By Jo Lynn Bright

Several years ago, while taking a leisurely drive with my husband, we had a casual conversation about loving one another. Out of nowhere, he announced these words of wisdom: “Love is fickle. You can wake up one morning and decide that you don’t have ‘loving’ feelings for me because I did or said something you didn’t like or agree with. And, the next day, you can wake up, possessing romantic feelings towards me. Marriage isn’t all about love, but commitment. I’m committed to you because of the promises I made before hundreds of people and to God.”

WOW! Who’s the marriage therapist in the family—him or me? I’ve borrowed this insight from my wise husband, and he permitted me to utilize it with several couples I’ve been able to walk through tough times in marriage counseling. I’ve heard him share it with newly married couples who join us at our table desiring to share heart-to-heart.

Loving and Liking in Your Marriage

Often, I pose this question to couples who come to see me for help: “Do you like _______________ (wife/husband)?” Almost without fail, I hear this response: “Yes, I love him/her.” That isn’t the question. Then the truth emerges with some version of this flavor: “I love him/her, but sometimes I don’t like him/her, or the behaviors displayed.”

You may be wondering why I’m hanging out on this point. It’s because I believe it is foundational to a healthy co-existence with our spouse. We may start out liking each other for a myriad of reasons. Then something happens to dampen this relational emotion: time, life demands, hurtful words and actions, unresolved conflict, betrayals of the heart, lengthy times apart, and so on.

Getting Intentional

Just in case you’re interested in stimulating your marriage in the direction of healthier connecting or continuing growing as a couple, I’d like to encourage you to consider exploring and infusing your marital journey with any of the following offerings:

  • Loving each other well—desiring only the best for your partner, in words and actions
  • Meaningful time spent together—engaging in those things that promote a deeper connection
  • Share compliments generously and offer encouragement, as needed
  • Honoring the relationship and respecting your spouse (in person or when they aren’t present)
  • No intentional hurt delivered toward one’s spouse
  • Making time for those things that are important to you (i.e. sexual intimacy, playing, etc.)
  • Take time to reflect on your marital journey and share hopes of desiring to finish well together

I Still Like You

When I reflect on what brings up loving feelings towards my husband, more times than not, my thoughts go straight to the fact that I like him, as a person, and just being in his presence. Love is fickle. However, when one takes and maintains steps in the direction of healthy relating, liking one’s spouse is bound to be the delicious fruit each spouse will experience as a result of a committed posture.

Is your relationship ready for a tune-up? Call HopeNet today at 316-684-4673 to see one of our mental health therapists for marriage counseling.