Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, UT. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
I’ve been married for twelve years but I’m finding that my wife and I have grown apart and I don’t really feel much love there anymore. Should I try to save our marriage and how?
The short answer is: YES! You should do everything you can to save your marriage. Now, let me briefly answer the other half of your question, which asks how to save your loveless marriage.
Bill Doherty, a marriage and family therapy professor from Minnesota compared the “ups and downs” long-term marriages experience to seasonal changes. He says, “I think of marriage like I think about living in my home state of Minnesota. You move into marriage in the springtime of hope, but eventually arrive at the Minnesota winter, with its cold and darkness. Many of us are tempted to give up and move south at this point, not realizing that maybe we’ve hit a rough spot in a marriage that’s actually above average. The problem with giving up, of course, is that our next marriage will enter its own winter at some point. So do we just keep moving on, or do we make our stand now – with this person, in this season? That’s the moral, existential question we face when our marriage is in trouble.”
Most marriages enter phases of “for better”, “for worst”, and even “for boring.” None of these phases is a reason to do anything dramatic to the marriage commitment. I like what Judith Viorst had to say about marital commitment: “One advantage of marriage, it seems to me, is that when you fall out of love with each other, it keeps you together until you fall in love again.”
I would document the sad consequences of divorce to prove my point that working on your marriage is by far your best option. However, due to space limitations, I can’t include them here. Instead, I’ll pass along a reference you can research on your own (http://www.smartmarriages.com/before.breakup.html)
There is no urgency to getting out of a relationship that feels loveless. Research shows that most couples who experience lulls in their marriage report feeling satisfied five years later just by sticking it out. Fortunately, you can improve your chances by doing something more than just letting time pass and hoping for the best.
The best place to start working on improving your connection with your partner is to find out if she feels the same way you do. More than likely she is experiencing a lack of connection as well. If so, unite together to build a better marriage!
If she sees the need to work on your marriage, you can start by reading a book on strengthening marriage (email me for a list of recommended marriage books), attend a marriage workshop, or visit a marriage counselor who champions long-term marital commitment.
If there are specific issues in your marriage that haven’t been adequately addressed, such as infidelity, financial betrayals, addiction, or other concerns, you’ll be wise to seek the help of a qualified professional counselor.
Stay with your marriage commitment. You will never regret your decision to improve your most important relationship.