Aug 142013 16 Responses

I Never Loved You

“I never loved you,” he says. There’s another woman. He’s not ashamed. The marriage is ending and he believes he never loved the woman he married years ago.

“I never loved you,” she says. Her heart is dead. She’s unmoved. The marriage ended years ago in her mind. Nothing but a piece of paper and the public perception still remains of a love which she now believes never existed.

“I never loved her.” “I never loved him.” I hear it on a near weekly basis. It could make me wonder what was happening 5, 10, 30 years ago when weddings were taking place.

To my knowledge, I’ve never performed a wedding ceremony for two people who didn’t love each other. Who married these people? How did they not notice the absence of love?

The truth is, very few couples get married without love. Sure it happens. There is social pressure to marry or the delusion that a certificate will force feelings which aren’t there. No doubt it happens, but it is rare.

So why do so many couples who are divorcing say they don’t love each other?

More on this topic can be found in Friends, Partners, & Lovers. Buy it here.

It could be a defense mechanism. As a way to justify what they are doing, they say they never loved the other in hopes people will understand the decisions they are making.

Yet far more often, it’s not a lie they are telling others; it’s a lie they are telling themselves.

When a couple sits in my office and one says, “I never loved him/her,” my common response is “I don’t believe you.”

I believe they believe it, but I do not believe it is true.

Humanity has an amazing ability to re-write history.

  • You thought Vanilla Ice was cool. History proved he wasn’t. You now claim to have never known him.
  • You thought the mullet was a great haircut. The pictures prove it wasn’t. You now claim your mother made you do it.

As time passes, we revise history to make sense of our current feelings. What we don’t realize is that our current feelings dictate our understanding of the past more than our past dictates our current feelings.

  • What was your marriage like a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago?
  • How much did you love your spouse when you got married?
  • What was your dating relationship like?

For the vast majority of people, your answers to those questions reveal more about the state of your relationship today than the state of your relationship back then. We view our past through the lens of our present. We always revise history.

So when a couple comes to me with a broken marriage and one says, “I never loved him/her,” I know they believe it. But I also know it is not true.

And I know those feelings can change.

In the same way that a couple can go from deeply in love at the altar to believing they were never in love, they can also go from not feeling any love to feeling deep amounts of affection.

The truth is—we control our feelings. (For more on this, Click Here) Because we control our feelings, we can re-develop the feelings we have lost.

A marriage which feels loveless is not hopeless. Genuine feelings can be re-developed.

It takes time, energy, and effort. It may not be easy. Yet it is always worth it.

If you are to the point that you no longer feel love for your spouse, this re-development needs to happen under the direction of a professional counselor.

If you want to test my theory that the feeling of love can be developed, try one or all of the following:

  • Re-visit the site of your first date and tell your thoughts and feelings from that night.
  • Read old love letters to one another.
  • Tell each other of when you first felt love for the other and why.
  • Unplug from all technology, take a walk, and discuss your favorite moments from marriage.
  • Find your favorite picture—past or present—of your spouse, show it to them and explain why it is your favorite.

Feelings come and go. They can be regained just as easily as they can be lost.

If you have lost the feeling of love, redevelop it.

If you have the feeling, work hard not to lose it.

16 Responses to I Never Loved You
  1. Caleb Reply

    Kevin, how much would the ideas on (re)kindling a loveless marriage be true IF it happens that they are the minority that didn’t marry for love? (BTW, I have never been married nor gotten close but still wonder about something like this)

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      They would probably still be pretty true. There are centuries of arranged marriages which turned into marriages of true love.

  2. Tim Reply

    Ice, Ice, Baby!

  3. […] be one of the most meaningful times in your marriage. If a couple works with intention, they can red...
  4. Fj Reply

    I loved my ex husband the love you have in youth. I never stopped loving him but as we grew up he didn’t want me to have my own identity. He wanted me to sit home and be subservient. And became increasingly intimidating to that end. I left. I am not apologetic about it and I am sure I will answer for that. He gave me the 2 best thing in my life my kids and for that I will never stop loving the man I married but I do not miss the man I divorced.

  5. Cassie Reply

    I still LOVE Vanilla Ice AND my hubby!

  6. […] If you have not had a healthy romantic relationship or if that relationship ended on bad terms, it i...
  7. Beth Reply

    There are LOTS of easy-to-understand reasons people who are not in love marry.

    Appearing in love and excited about a big party with all your family and friends is not hard. Everyone is happy for the couple, hoping for the best, and does not want to be the one to question their love. Very easy to slip through!

    I’ve tried your little list and it didn’t work. Revisiting the scene of our first date makes me ashamed and sick to my stomach. Old love letters make me cringe and feel sorry for younger self who didn’t know how to say no very well. I did not first feel love for him: one day I sighed and said, “I guess I love him. It hurts, it sucks, but I guess this is as good as it gets.” Favorite moments from marriage? We would mention the children only. I don’t have a favorite picture. They all make me cringe.

    There are also centuries of arranged marriages in which people were abused, in which people died pretty quickly, in which people had affairs, in which people were expected to spend almost all their time with family and community members of the same sex, not a spouse.

    Feelings of love cannot be regained as easily as they can be lost. Trust and hope lost are not at all easy to singlehandedly regain. What hogwash.

  8. Sorry not sorry in OK Reply

    So Ive been married 22 years and am in this loveless phase of marriage. I don’t know what to do? I don’t hate him, but the desire for him is not there anymore. I cheated on him and February when he was in Saudia Arabia. I tried to leave him in May, but he told the kids I cheated on him and used them against me. I really can’t leave because I don’t have a really good paying job. So I feel stuck. I cheated again in June/July when he went overseas.He comes back and I tell him and he still wants to work through things. He is a nice guy, but I notice I hide my wedding ring sometimes and am somewhat embarrassed of him around people. I just don’t know how to get the feelings/desire back for him.

  9. Tasha Reply

    My husband told me after 3 married years and 8 total together that he loves me, but has never been in love with me. There are times of course my love for him isn’t as intense, but I have never lost my feelings for him. He doesn’t want to see any counselors, believing they can’t change anything about how he feels.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      But they can help him to choose to love you, which is what he should do.

  10. Robin Reply

    It’s lovely you have this approach. Sadly my husband was never In love with me, and while he loves me, he is not interested in trying to recreate a future together. We were together for 20 years, now have two grown kids, are two years into a slow divorce process which is almost finished but is taking forever because of his passivity. He has realized that there is not someone “righter” for him, that his patterns are the same, and that our connection has many things to recommend it. He feels we never had a “spark.” I feel that my love for him was less heady and more soulful. But it doesn’t matter now. I am now tasked with letting go of past and future, and this is the real challenge. There’s just no convincing someone to love you or that they love you. My husband never owned his choice of me as spouse and partner. The heartbreak has been unbearable. I think the hardest part at this point is accepting the loss (it’s been two years) and the unlikelihood of finding another person with whom I could build a life. When I was younger people split up for reasons of cruelty and profound unhappiness. Now it seems an unsettledness and inability to put work in and see a larger picture are enough to doom a relationship. The worst irony is that he says that now that he sees and understands himself more clearly, he couldn’t start to see me through new eyes because he “ruined everything” with his behavior. I don’t have a tight family and while I am socially engaged, the world in your 50s is built around couples. The isolation is terrible, and the loss of meaning is brutal. I’ve gotten much better, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over this.

  11. […] This is the way many people feel when their marriage struggles. They assume there is nothing they ca...
  12. Ian A Kinney Reply

    I am a senior citizen, and fell in love at age 60. We got married 9 years ago. My husband has not been happy lately, and he confessed today that he married me because he didnt want to be alone. He says that he has never loved me. I have always felt that the passion was not there. We have had fun together, and have mutual respect. He says he cares about me, but that he has lied about his love for years. He says he wont ask for a divorce, and that we could go on like this as long as I want .. he has no money, and neither do i. So much of this is that we are financially dependent on each other. I am heart broken. I have felt something was wrong for years. But kept on because I love him. What do zi do now. I am so sick with worry.

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