Does falling out of love mean it's over?

Divorce happens in approximately one out of two marriages. That number has fluctuated and, although we are currently seeing fewer divorces, many people still choose divorce over working on their marriage. Roughly half of divorced couples say they split up because they “fell out of love” with their partner. Is falling out of love the end of your relationship? Is it possible to fall back in love?

Not only is it possible, but many couples who share a long-committed relationship report falling in and out of love more than once. They were successful for several reasons; the most important being they did not introduce another partner into their relationship.

You may feel as though you love your partner, but you’re not in love with them. Instead of making that the focus of your relationship or letting it scare or convince you that you have the wrong partner, understand that real love has stages. The first stage is infatuation, which includes hormones and intensity. After that is the “difficult stage” where you have conflicts. It is likely you are in this stage, feeling as though you’re not in love with your partner. The third and final stage is one of true love and intimacy that develops in long-term relationships. Most successful marriages commit to this final stage, but fluctuate from time to time depending on life stressors. Change your perspective from being a victim of your partner’s behavior to being responsible for your part and your reactions. These suggestions can help you begin the process of falling back in love with your partner.

  • Accept where you are as a couple. Feeling like you don’t love your partner is scary, and couples may keep it to themselves for years. You can’t fix something unless both partners know what the other is feeling.
  • Change your expectations. Quit comparing your relationship to the ones of those around you. Put your relationship first; prioritizing each other helps both partners feel more valued.
  • Communication is everything. When ongoing conflict gets you stuck in a negative pattern, work together to understand the pattern. The pattern may be a hot topic the two of you should not talk about, or it may be one of you is withdrawing or fixated on winning arguments. Make your focus about understanding – not blaming – each other. It may feel awkward at first, but the relationship will win.
  • Find a new shared interest. It’s great to have alone time. Alone time helps you fall in love again with your partner if you’re connected through other interests. Explore options and try different activities or attend events you both enjoy.
  • Bring intimacy back into your relationship. Marriage experts agree that communication between couples is correlated with the way they touch each other. Never use intimacy to manipulate or get what you want. Physical intimacy is important for your health and an expression of love.

There are no guarantees with relationships; the person you marry changes as do you. Sometimes things happen that severely break the marriage and to divorce is the right thing to do. However, approximately one half of all divorcees struggled because they didn’t understand that in a committed relationship there are difficult times. It’s those times that can be a catalyst in helping you and your partner reach true intimacy.

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