I’ve felt it too. Several years ago, I found myself in a bad season. I was not a happy person. I was struggling in my marriage and frustrated with the way life was going. A dark cloud shadowed my heart. I no longer felt anything for my husband. That constant thought in my mind terrified me. I don’t love him anymore.
A great sense of doubt surrounded our relationship. As a result, my mind wandered down some dark trails. Would I be happier with someone else? I knew we’d end up this way. Should we even stay together? Have I wasted my life to end up with someone I don’t love anymore?
All of those thoughts felt very real. The only problem is … I’m married to a man in full-time ministry. I work part-time for our church, and we speak at marriage conferences.
Talk about feeling like a hypocrite! Our marriage should have been on a poster somewhere. And there I was feeling nothing for him. My heart was empty, numb, and lifeless. I worried our marriage had become that too.
I exchanged the feelings of love in our marriage for shame and embarrassment that we were the couple who found ourselves here. What a dark and wintry place to be.
In my life, I have found that relationships are a lot like the seasons. They change. That’s not always a bad thing. Much of my growth and stretching has come in the seasons I didn’t really enjoy.
Often, we enter our marriages in the springtime. Everything is fresh, green, and blooming. Then reality and life bring on the other seasons.
But change in marriage is nothing new or unusual. All marriages experience it. The challenging part is learning how to get through the other seasons change brings.
Just like in seasons of weather, we feel victimized in our relationship when things turn cold. We just want to get out of there quickly! Take a trip somewhere warm.
But working through the chilly seasons of our marriages, isn’t as easy as booking a beach vacation. Bringing life back into a cold and dying relationship takes a lot of work.
Feelings can change too
My challenge to you is to stay in your marriage. Don’t run from this winter. Find warmth there instead.
Peel back the layers of your heart. Consciously remember the warm days when you felt something for your husband. Dr. Bill Doherty, a strong advocate for helping married couples, wrote, “A good therapist, a brave therapist, will help you to cling together as a couple, warming each other against the cold of winter. And seek out whatever sunlight is still available while you wrestle through your pain and disillusionment.”
Dr. Doherty is onto a great truth. Spring comes around again.
In my garden, I have to replant the bulbs when it’s cold outside to get the amazing flowers in spring. When my marriage was cold and the fruit of our love felt dead, I had to plant the truth of commitment into my heart. Then our relationship could grow again.
Commitment doesn’t change
Love is so much more than a feeling. It’s a promise, a vow, and a covenant.
I had to go back to what I knew true “love” to be. Not what I felt. I needed to remind myself that I promised my husband to be his wife until death parted us. Even when I didn’t feel like I wanted to anymore.
More importantly, I also promised my lifetime faithfulness toward my husband to the Lord. So that was where I had to begin again when all I felt was, I don’t love him anymore. I planted bulbs of truth into my lifeless heart with seeds of God’s love for me.
When I worked on my relationship with Jesus, it allowed Him to reveal more truth. Much of it I already knew but had been avoiding. The warmth of His love began to thaw my emotional winter.
It took time, effort, and much intentionality. I spent time praying for myself, asking God to show me where I needed to allow His Spirit to rule in my heart over my feelings. I even asked that God give me a renewed and stronger love for my husband than I had ever known.
In the middle of winter
If you’re thinking what I thought—I don’t love him anymore—you’re not alone. There’s hope! Here are some practical ways to move forward:
- Tell your husband how you are feeling. Tell him you are looking for help. Make sure to include what you want to feel. Include remembering how you used to feel and how this is so conflicting for you.
- Discuss what you believe has caused this disconnect. Is it stress, work, family issues?
- Are there unresolved hurts in your relationship? Communicate these things. Find a counselor to walk you through healing.
- Pray for each other and your marriage. Praying together out loud has the amazing ability to draw you closer to each other. Pray specifically about your feelings and ask God to renew your heart.
God answered my prayer. He drew me and my husband together again. It was worth living through the long, cold winter to see a new, refreshed spring in our marriage. I know now this doesn’t mean our marriage won’t ever go through hard seasons again. So this time, I’ll have my coat, scarf, and mittens ready!
© 2019 Michelle Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michelle Alvarez is an event-planning consultant for corporate events and weddings. She is administrative assistant to Jose, event planner for the church where they worship, and also serves the wives on the Web.com Tour. She and Jose are speakers for Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaways. They have three adult children.