Question: Can we ever feel love again?
Thanks so much for that question. First, let me reassure you that it’s very normal when couples face either of these two things, either distance or distress to lose feelings of love.
So, in some ways the answer is quite simple. Yes, of course you can feel those loving feelings again. You can, but how can you?
The good news is, loving feelings are no longer a mystery. Love isn’t a mystery. We (Emotionally Focused Therapists) know what produces feelings of love. I personally witness and help people find their loving feelings for each other all the time.
What is lost can be found, if we look in the right spots.
There are some specific things that produce feelings of love, things you stopped doing before you lost the loving feelings.
When couples face either distance or distress (fighting) in their relationship, what’s most commonly missing is deep emotional sharing. Deep emotional sharing produces feelings of love. Sharing is key here – and emotional sharing takes two people, one who reveals and the other who receives, or accepts, the sharing.
Even when there’s distance or distress in a couple, both keep trying to make emotional contact and bridge the gap. But, what commonly happens to couples is one person makes an attempt to share, meaning the emotional significance of the message is cloaked. Since the message is cloaked the other misses (quite understandably) the significance of the sharing and respondes with one of these love killers: disagreeing, ignoring, becoming defensive, or criticizing.
Let me give you an example from a couple I consulted with recently who missed the opportunity for deeper sharing and restoring love. Jeb and Molly had an argument. The next day, Jeb (who never likes to discuss the argument) came home after getting Molly’s camera repaired. Molly had been asking Jeb to do this for a long time. Jeb said, nonchalantly, ‘Here’s your camera, I got it repaired this afternoon on my way home.” Molly, still sore from the argument and hoping for a direct apology replied with criticism, “So, now you do it. Well, it took you long enough.” Jeb, deflated, shakes his head, looks down and walks away. Result: emotional sharing opportunity missed, loving feelings stay lost.
Let’s replay this and show what happens when couples RISK (Reach Inside and Share Karma/feeling) with each other.
Jeb, leaping forward, taking a big RISK, came home and said: “Molly, I feel horrible about our fight. I got your camera fixed to try to show you how much you matter to me and that I’m really sorry for not helping you feel more secure in my love for you. I hate disappointing you.”
Molly moved into compassion and warmth by Jeb’s RISK. Now she can respond with acceptance and a RISK back, “That’s so wonderful to hear Jeb. I hate it when we fight too. I know you love and care about me, even when sometimes you forgot to do things, or when I feel insecure. Thank you so much for reassuring me that I do matter to you. I don’t know what I’d do without your love, you’re my guy.”
Sappy? Perhaps. Loving feelings are that way. They are warm, soft, and safe. And we need them. We need to deeply share with each other. As humans we are wired to take in each other’s emotional experience and all kinds healthy benefits come from doing it. As partners, the survival of our relationship depends on it.
If you’d like to find your love again, try RISK (Reach Inside and Share Karma/feeling). RISK and responding with RISK is key to loving feelings. RISKing and responding to risking will renew your loving feelings.