The experience of being “in love” is the greatest feeling. There is such an emotional high involved that it’s hard to describe it to someone who has never experienced it. It’s kind of like trying to explain color to someone who has been blind since birth and has no concept of what it could look like. But when you have embraced the feeling of being “in love” with your spouse, and it fades away like a distant memory, it can be heart breaking! How could something so lovely turn in such a lonely direction?
The feeling of love can be compared to an elusive butterfly. It is hard to hold onto and keep. That is because life has a way of causing distance to come in between us so it eventually flitters away. It then becomes just a distant memory. The “in love” feeling is something we want to experience forever with our spouse. And when we marry, believe we will. But too many are finding out that they won’t.
When Love Becomes a Distant Memory
This is something we continually hear about in this ministry. Oftentimes, we also hear those ten dreaded words. Someone has been told by their spouse, “I love you but I’m not IN LOVE with you.” They claim their “in love” feeling for them is a distant memory. (Or claim they were never really in love with them in the first place.)
It makes us cringe and feel sick every time we hear this. We believe this statement comes straight from the pit of hell. It absolutely devastates the receiver. (You can read more about this in the article: I Love You But I’m Not In Love With You.)
How is it that anyone can claim to “love” someone and yet say that to them? You either love them or you don’t. And if you love someone, you would never say that to them. Those words are horrible, hurtful, and selfish!
We’re told in the Bible, “Love is kind.” However, there is nothing kind about stabbing those words into a spouse’s heart. We’re also told that love “does not insist on its own way.” But often when that statement is given, the offending spouse states that he or she is leaving the marriage. And they insist that they will NOT change their mind. Furthermore, many times they already have someone else lined up to take their spouse’s place. Where is there “love” in all of that?
Additionally, the drama amps up when children are involved. The offending spouse tells them that he or she still loves them. But where is “love” being poured out as their home is being ripped apart? How “kind” is that? How is it not seen that this is self-seeking? And then often it is rationalized that this is being done for their betterment. Truly?
Distant Memory of Vows and Promises Made
What happened to the promises/vows they made before God? Or do they no longer count, if they no longer feel “in love” with their spouse? And what does that say to all the “witnesses” they said their vows in front of on their wedding day? Furthermore, what does that say to their children about keeping promises?
Yes… there are abusive and cheating spouses. And that is truly horrible! But we’re not talking about those issues here. (We have many articles posted on this web site that you can read that deal with those matters.) What we are talking about are spouses who eventually no longer feel “in love” with their spouse. They claim to “love” them in different ways now. So that makes it okay to dump out of their promises and leave. Absolutely NOT! That’s not LOVE! That’s just a stupid way of saying, “I’m out of here and saying this phrase seems politer.” But it isn’t! That over-used line only makes sense to thrill and self-seekers—not to Christ followers.
We’ve heard it said that divorce is contagious. When someone divorces, others start considering doing the same. We’ve seen this happen repeatedly. And isn’t it coincidental that all of a sudden the phrase, “I love you but I’m not in love with you” is so commonly heard in today’s world? Where did that come from? That phrase wasn’t used years ago. Why now? Could it be that people are grabbing onto it as they hear these buzzwords being said by others?
We can tell you that you didn’t hear it in the Bible. However, there are many things we DO hear and read about love in the Bible. Just look below (we also make a few comments in [brackets] after each one).
Addressing the Distant Memory of Love
Matthew 22:37–39: “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.‘” [Does that include dumping your spouse if you “love” but don’t feel “in love?”]
Luke 6:35: “But love your enemies; do good, and lend expecting nothing back…” [How are you loving your spouse if you’re abandoning and, breaking his or her heart? Is that doing “good?”]
John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” [Does laying down our life involve leaving our bride or our groom?]
Romans 12:9: “Don’t let love be a mere outward show. Recoil from what is evil, and cling to what is good.” [What is good about breaking your spouse’s and children’s hearts? Where is the “cling” in that gesture of “love?”]
Romans 13:10: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” [Breaking hearts, and not staying to work on the marriage can be interpreted as doing “wrong” to our neighbor—our spouse.]
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 we’re told: “Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not gloat over other people’s sins but takes its delight in the truth. Love always bears up. It always trusts, always hopes, always endures. Love never ends; but prophecies will pass, tongues will cease, knowledge will pass.” [Where is dumping out of the marriage, and not giving the repentant spouse a chance to help you both rebuild love tie into all of this?]
1 Corinthians 13:13: “So now, faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” [Note that we aren’t told that this includes the “in love” feeling. The greatest is love—which means sacrificial love.]
Ephesians 4:2: “Always be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love…” [Hmmm… how can you be “bearing” with someone that you leave because the “feeling” isn’t there right now?]
Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. ” [Did Christ dump his bride for a newer model? When He gave “Himself up for her” does that include leaving her?]
1 Peter 4:8: “More than anything, keep loving each other actively; because love covers many sins.” [You can’t “actively” keep loving someone you leave for someone else.]
1 John 4:7: “Beloved friends, let us love one another; because love is from God; and everyone who loves has God as his Father and knows God.” [Do we show that we love God when we leave our spouse because the “in love” feeling is gone?]
Furthermore, Please Note:
1 John 4:19: “We ourselves love now because he loved us first.” [Did the “love” that Jesus gave us stop Him from going to the cross for us, His bride? Did He leave us because He no longer had that “in love” feeling for His bride?]
John 15:13: “No one has greater love than a person who lays down his life for his friends.” [Laying down one’s life does not include leaving them crying and crushed in spirit.]
Ephesians 5:25: “As for husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her.” [The same applies.]
Ephesians 5:33: “However, each of you individually: let each man love his wife as he does himself; and see that the wife respects her husband.” [You aren’t showing love or respect to someone you abandon.]
Colossians 3:14: “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” [What unity? How can there be unity when there is abandonment involved?]
1 Peter 4:8: “And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins.” [Fervent love is active, attentive love —whether feelings are included or not.]
1 John 3:16-18 “The way that we have come to know love is through his having laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers! If someone has worldly possessions and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how can he be loving God? Let us love not with words and talk, but with actions and in reality!” [Words are hollow and empty when they aren’t accompanied by actions.]
More to Note:
1 John 3:16: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” [The context of this scripture also includes sisters. So, what would Jesus do in a marriage where He didn’t feel “in love”? Would he abandon His bride? Would He tell her that he’s sorry; but the “in love” feeling is gone so there will be no more laying down of lives here?]
1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” [Does that mean that when the feeling of being “in love” is gone, we should take the action of leaving our spouse?]
1 John 4:8: “He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.” [We’re told in the Bible that God is love—not that He is the feeling of being “in love”]
Lord, Teach Us to Love
There are many more scriptures where God tell us how to love one another. We dare say that if we follow what God says instead of what people are telling each other, we’d see a whole lot less divorcing going on! Does that mean that we are to totally dismiss our feelings? No, but we don’t park upon them and let them lead us around.
“When we follow our feelings into marriage, we can also follow our feelings right out of marriage. As quickly as you fall in love, you can fall out of love. Because feelings come and go, those who build the foundation of their marriage on how they feel will certainly find their marriage crumbling. Feelings are fickle, but faith is not. It’s easy to follow our hearts, but it takes courage to lead our hearts.” (Debra Fileta)
And it takes even more courage to let go and let God show us what to do with our feelings when they push at us in ways that could take us places we shouldn’t go. Can we talk to our spouse about our lack of feeling love for them? Yes, but we’re told to speak the truth in love. And sometimes that means tough love. Sometimes we also need to give tough ultimatums. But in giving those ultimatums to our spouse, we had best make sure that in our hearts, we give God elbow room to work in our spouse. We must also give God elbow room to work in our own hearts. His ways are not the same as ours. So He may have a bigger plan that we haven’t considered.
Persevering Past Our Distant Memory of Love
“God has taught me that you don’t really know how to love until you don’t feel in love. But you choose love anyway. He just may be using those annoying habits to teach you what love truly is. Love not only covers a multitude of sins [as the Bible tells us], it also covers a multitude of irritations.” (Dr. Juli Slattery)
Irritations wear us out! But true love perseveres. It is tireless as we allow God to love through us.
“’This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15:12-13). Jesus made it clear that we are to love each other as he loved us—and that is with the highest degree of sacrifice. Few of us are called to literally lay down our lives for others, but we are called to lay down our lives in small ways every day.” (Gary Chapman)
God can teach us how to love one another. We’ve seen this happen. After-all, God IS Love. Who better to teach us to love—truly love? The problem is that too many spouses abandon what God tells them to do. It just seems too difficult! So, they instead substitute it for what they hear from others tell them that “tickles” their ears. This gives them “permission” to dump out of their marriages, in pursuit of the feeling of being “in love.”
Loving God’s Way
Yes, the spouse who leaves can sometimes can find the “in love” feeling again with someone else. But for how long? And at what price? And is this truly God’s way? Or is it our rationalization that “God must not really mean“…? But He does. And we had best not overlook or forget that. But how do we love when our feelings tell us we never will love our spouse again?
Over time, we’ve learned that the principles for TRULY loving each other are the principles for living, which are laid out throughout the Bible. Follow them… live them, and you will truly love as Christ would have you. And the bonus is that you may very well start to feel “in love” again.
We can attest to that! Earlier in our marriage I thought I would never be able to recapture that feeling again. Those feelings of love for Steve were more than a distant memory. But they aren’t now. I DEEPLY love my husband. And he deeply loves me. In God’s amazing way He has helped both of us to get that “in love” feeling back. And the bonus is that God keeps amping up the love, as we apply His principles. (Here’s a glimpse into part of that journey: The Love Story of Steve and Cindy Wright. )
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ALSO —
Here’s a glimpse into some of the “principles for loving, which are the principles for living” that we refer to in this Insight. When the “in love” feeling is a distant memory, here are some scriptures that tell us how to truly love:
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
If you are not a subscriber to the Marriage Insights (emailed out weekly)
and you would like to receive them directly, click onto the following:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Blog