How To Love Again

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?

Dr E says: 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.

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.

We can learn to love again.

How to Love Again

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.

What does God say?

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. You are saying you do not love your husband and never did love him, therefore you want a divorce. But this is not biblical.

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. We call this The Rewarded Cycle. (see Part Three, pages 265-303 in Love & Respect).

Amazing things can happen!

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 God, amazing things can happen. Shaunti Feldhahn shares this as one of her Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages:

“Highly happy couples tend to put God at the center of their marriage and focus on Him, rather than on their marriage or spouse, for fulfillment and happiness.”

The consequences of divorce are serious.

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?

1. Put your faith in Christ and trust Him with your marriage.

2. Find a godly wise mentor who will come alongside you and support you in living out the Rewarded Cycle.

3. 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?

Emerson

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48 thoughts on “How To Love Again

  1. My question is this: Knowing that RESPECT is my husband’s greatest need, how do I do this when he is just plain NOT a respectable person? He says he’s a Christian, but has no problem lying, watching porn, being verbally ABUSIVE to me and is constantly selfish and often cruel. As much as it is his need to feel respected, I have found within myself as a woman a deep NEED to look up to him in admiration which I cannot do given the person that he is. I often find myself embarrassed by his behavior. I have NO sexual desire for him. This is tearing me apart inside. How do I deal with this on a daily basis?

    • Hi Valerie, your pain saddens me. In the midst of your afflictions, please consider reading what we say in my book Love and Respect about what respect is and is not. For instance, none of us will feel fond feelings of admiration for another’s horrible actions. God does not expect us to love what He hates. However, how do we respectfully confront these wrong behaviors, or how do we stay engaged as a woman of dignity without letting a husband’s foolish and sinful decisions turn us into a rude, disdainful and contemptuous woman? 1 Peter 3:1,2 instructs a wife to win a disobedient husband via her respectful behavior. In my book, I address this, as well as on other blogs. You are suffering and this is unfair. Others will blurt out, “Divorce the bum.” Instead, I encourage wives to trust what the Apostle Peter conveys, and he understood suffering as set forth in 1 Peter and 2 Peter in the Bible. He does not turn a blind eye to pain and sorrow. Instead, though, he invites a wife to see a bigger picture of winning the heart of her husband. Our website, Facebook, and resources exist to encourage wives like you. I pray God gives you His wisdom and strength. Maybe your husband will never change but you have a moment to deepen in wisdom and maturity from your circumstances. This is not fair to you but this is a season for you to encounter God in a way that may not pass your way again. As I read the Bible, it is not about fairness as much as it is about encountering the peace, strength, love and presence of Christ. I have written a blog soon to be posted entitled: Does God See Our Tears and Does He Care? Maybe I wrote it for you!

    • Your husband sounds a lot like my husband — a leader at our church, in our home he is an abusive bully who lies and manipulates those around him. So I empathize with you very much. But I am learning (or at least trying to learn) to respect and love him as a child of God, not for his own actions and character. It is not easy. But I am doing my best to make Christ the center of my heart as well as my home, and I believe my husband’s intense and sincere love for God will be what saves us all. I will pray for you and your husband, and I would love it if you pray for me, too.

    • Valerie, I mirror your sorrows as well (although my husbands challenges are around housework, face-to-face time,and video games – I’m still scared by his selfishness). I feel the hurts and the only way I feel like can get (to) him to give me any emotional connection is through yelling at him to get off his tuff & contribute. We are doing through the DVD series of L&R because I threatened divorce and I’m in Celebrate Recovery trying to “work out” my faith with my own issues… Thank you for being vulnerable!

  2. I can relate to this post 100%. I am responding as you say, though. I am respecting my husband and doing for him as I would for God. But being spiritually single, I am the only one doing this. He is mean and selfish and irritable. All. The. Time. Since he is not willing to practice the actions from which those feelings can later flow, I am doubting that he will ever be able to get there. I prayed that my actions would be received by him in such a way as to cause him to soften. The opposite has happened. And it’s been YEARS. He truly believes divorce should happen when there is no happiness. He has told me that he simply stays to be near the kids and for financial reasons. This post helps me quite a bit, as I stay the course in loving and respecting my husband regardless of my own feelings toward him. But it does not address it from the other side. After this long, it is very hard to keep going when things are this one-sided.

    • Your courage inspires me. I can’t imagine how hard it is when you are “spiritually single” — it is hard enough when both are trying to follow Christ! Keep being faithful. I have a good friend from Bible study fellowship who was spiritually single, but allowed God to transform her so much that her husband could not fail to notice — especially when she forgave him for a long-term affair. He was baptised a few months after that, and is now a minister at a church. I will pray that God will draw your husband closer to Himself, creating an irresistible desire for God in his life — and I will pray that God will continue to strengthen and encourage you, guiding you at every moment.

  3. Wow! Thank you so much for this, these are things my husband and I have been going through and look how wonderfully God reveals himself, I’ve been praying asking God for his guidance, and here it is! God Bless you Thank you again!

  4. As a husband who tries so hard at being the man, husband and father God has called me to be, my heart breaks at my wife’s continual rejection of my efforts. We have done the L&R video series in addition to other things. She claims to be a Christian, and yet anytime I stumble, I’m railroaded and attacked by her, her mother, and her friends. This past March she filed a legal separation and acquired a restraining order on me based on false allegations by her and her friends. This has also cost me my kids. I’m ready to divorce, I am so overwhelmed by the rejection and hatred she directs at me. She never takes ownership for any of her shortcomings or sin, yet has a full tally of mine quick to be brought up at any moment. As a man I feel defeated from the go because it seems society, and even the church always believe the woman. Nothing I have done has ever been good enough, all she wants is my money and my kids. How do you continue to stay focused on loving someone who has abandoned you and is trying to destroy you? I feel like something must be wrong with me to continue to wait and pray for this woman…

    • Hi Carl, your situation is close to mine, please you are not the only one going through this. Mine has been out of the house for 7months yet am still begging and hoping things will change, I wish she could read blogs like this and see that whatever happened is not just peculiar to us alone… It’s not easy but with God all things are possible. Remember what led you to this blog, as far as I know, it was NOT a coincidence…

  5. / I can truly relate to wanting to get a divorce after ten years of marriage it got so abusive emotionally and mentally. But thanks be to God me been a child of God it has helped me as you said what God said in the bible those words kept me to hold on to my marriage even when it seems as the last straw my husband and I at one point no longer lived together but prayer and those words in the bible I had to fight God held me people would talk but I kept going I praise God more I served him more and thanks be to God my husband gave back his life to God and we are back together we place God in the center of our marriage and it worked we are inlove with each other and God. Plz you maybe saying I don’t know how you feel but I do plz follow Gods rule you wont loose out.

  6. My wife says that biblical there is no support or that we even have a foundation to remain married on. She says that she has prayed on our marriage and that GOD tells her to divorce me. I quote the Bible in regards to this and claims I am a false prophet. Confused.

    • Hi Bob, … What some of us have failed to remember is that feelings run dry but God’s purpose keeps us going. We all need God at the center of our marriage and when we get to points like this, it’s one person that needs to stand and conquer for the other, and that person is you Bob.

  7. This has truly blessed me today. Thank’s for this topic and thank you to those who courageously released their personal trials and situation. I’m at a crossroad where I need to choose to love my husband unconditionally or let it go. Well I definitely do not want the biblical consequence of divorce. Just knowing that I’m not the only one going through this gives me a little comfort in a crazy kind of way. Thank you!

  8. My wife and I divorced almost 2 years ago. She said she had “fallen out of love”, and felt I wasn’t the one God intended for her to marry. Granted, I wasn’t the idea husband. I was not the spiritual leader as God commanded me to be. I desire a restoration.
    How can the Love and Respect principles work in this case?
    Note: She is in another relationship, one she began less than one month after our divorce was final.
    Please advise.

    • I pray you get a God-given response to your heartfelt question. I identify similar early parallels in my marriage currently but I pray for God’s intervention and salvation for my family. I love my wife and I can’t say I have been a great husband, but sincerely as I seek God truthfully and earnestly I would love to see our marriage blessed and well and happy and at peace. God help us

  9. What if you are already divorced but want to work it out and your spouse doesn’t and in fact he is about to get married to another woman?

  10. Hi Dr. Emerson,

    I have recently discovered your book and conferences. 5 months ago my wife of 6 years left me because I have been emotionally abusive to her and our children. Now this is my second marriage and I have three children form my first and she has 1 from a previous relationship. I came home from a business trip and she and my son were gone. The past couple of years it has gotten rough as I drifted from God and put all of my efforts into work and finishing a degree. I take full responsibility for my actions and have gotten myself some good counsel from my pastor, a professional counselor, and some wise counsel from men in my church. You see I let myself get 100% consumed in what I was doing and didn’t think it was wrong…..until she left. I was childish, arrogant, self-centered, condescending, and I shut her out until I was ready to talk or deal with issues (which I never did). She filed for divorce and it should have been final a couple of months ago but I haven’t seen anything for the court so I don’t know if she halted it or not. She moved only 1 mile from our home and I haven’t had hardly any contact with her with the exception of seeing her at church on Sundays (she works as the Children’s Ministry Director). I feel lost without her and my son and although I continue to draw closer to God and address/heal my issues and wounds but I want to reconcile and I don’t know what she is thinking. I just read the article called “My Marriage Was Over” and have been inspired by this story. Now I read this article and I wonder if she can love me again. With all of me, I want to reconcile and be the father and husband God is calling me to be but I don’t know how I could get her to just read some of this stuff and talk with me. After reading some of your stuff I definitely see the tug of war we have had for several years between love and respect. Any advice…….?

    • You have her address…write her a letter and tell her these things. Then prove them out if she gives you a chance, but I agree with Jose’s reply, below…run to God and give her to Him completely. Kneel before Him alone, take His hand, and walk. But let her know how you’re feeling before its too late. Your words have described my husband, exactly. He seems powerless to change, though he would if he knew how. You have turned that corner, dont let it slip away. Don’t let anything hinder you in your new found faith and wisdom and understanding of your circumstances, just press through and let the outcome rest with Him!

      • Do read Jose’s reply, below! We are all powerless to change — on our own. Only by His grace and for His glory are we able to change. May God’s will be done in your life — praying for you!

  11. That’s where we are currently. My wife, of 20years, says she does not love me anymore. She wants a divorce. I know she is hurt, deeply hurt. She says she can not forget the past hurts (verbal hurts). She refuses to listen to anything pertaining to marriage or marriage restoration. She has closed that part of her heart from God. She wont even listen to our pastor or counselor. I need help and prayers.

    • praying for you and your wife…May His will be done in a mighty way in your life! May the power of His love and grace overwhelm you both so that you can begin to offer your love and grace to each other — and to yourselves.

      • Thank you for your prayers. Since my post, she has left me and our daughters. We feel abandoned and awful without her. She has filed for divorce and is listening to her coworkers. We are almost financially ruined. We have asked her to come home but she doesnt care. I am standing alone for our marriage. I still love her and want her to return. We need a miracle at this point. Thank you again for your prayers. And anyone else who prays for us, bless you.

        • I’ll keep praying for your both — that God will draw you ever closer to Him, that His love for you will be the strongest, most immediate force in your lives. The pain must be awful, but God will use this in a mighty way somehow, in ways we can’t begin to imagine or understand. May His good and perfect will for you be done.

        • Prayed for you tonight. Our son in law is in the same situation and I am praying also for him. May God be your strength as you rest in Him. May He give you patience and strength for this unbearable pain. Let Him have the reins completely. Blessings my brother!

  12. I left after a huge blow up. I was hurt and not thinking. Now my wife doesn’t want me back. She says she doesn’t love me anymore. We both profess faith in Christ. I have spent the last 14 months searching my heart, seeking the Lord, repenting, and trying desperately to reconcile. Any help?

    • My advice to you is this… instead of running to your wife and trying to win her back…
      RUN RUN RUN… but to God. Brother, you have no idea what God can do, if only we seek Him and Him only. Think of Abraham… he was willing to loose all he had for God. Get your heart in that same state. I assure you, if anything will win anyone back, it’s a changed man. However, if you run to God for the sole purpose of winning your wife back… well, it doesn’t work like that brother. You have to kneel before our God, cry out to Him, let everything go and say… “I am ready Lord… let’s walk”

      God will guide you through life brother… He is awesome and wondrous and He loves you. I urgently ask you to do this…. become fixated only God. I know it’s tough for you, but allow God to mold you. In every struggle there are opportunities for growth. Don’t miss that opportunity!

      • I am encouraged by this. I am in similar situation and she totally ignores me. She’ll say hi to the kids but confine herself to her bedroom to avoid me. She will be first in line to accept my money. I know our perceptions are way off. She is still in the house and with kids that makes it more difficult. It creates a hostile environment for the kids. My goal is to create a loving environment for the kids so that feel loved and want to stay in the house. Right now its now a “safe” place to chill.

  13. Praise be to God. ..Thank you Holy Spirit for gifting your children in sharing the truth about your word boldly never to destroy but to save what you have bound in jesus name. ..to GOD be the glory. Amen

  14. My husband has left me after 20 years of marriage, says and is correct, I have anger issues..my issues come from him not communicating with me. I have not given up on him or our marriage. He has an apartment now and has signed a lease for 15 months..my heart is broken and his heart is so hard. We are still talking, just not about our marriage, he does not want to talk about it. So how can I get to the point of him talking? I have given it all to God…I have 14 months to go…(his lease).

  15. Its simply a question.How to love again or simply how to trust again.doubts and fears is keeping me to trust.bcause of the pains that had suffered.I was afraid to get hurt and betrayed again.I am child of God.and I still love my husband that much despite of the things what had happened .he is wanting the family to be whole again..I love my children and now I still nid sometime for healing and restoration for myself to be able to love and trust again.I am be very thankful to ask more of good advices to be able to conquer and have a happy and whole family.thank you for your page..it always encourages me.God bless and have a nice day.:-)

  16. I love my husband with all my heart we have been together for 23 years. The last 2 years he has been constantly lying to me and been unfaithful a few times but he tells he loves me very much. What do I do how can I get past all he has done? I believe that marriage should last and I feel like a failure because I don’t know how to make it work. I have tried so hard and have been in severe depression because of this. Any advice on how to help me get through this to save my marriage or advice to help me move on.

  17. My wife and I have been married for 12 years. We quickly married after finding out we were pregnant and it has been a rollercoaster ride since then. She was a believer and I was not. I myself had a lengthy affair and she had a couple of one night stands herself. I have recently accepted Jesus and found L & R soon after. It has done wonders for our marriage. When I put Jesus at the central focus and just loved my wife she has since backed away from wanting a divorce and now has feelings that she wants to work things out and is hopeful about a new beginning. We are not out of the clear but I am going to continue to pursue my wife as well as love her and be the head of the house. Will pray for you all as well as asking for prays myself. God Bless!

  18. i have read through many comments on falling out of love, or leaving due to verbal, emotional abuse. I have been through multiple affairs on both our parts. We have been married for 19 years and have 4 children. I am emotionally worn down. I want out of this marriage and he wants to keep working on it. We have never separated, but just because we have chosen to stay together doesn’t mean it’s been good. Our oldest two children 18 and 15 want us to divorce to stop the unhappiness that has been brought into our home. There isn’t much trust, if any at all, between us. Constantly its in the back of your mind that something could be going on. Our work schedules differ to where we hardly see each other. How in the world does one get past all of this? I don’t know that I have ever respected him the way he should be, we were young (19) when we married and pregnant. I feel we both married strictly because of the pregnancy. So I understand when someone says they don’t know if they ever truly loved their spouse or not. There is much resentment towards him, due to getting pregnant and leaving behind young dreams. I have grown up in church and know that God can do anything, but not if we don’t let him. Im afraid to let God work in our marriage for fear that I will be hurt again.

  19. Thank you for this. I read the daily L&R posts on FB and I have the book. My husband and I are separated now. Have been through numerous affairs with him. He is in a 12 step sex addict program and I for partners. Through the program he has decided he doesn’t love me anymore, it’s too hard and I’ve made him feel worthless over the years which is why he seeks attention outside. Through the program I have learned that I too have character defects and I am accepting of the mistakes I have made and seek forgiveness. My husband is still in a relationship with his last affair (who is also married). I have no reason to love him anymore yet god knows I do and only he knows why. We have a child. He tells me that if he were to wake tomorrow and god tells him I’m it, then he will listen. The bible says I have reason to end my marriage yet I pray for it. The pain at times is unbearable. I pray for the opportunity to work on my marriage and recover the feelings we once felt for each other. This reminds me to have faith.

  20. what about if the husband committed adultery (no consumation) but repented? the husband went before the pastors and church elders and confessed before them as well.

  21. Good and amazing message because i am married and its true God is the center of my marriage and its true so many times i have been through horrible difficult situations! but because of my trust in God its been possible to come out of those difficult situations and stay married and i love my marriage that nothing i fear now but God will bring back happiness in marriage.

  22. I feel the same EXACT way as Valerie. My question is am I still supposed to have sex with my husband even when I don’t want to EVER? I married him all for the wrong reasons and now I feel like I’m stuck. I’m a Christian and believe in God yet he mocks and makes fun at times. Is that an exception for divorce? I really don’t feel like I can stick this out. My kind has been made up yrs ago. My mom and my family knew this wouldn’t last but young and dumb I did not listen.

  23. How do you stay in a marriage with a person who does not claim to be a Christian and that continues to watch porn, solicit women on backpage, and probably has been with other women? He has no desire to have sex with me, tells me what a horrible person I am, tells me how overweight I am, complains about my cooking, hates my family and is horrible to my kids from a previous marriage. How do you validate not getting a divorce? I’ve prayed and I’ve turned the other cheek and I’m so tired of being unhappy.

  24. Hmmmmm I don’t know what to say than to say thank you for the blogs and the advice from you. I have taken note of all the advice and I will let God take the center of my marriage. God bless you.

  25. My husband and I are coming up on our first wedding anniversary. This year I thought was supposed to be the happiest year for us. In his past he was an addict. There was times he lied to me and used while we were dating. He had stopped everything was good and we were married. I caught him in several other lies some so small he could have just told me the truth and we could have worked on it but he lied. Now I just simply don’t trust him. I accuse him of using quite often but he swears he’s doing good. I’m going crazy not knowing what’s real and what’s not. I’m hurting him and I’m hurting. I’ve often mentioned divorce. I of course don’t want that but How do you stay in a marriage with someone you don’t trust? How do I trust him again?