“I love you but I’m not in love with you”. Have you ever said or thought this in your relationship? This is a phrase I’ve heard numerous times in my counseling office when working with couples. What does this really mean? What are couples really saying as they verbalize this phrase?
Without overcomplicating it, let’s say to love someone is to care deeply for that person and to want what’s best for them. So how does being in love differ and why does this even matter? I think what couples are really getting at is the intimate connection between them. Connection absolutely matters because it’s the glue to intimate relationships! So when a partner says, “I’m not in love with you anymore”, what they’re really saying is “something happened to our connection, our bond, and I don’t feel close or safe with you anymore”. This person can still love their partner and want what’s best for them, but there’s no intimacy, no connection in their relationship. I’m always sad when I hear this; couples are, in a sense, grieving this deep connection that we all long for and need. There’s usually a feeling of hopelessness present as they share these words. But there doesn’t have to be!
How do we restore this connection and get back to that place of being in love? This requires us to explore any wounds and negative patterns that become barriers to vulnerability and intimacy. When we can better understand how certain patterns turn us against one another, and instead of falling into these traps, we share in new, authentic, and vulnerable ways, we are strengthening our connection and emotional intimacy. When we feel emotionally close, physical intimacy often tends to increase as well. We may also have to
take risks in sharing and allowing our partner to help heal our wounds to increase safety in the marriage. Again, by being vulnerable, it allows your partner to hear you in a new way and respond to you in a way that is not only healing the hurt, but increasing connection and relationship security.
Strengthening your connection with your partner is definitely something you both can do on your own (I.e., see my previous post about bonding rituals). However, if you feel like you’ve lost that connection in your marriage, you may benefit from the help of a trained professional marriage counselor. Finding a way to restore your connection with your lover can help you feel in love all over again. It can save your marriage.