March 22, 2012

FAQ: I am no longer in love with my husband. In fact, I don’t believe I ever loved him. Wouldn’t it be better for both of us if we get a divorce?

Can I lovingly challenge you?  You are hurting and are about to make a major and I believe a wrong decision.  Pull back.  I cannot justify a divorce based on your report here.

I don't know if you are a Christ-follower, but my view of marriage is based on Christ's commands in the Bible.  God hates divorce, and only allows for biblical divorce based on desertion or adultery.  I assume from your letter that this is not the case for you.  You are saying you do not love your husband and never did love him, therefore you want a divorce. But this is not biblical.  In fact, marriages in biblical times were pre-arranged and "love" as we define it was not even considered.  Half of the marriages around the world are assigned by parents. In these cases, two people learn to love one another.

We know that a person can learn to love and that love does develop and deepen over time.  In fact, even couples who are madly infatuated with one another on their wedding day will have to face this reality over time.  The "feelings" of love disappear as the difficulties of life take over.  Every couple experiences this.  "Love" as they knew it on their wedding day fades.  This is why the divorce rate is out of control. Couples no longer believe in commitment, so they divorce as soon as those feelings of love disappear.  You may not have felt that love even on your wedding day, but today your situation is no different than countless others who "lose" the feeling of love.

We live in a culture where feelings determine everything.  You may have fallen victim to this and now feel overwhelmed by what appears as total darkness and despair.

So, your greatest struggle is to trust and obey Jesus Christ during this time, and act in loving ways because of your faith in Him.  Is this possible?  I believe it is.  In fact, this is what the Bible teaches.  This is God's design for marriage, that we love our spouse AS UNTO CHRIST and not because we FEEL love or because they DESERVE love. (For more understanding on this, read chapters 23 and 24 on The Rewarded Cycle in the book Love and Respect.)

Do the love and respect principles "work" when we do not feel love or respect for our spouse?  Absolutely!  This is what it is all about – giving to someone else no matter what we feel!  I know this sounds impossible and it may even sound harsh to you.  But what if feelings of love for your husband develop after you act in obedience to Christ?  I believe this is not only possible, it is quite likely.  As you get outside of yourself and focus more on the other person, amazing things can happen.

Husband or wife, to abandon your marriage because of your feelings is a grave mistake.  The consequences for this will be serious, both in your soul and in your heart. Christ's commands are there to protect us, not to punish us.  He knows the consequences of divorce will be grave.  He wants to spare you from this because He loves you deeply.

So what should you do?  Find a godly wise mentor who will come alongside you and support you in living out the Rewarded Cycle.  Put your faith in Christ and trust Him with your marriage.  Fulfill the commitment you made on your wedding day, as you made the vow to love in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, so long as you both shall live.  As you focus on your relationship with Christ, He will strengthen you to stay the course and He will give you the desires of your heart!

Are you allowing God to encourage you, or have you closed off to Him?


Steadfast Ahoy! said...

I love your no-nonsence answer to this FQA. So many are afraid to respond to this one. I am going to retweet this one!

Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

Excellent and honest response to a question I've heard often. Thanks for taking time to post.

Anonymous said...

What if there is abuse involved? Verbal, emotional...or alcohol &pornography? Still supose to stay? Is that really God's plan?

Emerson & Sarah said...

Dear Anonymous,

Please see our previous post entitled "Respectful Confrontation for the 3 A's" where your question is addressed.

God Bless You!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to think about this, I'm not sure I like the example used regarding prearranged marriages and learning to love someone. My grandparents (on my mother's side) marriage was prearranged, I'm guessing they learned to love each other but I never witnessed any love or affection between them, they always seemed so distant from one another. I can't say for sure if my grandparents marital arrangement had anything to do with what my mom learned growing up about love and marriage. But I often wonder if she also never witnessed love and affection between her parents, if not witnessing that, not learning that had anything to do with her marriage to my dad. My parents marriage resulted in divorce. I was raised by my mom. I never learned about love from her, I never learned about marriage from her. I never had boys interested in me until college, and they seemed to only be interested in one thing, so I thought as long as I gave them what they wanted they would eventually love me. One guy decided he'd keep me around because I gave him everything he wanted, but I never felt loved by him. He never asked me to marry him all the times I wanted him too, but I did get pregnant by him and we have a child together. We are still together, because of our child, but I've never felt loved, only used and now I question what I feel for him, if I ever loved him. You see, like I said, I never learned love or marriage. I was raised by a mom who's parents marriage was prearranged, who never showed love or affection for one another but just existed together. Is that okay with God? Is that what God wants for people? Enter into a marriage that's not based on love and stay in it because divorce is bad...pass that on from generation to one learning the true meaning of love or marriage...divorces, heartaches...a continuous cycle. So it's hard for me to read this article, to see you say how so many marriages are prearranged and those people learn to love each other and how that's the biblical thing to do, we all need to learn to just love...I see the effects it leaves on future generations, the struggles we face in our own relationships because we walk around not really knowing what love is, not really understanding what marriage is all about.

Anonymous said...

I think this goes back to the five love languages by gary chapman because people show love differently and if they don't speak your love language you are not going to feel love, but it doesn't mean the person doesn't love you. I traced my love language back to my childhood and realize I was wrong I thought my mom didn't love me because my love language is quality time and early on we spent a lot of time together and I loved her so much but when work and issues of life changed that I didn't think she loved me anymore but it wasn't that she didn't love me anymore, it was that i wasn't getting the quality time anymore and i didn't understand it then but i do now. So if people don't love you they way you want of feel it, then you think they don't love you.

Anonymous said...

Emerson, you are totally right, I am living proof, I did what God ask us to do after finding out about an affair my husband had, after 36 years of marriage, 40 years together. God is faithful. If we are faithful to obey Him. We are more in love, and our marriage stronger than it has ever been, He has repented, come back to the Lord, and in fact, we just finished teaching your "Love and Respect"............proof, it works! Don't give up!

Anonymous said...

how do you resolve when a spouse says they are not disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

What I'd like to know is if you've looked at how these principles work when your spouse has ADHD. My husband does, and this makes it an extra challenge to respect him. He isn't my partner, he's like having a teenage child -- semi-helpful, sometimes, in an erratic way. I have tried pretending I respect him, hoping that would result in an upward spiral, but he is so self-focused or hyper-focused on his latest "project" that I doubt I will ever get love from him. He's done courting me and just doesn't care anymore. I have even out-and-out told him things like that I would like him to express appreciation to me for doing more than my share of the housework while working outside the home -- something I didn't want to do but had to, because his career has been so rocky -- and he out and out ignores my requests. If I were not a Christian, I would have tossed this marriage long ago. Instead, I just feel depressed. Honestly, I almost wish he would have an affair, so I'd have an excuse to divorce him, which is terrible. I know Emerson won't respond, but I wish some expert who knows about ADHD and can address this in a Christian manner would explain (1) how can I respect my husband when he is so self-centered and (2) how can I get the love I need? He is on medication by the way. It seems to help him do better at work, but it hasn't helped our marriage.

Anonymous said...

I don't have the "answers" as my husband also has ADD and we are still working through all this...but one website/book that might be helpful is:

THe book is The ADHD effect on marriage by Melissa Orlov and Dr. Ned Hallowell. Melissa's husband also has adhd and she writes out of personal experience.

african woman said...

It is really true that "The 'feelings' of love disappear as the difficulties of life take over." This is one of the hardest trial most couple experiences that is why, being married really takes a great risk and most specially a great responsibility.

It's really an honor to come across to your blog because of this I really learn some new information.

Anonymous said...

What do you do if it's your spouse who says they are no longer in love with you and want to end the marriage? I agree with everything said in this post and have been praying daily for the holy spirit to open up his heart. I am in love with my husband and want desperately to save my marriage. What do I do?

francess said...

I want to start first by saying a big "thank you" to Ishvara! There are a bunch of nuts out there just trying to make a fast buck, but you are legitimate! I prayed before I went online that God would send me exactly where I needed to go to find help for my problems in the love department, and I mean I went straight to your site and felt it was the place I needed to be. I'm forever grateful! Ishvara is of God, and his gifts come from God, not some evil or ego-centered place. Of that I am certain, and my love problems have already started to improve. Thank you thank you

kwalt said...

To One of the Anonymouses: You can relieve ADHD with a change in diet. Preservatives, food dyes, sugar and grains have a very negative effect on the mind, as we commonly see in children but in many adults lately too. Look up some grain-free recipes and start changing what you feed your family. You may see a difference in your husband's ability to focus and more calmness from him, which can result in him becoming the man you need him to be. It has worked for us. Be blessed.

Jeff said...

The most common source of problems in relationships is that the couple misinterpreted their mutual feelings of attraction as love. This normally results in the couple trying to keep up appearances after about 5 years and wondering where the love went.

It is important to know that attraction is an emotional feeling that may fade, while love is a promise that has nothing to do with attraction. Love is a promise to do 4 things.

1. To accept everything that you know and do not know about her now.

2. To accept her regardless of what happens in the unknown future as you both age - for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health for as long as you both shall live. Even if she is disfigured by an accident or crippled by illness, you promise to accept her.

3. To forgive her later. Since neither of you is perfect, you both depend on each others' forgiveness.

4. To encourage her to improve. This 4th one gives purpose to your relationship - otherwise it will get boring.

If you are both ready to make and keep these promises to each-other, then you are ready to love. When you keep them, you demonstrate your love for each-other. After you formally make your promises at your wedding, you complete or consummate these promises with sexual intercourse. Every time that you subsequently have sexual intercourse, you reinforce your promises – it is truly a wonderful and mutually satisfying experience.

The problem is that none of the parties got to the love stage. They simply rode the wave of emotional attraction until it was exhausted. Fortunately, the marriages can be improved almost immediately if the parties chose to love.

Source: Attraction is a feeling. Love is a Promise. by Grenville Phillips, president of Walbrent College. (

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Isn't staying in a marriage based solely on the obligation a pretty miserable way to ask someone to live their life? Really? God considers a life miserably spent to be the best use of the gift of life he gave us? My wife married me by lying to me about what she wanted out of life. Even though I was very upfront concerning what I wanted in marriage, she deliberately mislead me that she wanted the same things. Now, after almost twenty years of marriage she has dropped all pretense, counting on the presence of our children to cement our bond . I know that she has no idea what love means to me and has never bother to find out. So, a loving God thinks this is preferable to divorce? I will not leave with the kids at home but I cannot wait for the youngest to graduate college. After that, I'm gone. If God really intends for me to not experience hell firsthand, he would not expect me to live a life of hell attached to a manipulative and selfish spouse.

Anonymous said...

Wow, short of words.

Anonymous said...

How in the world can you possibly engage in the physical elements of marriage when you feel as if you do not love your spouse? I have not truly loved my spouse for years now but have to remained a dutiful wife to be faithful to the Lord. Having sex with someone that I am not interested in romantically only seems to breed further resentment.

Anonymous said...

I think this is unfortunately a common struggle. I also struggle with wanting to be physically intimate with someone I feel is emotionally distant from me. Physical touch is his love language, quality time is mine. We have very limited time together and rarely do we spend it connecting at any level and then he wants to be physical but because I don't feel connected to him, it feels shallow and unwanted and almost wrong in a way. The bottom line is that the only person you can control is you. If you choose to love your spouse UNCONDITIONALLY, then it doesn't matter what they do (I'm not talking abuse or crazy stuff), you need to choose every day to love them. It's so hard to choose that especially when your needs aren't being met. But you are the only one who can choose to do it and stop relying on your spouse to meet your needs. Rely on God. Your spouse is a human and therefore imperfect. God is perfect. He is the only one that can perfectly love you so choose to be close to Him so you can feel His love and pray to help you feel love for your spouse and do the best you can to love them regardless of how they are loving you. Believe me, this is so hard! I'm struggling with it every day! There are many times I wish I hadn't married him, but I'm the one who chose to marry him. For those who are saying "Why would God want me to be miserable?" He doesn't, but He also didn't force you to marry your spouse. You did. You chose to marry them and vow to love them for however long you promised, which for most is til death do you part. So stop asking God if He wants you to be miserable and start asking Him what YOU can do to find happiness in your life and your marriage. YOU CAN ONLY CONTROL YOU, but YOU chose to marry your spouse. You must have liked (notice I didn't say love) something about them at one point. Even if you can only find ONE good thing to say about them now, it's a start. Get a journal and start with one positive thing. When a negative one enters your brain, push it out by focusing on the one. If you need counseling, go get some. Maybe your spouse will come, maybe they won't, but only YOU can control YOU! Good luck everyone. Let's be the examples to the world of how to make marriages last even through difficulties instead of just ending it because it's not perfect and it actually takes (gasp) work!

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