(The following is an excerpt from Friends, Partners & Lovers)
While these problems might be real, I believe there is a bigger issue.
The most common issue I see with couples who are struggling in marriage is a lack of intentional investment in their marriage.
While it’s a fair debate of which comes first—did someone lose interest so they lost intention or did someone lose intention so they lost interest—either way there is a key idea:
We can influence our feelings by intentionally investing in our marriage.
As I’ve written before, our affections often grow toward our investments. Wherever we put our time, money, and energy also ends up receiving our passion, interest, and affection.
Think about what this means for a marriage: you will generally feel for your spouse to the extent in which you invest in your spouse.
Your feelings are often far less about them and far more about what effort you have put into your marriage.
Obviously there are exceptions. Some people have made bad choices in who they married or the spouse has made a bad choice in who they have become, but most of the time, we love our spouse to the extent that we invest in our spouse. (See: Marry a Partner, Not a Child)
Consider what this means: if your feelings of love are waning, they can be recovered. With some effort, intention, and energy, love can grow.
Every week I interact with marriages which are suffering. I am often like a triage nurse who observes the couple, makes an initial determination of the seriousness of their illness, and then gets them with the right specialist so the expert can assist them with the issue.
As the couple leaves our initial interaction, I almost always give them the same assignment: on the way home, retell the stories of your first date, how you fell in love, what first attracted you to the other, what you love the most about each other, and what your dreams are of a future together. (See: Change Your Marriage Today) (Source)