Even the best relationships can be complicated, going through a series of ups and downs. But realizing you and your partner aren't as sturdy and solid as you one thought can be an earth-shaking moment. Not to mention it can be confusing AF. There are, however, some things to do when you realize you and your spouse aren't in love anymore that can help your settle your footing and take the necessary steps forward.
One of the first things you need to do is determine how you feel about this realization. Are you ready for the relationship to end? Are you interested in fighting for whatever relationship there might be left to salvage? Your answers to those questions depend on a lot of variables like how long you've been together, if you have children, if you co-own your house or a business, and more. Regardless of what you decide feels right for you, following expert advice on what you should do in the moments, days, and weeks after you realize that you and your spouse are no longer in love can help make things go as smoothly as possible. The following steps will lead you on the path to a peaceful split and brighter future.
1. Don't Jump To Conclusions
So you think that you and your spouse aren't in love anymore. First thing's first: don't freak out. As psychologist Dr. Wyatt Fisher tells Romper in an email exchange, all couples go through periods where the love is lacking. Take a beat before you panic.
2. Recognize That Attraction And Love Aren't The Same
You think you've fallen out of love, but it's possible that you're confusing love for passion and heat. "Love develops over time," couples therapist and author of Reinvent Your Relationship: A Therapist's Insights To Having The Relationship You've Always Wanted, Ana Aluisy tells Romper by email. It's possible that you still love your partner but are just missing the spark that was once there.
3. Be Reflective
"Try to reflect back on when your in love feelings started to decrease and why," Fisher says. If you can pinpoint how and why you got to this place, it could help you fix it or help you avoid the same thing happening again in a future relationship.
4. Be Honest
Although the conversation will be a little uncomfortable, it's important to be honest with your spouse. "Be clear about the direction you want to take the relationship," Rhonda Milrad, relationship therapist and founder of Relationup, tells Romper by email. "At some point, you are going to want to discuss your feelings with your spouse. However, it's important to be clear about how you want to tackle this problem before you have the conversation."
Milrad adds that, "by being clear about your intentions, you will have a more productive conversation with your spouse about the choices ahead of you as a couple."
5. Be Kind
It may sound obvious, but one of the most important things you should do if you realize that you and your spouse aren't in love anymore (especially if things aren't tense or volatile) is to handle the situation with care. "It's important to remember the most loving and kind thing for each of you is that each of you gets the opportunity to be loved and happy," Shirani M. Pathak, a psychotherapist and the founder of Relationship Center of Silicon Valley, tells Romper in an email exchange. "If it's no longer in this relationship, it's only fair to let them know and let them go."
6. Make Changes
If you realize that you and your partner aren't in love anymore, but you want to do something to try to help get those feelings of love back, there are actually some things that can be done. Therapist Kimberly Hershenson tells Romper that little things like going out of your way to show you appreciate them, taking the time to really get to know them even better, adding a weekly date night, and being more intimate can all make a big difference.
7. Ask For Help
Whether it's for ending the relationship or fighting to try to make it better, there's no shame in asking for professional help. "I believe that if you love someone, you will always have love for them," Aluisy says. "That love will change, it may be buried under much pain and disappointment, but it can come out again with the right guidance and tools." You might just need some help.