“I feel unloved.”
It is a common sentiment expressed by my clients. Sometimes they even believe their spouses love them. They may even know it to be true. But they don’t feel it.
And that matters.
When you don’t feel the affection of your partner, it can cause you to drift away over time. You may seek that romantic connection elsewhere. Or you may simply withdraw from the relationship and put your focus on other priorities, like your work or your children.
If you’re feeling this way, don’t give up hope. There is a way to bring that connection back, and I will share it with you. Even if you tried again and again to get your spouse to understand your need – with no results.
That’s because you’re likely going about it the wrong way.
Here is what it probably looks like when you try to “fix” the problem.
You approach your spouse, hopefully from a place of calm (but let’s be honest – often not!). You share your feelings. It goes something like this…
You don’t feel loved. You want to be wooed or maybe to receive more physical affection. Perhaps you’d like to bring the romance back.
It’s likely that your partner reacts defensively. They feel hurt and tell you that they do love you.
Maybe they share the reasons why they haven’t been more demonstrative. Work is stressful. Childrearing is taking a toll.
If you’re fortunate, they even try to show how they care… but eventually it goes by the wayside.
Now you’re back at the beginning again – asking for more love.
Does all this sound familiar? If so, I want you to try something new.
Forget this approach. Don’t ask for love anymore. Give it instead. And do so with no expectation or strings attached.
- Be physically affectionate. If the reason you don’t feel loved is because of a lack of intimacy, re-awaken that side of your spouse. That doesn’t mean you should pressure your spouse to be intimate.Instead, you can simply do small things: hold hands, share a kiss at the start of the day, or snuggle on the couch. But do so with no expectations or pressure. Make that clear if your spouse is resistant.You may be surprised by how these simple acts can rekindle the flames and bring back intimacy you had earlier in the relationship.
- Express your gratitude. The next time you are ready to criticize your partner, hold your tongue. Instead, think of something you appreciate and share it.A recent study from the Greater Good Science Center found that gratitude is the “glue” that binds us to one another.
- Say it. When was the last time you told your spouse, “I love you.” Say it. Write it. Text it. Facetime it. Don’t be shy about putting yourself out there.
- Listen. That litany of reasons why your spouse has been less demonstrative of their love? Work, kids, financial worries, and on and on. Those are real stresses experienced by your significant other. And they are keeping him or her from being emotionally available to you – so be available to your spouse.Put your own needs aside, look into his or her eyes, and really listen to what your spouse has to say.
- Laugh together. Laughter is contagious. Couples who laugh together are more likely to be happy with the relationship. It’s a strong indicator of a romantic connection, so bring that joy back into your marriage.
- Surprise your spouse. With a gift. A date. A smile. A compliment. Remind your spouse why you chose him or her. Make your spouse feel valuable and irreplaceable in your life.
For many, giving love in this way is easier said than done – especially if you are feeling unloved.
Why should you put in the effort if you are the one feeling neglected? Ask yourself, though: what is really holding you back? The answer is likely your ego. Or maybe a fear of being hurt.
But the truth is you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Be brave! Fight to bring that love back to your marriage. You will both be happier for it.
Rooting for you!