“I love you, I’m just not in love with you.”
I hear this phrase uttered all too often, as if it’s an emotional balm that will somehow soothe the heartache that was just unleashed. I’ve long cringed at the dishonesty and lack of authenticity when it’s offered as some sort of consolation. It’s time to call it out for what it is: a dishonest projection of responsibility. Essentially throwing your hands up in helpless exasperation and proclaiming “Well there’s nothing I can do about my feelings!?” Your marriage isn’t ending because you fell out of love; the marriage is ending because you failed to love.
Love is not an emotion. It is not something you feel, nor an adjective to describe your relationship. Love is an action, it is a verb. When it is embodied, it can lead to feelings of happiness, joy, contentment, satisfaction, infatuation, desire, and excitement. But these emotions are not love, they simply attempt to describe the impact that love has upon you and your relationship. If you are no longer feeling these emotions, it’s not because love fled, it’s because you stopped loving.
If you’ve thought or even stated this recently, I’d challenge you to consider what you’ve done recently to love your spouse. Have you clearly, directly, and compassionately shared with your spouse how they can better love you? Have you humbly asked how you could be a better spouse to them? You need to own your contributions to the current state of the marriage. Stop viewing love as an adjective, as a passive thing that is done to you. Start owning it as a verb, it’s alive and active. Start living it out in your marriage.
And the next time that you say “I love you”, remember that it’s not describing how you feel, it’s a statement of action, movement and potential. So live it out, and go love your spouse.