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What To Do When He Says He "Isn't In Love"

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A wife wrote me: “HELP!!!!! What happens when he tells you he’s not in love with you due to all the fighting and arguing? I’ve been doing the Love and Respect challenge, but he says it will not work for him since there is no love. Emerson, can this work?”

My Reply

Not knowing your situation, I cannot reply with wisdom. I can say, “Yes, Ephesians 5:33 does work, but not with people who do not wish to receive the love and respect we give to them.”

As I have taught, Jesus had his Judas, and my own mom separated from my dad for many years, though they reconciled and eventually stayed married until death. But people are moral and spiritual beings who make their own choices. We cannot control the outcomes in others. We can only control our actions and reactions.

Ultimately, we follow Ephesians 5:33 in trust and obedience to Christ. Nothing we do is wasted to Him. He will reward us forever for our loving and respectful reactions. This is about who we choose to be, not about who our spouse fails to be. That’s tough to hear but it is the case. Regardless of the other person, God calls us to not be a hostile, contemptuous person.

But, for example, when another person is having an affair, they will close off to our love and respect. Each must decide: “Will I stay in there based on 1 Peter 3:1, 2 or Hosea 3:1 and win my spouse with love and respect, though they are undeserving?” Bottom line, God commands us to live this way because most people respond to love and respect. However, as mature adults we know these principles are not absolute promises. Meeting another’s need for love and respect usually works but is never a guarantee.

This pains us when we long for the other to receive our love and respect, but we cannot coerce them into responding any more than they can coerce us. At the same time, it is always too soon to quit. Some conclude that a lack of response for months means a lack of response forever. I have found that to be a wrong conclusion for many folks. Staying the course often works. I love to refer to some mind-boggling research from the University of Chicago that points out that those who were very unhappy were very happy five years later and they did little to change. They just outlasted some of the problems that caused their unhappiness.

-Dr. E

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. Can you relate to this wife who claims she had been faithfully following through with her part of the love and respect challenge, but with no reciprocation from her husband? What is so difficult about continuing to love and respect despite not receiving it in return?
  2. Emerson wrote, “We cannot control the outcomes in others. We can only control our actions and reactions.” What are the negatives about this? What are the positives?
  3. Emerson wrote that nothing we try to do as it pertains to love and respect toward our spouse is wasted on God. What does he mean by this?
  4. What do you need in order to best stay the course, even if it takes many years to receive the love and respect you so badly need from your spouse?