Anyone who finds themselves stuck in a loveless marriage is familiar with the deep sense of solitude and disappointment. Some people may perceive it as a personal failure while others direct anger and blame at their spouse. The pain and grief you are feeling may lead you to believe your relationship is on the verge of breaking up.
Before giving up hope that your marriage can survive or considering divorce, know that in most cases it is possible to repair a loveless marriage if both partners want to stay together. Healing will take time, effort, and a need to prioritize your relationship and each other. But in all my years of couples counseling, I’ve seen countless couples replenish and revive relationships, breathing new life and love into their marriages.
3 Ways to Revive A Loveless Marriage
Most marriages start with boundless love, hope, and excitement for the future. Over time, life’s demands and responsibilities can displace the dedicated time you once had for each other. If your marriage feels like it’s lacking in love, it’s most likely because the relationship hasn’t been nurtured adequately. Like a long-neglected house plant, your marriage needs some tender loving care before it can spring back to life. The love you onced shared is likely still there but in need of replenishment. Here are 3 effective ways with which to begin healing.
1. Prioritize Time Together
Over time, our busy and stressful lives tend to shift marriage from being couple-centered to being other-centered. At first, relationships are fully centered around your couplehood. It’s quite rare for partners to be able to maintain this couple-centered mode. Other priorities creep in, like the demands of careers, raising kids and caring for aging parents. When your attention shifts to these other important priorities, your relationship becomes other-centered. When you spend more and more time on other demands, your relationship will begin to suffer.
Your marriage didn’t disintegrate overnight, and it will take time to build it back up. The key is to prioritize spending time together. This can be quite difficult to do when work, family, and other demands require so much of your attention. This is especially hard if you have young children.
So in order to devote more time to your relationship, you need to make a more conscious, intentional effort. Plan ahead and allocate time on your calendar. Schedule regular date nights with your spouse, even if the date is nothing more than going for a walk together or having coffee at your favorite cafe. The standard guidance on date nights is at least once every other week for a few uninterrupted hours. If you can manage to go out once a week, that’s even better.
2. Get To Know Each Other Again
If you’re living in a loveless marriage, you’ve probably neglected it, and each other, for some time. Chances are you and your partner have each grown and changed, and it’s a good time to get to know each other again. An enjoyable way to rediscover each other is to share good experiences together, and find ways to refresh and infuse new life into your relationship.
If you’re not sure where to begin this process, consider your past peak experiences. These are times when you’ve felt closest to each other, and shared deeply moving and exciting experiences. Take a walk down memory lane and see if you and your spouse can remember some wonderful adventures and moments of emotional connection. What were those circumstances? Why were those experiences memorable and important? You may not be able to replicate your peak experiences exactly, but see if you can incorporate some aspects into your life together now.
Another way of learning about each other again is to explore your love languages. What are your preferred ways of expressing and accepting love to each other? Your love language may involve touch and physical affection while your spouse may respond more to kind words and compliments. Learn and apply your partner’s preferred love language to generate a deeper emotional connection.
3. Share Your Vision
Sometimes the toughest part of the healing journey is starting the conversation. It may be awkward at first, but it’s best to not avoid the topic and ignore what needs to be addressed. It’s ok to express frustration, but don’t just vent about the state of your marriage. Instead, paint a picture for your partner of what you’d like your marriage to be. Describe what you want out of your relationship and your personal wants and needs. When you frame your relationship goals in a positive light, your partner will be more likely to join you in working toward those goals.
Sometimes a loveless marriage has also been a sexless marriage for an extended period of time. Working on your relationship should help improve both your emotional and physical connections. It’s worth noting, it’s possible to have a good sex life but still be in a loveless marriage.
Get Professional Help for Additional Support
There’s no one formula for how to keep love alive. Similarly, there is no universal recipe for how to heal your relationships after sustained setbacks. Getting professional help from a couples therapist will usually get you on the road to healing faster, as long as you and your partner are committed to staying together. You will also learn valuable relationship and communication skills with the support of a therapist. This will ensure you will be able to maintain a healthy and satisfying relationship for years to come.