Loveless marriages

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Family Matters

By Sam George

Last week, we began a new series on love. We briefly looked at various expressions of love and the prevailing  confusion over the use of  this word. In traditional Indian homes, love is more experienced than spoken, while in the West, the verbal expression of one’s emotional state is all too common.

I have heard it said that when it comes to marriage, “those who are not in it want to get in and those who are in it want to get out.” One of the reasons for the rise of singlehood among the second generation is that they are disillusioned about marriage after seeing many loveless marriages within their community.

Being in a loveless marriage is a frustrating predicament, but it need not lead you toward divorce. Solving the quandary of a loveless marriage requires self-reflection, assessment of the situation, courage to reignite the sparks in your marriage, and seeking external help. Do not expect to do the same thing (neglecting to work on your marriage) and obtain different results.

Trying to get out of a marriage is like running away from the problems, only to realize that the problems follow you! The problem is your inability to work through relational issues and the lack of skill or commitment to make your marriage work. That still remains with you. Even if you get into another relationship, the very same problems will surface there as well.

Loveless marriages do not happen overnight. Consistent neglect over a long period of time leads to loveless marriages. Love does not evaporate suddenly, though there may be words or acts that transpired between couples which might lead one to walk out of a relationship.

Love leaks. It slowly drains out of your marriages over time. When a couple fails to do the work required in their marriage and create an environment where a relationship can flourish, love begins to leak. Sadly, in many cases couples are not even aware of the leak. They continue “married” life in auto-pilot mode and are preoccupied with other things in life.

No one gets married with the intention of breaking up a few months or several years later. Think about what brought you together in the first place. What attracted you to each other? What did you like in your mate? What made those feelings disappear? See how far you have wandered away from those infancy stages of your relationship. Do the things you did at first and rediscover your passion toward each other.

For a loveless marriage to be properly assessed, make sure your idea or definition of love is “clear” and reasonable. Try to understand how your spouse’s idea of love differs from yours. Try to gain insight into each other’s expectations and try to remove the relational barriers that have been erected between you both. Seek first to understand than to be understood. In some cases, you might need to pull down several hurdles you have built between you both over the years.

Ask yourself, “Am I really out of love? Or, “Am I giving up?” Keeping love alive requires work and strong communication with yourself and your spouse. List the reasons why you think you’re out of love and decide if those reasons prohibit a rekindling of love, assuming you were actually in love at some point. Being in a loveless marriage doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to stay that way!

Sam George is the executive director of Parivar International, a non-profit initiative to address the needs of youth and families of Asian Indian origin in North America.  Sam is the author of the book “Understanding the Coconut Generation” (www.CoconutGeneration.com). He can be reached at sam@coconutgeneration.com

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