Why Couples Fall Out of Love

I am not aware of any one single reason why couples fall out of love. I have seen a number of typical scenarios in marital therapy over the years that are worth commenting on however that appear to contribute to the loss of romantic love. Here are some of the repetitive themes that have unraveled in therapy:

High Career Stress for Either or Both of the Couple

This scenario usually has a hard-working (60-90 hours per week) spouse who is either running a business or is a high demand executive or professional position in a corporation. The other spouse is typically in a stay at home position, managing everything including children, household management and everything else that falls through the cracks. Slowly over time marital and family time becomes compromised with the corresponding adaptation to the spouse who is always either working late or exhausted by the time they finally reach home. The family settles into a lifestyle that corresponds with high economic commitments such as a huge mortgage, private schools, costly athletic pursuits etc. Once the ball gets rolling it is hard to stop as everyone just gets used to the lifestyle. Very often the spouse who is working outside the home becomes almost marginalized, some by their own doing and some the result of a system that everyone has become accustom to. Less time is spent with family, less time on couple activities that at one point were a source of gratification and bonding to both spouses. In this scenario the couple often become very good at managing everything else in their life but slowly start to lose their emotional connection to one another. Either conflict arises that does not get resolved because nobody has time" or the couple can simply become conflict avoidant. The couple began to lose the warmer feelings they originally had for each other and fall into a rut. Attempts to repair are often short-lived. If both spouses have demanding careers and children this scenario can be amplified. These dynamics are not inevitable and I am sure there are many families in this situation where the couples have managed to maintain a healthy love relationship so I am now only referring to the couples where things have gone badly and they show up in counselling.


Couples Whose Withdrawals Exceed Their Deposits

All relationships have bank accounts of a sort. Deposits are made through acts of consideration such as preparing a meal for your partner when they are exhausted (even if it is their turn to cook), acts of respect such as terms of endearment, supporting each other through effective listening or deeds, economic or labor contributions to the home, parenting contributions, and openness to change when requested. Typically both spouses make contributions without thinking about what they are doing as a deposit, they simply do it because it seems like the right thing to do, (often the case when one has had the good fortune to observe ones own parents model such behavior) or they do so after prompt by their partner (assuming it was a reasonable request). Deposits have the effect of deepening love, both romantic and plutonic.

Withdrawals on the other hand — if ongoing — tend to diminish love. Typical withdrawals include; taking your partner for granted and not expressing gratitude for any number of acts of consideration/ assuming that they "should do things for you (like provide sex for example), too frequent verbal abuse where one or both attack character with name calling, an attack or confrontational style of conflict resolution usually coupled with strong doses of self righteousness and lack of empathy, inequities in labor distribution where one partner contributes significantly less than the other such as a long term unemployment situation that leads to depression and a general diminishing effort on all fronts by one spouse.


Other Reasons Couples Fall Out of Love

Substance abuse by one or both spouses. In my opinion, it is almost impossible to maintain intimacy when one or both partners are abusing alcohol, cocaine, marijuana or other street drugs. The user just about always becomes either disengaged or aggressive resulting in resentment and distance between the couple. The sentiment is expressed in the context of substance abuse that is often blown out of proportion or abusive making it increasingly difficult to repair particularly if the substance abuser continues to use.

Other addictive or excessive patterns of gambling or pornography have similar effects. The user becomes more engaged in their pursuit of gambling or pornography at the expense of the relationship. If pornography leads to the pursuit of sexual activities, the damage is even harder to repair resulting in a loss of trust, respect and love.


How Marriage Counselling Can Help

In many situations, even two or three sessions with a professional marriage counsellor can dramatically improve your relationship. Understanding new strategies for improving communication between partners can make a significant difference in a short period of time.

For more information about Couples Counselling Services, please Contact Terry Penner Today.

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