Love, But Not “In Love”
- Thursday, August 13, 2009
Often it is the kiss of death.
One says to the other, "I love you, but I'm no longer in love with you." The person speaking either wishes for a relationship with someone new or already has it. The "I love you" phrase often means, "I'm not really that angry at you; you've got some good qualities. I hope you fare well. Now, don't try to make me feel guilty for leaving you." The "I'm not in love with you" phrase usually means, "You don't evoke emotions within me like you once did. I know your good, bad, and uglies. Whatever we had has died, and I'm not happy. You're not what I want, but there must be someone out there that is."
In our turnaround workshop for marriages in crisis, LovePath 911, I hear this "love, not in love" sentiment regularly. Often, the spouse saying it is already deeply involved with another person. Sometimes people that have been cheated against say it, not because there is someone else in their lives but because of their hurt and anger. Occasionally, there are those who say it because they simply want to be free from the misery their marriage has become. Whatever the case, when I hear people utter those words I know that they want someone other than their spouse to be their "true love." If they are not yet involved with another person, the odds are very high that they will be.
We could explain many reasons why a person evolves from "I'm in love with you," to "I'm not in love with you." In The Marriage Clinic John Gottman sums it up like this: "‘feeling unloved' was the most commonly cited reason for wanting a divorce (67% of women)…and sensitivity to being belittled (59% men and women)…We must conclude that most marriages end…[as]the result of people…not feeling liked, loved, and respected."
Did you notice that "not feeling liked, loved, and respected" part? If the one who should be fulfilling their needs for emotional closeness and being liked, loved, and respected is not doing that, folks become vulnerable to having someone else fulfill those needs. I'm not justifying it, but I do understand it.
So does God.
When Paul gave command that husbands and wives must sexually fulfill each other, he pointed out, "so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) God didn't justify sexual immorality, but He did predict a person's vulnerability to it if the marriage isn't filling that deep-seated human need for sexual fulfillment.
The same goes with other human needs that should be fulfilled in marriage. Gottman reports that most affairs are about seeking friendship, support, understanding, and validation.
Be assured that I am not claiming that all who say, "I love you; I'm not in love with you" are in affairs as they say it. However, I am saying that quite a few are, and that the others who say it are vulnerable to infidelity or divorce. It's basic human nature to want an emotional bond with another person that we feel likes, loves, and respects us.
So what does all this mean?
If your spouse says, "I'm not in love with you."
It's foolish to shrug that statement off thinking that they are just having a bad day. A much greater likelihood exists that your spouse already has drifted far from you emotionally and either consciously or unconsciously is vulnerable to developing a relationship with someone new.
Get busy now repairing your relationship and getting back on the LovePath. If it's not too bad yet, there are books that can help. If the problems are deeper and you discover that your marriage is in peril, even in early stages of peril, find the help you need to turn it around quickly. There are many sources for effective help, one of which is www.JoeBeam.com if you think you may be interested in the turnaround workshops that I personally lead.
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