Posted by: Mary Jo Rapini on Sep 19, 2011
Couples fall in love and say they cannot imagine their life without the other. Love is a deep connection, and anyone who has fallen in love understands that you can love someone even when you don’t always like them. Your partner can begin to annoy you or you begin to see parts of them you don’t like. You may not like the way they gossip with their friends, or you may be turned off by the way they act arrogant around your parents. Whatever the reason, it happens to many of us. Sometimes it is feeling negative about ourselves that makes us dislike our partner, but more likely it has to do with a change we begin seeing in our partner that we hadn’t noticed before. Our partner seems to change before our eyes in a way we never thought possible. All of a sudden, we are married and in love with a person we cannot stand.
Long before falling out of “like” with your partner, you may have been putting less effort into the relationship. Perhaps you focused on the kids, your career, or a sick parent, expecting your partner to stay the same loving person while you were preoccupied with another project. This is a fallacy of thinking, because all relationships require time and care. Women or men who begin seeking someone else or filling their emotional space with their kids or career are basically replacing a space once fulfilled by their spouse. The spouse then begins to resent the loss of this space and attention. They start to see many faults in their partner that were once overlooked due to their feelings of love. All of a sudden, the spouse may begin to wonder why they are with this person they no longer like. Growing out of like with your partner is a much better predictor of divorce than falling out of love with them. Many divorced couples will tell me, “We still love each other, but we don’t like each other anymore.”
Couples often fall out of like with one another when they are not aware of the warning signs. When couples get busy with life, they might start taking each other for granted and they aren’t aware of the changes going on between the two of them. Here are three warning signs that happen prior to falling out of like with your partner. If you notice these, it would be wise to schedule a date night and talk about the changes you are seeing. Then have a plan of action that the two of you come up with to get the relationship back on track.
The BIG three:
1. One of the partners finds it increasingly difficult to spend time with you. If your spouse begins getting very busy with work and it begins taking time away from the two of you, it is wise to discuss this. Establishing boundaries with work and your marriage is one of the most important things the couple should establish within the first two years of marriage. Ignoring this leads to resentment of one of the partners and, ultimately, falling out of like with your partner. Maintaining balance in a marriage might mean the couple has to expect one of the partners to work longer hours. Discussing this openly and planning your time together despite the work load has to take precedence.
2. Decreasing touch. When partners are really engaged and like each other, they also enjoy holding hands and touching one another. If this suddenly changes and you can no longer sit next to your partner and expect them to reach out for you, there is a problem. Talk about this, voice your concern, or quietly begin holding their hand or caressing their shoulders when you are near them.
3. Sex diminishes. When couples are in love and like one another, they enjoy sex with one another. If you notice your partner no longer wants to have sex or be intimate with you, it is a warning sign that they are no longer engaged or want to be near you. Women who berate their husbands for wanting sex frequently would be wise to understand that intimacy and sex for men is a form of communication that expresses their love and allows them to feel loved in return. Rejecting sex with your man is analogous to him not finding you interesting enough to talk to. Wanting sex for him is the same as you wanting conversation. Neither is better or worse, right or wrong. They are both healthy forms of expression for intimacy.
Liking your partner for life takes more work and action than loving them for life, but it is also the foundation for a strong marriage. I have never seen a couple who are happily married who don’t like one another. However, I have seen many divorces where the couple still loves one another, but no longer liked each other. Be engaged, stay aware of your partner’s self growth, and make sure at the end of the day you still like the person you share your bed with.
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