Not much feels better than falling in love. And not much feels worse than the fear and frustration and disappointment of falling out of love.
In 1978 Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond scored a #1 hit single with “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” about a couple who have drifted apart and found themselves just going through the motions of a life together.
Clearly, the lyrics resonated as the record sold more than a million copies.
Given that roughly 50% of marriages end in divorce, the song might be an oldie, but the sentiment and reality it expresses are as relevant as ever.
Where Does the Love Go?
Falling in love doesn’t just feel like a high; it is one.
According to research, romantic love is a bonafide chemical addiction that activates the same dopamine pathways associated with drug addiction, alcohol, and even gambling.
Those pathways are associated with experiences such as novelty, energy, motivation, ecstasy, and craving. No wonder we love being in love!
It’s also the easy part. The realities of sharing a life together have a way of leveling the most exhilarating highs.
It’s normal for the wash of daily life to dampen some of the early passion and to hit rough patches, and it takes work to weather the wear and tear of life.
As a result, you may find yourself questioning your feelings or your confidence in your partner. You may even start to realize you just aren’t feeling the same way you used to—and worry that you’re falling out of love.
Can You Get the Love Back?
You may not so much question if you love your partner, but rather, wonder if you are still ‘in love.’ Just asking yourself that question can cause feelings of anxiety, blame, or guilt.
Before hitting the panic button or starting to look for an exit strategy, you should know that most relationship experts agree that not only is there hope, but there are concrete steps you can take to turn things around and to reclaim the passion and intimacy that’s gone MIA.
First, Avoid Doing This
Before giving in to any kneejerk reactions or hasty responses, understand that, contrary to much of what you see and hear in Hollywood romances and popular love songs, few if any long-term relationships burn with a steady flame.
If you’re trying to fall back in love with your spouse, it’s important that you do the following:
Let Go of the Fantasies
Guess what — you’re both humans. Stuff happens, and not just the big life-altering crises or catastrophes.
There’s work, finances, responsibilities, compromises, stress, the sheer mundaneness of necessary routines. All these and more are part of the deal.
Movies typically end with the blissful couple walking down the aisle then heading off into a magical sunset. A healthy, vibrant, enduring long-term relationship depends on what happens after that.
How to Fall Back In Love With Your Husband or Wife
Below are the top 11 ways to fall back in love with your spouse again.
1. Don’t Play the Blame Game
One of the worst mindsets you can have at this point is a critical one. It’s also a cop-out.
If you’re unhappy, it must be their fault, right?
Suddenly you turn a keen eye on your partner’s every frustrating move, every annoying habit, or irritating quirk. It doesn’t take long before you’re seeing all the things you don’t like with blinding ‘clarity.’
The irony is that those very traits may be ones you once found cute or charming.
Think of that inner critical voice as a mostly well-meaning friend giving you terrible advice.
It’s much more comfortable to lay all the responsibility of a stalled relationship at your partner’s feet rather than taking a good hard look at your part in what’s dragging you both down. Resist!
2. Lead With Kindness
It may sound trite, but never underestimate the power of choosing to treat and respond to your partner with empathy and compassion rather than criticism and blame.
Research shows that treating your partner with kindness not only increases the likelihood of more loving responses from them but also results in your feeling more in love.
Acts of kindness allow you to feel their experience separately from yours, which increases your own feelings of attraction and tenderness. It’s a win-win.
3. Remember Love Is Also a Verb
Just the wording, ‘falling’ in love, makes the experience sound like stumbling into a ditch.
We so often conceptualize romantic love as something that happens to us out of the blue or as a feeling that someone else gives us that we lose sight of the fact that love is also a choice and an action we can take.
We can give love to our partner—and to ourselves.
It’s all too easy to complain that we’re not feeling the love, but the fact is, one of the most reliable ways to feel loved is to give love. When you make that switch, you may be surprised at what else gets switched on.
4. Shift the Attitude to Gratitude
If you’re finding it difficult to muster up the motivation to show some love, start with showing some gratitude.
Getting so focused on what we don’t like about our partners can blind us to all the things there are to appreciate about them.
Start with the old standby — make a list of everything you can think of that they do for you or the two of you, and every characteristic or quality about them that you admire or enjoy. Really give this some thought.
Don’t stop with a list.
Actively notice your partner doing or being those things on your list — and when you notice — tell them you appreciate it.
Keeping your gratitude to yourself may still help you feel better, but it’s a much more powerful gift when it’s shared.
As American motivational writer William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
5. Remember the Way You Were
This is not another reference to Streisand because if you’ve seen her movie by the same title, you know that relationship didn’t end so well.
Rather, it’s about looking back to remember good times and how it felt when you were happy together. More than that, it’s about using your history to remind yourself what drew you to your partner in the first place.
As you’re working on your list of gratitudes, make a note of the reasons you fell in love with them in the first place.
Dwelling on past hurts or disappointments can keep you stuck in those feelings, but remember what was good, what was fun, what was intriguing or compelling about this person you’re waking up to every day.
It can go a long way toward making you happy again to see that face in the morning.
6. Take Time Apart to Stay Together
News flash: Yes, absence can make the heart grow fonder, and yes, you can have too much of a good thing.
While you’re reminiscing about the rosier past together, you might also remember that before you became a ‘we,’ you were an ‘I.’
There’s a good chance that part of what initially drew you together was how you were both leading interesting and active lives independently.
Ask yourself how much of that you may have let go of in the interest of togetherness.
How much energy are you giving now to your own interests and ambitions?
How supportive are you of his or hers?
How much time are you spending with your friends without it being a couples thing?
“There is too much pressure … on what a romantic partner should be. They should be your best friend; they should be your lover; they should be your closest relative; they should be your work partner; they should be the co-parent, your athletic partner. … Of course, everybody isn’t able to quite live up to it.” — Jacqueline Olds, associate professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.
It’s closer to the truth to say no one can live up to it.
In reality, the more you encourage and support yourselves and each other in thriving as individuals, with your own dreams and interests and friends, the more you increase your odds of thriving as a couple.
7. Mix It Up
Trips down memory lane and reminders about what first made your partner feel like ‘the one’ can do wonders for turning gripes into gratitude.
But what can the two of you do today—or tomorrow—to translate those warm and fuzzy old feelings into a more enticing future?
8. Find Something New and Exciting — Together
Often a spirit of adventure and the willingness to try new things is part of what creates an initial spark between two people.
Then that spark gets mired in the mundane, and routines become ruts, and all that sense of adventure fizzles and fades.
Exploring a new hobby or sport together can pump much-needed oxygen into your suffocating relationship — and help get you both in better shape in the process.
Whether it’s tennis or dance lessons or rock climbing or roller coasters, what’s key is to choose something fun and exciting for both of you.
9. Work as a Team
Great as fun and games can be, even working together can reunite you in a way that gets the juices flowing.
What about that home renovation project that’s been on the back burner?
Or volunteering together at a local charity?
You might be surprised at how working on a shared project, goal, or cause can create a sense of mutual accomplishment and pride—in yourself and each other.
10. Get Physical
Sex is nearly always some part of the equation when romance starts to wither on the vine.
Whether there’s too little of it or it’s become about as predictable as laundry, it’s often one of the first casualties of a waning romance.
Not surprisingly, physical intimacy or affection in general often goes simultaneously missing in action.
If the best you’re doing these days is a peck on the cheek as you’re both heading your separate ways in the morning, it’s time to get back in the game and spice things up.
You don’t even have to lead with circus-worthy gymnastics in the bedroom.
A host of marriage and relationship therapists will gladly preach about the power of a simple, sincere touch—and the simple ways available to you to begin to rebuild intimacy…
Hold hands. Hug. Trade back rubs.
Talk to each other about your desires.
Kiss like you mean it.
The point is to play, to connect. To be physically close to each other—and in the process to experience the physical closeness that activates many of the feels you’ve been missing.
11. Get Help
Speaking of therapists, don’t rule them out. It may be that you’ve worked your way through these and other lists of ways to re-ignite your relationship, and nothing seems to be helping.
It could be that there are deeper and more complicated issues, wounds, patterns, or blind spots that call for a more objective observer or difficult conversations that need a safer, more neutral space to happen.
There is no shame or weakness in seeking a professional’s guidance and support to help you identify what’s holding you both back from sharing the love you remember — and want to feel again.
Right Where You Left It
The bad news is that you feel like you’ve lost that loving feeling. The good news is in many if not most cases, it’s still there somewhere, waiting to be found — or more precisely, waiting for you both to find it.
Nigerian philosopher, poet, and inspirational writer Michael Bassey Johnson says, “…In true love, both lovers seek each other.”
So what do you do when you lose the connection you love with your partner?
The same thing you do whenever you lose anything valuable…
Look until you find it.