Marriage Indifference...'I Love You But I Don't like You'
"Love cannot endure indifference. It needs to be wanted. Like a lamp, it needs to be fed out of the oil of another's heart, or it's flame burns low". Henry Ward Beecher
Some people who end marriages just outright hate the other person, but other marriages end even when the spouses can agree that they love each other, and always will, but just drifted apart and did not find joy around one another anymore. I am not one of those people who believe love is enough or love conquers all. I believe it works in some of the greatest novels ever written and best movies ever seen, but not in the real world. That's where it gets ugly.
Ask yourself, have you been married for a while and find yourself hanging in there because you love your spouse, but otherwise they simply dull your senses? Not sure if you want to be 80 sitting in a rocking chair next to a person you love but don't like? I'm going to go ahead and expose the brutal truth about where many marriages end up. You're living with someone you don't like. It doesn't happen overnight and one of the most troubling aspect of this, is it takes years to get to this point and sometimes there is no returning.
I know they end up here because there's no shortage of wealthy marriage counselors and self-help love gurus. I also know they end up here because I've experienced this in my own marriage.
You may know you're at this point if:
- 'date night' is a chore. Any time together is boring or chore-like
- the TV is more interesting than your spouse
- your spouse just retired and you don't like them around so much
- your spouse has become an acquaintance or roommate passing by each other like ships at sea
- passion is lacking
- if your relationship feels like work, or if you'd rather be at work
- you are carrying on with your life with or without your spouse, and doing your own thing
I could list a thousand signs, but you know who you are.
Since when did marriage become a chore?
Let me break down the path to which you may have gone down. You love your spouse, you have for quite a while, but you've drifted and nothing about the person sitting next you excites you enough to even attempt a conversation. You know them too well or you don't know them at all anymore. You may even make efforts to improve your marriage. It's your moral duty because a counselor or some book gave you advice and homework to do with your spouse.
These suggestions like 'date night' reek of chores Ever heard of 'date night' or 'dating your spouse'? I never heard these terms before having a child and now I never hear the end of it. You mean I have to date my husband again? There's just as many rules to dating your spouse as there were when you dated before marriage; can't talk about kids or bills. It's forced and unnatural. When you have kids together, there is rarely time to have interests outside of family life. So what do you talk about?
Your credit card has interest, but you don't
There is no possible way to know for sure if you will be interested in the person you marry for the rest of your life. I've had my husband tell me 'You already know everything about me, what do you want me to say?' I admit it's laughable now that I look back on it, but it's something we've had to work on; getting interesting and being interested.
It's a profound issue that creeps up among couples- lack of interest in each other, and sometimes one or both of them just have a lack of interests...period. Marriage is about sharing and if you have nothing to share or don't care about what the other person wants to share, there is no reason to be around each other and so the drifting begins.
People deal with drifting and eventual indifference differently. Some go to their own living spaces and avoid their spouse. Some create arguments and fights to feel ANY connection. Some immerse themselves in work or being a parent that purposefully takes up a lot of their time- commonly known as avoidance. In other words, in none of these scenarios do any of these people actually deal with the issue at hand, meaning despair and/or divorce is likely.
How do you become interesting?
Having passion or a deep interest in something is part of the equation, but the other is knowing how to share that with your spouse. You could do wondrous things like bungee jumping off Mount Everest, but if you don't tell your spouse about it, they won't find you interesting. There are people who do things but don't talk about them and this is great if you plan on being alone.
It's a little bit of story telling and communication that does the trick. This usually doesn't come real hard for people who enjoy something a lot and could talk about it all day (but please don't talk about it all day, that can be a drag too). Story telling, however, considers the audience. You ask yourself, 'How do I present this in a way that interests who I am talking to'.
I was a waitress for many years and along that path I met a lot of people. The ones I found most interesting were not those that had grand things to brag about, but rather those who were the most passionate about their interests and sharing them. I don't care if someone was talking about laying concrete, if they were especially interested in it, I also found it truly interesting as well.
How do you become interested?
Rarely do both couples get on the same page at the same time. This is why indifference sets in; one person tries when the other doesn't. It feels like you're on a broken roller coaster- a roller coaster should be a fun ride, but the fact that it's broken makes it a lot less enjoyable.
This whole process has to be reciprocated- you share, they share, you have interests, they have interests. People who don't have their own interests outside of the marriage are not interesting, therefore nobody will be interested in them. Always encourage your spouse to have other interests, therefore you can become interested in them.
Looking for love
When we set out on our journey for love, even our opposite will be attractive to us because there is much to learn about someone not like us. However, I question the long-term relationship between opposites. I question what we deem important in another person to share our life with. You love this person, of course, but do you like them?
Perhaps opposites do attract as long they are both interested and interesting. I know my husband and I somehow got together and ask anybody, we're quite opposite. He's black and white and I'm grey-ish. He's interested in history and I failed that class. But I've tried to get re-schooled in that area and often ask him about history, even watched a few shows on the history channel (don't tell anybody). Opposite is interesting at first, but can be difficult later in life when you try to find common interests to share or you can make the best of it and learn new things from each other all the time.
In other words, there is no recipe for the perfect mate. When we're searching, I don't believe there is anything right or wrong (other than some obvious things). I know happy couples married all their life, only knowing their spouse for a few months before getting hitched. It doesn't matter how you fall in love, but what you do with it after marriage- that's what counts.
At least 50% of Americans will fail
Marriage is a 50/50 gamble. I believe American society has it's faults that directly contribute to failed marriages. The American dream drives us forward while everything else gets left in the dust. Simple exploration is replaced by material accumulation. Reveling in one another's spirit is replaced by measurements defined by success. We lose interest in each other, so we work toward getting the American dream because successful marriages are elusive. How does it go? Get a career, get married, get a house, have kids, and die? No thanks, not for me. As a country, we need to start rituals that encouragesand cultivate our love toward each other. Everything else has become so much more interesting than the person we share a bed with every night.
I remember loving a particular song when I was younger- at such an early age I was determined that if I loved, this would be how it was. Maybe some of you know the cheesy song by Kenny Loggins (and other artists), "Danny's Song"...even though we ain't got money I'm so in love with you honey. Yes, this is a romantic ideal, but the idea behind it is simple. Our country is being tested whether relationships can weather rough economic times, whether we can be interested in our spouses without spending a bunch of money to have fun. Regrettably, many marriages aren't surviving this test. Love is not enough, you must like a person to get through the tough times. Let this be a wake-up call.
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