It’s not uncommon to see people fall out of love, even if they’ve been together for decades.
In a recent Dear Mariella feature in the Guardian, a reader opened up about being married for 17 years with her partner.
“Over the past 10 years, our marriage has become more and more unsatisfying. We don’t feel emotionally close anymore. It seems we are sticking it out for the kids, so neither of us has to leave. However, our loveless, long-term cohabitation is becoming increasingly difficult to bear.”
She added her husband is a kind man, but she often feels neglected.
“We hardly talk about things that matter to us, schedule in quality time or have any kind of sexual relationship.”
Making loveless marriages work
Lauren Millman of Lauren Millman Counselling and Psychological Services in Thornhill, Ont., said many couples decide to stay in loveless marriages for a variety of reasons.
“It’s a big decision to leave a relationship where time and energy has been invested, where there are kids, and where the relationship was once loving and caring,” she told Global News.
“Everyone has their own reasons, but typically what I’ve seen in my practice are couples staying in loveless marriages because they either have little to no financial means to leave, or they stay for their children.”
Millman added the key to making a loveless marriage work is figuring out why it’s not working in the first place.
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“I encourage couples to talk about how they feel, and share what they need and don’t need in their marriage,” she explained. “Life is fast and we forget to check-in, ask questions, and learn about our partners. This information will undoubtedly vary from person to person, but it’s important to be a team in your marriage, even if the loving each other aspect has gone.”
Couples who live together in loveless marriages still need to respect one another, she continued, especially if children are involved.
“You always want to lead by example, and it’s always better to do your best and be your best than to behave with resentment and anger.”
Making the call to leave
But sometimes, staying isn’t worth it. Before you make the call to leave your partner, have an open conversation first.
“I always recommend a conversation starter to begin with, ‘I know you’re not happy, and I think we need to have a conversation about it, so we’re both happy in the end.’ You always want to enroll someone into a conversation, and make it about them, to open that door.”
And there are many reasons why people fall out of love over time.
“We forget that as time evolves, we continue to evolve, grow and change. Sometimes, the relationship no longer offers what it once did because you’re in a different place or space in your life. This is why checking in is so important.”