Well, it depends on whom you ask.
Physicist Jim Al-Khalili says love is chemistry, a powerful neurological condition. Psychotherapist Phillippa Perry says love has many guises. Philosopher Julian Baggini says love is a passionate commitment. Romantic novelist Jojo Moyes says love drives all great stories. Nun Catherine Wybourne says love is free yet binds us.1
One thing most will agree on is that love is complicated, and at times, difficult. With February comes Valentines Day, and with Valentines Day comes thoughts about love. Some people feel good about the love in their life, and others, not so good.
What is a couple to do when they’ve lost that loving feeling?
The Bible has a lot to say about love. The most popular group of verses on love that are often recited at weddings is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
John, Jesus’ disciple, said this about love in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
In Romans 5:8, Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In his letter to the Christians in Galatia, Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
These are just a few verses on love, but they demonstrate one commonality: love is an action. The Bible clearly focuses on the behavior of love versus the feelings associated with love. He gave His Son, who died for us. God loved me and gave Himself for me. Love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Then Paul says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Note two things about this passage from 1 Corinthians. First, love is the action behavior and, second, it’s our highest calling. We are not called to “feel” love; we are called to “act” love.
If you are no longer feeling in love with your spouse, continue to behave as though you do feel love. Much like a parent will continue to behave in a loving manner toward a child or teen who may not be behaving very lovingly back, Christ chooses to love us all whether or not we choose to love him back or even accept him. Often times, if you behave in a loving manner, your spouse will too.
Seek counseling if this alone is not changing your situation. Unresolved anger, unrealistic beliefs or expectations, serious boundary violations or betrayals, or poor communication can challenge marriages. A trusted counselor can help you find forgiveness, deal with your anger, open the channels of communication, and begin to rebuild love and respect in your marriage again.
Dr. Lisa Naatz joined Meier Clinics in 2013. She has over 20 years of experience working with adolescents, adults of all ages, couples and families. Lisa is passionate about intervening during the emerging adult years, which is a critical time of identity development and change. To find out more about the services at Meier Clinics, visit meierclinics.org.