Do You Still Love Him?

Dear Courage,

Are you still in love as you were when you first married? I’m not. I used to be madly in love and blissfully happy. I’ve been married for 31 years now. Something has happened the last couple of years. We never had really good communication skills, but now it’s catching up to us. We’ve been through a lot of stress lately. Our oldest son got divorced and it was messy. My husband lost his job. I have depression and anxiety, which doesn’t help matters at all. Don’t just tell me to get marriage counseling – insurance doesn’t cover that! My husband has a new job now, but it pays a lot less than before. It has less stress and he seems happier, but we’re trying to budget now with a significant cut in his salary. I should be crying as I type this, but I’m not. I’m more pissed than anything. Is it too late for us? —Angry and Annoyed.

Dear Angry and Annoyed,

All relationships are in a constant state of change. We go through periods of moving closer together, and then periods of drifting apart. When people start to realize that they are moving away from each other, and they do one of two things. They either take steps to grow closer again, or they quit. They get divorced. But if they would just stop and think about it, and realize that all relationships change, they might stick around longer. That next stage of “growing closer together” could well be worth the wait!

There is a great book called “Love is a Decision” by Gary Smalley. He writes from a Christian perspective, but it is great advice, no matter what your religious preferences are. He claims that real love, true love, is not a “feeling” you get inside. Feelings are fleeting. They come, they go. We have no control over how we feel about something at any given moment. True love is much more than that. It is a decision. It is a choice we made on our wedding day, when we vowed to love, honor and cherish, until death do us part.

So, make a decision now to love your husband. And then act like you love him. Think about him during the day. Write him little notes to tuck in his lunch box. Dress up special for him. Serve his favorite foods. Put on make-up and perfume just for him. Talk to him on the phone often when he is away. Make a point to talk to him every day, every evening. Act like you love him. Love is a verb – an action verb. When you act like you love someone, then those silly, transient feelings will follow. One morning you will wake up and realize that you really do love your husband again! That you couldn’t imagine life without him.

When you treat your husband like this, he will reciprocate. He may start to communicate with you. He will feel good when he is with you, and want to be with you more. This isn’t just about you meeting his needs, but you will have to be the one to start making changes.

Real love isn’t something newlyweds know anything about. Real love can only happen after a lifetime together. I hope that you will discover that kind of love with your husband again.

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