Ever heard a person say that they just “fell out of love?” When you hear someone say that do you think “Oh that can happen?” Or do you think something more like, “That’s too bad they didn’t work hard enough?” The truth is, love isn’t something that just happens on its own. It also doesn’t just magically disappear.
If you haven’t felt as many loving feelings toward your spouse lately you don’t have to just sit back and watch those feelings dwindle. In fact, if you don’t do anything, the feelings will likely continue to dissipate. The good news is, you can take steps to increase your loving feelings.
Change Your Thoughts
If you spend your time thinking things about someone such as “He’s such a jerk,” and “He is a slob who never does anything for me,” how do you think you will feel? Likely, you won’t feel all that loving toward the person. These sorts of thoughts focus on the negative and make us feel negatively toward the person.
Sometimes it can be a vicious cycle. The more negative you feel toward someone, the more negative thoughts you have, which creates more negative feelings. When people get into this pattern with their spouse, they often become quite miserable and feel like they’ve “lost that loving feeling.”
The good news is that you can take control over your thoughts. You don’t have to be a victim of negativity. Instead, you can choose to focus on the positive. When you have a negative thought about your spouse, try replacing it with something more neutral. For example, if you are thinking, “He’s such a jerk,” remind yourself of the nice things he does for you. Replace the thought with something like, “Sometimes he hurts my feelings but sometimes he does nice things for me too.” Having a more balanced thought can help prevent your negative feelings from running wild.
Purposely remind yourself of the good things about your spouse. Think about the reasons you got married in the first place. Look at pictures from when you were dating or first married. Think of the things you really appreciate about your spouse. Inducing these positive thoughts can help you to feel more loving again.
Change Your Behaviors
Imagine a co-worker that you don’t speak to very much. You say “hello” in the hallway and sometimes in meetings sit near one another but that’s the extent of your interaction. Now compare that to a co-worker whom you know has a sweet tooth so you bring him in treats occasionally. Which co-worker do you think you like better? What do you think happens to the relationship when you bring in gifts for one of your co-workers?
When people behave in a loving way toward someone it changes their feelings. If you behave lovingly toward your spouse, you will feel more loving. Unfortunately the opposite is true as well. If you behave less lovingly, your feelings may decline.
When couples are having marital problems, they often begin behaving less lovingly. They may spend less time together. Argue more. Offer fewer gifts to one another. Decrease their nice gestures and positive conversations. All of these things will create less loving feelings which will likely decrease their desire to behave lovingly. It can be another vicious cycle.
The key is to behave lovingly even when you don’t feel like it. Love your partner with your actions and the feelings will come later. Do something nice for your spouse. Practice patience and kindness. Offer your time to your spouse. All of these sorts of things can help increase the love you feel.
If you struggle to find nice gestures to do for your spouse, start simple. Offer to get your spouse a drink. Give your spouse a backrub. Think back to when you were dating or when you were first married and try to remember the nice things you used to do for your spouse then. Try doing some of those behaviors again.
Increasing Loving Feelings
By changing your thoughts and behaviors it will change how you feel. But it takes work. Those in-love feelings don’t just happen all the time and it’s normal for them to wax and wane at times throughout the marriage. You can do your part to focus on thoughts and behaviors that can help increase those feelings and it will likely improve your marriage tremendously.