By Sam George
Over the last few weeks, we have been deliberating over love in marriage. We explored the prevailing confusion about love and why it is so crucial in building strong and fulfilling marriages. We particularly looked at what a loveless marriage can look like and what can be done about it.
People get married for a variety of reasons. Some marry for love, some for companionship; others marry for convenience and still others for money. Some couples have arranged marriages where the match was made by their parents. Many people marry because they have unexpectedly become pregnant and the list goes on. Whatever the case may be, love is an essential ingredient in growing strong marriages.
Many people stay in loveless marriages because they think that it’s the best thing for the kids or because they “don’t want to hurt anyone.” If you think that children do not realize that something is lacking, you are probably mistaken. Children are very perceptive, and parents, who aren’t affectionate or closely bonded are modeling the type of marriage that their children may very well grow up and have.
In fact, this is one of the reasons for the growing aversion of the next generation to marriage. When they see their parent’s loveless marriage, they are completely disillusioned about marriage and do not desire to get married. Denying or ignoring the problem or finding a quick fix of breaking up are all very poor solutions to the problem of a loveless marriage.
In other cases, couples decide to stay together. Some do not break up because of financial burdens or limitations, yet others firmly believe in their commitment to marriage according to religious or cultural convictions. Others convince themselves that their unsatisfying marriage is deserved or it is their fate. Believe me, there is hope and you deserve much more than a loveless marriage.
One of the options we discussed last week was that couples must honestly discuss their lack of intimacy with one another and explore what they can do about it. Another option in turning around a loveless marriage is that you have to begin by changing your own actions. Maybe you don’t want to lay your cards on the table yet, but you’d like to start to make some changes with what you can control, namely yourself.
So, you’ll be the one to start initiating more intimate gestures. Take some baby steps at first. Shoot for loving glances, spontaneous laughter, or the brush of a hand or shoulder. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and move slowly. But, over time, your goal is to slowly improve things so that physical touch and emotional closeness don’t feel so foreign and awkward.
Remember, you cannot give what you do not have. You cannot be lighthearted and playful with your partner if you’re depressed or not fulfilled within your own heart. I often find that if people focus on what makes them happy as an individual (without judging if this is right or wrong), then becoming happy as a couple falls into place more easily.
Even if you are not receiving any help from your mate, start making changes at your end. Staying together and making a marriage work can be difficult, especially if you think you no longer love your spouse. But, with a positive attitude, a “can do” spirit and a willing heart, it is possible to have the happy, loving family of your dreams.
Loving feelings are sure to come when you do what is necessary and good for your marriage. Loveless marriages can be turned around, no matter how sour it has turned lately. Remember, marriage is work, and a fulfilling marriage is lots of work, but it always pays rich dividends and makes the work worth every effort.
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 email@example.com