Falling Out of Love
And the email starts, “My husband says he ‘loves me’, but he’s not ‘in love with me’ anymore.”
It’s one of the most painful things any person can ever hear. Devastating. Those words can feel like the end of the world. However, every time I hear those words I think about my mother, who’s been married to my father for 65 years. “The thing about being married to the same man all my life is it’s given me the beautiful honor of falling in love with him over and over again.”
What’s she’s not saying, is the truth. In order to have the beautiful honor of falling in love with him over and over again, she’s also fallen out of love with him over and over again too. Those devastating words might signal the end of a relationship, but they may not.
It’s important to understand what being “in love” really is. In love happens at the beginning of a relationship. It’s a true form of delirium. It literally changes your brain chemistry and makes you crave the other person. It’s a biological insanity designed to get two people to hang out together long enough to mate. However, we’ve romanticized the concept of “in love” to the point where we’ve forgotten it’s biologically intended to be temporary, and thank heavens it is, because it’s craziness, literally!
The insanity of “being is love” is only intended to linger as long as it takes for something less volatile to take root, love itself. Love is different. Love is certain, stable, transparent, and strong enough to weather time. Love is real. “In love”, is an illusion. They are not the same thing.
When a partner feels like they’ve fallen out of love, what they are usually really feeling is loss of desire. Love and desire work in tandem to keep a couple together for the long haul. Desire is powerful and when it wanes it leaves a relationship feeling hollow. So, the reality is this. When that feeling of being “in love” goes, it’s probably gone forever. However, the good news both actual real love, and desire come in waves. They evolve. They change and grow. Relationships that last a lifetime or even a long time will always experience the ebb and flow.
It’s that ebb and flow that actually makes long term relationships work. It’s that feeling a movement and growth. Death and rebirth, over and over again. The part of the cycle that feels like stagnation and boredom, may actually just be a precursor for the next wave of excitement, passion, and deeper connection.
Buddhism teaches us that nothing is permanent. When it comes to relationships that might mean that a relationship itself might be temporary. It also might mean that the state of the relationship must change if a relationship is to continue to exist.
So, if your relationship is in an ebb, if you can take that as an opportunity to first grow personally and then together, it doesn’t have to be the end. New beginnings come in all different forms.