it is essential that you learn the biblical principles to resolving your differences. If you do not, the love between you will die.
How can you learn to resolve the conflicts that occur? First, you must deal with the most basic causes of conflict, which are your selfishness, pride, and your unwillingness to compromise. Look deep into your own heart and determine where you are behaving like this (Matt. 7:5). Then turn in humble confession and repentance before God and your mate (James 5:16). Next, determine where and how you can begin to humble yourself and give in the areas where you have previously lived selfishly (Phil. 2:1-4). Remember, it’s easy to love someone who is giving, humble, and flexible. But, that closeness and intimacy will not begin or continue when someone is selfish, prideful, and uncompromising.
If you would like more insight into further steps to resolving conflicts please refer to my book Married and How To Stay That Way or the several articles you can find on our web site at www.covenantkeepers.org.
6. The lack of communication. Another major reason why most couples have such difficulty with resolving their conflicts is that they have not developed the skills necessary to effectively communicate. To resolve any conflict requires two people who can effectively communicate. Most couples do a lot of communicating when they have a conflict, but that communication is usually at the top of their lungs. However, this kind of communication is ineffective, sinful, and will only sabotage your attempt to resolve anything.
What communication skills are necessary to resolve your conflicts and restore the intimacy of your love? You need several ingredients such as: a correct attitude of humility and receptiveness, controlled emotions, carefully chosen words that won’t make the conflict worse. Then avoid behaviors that hinder your attempt to communicate. Examples of such behaviors are interrupting, exaggeration, lying, or trying to dominate the conversation. Again, I would encourage you to please refer to my book or our web site to get more detailed instruction about how to communicate more effectively.
7. The lack of romance and sexual intimacy. When your mate is romantically and sexually starving in your relationship then you will naturally grow apart. Why? Because sexual intimacy is one of the primary ways married couples express their affection for one another. Romantic interest must be kept alive in a marriage if you want your love relationship to prosper. Paul explained: "Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control" (1 Cor. 7:3-5). Paul explained that God intended the sexual relationship to be where a married couple would extend mutual affection to each other. Your spouse deserves that affection. Paul also recognized that a person lacking affection would be severely tempted by Satan. Those who refuse sexual affection to their mate are putting their spouse in great peril. Solomon also warned his son: "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress" (Prov. 5:18-20)? Solomon encouraged his son to find his sexual satisfaction with the wife of his youth. Why? So he wouldn’t become enraptured with an immoral woman. The word enraptured means to be intoxicated or to have great fondness for something. Depending on the context, the word intoxication can be used in a good or evil way. Solomon used it in both ways in this passage. His point is very important: if you are romantically and sexually intoxicated with your spouse you won’t be tempted to get intoxicated by another. But, if you are not being romantic and sexually passionate with your spouse you are opening the door for potential adultery in your marriage. The first man or woman that shows your mate that they are romantically attractive will create a severe temptation for them. The longer your mate remains romantically and sexually starved for your affection the more likely they will fall.
Therefore, don’t withhold physical affection from your mate. Demonstrate to your spouse that you care by putting your arms around him or her. Give an unexpected kiss or a gift. Approach one another regularly and express your affection sexually. You must also respond favorably when approached. Loving behaviors such as these will rekindle your love.
8. The desire to live for self. Sometimes the reason your mate doesn’t love you anymore is not primarily your fault. Many times the problem is that your mate is just more in love with something else. Jesus made it clear that, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other" (Matt. 6:24). If your mate loves his or her job, their friends, their hobbies, their independence, or themselves more than they do you, then they will be incapable of loving you as God intended. Your mate may point out many of your faults as the reason for not loving you, but with a self-absorbed person these issues are only a smoke screen for the real reason. He or she wants to live for himself or herself and they just don’t want the commitment, service, or responsibilities that come with marriage and the raising of children. I’ve seen both husbands and wives act this way and bring destruction to their marriage. What can you do? If you try to plead or beg for your spouse to change, he or she will only see your attempt as you trying to force them to love you. This is how selfishness turns things around in a person’s mind. In fact, your pleading will usually only cause your mate to rebel even more. Your only course of action is to choose to love and do the opposite of whatever your mate has told you offends them. Pray for God to change your mate’s heart. If your spouse is the least bit open for change your love should provoke them to love you in return and make the changes necessary (Heb. 10:24). For additional solutions please read my article entitled Implementing Tough Love with your Spouse, which is found at our web site www.covenantkeepers.org.
A check list for how to respond to your mate.
1. You must first determine where you are not loving your spouse.
2. Admit your faults personally to your mate and ask his or her forgiveness.
3. Take practical action to resolve the issues where you are not loving your partner.
4. Seek out a biblical counselor to help you such as your pastor or an elder in your church.
5. Pray for God’s intervention in both of your hearts. Commit yourselves completely to the Lord and begin seeking Him for His renewing and refreshing in your life.
COVENANT KEEPERS © 2005