How Do You Know You Still Love Your Spouse?

by | Family. Love

 

still love wife

About a year ago, I realized I had been lying to myself…I had been dating to date, dating to cure boredom, dating to spend time with fun people and, occasionally, even dating to blog.

 

But whatever I was doing, I certainly wasn’t dating to marry, as I had been professing.

 

An endless procession of tidy first dates would do the trick to keep the facade while hiding the fear.

 

When I realized this, I asked myself what my big fear was. What was keeping me from opening up?

 

And the answer was quite simple.

 

You see, I was afraid of falling out of love.

 

I was afraid of succumbing to the fate of no many around me. The rough bumps and ends to marriage inundated my social media while the low-lit bits of lasting love were locked in the layers of mild moments and simple smiles for which words seem too inadequate and public proclamations too cheap. I was barraged with the tough and blind to the tender.

 

So I set out to change my perspective, my heart and my fear.

 

With so many of my friends that have gone through so much heartache after faltering and failed marriages, I began my quest to find the magic hidden in marriage–understanding that it is never a fairy-tale. I set out to ask married people two simple questions:

 

“How do you know you still love your spouse?”

“What is the key to a successful marriage?”

 

I asked newlyweds of a week, widowers who had been married for over 60 years, taxi drivers, grandparents, my parents, friends–everyone who’s ear I could borrow. All in all, I have asked over 100 people during the last year.

 

To the second question I get the same answer over and over and over: the key to a successful marriage is work. Work to serve the other, work to keep things exciting, work to show appreciation…wonderful work.

 

The answers to the first have varied and have been fascinating, but before I go into what they said, I am curious to hear what you, here on fathers day especially, have to say.

 

If you are married, how do you know you still love your spouse?

If you are single, how would you HOPE to answer this question?

 

I’ll put together a follow-up blog post on all the results.

 

But I will say this much–after this last year of research, I am no longer afraid of marriage. It seems to me to be like a garden. A veritable heaven on earth that brings joy and happiness and peace…if, and only if, tended after.

 

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  • Scott Weinert

    There is something to be said for how selfish marriage is. A lot of people say it’s work and sacrifice, and I think that is a partial truth. But…there is a flip side to it. When you’re dating someone, you start to “fall in love” with them…which was certainly the case with my wife. I think it had a lot to do with how she made me feel…confident, handsome, better, etc. I also made her feel pretty, funny, and secure.

    So…the deal is this. If you keep doing the same things, you’ll get the same results. As a married couple, we need to keep doing those little special things we did when we were dating…compliments, spontaneous dates, wild make-out sessions, etc. That makes each individual feel those things they initially felt and bam, you’re still in love. Yes, I love my wife and sacrifice for her/vice versa, but I can’t deny that how she makes me feel as a person is one of the selfish motivators of wanting to be by her side.

    Good post Zack, as usual. You’re truly a good apple and I’m fortunate to have you as a friend. I appreciate your friendship, partially because you make me feel like I’m part of the next big rocket ship to do something adventurous and grand. You move the world forward…and you bring those around you upwards. People are drawn to you.

    • Zack Oates

      You, my friend, are the big rocket ship.

  • Heather Eaton

    With 13, yes thirteen, marriages between my husband and I’s four parents (the number goes up if you include step parents’ marriages) we had every reason to be scared of marriage. And in some ways we were. But we weren’t afraid of falling out of love. We were afraid of love not being enough, because many times it isn’t. If you allow selfishness, pride, fear, anger, lust, envy, finances, your children, or a myriad of other things to get in the way then love will never be enough.
    When I honestly think about it I know I still love my husband because of two things:
    1. I put God first
    2. I make it a priority to do things that make me feel love for him.

    And I’m not sure my answer to the second question has a different answer.

  • Jordan Moss

    I agree with Scott, the one thing that kept coming to my mind was how that person makes ME feel. If my spouse can make me feel smart, funny, attractive, secure, capable and strong; if he values my love for him and treats me as such then that love will continue to grow without fading. Of course the expectation is that I will happily do the same for him which is necessary for a healthy relationship to bloom. I think any kind of love where you aren’t receiving those things in return isn’t a healthy love to maintain long term. So… for me, knowing that I still love my spouse is as much about how they treat me as it is about how I treat my spouse.

    • Zack Oates

      Love your perspective, Jordan. Love how open you are with life. it is refreshing….and quite frankly, inspiring.

  • bryhteyes

    The wisdom of my father: “The old line: “I’m not in love with you anymore” is a lie. One does not fall out of love. One quits loving another because that one quit acting in a loving way. Love is a verb. If we serve someone, we develop loving feelings for them. If we feel the loving feelings toward someone diminishing, getting them back is as simple as acting as a loving person to that one. I was taught that early in my life and have applied it ever since. It is 100% effective….you are the only one who can control if you love someone (and whom you love)….I don’t believe the high from an oxytocin-saturated brain is love at all. I call that being “twitterpated” (cf Bambi), or infatuation. Love comes from the amount of service we invest in our loved ones. Mother’s love is so great because she has committed so much to her baby for so long. Love takes time and service to develop. Selfish people don’t ever serve their partners, all they do is take. When the twitterpatience wears off, they have no investment and look for the door, leaving behind a partner who has developed love by virtue of their loving acts. Unfortunately, our society does not teach how to love. It celebrates “being in love”. That is a lie foisted upon us from our early years. Hopefully, maturity helps us eventually learn.”

    I agree completely, and I think when you marry someone with the true action of making them your family that you trust will be with you forever just as much as your parents, siblings and future kids, you can love them fearlessly and deeply. If you don’t have a fear of an end, then the rough times you know will pass. You will get through them, and no bump makes you question that. You love that person unconditionally, no matter what changes they might go through. It’s not about you and how they make you feel, it’s about loving them for them, because they are now a part of your eternity. I also think the best friend thing is key, because everyone is more forgiving of their best friends, more trusting, and more respectful (they got your back no matter what!). Life is hard, just like chores. A best friend can make a day of chores a day of fun. I think a best friend can make a life a marriage, a life of fun, and laughing makes everything better.

    • Zack Oates

      WOW!! super super great comment. completely agree!!

  • Josh Skelton

    Great post Zack. Now that you’ve really got me thinking about this, I’m going to play a little game over the next few days to get a better idea how to answer question #2. I’m going to pretend I’m an outsider evaluating my relationship and see if (based on my actions) I would concur that I’m in love with my wife. I know that I am, it’s just that after almost 10 years of marriage, I find that I often take my wife’s love for granted, and may not put in the same effort I did to win her over in the first place.

    • Zack Oates

      So curious to see how this “game” has gone for you!