Being in love not the same as being loved
Falling in and out of love is not uncommon.
When you fall in love, you have to expect that at some point you may fall out of love.
To expect that you will remain in love “till death do you part” is a display of immaturity, in our view.
This is because what people generally call “love” in being “in love” is really an emotional experience that’s overshadowed by romantic feelings and sexual attraction.
Romantic love is the weakest foundation to build a marriage on.
You simply can’t marry someone just because you’re in love with them.
Long-lasting and happy marriages are built on the foundations of a shared purpose, common value-system and equal maturity levels.
Commitment to one another with these three pillars as a foundation will cause true love to be born.
However, romantic attraction is a mysterious feeling of excitement that draws you to someone.
You can’t build true love on mystery.
True love is built intentionally, patiently and over a consistent period of time.
Relationships are maintained, just like anything else you wish to keep alive.
And if it’s not maintained, it’ll naturally die — again, just like everything else left neglected in your life.
Often, in long-term relationships, the monotony of life takes over the relationship.
And so, before you know it, people are feeling disconnected from each another.
You may lose sight of what attracted you to each another in the first place, or reach a cosy stage of companionship that lacks creativity and work.
If you feel your relationship is drifting, don’t bank on it being only temporary.
It won’t change unless you actively change it yourselves.
Both of you are firmly in the driver’s seat.
Things never sort themselves out, least of all, time.
When you leave your relationship to be sorted out by time, you’re sowing seeds of disaster.
So the question is, is it possible to reconnect, and if so, how can you do it?
Of course you would love to get back to the giddy days of when you first met and couldn’t keep your hands off each other.
But perhaps your lives were different then.
You now have increased responsibilities as you grow.
You had yet to find the things that annoy you about your partner because you didn’t know each other that well.
You can’t go back to that because now you do know more about your partner, and more about what it’s like to be in a long-term relationship with them.
Look afresh at one another. You might suddenly wake up one morning and you think: ‘We haven’t really done that in long while, I wonder why that is.’
Have you lost the ability to be curious about what’s happening in your relationship or has life overtaken you?
When you start to look back over your relationship, you may identify times you could have checked in with your partner but didn’t.
Once you start to understand where those moments were you’re better placed to make different choices.
Prioritise your relationship
In a long-term relationship, what you may lose in excitement and novelty, you gain in security and comfort.
Some of it is a bit boring, the life admin, but we have to nurture the relationship like we do everything else that’s important to us.
It has to be prioritised, whether it’s putting a time in the diary to make sure you really are talking.
If you’ve drifted apart, you need to build bridges.
Dig a little deeper
Often the things that people say they are unhappy about turn out not to be what they are unhappy about at all, when you dig a bit deeper.
It might not be something big or dramatic, but smaller issues that chip away at your trust and the feeling that “we’re in this together”.
Often, what will trigger the out-of-love feeling are the slight disappointments, slight rejections and slight disillusionments.
It’s those moments when you counted on your partner being there but he or she somehow became distracted, or criticised you at a moment you needed support.
Being in love is deceiving.
It gives feelings of complete togetherness but only at superficial level.
One of the things that will restore a feeling of connection and closeness is being able to share what’s really happening in the deeper parts of your life as you see it.
Everyday responsibilities, or bigger life events such as redundancy or caring for children or ageing parents, can take a toll on relationships, and could be a reason for falling out of love.
There are times in any relationship where your partner cannot be the focus because these things need your attention.
But what can be helpful is to make sure you keep communication open.
Put time aside regularly to talk (put your phones away); it needn’t be a formal sit-down discussion or a dedicated date night.
Talking while on a walk or in the car can be easier for some couples.
Focus on the outcome
It can be hard to tell your partner you’re falling out of love with them.
So when you plan to say something that could be potentially delicate, you always want to lead with the future you’re committed to creating.
So you might say something like: “I want to share something that’s a little hard, but I’m doing so because I want us to be closer.”
Setting the context with a positive intention can get the conversation off to a better, kinder start.