“What happens to cause the death of romantic love for our spouse? Why does this death happen to most of us four to ten years into our relationships? One main reason: We stop doing the things that create deep emotional feelings.” (David Clarke, Ph.D.)
Too often when life gets busy the first thing we forget to do is to take care of our love for each other. That’s what happened to us earlier in our marriage. And that’s why we’d like to discuss this issue because we’re sure it’s happening in more marriages than we realize.
We’ll be gleaning thoughts on this subject from the book, “Men Are Clams, Women Are Crowbars,” written by Dr. David Clarke.
On this subject he writes:
“Our initial love for each other springs up without effort. When we first meet and are going out, the passion is just there! Boom! We instantly get it. It grabs us, and we’re swept along by this amazing, intoxicating river. It’s chemistry, it’s infatuation, and it’s hormones, at least, in the beginning of the relationship. Our feelings of love aren’t connected to the higher intellectual centers of the brain. For once, even the man’s logic deserts him. It’s all one big emotional chain reaction.
“We have the feelings first. And the feelings motivate us to do things that are intense and exciting. Feelings come first, and then behavior. This is how all love relationships start. Because we’re ‘in love,’ we become a couple. We go out and do fun things together. We laugh and play and touch. Everything we do is driven by the feelings we have for each other.
“As our original feelings leave (hormones only carry us so far), we slowly stop doing loving behaviors. We end up, most of us, with the emotional connectiveness gone —wondering what happened. We wonder why we are so far apart. When we look at our spouse, there’s no spark —no heart-pumping, adrenaline-rushing reaction. There’s just a certain fondness —an affection. There’s a ‘you’re a nice person’ familiarity. It’s fine to feel that way about great-uncle Harvey or a household pet —but not about the person we married!
“Right here, many couples quit. When the feelings of being in love are gone, they think it’s gone forever. And they’ll never get it back. So they throw in the marital towel. ‘It was a nice run, but this is the end of the road.’ The relationship is, for all intents and purposes, over. A slow, hideous death begins. The couple will do one of two things.
They’ll stay together out of duty and just bump along in a cold, emotionless marriage. Or, they’ll get divorced and try again with a new partner. But often the same cycle takes place.
“The culture’s answer to this loss is divorce. Culture says: ‘Look, nobody stays together forever. Life is too short to keep on suffering in this marriage. You have only 70 or 80 years to live. Get out while you’re still young enough to attract someone else. The kids will be fine. You’re just hurting the kids anyway by staying in your marriage.’
“Millions of persons, followers and non-followers of Christ are taking culture’s advice. I should say Satan’s advice. That’s who is really sending this message. It’s too bad, because those who leave marriage when the emotions leave never get to the good stuff. They quit too soon! Real, deep, lasting love is only reached after your initial emotional feelings run out, after the ‘cloud nine’ experience. That’s when you can build the marriage God wants you to have.
“I see clients all the time in my office who want to divorce. They feed me culture’s advice, trying to persuade me to believe it. They’re disappointed and tell me: ‘We just fell out of love.’ I reply: ‘I know. Of course you did. Everybody does. But that’s not a good enough reason to divorce.’
Nice Run on Infatuation
“Frustrated, they try again. ‘But, you don’t understand; I don’t love my spouse anymore.’ I respond, ‘I do understand. So? I’m not surprised. One partner always runs out of infatuation before the other. It just happened to be you. That’s still no reason to get divorced.’ I tell these clients that every couple loses their original love. It is a difficult and painful place to be. But it isn’t unusual. It’s universal. Then I tell them that now is the best time to build a real marriage. I’m talking about a marriage based not on infatuation, but on authentic love —the genuine article.
“I tell them: ‘you haven’t had a marriage yet. You’ve had a nice run on infatuation and hormones. That’s over and now you have a choice. You can divorce and have three, maybe four more infatuations before you die and never know true love. Or, you can build one great love relationship with the person you’re married to now. What’s it going to be?’
“I share God’s perspective with these out-of-love clients. ‘God wants you to stay in your marriage. He wants you to avoid the pain and suffering divorce inflicts on its victims. God’s perspective is eternal. It’s not 80 years and it’s over. It’s 80 years on earth, and then living forever in heaven or hell.’
Forging a New Marriage
“I try to convince these clients that, with God’s help, they can forge a brand-new marriage. Some have already been divorced, and are still searching for love. I tell them they can find an intimate, forever love with their present marriage partner. What I tell them is: ‘your marriage is dead. Go ahead and bury it. Let’s start over and make a marriage that is filled with life and love.’
“At the point in the marriage when you lose your feelings of love you have to do something revolutionary. It’s something you’ve never done before. You have to reverse the process. You have to begin doing loving behaviors in order to bring back the emotional feelings. Realize that you won’t just wake up one morning and suddenly have the feelings back. It doesn’t work that way.
“From now on, it will be behavior first, and then feelings. For the rest of your life as a couple, you will have to work hard at creating and maintaining loving emotions. It’s worth the effort; believe me, because the alternative is grim. Living without loving feelings for each other is depressing and empty, and not pleasing to God. This isn’t what God had in mind when He designed marriage.
“God wants you to experience the deepest human love possible with your partner. And if you do the right things, you’ll get an ever-deepening love with your marriage partner. This love will be much more fulfilling than the hormone-driven love you had for each other back at the beginning. Loving emotions is like a fire. You must keep adding logs to keep it going.”
We Learned the Same Thing
Amen! Amen! And amen! This is exactly what God showed us. Years ago our own love had died for each other. But when we seriously committed our marriage to God and started to do loving things for each other, our feelings of love started to grow. It then became stronger than we ever thought possible.
It is our deepest hope that every Christian couple that reads this message will put the intentional effort in, to help your marriage relationship grow, as God would ordain. In doing so, you will experience an enduring love for each other beyond your imagination. It’s one that can reveal and reflect the heart of Christ. We pray the best for you, now and in the future.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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