Do you feel like you are falling out of love with your spouse? Not surprisingly, this is a common concern in longer marriages. We all know that marriage can be like a roller coaster at times. But when a couple lives disconnected, distanced, and discouraged from each other, they are headed for choppy waters.
Falling Out Of Love Is Scary
I understand what it feels like to struggle with falling out of love. I experienced those feelings and had to make decisions about my future self, hopes and dreams. My marriage ended in a divorce, but divorce is not always the right decision. I share my story to help midlife women feel normal as they move into the choppy waters of aging and relationships.
Things Are Not What They Seem
Every marriage is unique. Both spouses are complex individuals with emotions and behaviors that impact the health of marriage. The old saying “No one knows what happens behind closed doors” is true in the marriage relationship.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post about falling out of love with your spouse. I posted an assignment that I had written in grad school for a Marital Crisis class. I wrote my paper on the topic of disaffection- the slow death process of spousal love and affection.”
Disaffection is the clinical term for the final breaths a dying marriage takes. As I wrote earlier, disaffection can start as early as the first year of marriage, and it can hang on until divorce or death of a spouse. Disaffection does not always result in a divorce, but it does result in an unhappy marriage in many ways.
Based on the interest in this topic, I plan to create more content around this scary topic. Keep in mind, the feeling of falling out of love with your spouse IS NOT the same as running to a lawyer to file for divorce. Like all human relationships, disaffection is complicated and is based on LONG TERM issues in a marriage. It can present an infinite amount of ways in a marriage.
One Size Does Not Fit All
We know that each person has a unique personality. Every marriage has its own personality and culture. Stop comparing your marriage to social media, the neighbors or your favorite family members. The only thing that matters in a marriage is that it works for each partner in the marriage.
Don’t go out and buy a leather teddy with a matching riding whip because your sister told you it works in her marriage. If you want to get your freak on, get it girl, but make sure your attempts to engage your partner feel authentic and designed for your marriage.
Discouraged, Disconnected and Distanced
Couples therapy is full of theories when it comes to falling out of love with your spouse. (I recommend scheduling a session with a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist). Each family has a unique system at its core. A MFT is trained to identify issues and help couples find their own solutions.
Falling out of love with your spouse typically begins at the micro level. Things that seem unimportant or not worth fussing about are often the first signs of concern. This post is written to OVER SIMPLFY the process of marital disaffection. Let’s look at three emotions that often proceed marital turbulence.
Warning Signs That Your Marriage Needs Help
Discouraged– Discouragement is a sign that you are not getting what you need. It may be as simple as your spouse struggles to listen carefully without interrupting, and that makes you feel discouraged. Maybe you are making attempts to be flirty with your spouse and they fall flat, because your partner is on their phone, again. Small things can be discouraging, and if ignored, they have the potential to turn into big issues.
Distanced– Once discouragement takes root, it often grows into distance. A spouse who has been repeatedly discouraged will begin to withdraw. Distancing might happen because of circumstances. Things like working opposite shifts, one partner directing all their energy into the children, or maybe an ongoing fatigue issue that doesn’t get resolved.
The good news is that most partners begin to feel the distance growing and address the issue. Unfortunately, not all people are emotionally intuitive or have the mental energy to recognize the sprouting of marital unhappiness.
Disconnection– Once distancing has begun, it is a matter of time until the partners become disconnected. Usually one partner falls out of love and begins to consider exiting the marriage.
Truthfully, many marriages exist in this space, disconnected and unhappy, but the spouses’ soldier on, believing that things will change if they just ignore it long enough. A disconnected marriage can be re-connected if both parties are willing to work on building a new marital framework.
Disconnection can result in disaffection. But if both partners are willing to identify areas of personal growth and address the grievances of their spouse, chances are good that their marriage will return to a healthy level of intimacy.
There Is Hope and Help For Your Marriage
In today’s modern marriage, there are tons of tools, methods, and therapists to help strength a marriage. All marriages need an occasional tune up. In fact, researchers have found that counseling is the most effective in the early years of marriage. Unhealthy behavior and destructive patterns are less likely to take root as the new couple works to create their unique marriage, not mimic their parents marriage.
Remember, falling out of love with your spouse doesn’t mean your marriage is ending. Working to get reconnected, closing the distance gap and overcoming discouragement is all possible. BUT the sooner a couple begins to confront the missing pieces in their dynamic, the better the outcome.
Action Step To Take Today
If you are interested in working on your marriage, this book is one of the best books for building a healthy marriage. It is like having a couples therapist coaching you in your own home. It identifies the destructive patterns in marriage and teaches you healthy methods of interacting. Don’t think about it, buy it!