Jun 112014 34 Responses

No Wonder You Don’t Love Each Other

How much time will you spend with your spouse today?

An hour?

Thirty minutes?

This article is an excerpt from my book Friends, Partners, and Lovers.

Five minutes?

How much quality, one-on-one time will you spend with your spouse that does not revolve around the kids, work, or managing day-to-day life?

None?

Well no wonder you don’t love each other any more. (See: You Chose This)

It happens on a near daily basis. A couple comes to my office. Their marriage is in serious trouble. Their body language says it all. Sometimes they are angry. Sometimes they are dejected. In the worst-case scenarios, they are emotionally dead.

They’ve nearly always written a story of what has gone wrong:

  • they married the wrong person
  • the person they married changed
  • there is no such thing as lasting love
  • their spouse is no longer attractive

Yet rarely do they confess the obvious. They talk about how “life has been crazy” and “we are constantly running a thousand different directions” and “work is demanding.” They might mention how tired they have become.

But they never admit their deepest failure—they have stopped spending meaningful time together. (See: The Number Cause of Divorce)

I listen and then I ask, “How much time tomorrow will the two of you spend together?”

Most of the time they stare blankly at me as though I have just asked a ridiculous question.

Sometimes they try to answer, but they nearly always answer with something that involves taking care of children or running a house or taking care of the details of life.

Physically they spend time with each other each day, but emotionally, spiritually, and relationally, they haven’t seen each other in months and sometimes years. (See: How to Stay Married in the Tough Times)

Is it any surprise that a couple who never spends any time together apart from trying to manage day-to-day life, no longer feels a deep emotional connection and love for one another?

Remember How You Fell In Love

No one falls in love without spending time together. Time is required for two people to get to know one another. Without time there is no knowledge. While you can lust after what you do not know, you cannot love what you do not know. Knowledge is a prerequisite for love.

This is why relationships begin with dating. Two people who may or may not have a romantic interest in another go on dates. This allows them to spend time with one another, to get to know each other, and to determine if they will choose to love or not.

True love develops over time as we come to know another person and choose to love them.

The same way love begins, it continues. (See: The Easiest Way to Rejuvenate Your Marriage)

Without meaningful time together, a couple will at minimum forget whether they love one another and at maximum they will actually stop loving one another.

Time is required for love to grow.

You Don’t Have To Spend Time Together Every Day

While the newly married and empty-nesters might have the opportunity to spend time together every day, that is not the story of those who are raising children. The demands of life will be too great to allow a couple an hour or two of alone time. There are some days in which a couple will be lucky to eat together, much less talk.

Yet, a couple doesn’t have to spend time together every day in order to be successful. We can thrive without hours being spent together on a daily basis.

You Do Have To Spend Time Together On a Regular Basis

You don’t have to spend time together every day, but you do have to spend time together on a regular basis. The longer a couple goes without spending time together, the greater they are at risk for:

  • the feelings of love to fade
  • frustrations and disagreements to create greater destruction
  • being open to the temptation of an affair

It is never shocking to me when a couple experiences difficulties in marriage when they have not created and guarded time for their relationship to be nourished.

Isn’t this why nearly every marriage counselor recommends a weekly date night?

Isn’t this why I’m insistent that every couple vacation together (without kids) once a year?

Isn’t this why I’ve written before that even a day in court can energize a marriage?

A couple must spend time together.

It doesn’t have to be today. It doesn’t have to be every day. But it must be sometime and it must happen more often than many couples choose to have it happen.

Unless a couple intentionally makes an effort to have meaningful time together, it will not happen. Life has too many demands and distractions that without intention we will foolishly live our lives without spending meaningful time with our spouses. The consequences of this foolishness are disastrous.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. (See: When You Feel Like You Just Co-Exist)

You Can Find Time For One Another

We can:

  • stop during the morning routine, look each other in the eye and have a two-minute conversation.
  • take a break from our work day and text one another.
  • turn off the television and have a meaningful conversation.
  • take a walk
  • get a babysitter and go to the park
  • have lunch together

It doesn’t take a lot of money. It doesn’t even demand a large chunk of time. But it does demand intention and attention.

Love requires time. To the extent we choose to spend time with our spouses, we will likely feel love for them.

34 Responses to No Wonder You Don’t Love Each Other
  1. Melinda Reply

    Kevin I love reading your blogs!! I wish I would have stumbled onto them a couple of years ago! You hit the nail on the head! We let everyday life get in the way without realizing it. I didn’t see it at the time but after being with him for 18 years and now being divorced for the past year (not my choice) and dealing with the pain and heartache I get it! Something so simple as a little one on one time!! Great read thanks!!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Thanks for reading Melinda. I’m sorry for your pain but am hopeful about your future.

  2. Matt Reply

    Truth

  3. Amanda Reply

    This is so insightful. After going through a failed marriage of 8 years with two small children life lead me to my new husband. Who also went through a failed marriage of 6 years. We both were dead to our ex-spouses and seeked nothing more than attention, affection, and appreciation. We now have a strong marriage with four children in a blended family. At times it is very hard with allf the stress that goes a long with blended families, but we make time for each other every day. We may not get our 8 hours of sleep, but I would give up a lot more than sleep to be with my best friend, teammate, and better half.

    • Banana Reply

      You are married for the 3rd time and have found someone that you have a fulfilling relationship with? We have been married since 7/2014 and we cannot communicate. I filed for divorce last July and he wanted me to give him a 2nd chance. So I listened to him and gave him a shot. Now all those things I said I needed (attention, affection, and appreciation, and a few more) are things that are too much for one man to do in a day. He calls it my “honeydew list of one thousand things”. And now he says he needs alone time to be happy. That the thoughtful things I do are nice, but he doesn’t need them to be happy. He needs to play computer games, or go to the movies with friends or family to be happy. I want what you described 🙁

  4. Jen Reply

    This makes a lot of sense but does it apply to wives in the military who don’t see their husband for a year? Or does it apply to women who have husband’s who work out of town Monday through Friday? If so.. what do you suggest in those types of situations?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Jen, I think in those situations you have to do the absolute best you can. Clearly these are different situations than what I was referencing in the article.

  5. laura Reply

    Wow! This is so true! We put the kids to bed last night and turned off the TV and just talked. It is so refreshing when we can do that! Then i read this today. We have to keep the love alive in our marriage!

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  9. Gwen Reply

    I believe this is too general. I believe there are also plenty of cases where the couple spends too much time together, and they’ve become enmeshed and what they really need is some time apart.

  10. Rachael Reply

    I think this is a really good article and i support date time in a marriage and my husband and I have been married 18 years and did have date time in our marriage but for the past year or so our date time is not working out and we are seriously considering giving up on date time altogether because now whenever we set out to date time we set out looking forward to it and looking forward to spending time together and the date time will begin okay but always seems to end up with us either getting into an argument and then my husband taking off or we might not argue but end up feeling like we have nothing to say to each other and sit there in silence feeling bored.We are both getting sick and tired of our date time ending up in disaster and both us coming away form it feeling unhappy

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  17. Nora Reply

    I love to read your blog and improving me more. We are in long distance marriage which my husband at west country and me at east..but we never feel far from each other because of strong feeling relationship and keep communicate. .hope you give good tips about long distance marriages . Thank you.

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  19. Jacques Reply

    So what do you do when your wife just doesn’t get this, when you’ve told her a hundred times how important it is to spend time together but she still just wants to fall asleep in front of the TV?
    To answer the question I just gave up, I’m working out how to tell her its time for a divorce.
    My advice to anyone is don’t let it get this bad and good luck.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Good advice on not letting it get this bad. My advice, the both of you should get counseling either to save the marriage or to figure out how to unwind it.

  20. cris Reply

    yeah, this is what I have been craving for the whole time. We are married, together for 9 years with 2 kids.
    He changed when we had been together for almost 2 years. At fisrt I thought it is a phase, but when I confronted him, he finally gave up and said, that he probably was doing things just to impress me. And that he is actually the home-loving guy, who actually never wants to go out.
    Then there was a very long period, where we did not do anything together (years), allthough I was booking tickets and trying to find what pleases him. He either dressed himself and then decided not to go just before going out or came and left without saying a word in the middle of the thing….
    I was so broken. All I could think is that he does not enjoy spending time with me.Now he goes out more (it means in the summer we go to places with kids and 2 of us go out once a year… but not more). I am starved of having fun with my guy. This is something I want. Now, to protect me, I have a wall built up. If I see smth where I would like to go, I will completely ignore it and stop myself dreaming or thinking about it. It is harder, when the fall is from up higher.
    We sometimes laugh, we sometimes talk. But everything in our home. And no fun just the 2 of us. And I am not putting this on him..I have tried everything…
    I am about to just give up…lonely in a relationship.

  21. Magdalena A Garcia Reply

    My relationship is falling apart and I believe that it’s due to this reason. Surprisingly, my partner actually thinks that we spend too much time together. We have opposite schedules so during the week when I get home, he’s just gone into work and he gets home after I’ve gone to sleep. On the weekends we spend some time together but don’t go on dates or anything since we both have to work from home (in separate rooms). He’s frustrated that I want to spend time together during my free time because during his free time he wants to give attention to his hobbies. I’ve pretty much decided to end the relationship because of fighting and other reasons and he’s devastated wanting me back. If he feels like we already spend all of our time together how can I think that he actually wants me around?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      That’s a serious problem. The two of you need to sit down with someone to discuss.

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  23. Cici Reply

    What a great article and so true! I was raised in a family home where my mom and dad made time for eachother and I knew without a doubt my dad loved my mom. They are still married and still make time for one another. Sadly, as easy as you have said it, I’ve tried so hard to make my husband of 8 years try to want to make time for me and the kids. My heart breaks everytime I ask for a bit of his time. I’m usually left with anger from him and leaving me everytime I ask for his time. Usually he will leave me for weeks…the longest a month. He just doesn’t get how him playing video games all day is more important than me and the kids. I asked him the other day if he ever thinks about wanting to make time for me as there is always an excuse for why he doesn’t. He had no answer. Then he actually asked me why I’m so hung up in such a minor little thing such as his time. I told him because it is breaking our marriage. Once again he got mad at me and started sleeping in the guest room. Silent treatment once again….sigh! Such a shame as I am just done trying to be the only one fighting to keep this marriage together. As much as I want to stay, my heart tells me to just divorce him and leave him alone so he can be happy and content to play his video games all day…everyday. And yes, I do mean all day when he’s not working. I have no more fight in me to try and get him to understand that making time for one another IS the key to a happy, successful marriage.

  24. Crystal Navarro Reply

    Do you have any suggestions for couples on WHAT to talk about?
    I’m a stay at home mom, six kids and I homeschool. I am very busy. I juggle a lot of things. He helps in a lot of ways, if I tell him what to do. He is happy to DO anything. Except spend time with me, give me any sort of attention, or sex. If I ask him to spend some time being intimate, he’s too tired. But if in the same breath, I ask him to do a task, he will jump up and do it! He’s NEVER too tired for those things?
    I also can’t talk to him, because all my conversation centers around raising the kids and managing the home. He doesn’t want anything to do with that. So I have nothing to talk to him about. I have interests, I read, I am educated, and love history and I work out at the gym, I do ju jitsu….but we SHARE few interests, and it’s hard to have an educated conversation with him. He mostly doesn’t listen, has no knowledge of any of the topics I try to broach…I just feel like there’s no connection! Physically, there is little to no connection. We go months at a time….his choice, not mine. I have started a two year plan to leave the marriage. The kids will be old enough, and give myself time to get my business profitable. I would try to fix this, but I know he’s “happy” with the way things are! He just wants me to be happy with them too. I am not.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      If he will, I would read my book and discuss. Each chapter has discussion questions.

  25. Kristina Reply

    If you never had time together before you got married, it’s unfair and unrealistic to start expecting it years into the marriage. My huband and I started out as a purely sexual relationship. We had a child, got married, had another child, and now we’ve been together for 10 years. We don’t do “date nights”, and we have nothing in common so we don’t do anything together. Our relationship is basically a parenting marriage with monogamous sex. I don’t understand why people require so much time together, or why therapists insist it’s so important.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I can’t imagine a healthy relationship without significant time together. Check out the first section of Friends, Partners & Lovers.

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