What if you don’t feel love?

 A wife told me that she planned to leave her husband because she “just didn’t love him anymore.”

She saw herself as a victim of feelings she couldn’t change. She actually thought she was doing the right thing because she was willing to be honest about her feelings. She didn’t want to be a hypocrite. 

What’s happening here? 

Some people tell me they want to be married because of love and others say they want out of marriage because they no longer love. This has led me to ask some questions about the nature of love. 

  • What exactly is this thing we call love?
  • Is it something we can fall in and fall out of?
  • Is it chemistry? Infatuation?
  • Is it an emotional response or a choice?

It seems that we need to distinguish two dimensions of love.

1. Being in love

This dimension is the emotional attraction. It’s what people mean when they speak of “falling in love.” It’s usually based on more superficial reactions to appearance and first impressions. Clearly, it’s a natural part of human attraction and although not necessarily wrong, it’s not enough to sustain a meaningful and lasting relationship. It’s far too superficial. Marriage is not about being in love but an agreement to love. 

Deeply satisfying relationships are built on the second dimension of love.

2. Behaving in love

This dimension does not depend on feelings and chemistry. It’s a choice to respond to my mate in a loving manner — regardless of feelings. This dimension of love is a choice to value my mate and seek his or her best. While I can’t always make myself feel a certain way, I can always choose to act in a loving way.

The distinction between these two dimensions is very important in a marriage relationship. Most marriages start with a high dose of being in love and in most relationships these feeling diminish with time. When this happens, the key to keeping the flame of love burning is not pursuit of feelings — but a decision to value your mate and be devoted to his or her best — no matter what one feels. 

Behaving in love is a choice to act in love even when we don’t feel love. I am not advocating for dishonesty. It’s a matter of priority. The feelings often follow our actions when we choose to love!

Cultural obstacle to love

Have you noticed how being true to feelings has become a measure of good character? One who fails to act consistently with her feelings is considered dishonest and hypocritical. This cultural standard is often used to give people a false sense of virtue when breaking deep commitments. Too many married people justify (and even consider virtuous) breaking wedding vows by claiming to avoid hypocrisy and by being honest enough to admit a loss of feelings,

This way of thinking implies that we are victims of our feelings instead of being capable of mastering them. Feelings come and go with changes in weather. Do you go to work only when you feel like going? Do athletes or great musicians only practice when they feel like it? We simply cannot live a healthy and productive lives if we let feelings master us.

This is especially true in relationships.

Love must be understood as a value word and an action more than a feeling if we hope to experience deep and lasting relationships as intended by God.

God demonstrated His love for us not because we were a warm and lovable group of people whom he couldn’t resist. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  This is the love husbands are commanded to show toward their wives (Ephesians 5:25).

Reflect often on the distinction between being in love and behaving in love. Share this with your family and friends.

Evaluate your love based on the best definition of love available to us.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:1-8a).

Steve Cornell

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Broken Relationships, Choosing a mate, Dating, Divorce, Divorce and Remarriage, God's Love, Love, Marriage, marriage problems, Relationships, Should I get married?, troubled marriage and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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