Fallen Out of Love? Here’s How to Find it Again
Does it seem that you have fallen out of love with your partner?
Do you wonder why you are in a relationship with a partner who always makes you feel bad?
Perhaps you fantasize about walking away as far as you can just to get away from being with a partner who gets on our nerves and rarely takes responsibility.
When you experience your partner as a thorn in your flesh it’s hard to love them. You don’t see the point of mending fences or trying to connect again. It’s as if you have lost that partner you once had and in its place is a monster that you feel stuck with. You have fallen out of love because they no longer resembles the person you fell in love with.
When you have fallen out of love with your partner, then
- You can’t forgive
- You can’t get in touch with good memories
- Your partner is just a “thing” without feelings or valuable attributes
It’s common to have this experience in a relationship where you feel uncared for and unimportant. It stops the flow of love and causes huge doses of insecurity. Some couples stay together for practical reasons and find love elsewhere. Others live a life of pretense and get depressed or develop other psychosomatic disorders. But some couples are motivated to attend couples counseling and learn how and why they have fallen out of love with one another, and find their way back to connecting in loving ways.
Matt and Jackie are one of those couples who chose to come to couples therapy. You may remember them from the last two articles on the capacity to love and the need for basic trust in order for love to thrive. Jackie struggled with wanting to be herself and have more of a social life outside the marriage, while Matt was anxious about being abandoned, attempting to control her activities.
Jackie had fallen out of love with Matt when she remembered how he disappointed her
They came for a couples counseling session one day looking as if they were comfortable and affectionate with each other. They held hands as they sat on the couch and looked at each other smiling. Each invited the other to begin talking, but neither of them had anything special bugging them. After a few minutes of embarrassed giggles and looking at me hoping I would tell them what to discuss, Jackie suddenly brought up an experience from a couple of days ago that really upset her. She talked about how angry she was that Matt hadn’t intervened in a spat between the kids, and that she had to settle them down. She didn’t look at him as she began a litany of times when he had not taken charge, been a hands off parent and put the burden on her. She picked up more and more bad things like a tornado sweeping up everything on its way to building the storm. Everything that got caught in the force of her tornado was stuff that made Matt look irresponsible and bad. She had fallen out of love with Matt, experiencing him as a monster who was unreliable and uncaring, making her life a hell.
All Jackie could feel about Matt was his untrustworthiness and a sense of outrage that he was wasn’t taking his role as father and husband seriously. The loud vibrations inside her echoed all the broken promises of her father, all the times her mother didn’t engage and all the times she had to step up and be the grown up in the house. Experiencing Matt through the same lens meant that Matt was inhuman and unlovable. How could she love someone who treated her as badly as her parents? Jackie had fallen out of love with Matt when she experienced only his sins of omission and his sins of commission were screaming at her.
Jackie had lost touch with the good Matt who had just that morning brought her breakfast in bed and got the kids ready for school. She lost contact with her experience of Matt holding her and comforting her when their dog was lost. She couldn’t recall the time when he took the kids out for the day when she was sick and gave her time and space to rest. Well, how could she remember these things when she drowning in feelings of disappointment, let down and lack of care. Matt was not a caring partner at in her mind, she had fallen out of love with him, withdrew and refused to discuss things.
Matt had fallen out with Jackie when he remembered how she had rejected him
Matt made an attempt to touch her and re-engage but she protected herself from this monster by moving away and rejected him. Matt crumpled and then he too, feeling rejected withdrew. He started to remember all the times she had rejected him before; all the times she had rejected his help when he had offered, and all the times she had criticized him when he took care of the kids. He too dredged for all the bad experiences he had with Jackie. He felt unappreciated especially since he was breaking his back trying to keep them in a luxurious lifestyle, experiencing a great deal of stress in return.
Matt didn’t feel like engaging with Jackie. She was as monstrous to him as he was to her. He couldn’t remember the times when Jackie had rescued him from an argument with his mother; nor the time when she got an office party together at short notice for him; he lost touch with the many times she had comforted him after his brother used him to get bailed out of financial scrapes. Just that morning she had ironed a shirt so he could look neat and tidy for a meeting with a prospective client. He had fallen out of love with her.
Until I stepped in and made an observation about how quickly they shifted from feeling connected to becoming disconnected. Suddenly Matt sat up and looked as if his mind was working overtime. Jackie wasn’t looking at him, but as soon as I noticed and commented on the change in Matt, she too came back with some readiness to reclaim a connection. They were shocked at how quickly they had fallen out of love with one another, and how difficult it was to find the desire to fall back in love.
With encouragement Matt explained to Jackie how he felt when he was rebuffed in his attempts to comfort her. Jackie reacted by defending her actions, until I asked her to explain her bad feelings. I showed them how similar their experiences were, and how they had both fallen out of love with each other several times a week, but they never fell back in love as often. We opened up a dialogue about finding a place to forgive through understanding their mutual hurt. Then they became Matt and Jackie who had a need and affiliation for one and other, as they changed back from monsters to humans.
Of course this process occurred several times throughout the couples counseling and continues to do so, but the frequency of falling out of love has lessened and the desire to connect despite being hurt has emerged. Like most couples Matt and Jackie hurt each other unintentionally but instead of falling out of love, they feel safer and trust that the relationship has enough love for both of them to have their wounds dressed and healed as they move towards the next phase in their relationship.
copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
You might also like:
Disclaimer: this video and article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond