A little known fact about me: I am a Disney FANATIC. I was the little girl that loved to play pretend as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. And I always dreamed that one day I would wake up with bright red hair and a green mermaid tail. I loved all the stories Disney gave me as I was growing up and to this day I still appreciate the lesson that all Disney movies taught me in one way or another: true love conquers all.
BUT, there is one thing that Mr. Disney forgot to tell me about love and marriage. He forgot to tell me that there are days, even in the happiest marriages, that I simply will not feel loved. He forgot to mention that life will sometimes get in the way and expectations will be too high and I will feel less loved than I think I should.
If you have been in a relationship or marriage for more than 2 days then you know exactly what I’m talking about. And, like me, you don’t blame Walt for it. You just accept that he was too busy building the happiest place on earth to stop and tell us that marriage does not equal happiness. The truth is, we all feel unloved at times. Even in marriage. And there is a major difference between feeling unloved and actually being unloved. So, I want to walk you through what you can do to combat the feeling of being unloved and step into a thriving relationship full of love, respect, and communication.
Why You Feel Unloved
Like I said, there is a difference between feeling unloved and actually being unloved. So, I want to tackle the topic of feeling unloved. So, this means that we are assuming that you are not in an abusive or unhealthy relationship but rather a biblical marriage that has it’s ups and downs (as do all marriages). And we need to really unpack this feeling and thought process when it comes to your relationship.
Why exactly do we feel unloved in our marriages? Well, it’s usually because whatever actions have caused us to feel this way are not an accurate representation of our entire relationship. Meaning, when your husband forgets that date you had planned or fails to show you affection he isn’t communicating that he does not love you, but rather that he dropped the ball or missed a cue from you. In moments like that you know, deep down, that he loves you, but you might let your mind jump to the conclusion that because he didn’t do – fill in the blank – that he must not love you that much.
We must acknowledge that when someone neglects to meet our needs in a relationship, whether in a moment or for a long period of time, this does not mean that we are not loved. It could mean that a conversation needs to take place. It could mean that you simply need to express your needs. It could mean your expectations are a little unreasonable. Or it could mean that he is simply human and, like you, he makes mistakes and has moments of selfishness.
In most situations, we feel unloved because of unmet expectations. We forget that our husbands get stressed and distracted just like we do. And, we forget that they don’t seek feelings of love the same way we do. Love languages and love vs. respect all come into play when it comes to how you and your spouse expect your needs to be met. So, when you feel unloved in a situation try to consider two things: is this feeling the result of a moment of weakness for my husband or is it the result of unmet expectations?
The Danger of Idolatry in Marriage
Another huge reason we may often feel unloved is actually the result of sin. Because most of us girls are brought up in a society or a church environment that idolizes love and marriage in all the wrong ways, we convince ourselves or allow others to convince us that marriage is the ultimate arrival in this life. We believe the lie that marriage will provide endless joy and romance. However, when we place marriage (and our spouses) on a pedestal we are essentially placing them where they do not belong: in the place of God.
And before we know it our marriage and our spouse has become an idol in our life. This usually is not intentional. But rather the result of growing up in a culture that communicates marriage as the end-all, be-all. Don’t get me wrong, marriage is one of the biggest blessings I have ever known or experienced. But, I also know that it doesn’t provide my source of joy or purpose. And, even more importantly, I know that my husband cannot play the role in my life that is meant for Jesus.
So, if you are consistently feeling like you aren’t loved by your spouse and you can’t really identify anything he has (or hasn’t) done to intentionally cause you pain, then you might want to take a look at your own heart. Are you making your spouse and your marriage an idol? Is it possible that you have allowed your husband to step into a role that does not belong to him? Because here is the thing about idols: when we put them in the place that belongs to Jesus they are doomed to let us down. Idols can never love us like Jesus does. Could it be that you feel unloved because you are seeking a Jesus kind of love from someone else other than Jesus Himself?
Communication Without Accusation
Maybe your feelings about love are actually coming from some actions your spouse has been exhibiting. Maybe it’s partly because of idolatry and unmet expectations and partly because your spouse really is being neglectful or becoming distracted. If that is the case, you cannot continue to keep these thoughts and feelings to yourself. You must communicate.
Now, before you run off and start telling your spouse everything that he has done wrong, just take a second to consider your tone and your words. You want to communicate how you feel without accusing him. Because chances are he never intended for you to feel this way. In fact, it will probably hurt him to find out that he has caused you this kind of pain. So, consider your words carefully and preface your conversation with the fact that you are not trying to create an atmosphere of accusation but rather an atmosphere of communication.
If you have placed your husband on a pedestal or created unreasonable expectations about your marriage, tell him. If he has grown distracted or let outside influences affect how he treats you, tell him (in love, of course). Whatever it is that you have identified as the reason you feel unloved, communicate that to him. This will help him understand how you are perceiving certain situations and, in turn, help him better handle those situations. Communication truly is the key. In fact, you may find that has been experiencing similar feelings. Creating an atmosphere of communication may open a lot of doors in your marriage that you never realized were closed.
Love How You Want To Be Loved
Chances are that for every time you feel unloved you have probably caused your spouse to feel the same way. Of course, it is true that men generally don’t question our love as much as we question theirs, but they can still experiences moments of uncertainty when we lose our temper or fail to acknowledge their pain or accomplishments.
There is a super simple rule to follow in marriage that will help you both feel more loved and more loving: love how you want to be loved. Demonstrate your love language by communicating through it. By doing this you are inspiring your spouse to communicate love to you in the same way. Showing your husband that you are thinking of him will remind him to do the same for you.
In the same respect, try paying attention to how your spouse communicates love to you and try to reciprocate that sort of love language. If he is exhibiting his own love language then this a great way for you to start loving in the way he best communicates.
This also ties in with one of the core parts of Christianity: unconditional love. Which falls right in step with selfless love. If you are pursuing love for selfish reasons then know this now: you will not be able to mask your real intentions. But, if you are loving your spouse because of the love you have for Christ and because you want to be an example of His unconditional, selfless love, then you are allowing your marriage to be an earthly example of our own relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Just to recap, if you are feeling unloved in your marriage or relationship then I would invite you to reflect on your own heart, communicate with your partner, and start loving in a Christ-like way (whether or not that is the kind of love you are receiving).