My Spouse Loves Me but is Not in Love with Me
(0:00) It’s like the kiss of death.
It’s when your spouse comes to you and says:
“I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”
Is it time to panic when you hear that? Actually it may be.
I’m not trying to instill fear in you, but we talk about reality, and how you can really face life as it is.
If you want to get where you need to go, you have to accept where you’re starting from.
Hi. I’m Dr. Joe Beam. I’m with Marriage Helper. As a matter of fact, we have a lot of videos and are making more all the time, and if you’d like to subscribe, we’d love to have you. Just right down there, see that button? You click that and subscribe, and then you’ll know about every video we put up. Some are about affairs. Some are about marriage. Some are just about relationships. As a matter of fact, everything you can imagine about relationships, and we’d love to have you as a subscriber.
(0:47) But what about this: My spouse said, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” What does that mean?
It typically means: I have an emotion for you, but it’s not what I want.
Why Do People Say This?
For some people, and these are relatively rare, these are people who have finally decided, “I don’t want any relationship. I want to be alone.”
You’ve heard me say they’re relatively rare, and they are. And that could be happening with your spouse. It’s not likely, but it’s definitely possible that he or she just wants to go off and be by themselves.
Typically when that happens, it’s somebody who’s been hurt so many times in life by parents, siblings, friends, maybe even by you, although I’m not trying to blame this on you at all– please don’t hear that. And they finally reached the point of thinking, “I shouldn’t be in any relationship because all relationships wind up hurting me at some point.” That’s one possibility, not the most likely possibility, but one possibility.
Another is, “You know, I feel this emotion with you, but I feel like there’s something more I can have and I wanna go looking for it out there.”
And so, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” means that I’ve heard other people describe what they feel, I’ve watched the things on the TV, I’ve seen the things in the movies, and I want to go see if I can find that for me. That might be what they’re saying.
(2:03) Or, unfortunately, they may be saying, I do feel this “in love” feeling with somebody else. “I’m not blaming you, I’m not angry with you. As a matter of fact there’s still part of me that has positive emotions about you. Therefore, I love you, but I’m in love with him / I’m in love with her.” And so “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” is basically setting up a situation where it’s like, “But I am in love.”
Now, they may not be ready to admit that right now. They may not wanna tell you that it’s going on in their lives in this particular moment. They may be very deceitful.
How to Save your Marriage:
Now, if you’re gonna deal with this, if you really wanna save the marriage and your spouse has told you, “I love you but I’m not in love with you anymore,” if you really wanna fix this, then…
You need to accept what he or she feels, even if you don’t like it.
Because if you come back, “Oh no, you do love me,” and you start trying to explain to him or convince him or her that indeed, love is there, the “in love” kind of love is there, it’s not going to do you any good. As a matter of fact, it makes you look desperate. And it certainly makes the other person convinced, “You don’t get me, you don’t understand me, you don’t know who and what I am.”
You see, if you look at the reasons that people divorce, if you look at the research, by far the most common reasons that people divorce are:
I don’t feel like you love me.
I don’t feel like you like me.
I don’t feel like you respect me.
(3:27) And if he or she has felt that you have been disrespectful by trying to control, dominate, argue, whatever, that you have always tried to get your way, there’s a ton of different ways that this could be demonstrated. But, if you demonstrated disrespect, whether you meant to or not, and I’m not trying to make you sound like a bad person here, but that can set up a person being vulnerable, either not wanting to be with you, “I love you but I’m not in love with you”, or being susceptible to developing a relationship with somebody else where they feel respected.
The same thing has to do with love and like…
I want to know not just that you feel good toward me in the sense that you love me. I want to know that:
You like me.
You look at me and see that there are good attributes here.
I’m a person that you enjoy being around.
I’m a person you enjoy talking to.
And so if indeed (again I’m not trying to beat you up, we’re just trying to deal with reality) you have been demonstrating toward him or her this respect, a lack of love, a lack of liking, then you need to accept the fact that if he or she is involved with somebody else, it’s because at least in that relationship they do feel respected, liked, and loved.
(4:39) I’m not saying that your spouse is definitely involved with somebody else. I don’t even know who your spouse is. I’m not trying to tell you that. Although in just a moment, if you think there is somebody else but he or she has not admitted that as of yet, I’m actually going to give you some ways to tell whether he or she might be having an affair. But right now, right now that’s not the focus…
The focus is:
Trying to understand him
Trying to understand her
Accepting what it is he or she feels and to understand why he or she feels that way
(5:12) Now if you just walk in and sit down and say, “Okay, I just heard Dr. Beam say that maybe you feel disrespected or unloved or disliked, so explain that to me.” That’s probably not going to work. Because if indeed he or she does feel disrespected, unloved, and disliked, you coming in and demanding that information is not going to get you the truth.
But, if you try to understand why, then look at, “Hmm, how has he or she reacted before? What kind of things have I done that I’ve seen him or her pull away from me or get angry with me or just shut down around me?”
And start doing some self-evaluation at this point. And if you start to understand why you say, “Dr. Beam, why is that important?”
Because at least hopefully it will change the way you interact with him or her. Because you’re thinking only from the reference from your own self, you’re not really going to grasp what’s going on over there. And if you want to save this marriage, if you want your spouse to be in love with you again, then you’re going to have to see things, at least to some degree, from his eyes or her eyes.
Signs That Your Spouse May Be in Love with Someone Else:
But since I brought it up, I need to go on and finish the earlier thing. “Wait a minute, I heard those three things earlier and one of those was he or she might be in love with someone else.” That’s one of the possibilities. Not saying that’s what the case is with you, but it’s one of the possibilities. And if you’re thinking, “How? How would I know that?” Okay, here’s some of the signs you can look for.
(6:36) Has your spouse’s appearance changed in the last few weeks or the last three months?
In other words, they’ve lost weight. They’ve gone to the gym and got in better shape, started dressing in a different way, changed hairstyles. In other words, there’s a change going on.
In and of itself, it may not mean anything, but I’m going to go through a whole bunch of things to look at. Has my spouse’s appearance changed, and is there some factor that did that that I’m aware of? Like, he or she got a new job. “No, I’m just seeing that he or she changed, but I’m not really sure why, but I can definitely see the change.”
(7:08) Is there any missing money?
If there’s money being spent by your husband or your wife, and you can see it’s being spent but you don’t know where it’s going, again, in and of itself, it might be relatively innocent. But, compared with this whole list I’m going to give you, it can start mounting up to being that there’s a bunch of things going on at once.
Is there missing time?
“She got off work at 5:30, and she said she was just going to drop by the grocery store to pick up a few things and be here, but she didn’t get here until nine, and when she showed up, she had one bottle of milk, and it can’t take that long to buy a bottle of milk….”
If it’s just something that happens rarely or very seldom, it might not mean anything. But if it happens more and more and more, it could be: “Okay, my husband sometimes doesn’t show up and he said he ran into his buddies and they stopped at the bar and they had a couple of beers and they started playing darts with each other and time got away from him.”
That is a possibility, but again we’re giving you a whole list of things to look at together.
(8:10) Are there any hidden bills?
So you mean, you used to get the bill about the cell phone, and you could see all the calls that your husband or wife made, and you haven’t seen that bill for a while. It’s like somehow it’s being intercepted, so you can’t get your hands on it. And usually your husband or wife would leave the cell phone lying around, and if you wanted you could actually pick it up and look at it if you chose to, but now it’s carefully guarded, and if you get close to it, your spouse rescues it.
Have you discovered any hidden social media?
For example, are you suddenly blocked from your husband’s or wife’s Facebook page, or you’re not seeing what they tweet anymore? Or perhaps you run across evidence somewhere that maybe your husband or wife has a different Facebook page… “My friend said she saw something my wife posted on Facebook the other day. I still have access to her page, I’m looking at it and it’s not there.” So is there any hidden social media that you’re aware of that you have found?
(9:06) And has your sex life changed?
Not just has your sex life gotten worse, like “we hardly have sex with each other anymore, or when we do make love it’s like my spouse is not really involved in it anymore.” But it could also be just the opposite of that, like “all of a sudden we’re having sex more than we used to and my spouse is really getting into it.”
If you’re thinking, wait a minute, can an increased and enhanced sex life be a sign of an affair? It can.
Any one of these things by themselves may mean nothing, and we’re kind of building a pattern here.
Have you started catching your spouse in lies?
Relatively innocent lies in the sense that, “He said he was going to the grocery store to pick something up and I just happened to be driving by and his car wasn’t there, and I mentioned later, I was going come in and shop with you because we need something and I didn’t see your car, and I went in to do the shopping with you, and you weren’t there…”
All of a sudden there’s a different story. “Oh, I meant to tell you…”
If that happens once or twice, no big deal. But are you’re beginning to catch more lies and more lies and more lies?
(10:10) Are you beginning to notice a lot of mood swings, where that sometimes your spouse is elated, sometimes your spouse is absolutely depressed, sometimes your spouse is angry?
It’s gotten to where it just seems these things change relatively rapidly. “I don’t understand what’s going on here. I’ve just noticed that he’s changed or she’s changed and these mood swings are all going on.”
(10:38) Have you found yourself asking questions?
Like, “Why did you not show up until 10 o’clock when you said you’d be here at seven?” Or, “There’s 100 dollars missing here. I just wanna know where it went.”
If you start asking those questions and, in response, your sanity begins to be questioned, like: “I think you’re going crazy. Don’t you remember? I told you what I did with the hundred dollars. Don’t you know what I did in that time period? We discussed it already,” when you know good and well that didn’t happen and you’re thinking, “why is my sanity being questioned?”
Often, that’s a tactic that a person having an affair will use to throw you off their track. It’s like, the best defense is a good offense. Let me go at you and go at you so you wind up defending yourself so that now you’re not attacking me or questioning me because you’re busy protecting.
Or even, if he or she now becomes offensive to any kind of questions. “Where were you?” “What, are you my mom? You’re trying to control me now?” Or, “What happened with the money?” “I’m not gonna live like that where I’m treated like a child and I can’t spend a hundred dollars if I want to.”
(10:41) Any of those things by themselves may mean nothing, even two or three of them coupled together may mean nothing.
However, if you see all of these things happening…
It may be.
I’m not telling you definitively that your spouse is having an affair, but it may be that he or she is being involved with somebody else, or, at least, involved in something they shouldn’t be involved in.
What To Do Now…
(12:08) So if you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, I need to get a private detective, right?”
Sure, if you want a divorce, go ahead and do that…
If you decide to get a private detective, if you decide to hide a GPS in his or her car, if you decide to somehow get an app on the phone where you can know where they are and they don’t know that app is there, if you try to eavesdrop and sneak up behind them, all those kinds of things, you can do any of those things to catch them if you wish, but…
When you are caught snooping, prying, hiring somebody else, whatever it might be, when you are caught, it’s not going to be about whatever he or she is doing, it’s going to be about: “How dare you do that? How dare you violate my privacy? How dare you not trust me? How dare you?”
Rather than dealing with whatever it is your spouse is doing, it’s going to be dealing with how devious and wicked you are, and nothing good is going to come from it.
And so when people say, “Should I do all those things? Should I do any of those things?”
I’m saying, if you want out of the marriage, you want definitive proof so you can divorce him or her, go for it.
But, if you want to save the marriage, that’s not the thing to do.
(13:11) “What is the right thing to do?”
There are a lot of things. I hate that as I get to the end of this video [see above], because my time is out, that I can’t tell you more about what to do, but we are glad to help you with that.
We’re Marriage Helper. You can call us and talk to one of our client representatives, who will help you know what we can do to help people.
We offer everything from coaches who can coach you through things. They won’t coach you on how to catch your spouse, but they will coach you on the things that you can do that, if you want to save this marriage, are the things most likely to save it as opposed to the things that are most likely to end it.
In other words, get the right help.
If you don’t want us, then find the right help. I’m just telling you that we are a 501(C)(3) nonprofit that has a lot of experience with this, we do care, and we find, on average, when people come to work with us with an affair or marriage in crisis, our success rate is about three out of four in helping those couples work it out. Whatever you do, get the right help.
Write your comments below [on YouTube]. Write your questions below [on YouTube]. Anything that you would like to ask us about that we can handle, talk about, and do on future videos, or just agree or disagree on.
We care. Let us help if we can.
If Alcohol Is Part of the Problem…
One spouse says to the other, “I love you, but I’m no longer in love with you.” The person speaking either wishes for a relationship with someone new or already has it.
The “I love you” phrase often means, “I’m not really that angry at you; you’ve got some good qualities. I hope you fare well. Now, don’t try to make me feel guilty for leaving you.”
The “I’m not in love with you” phrase usually means, “You don’t evoke emotions within me like you once did. I know your good, bad, and “uglies.”
Whatever we had has died and I’m not happy. You’re not what I want, but there must be someone out there that is.”
In our turnaround workshop for marriages in crisis, Marriage Helper 911, I hear this “love, not in love” sentiment regularly.
Often, the spouse saying it is already deeply involved with another person. Sometimes people that have been cheated on say it, not because there is someone else in their lives but because of their hurt and anger.
Occasionally, there are those who say it because they simply want to be free from the misery their marriage has become. Whatever the case, when I hear people utter those words I know that they want someone other than their spouse to be their “true love.” If they are not yet involved with another person, the odds are very high that they will be.
We could explain many reasons why a person evolves from “I’m in love with you,” to “I’m not in love with you.”
In The Marriage Clinic John Gottman sums it, “‘feeling unloved’ was the most commonly cited reason for wanting a divorce (67% of women)…and sensitivity to being belittled (59% men and women)…We must conclude that most marriages end…[as] the result of people…not feeling liked, loved, and respected.”
Did you notice that “not feeling liked, loved, and respected” part?
If the one who should be fulfilling their needs for emotional closeness and being liked, loved, and respected is not doing that, people become vulnerable to having someone else fulfill those needs. I’m not justifying it, but I do understand it.
So does God.
When Paul gave command that husbands and wives must sexually fulfill each other, he pointed out, “so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:2-5)
God didn’t justify sexual immorality, but He did predict a person’s vulnerability to it if the marriage isn’t filling that deep-seated human need for sexual fulfillment.
The same goes with other human needs that should be fulfilled in marriage. Gottman reports that most affairs are about seeking friendship, support, understanding, and validation.
Be assured that I am not claiming that all who say, “I love you; I’m not in love with you” are in affairs. However, I am saying that quite a few are, and that the others who say it are vulnerable to infidelity or divorce. It’s basic human nature to want an emotional bond with another person that we feel likes, loves, and respects us.
So what does all this mean?
If your spouse says, “I’m not in love with you”
Believe it. It’s foolish to shrug that statement off thinking that they are just having a bad day.
A much greater likelihood exists that your spouse already has drifted far from you emotionally and either consciously or unconsciously is vulnerable to developing a relationship with someone new.
Get busy now repairing your relationship and getting back on the Love Path. If it’s not too bad yet, there are books that can help, such as my book The Art of Falling in Love.
If the problems are deeper and you discover that your marriage is in peril, even in early stages of peril, find the help you need to turn it around quickly. Click here to learn about our workshop that can save your marriage.
I’m not trying to panic you, but you need to open your eyes to see if your spouse’s need for like, love, sexual fulfillment, and/or respect is already being fulfilled by someone else. Look for signs of an affair such as:
- Your spouse’s appearance (body shape, fragrances, or dress) has improved recently,
- Money is unaccounted for,
- Time is unaccounted for,
- Cell phone bills are hidden and/or your spouse spends time on the phone where you cannot hear,
- Facebook or email accounts are protected from you,
- Your sex life recently changed (either more or less),
- You discovered that your spouse told you they would be one place and you discover they were in another,
- Your spouse drifts from happiness to sadness to dreaminess to irritableness,
- Your spouse starts telling you that you are “crazy,” paranoid, or confused,
- Your spouse gets defensive when you ask about a certain person, activity, or time period
This isn’t a definitive list, and just because your spouse exhibits one or more of these signs doesn’t mean they are for sure having an affair, but it gives some sense of the matter.
Even good people who love Jesus can do stupid things when caught up in the throes of emotion. Don’t be blind.
If your spouse is involved with someone else, you can walk away if you wish. However, if you desire saving your marriage, seek help, no matter how hopeless it may seem. For example, our success rate when working with couples in trouble is that three out of four couples stay married and make their relationship stronger if they attend my workshop.
I encourage couples to come even when one of them is “madly in love” with another. It’s fascinating to watch God’s process that saves three/fourths of those marriages. And, yes, we have the same success rate even if your spouse doesn’t want to be there. If the two of you go through three days with us, you have a great chance to save your marriage and make it good again. If not us, then find someone who can help.
Do not let your marriage die. Most can be resurrected when love has lost its way.
If you say, “I’m not in love with you.” (If you are in a relationship with someone else)
If you are already in a relationship with someone that you do not have a right to, we know that you will not end it as long as you can justify it in your mind through whatever rationalization you can muster. Rationalizations are lies you tell yourself. Like all lies, the consequences are bitter.
Be honest with yourself and stop:
- Bringing up your spouse’s failings or shortcomings to justify your involvement with another, (no one’s sins justify you sinning)
- Claiming that God brought you and your paramour together (He doesn’t violate His own commands about adultery and undefiled marriage beds),
- Telling yourself that as long as you don’t cross a certain barrier until you are divorced you are not doing anything wrong (admit that this is a game where you try to manipulate God by following the “letter of the law” while ignoring the “spirit of the law”).
Overcome your own desires and live by integrity.
Integrity is giving up everyone and everything for this rare jewel; I did what was right.
(If you are not in a relationship with someone else)
If you are not in a relationship with another, please consider your vulnerability. Not you, you say? “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Rather than living in misery and being susceptible to temptations, fix your marriage now. If your spouse doesn’t want to, then be strong enough to insist. Make yourself heard. Clearly explain your misery, danger, and potential future. Involve your pastor, your spouse’s family, your kids (if old enough), or whatever it takes. If you ignore the situation, it will get worse.
Falling in love is a process. Follow the process and you fall in love whether you mean to or not. Vacate or violate the process and you fall out of love whether you mean to or not. You can be in love again. Anyone can follow the Love Path at any time in life, no matter what state they are in now or what has occurred previously.
If you are no longer “in love” with your spouse, or your spouse is no longer “in love” with you, act now, before it is too late.
If your marriage is in danger of separation or divorce, call us at (866) 903-0990 to speak with someone or use the form below to request more information about our Marriage Helper workshop for troubled marriages. We can help you save your marriage even in cases of infidelity, loss of trust, anger, sexual problems, and other issues. (If you’re thinking your spouse would never come, contact us by phone or the form below and we’ll tell you what others who felt the same way did to get their spouses there.) We will keep everything you tell us completely confidential. Our motivation is to help you determine if this workshop is right for your particular situation. We also offer solutions for couples who can’t attend the workshop.