I hear from many spouses who are sure that their spouse is no longer "in love" with them. Sometimes, their spouse has actually told them as much. Other times, their spouse is communicating this message, but they are doing so with actions and not words. In short, the spouse just isn't attentive or affectionate anymore. As a result, you can start to wonder if your marriage can survive when one or both of you are no longer experiencing loving feelings.

Someone might say: "I'm nearly positive that my husband is no longer in love with me. He's not cheating or anything like that. He's not that type of person. But he's cold and just doesn't seem remotely invested in our marriage. I've flat out asked him if he's still in love with me. He'll say 'of course I love you. We're married.' Then I'll tell him that loving and 'being in love' are two different things and he'll give me a frustrated sigh but no response. He honestly will change the subject and act even colder. I'm worried that in time he's going to ask me for a separation or divorce. Because I'm not sure that a marriage can survive without love. I still love my husband, but I don't think that the feeling is mutual. I can't think of the last time that he's grabbed my hand or spontaneously kissed or hugged me. If I bring this to his attention, he will say something sarcastic like he didn't realize that we are 18 years old. He will imply that people our age don't hug and kiss all of the time. But I think that plenty of people our age still love one another. We have married friends who still hold hands and look at one another with affection. Sure, they aren't all over one another with PDA, but it is clear that there is love between them. With us, this just doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Can a marriage ever survive without love?"

There's A Difference Between A Surviving Marriage And A Thriving Marriage: I think we've all known couples who stick it out for the kids or just because neither wants change when it is clear that their marriage has seen better days. I think that are instances where both people have just become complacent so they stay together, but neither is happy about it. This situation most certainly isn't ideal. And everyone deserves more than this. So the goal should be not to be one of these couples, but to change your marriage so that you have the kind of marriage that you want - which contains loving feelings that are shared and demonstrated.

Sometimes, Beliefs About A Marriage Are Incorrect: I also think that in some situations where people THINK that they don't love their spouse any more, there are parts of their life that may have become stagnant and they can project this onto their marriage. You'll often see this is middle age. The children don't need you as much anymore. You might feel stuck at your job. You might be dealing with aging parents. You look around and you wonder what is left to look forward to. So you shut down and you stop reaching out to your spouse. You stop doing small things together and connecting. This is the time frame where you see people starting to believe that they don't love their spouse anymore when the truth is that if they changed their activities, their outlook, and the way that they interacted with their spouse, they might experience loving feelings.

The Damage Of Complacency: Also, both spouses can be guilty of being complacent about their marriage. The truth is, when you're holding a job, trying to raise a family, and to maintain a little bit of your own individuality, there is only so much of you to go around. So it can be a HUGE challenge to make time for your marriage. I believe that right before my own separation, both of these factors were at play. Both my husband and I were going through a stressful time. But also, we had gotten out of the habit of making our marriage a priority. We were going through the motions to an extent. Frankly, I would have kept going like this. But my husband became unhappy and we separated. I can say this because we eventually reconciled, but actually his dissatisfaction became a positive thing because it forced us to overhaul our marriage, which was needed. (The entire story of the separation and at reconciliation is here.)

I'm pretty certain that during our separation, my husband was convinced that he didn't love me anymore. But once we both eliminated some of our stressors, worked on ourselves, and changed up our lives a little bit so that we were actually LIVING again, we found that the feelings came right back. In truth, I never stopped loving my husband. And I like to think that, deep down, he never stopped loving me. But we had stopped expressing the same and so, to him, it FELT very different. Once we allowed ourselves the freedom to drop our defenses, to try new things, and to prioritize our marriage, the feelings returned pretty dramatically. (You can read the rest of the story at http://isavedmymarriage.com.) Better still, we had our history on which to fall back. I would never want to start again with someone new. I like the fact that I've known my husband for most of my life and I'm very grateful that our marriage survived what was certainly a dry spell in terms of loving feelings. So my opinion is that yes, a marriage can survive when people begin to doubt their love. But I often feel that, much of the time, the love is still there. It's just that the circumstances have allowed it to go dormant. Change the circumstances, change your focus, and you might find that the love was never gone in the first place.

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