The Advice Marriage Therapists Give Couples Who’ve Fallen Out Of Love
Marriage counseling is much like trying to ride tandem, as long as you’re both willing to pedal.
A relationship is ever-changing and you will each have to keep what matters most to you in check.
Perhaps your shared values have changed or your communication habits are becoming too destructive.
It’s possible to find re-connection and happiness again, as long as you’re both willing to prioritize physical and mental health first and create a solid line of open and honest communication at all times.
Therapists often see couples facing a very real dilemma: After years and years together, one or both partners no longer feel as “in love” as they were before.
Is it possible to fall back in love? Absolutely, but it takes time and effort from both spouses. Below, marriage therapists offer a short list of advice they give couples at this crossroad.
1. Accept that you may have to work at falling back “in like” with each other first.
Falling out of love didn’t happen overnight. Falling back in love is going to take some time, too, explained David McFadden, a couples counselor at Village Counseling Center in Hanover Park, Illinois. To that end, lower your expectations and ask yourself: What is it going to take for me to even “like” my spouse again?
“Ask each other: Do we need to forgive things that have hurt in the past before we can like each other again? If so, start the forgiveness process,” he suggested. “Recalling steps you took to forgive in the past can help you get on that path again.”
2. End destructive communication patterns.
If you and your spouse are perennially unhappy, it may be because you’re stuck in a negative reactive pattern, possibly the pursuer-distancer pattern, said Jennifer Chappell Marsh, a marriage and family therapist in San Diego, California.
In this pattern, the “pursuer” in the relationship increasingly complains about the lack of connection in the marriage. As a result, the “distancer” avoids engagement by withdrawing or going on the defense.
“The chance for real connection is close to impossible in this vicious cycle,” Chapell Marsh said. “Usually, the more quiet one partner is, the louder the other gets and vice versa. If there’s a chance for the couple to get close again, the pursuer has to focus on delivering their message in a softer way and the distancer must start being more emotionally engaged in the relationship.”
3. Ask yourself: What qualities initially led me to fall in love with this person?
You may be able to recapture some of that spark by thinking back on the qualities that initially attracted you to your spouse, said Marcia Naomi Berger, a psychotherapist and author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted.
“I always pose that question to couples who want to stay married during their initial session,” she said. “Think on it, then make a point to re-experience happy courtship feelings by going out on a weekly fun date.”