How to Survive a Loveless Marriage (Start Doing This)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for full details.

If you’re in a loveless marriage, you need help learning how to cope.

You’re in the right place.

In this article we’re going to discuss how to find happiness within a loveless relationship, plus steps to regain the love in your marriage should you decide to work on it.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Don’t obsess on your unhappy marriage. Stop asking your spouse to love you and start the process of rediscovering yourself.
  • Consider whether you might want to save your marriage or get divorced down the road
  • If you want to rekindle your love, begin taking the actions that create loving feelings rather than waiting for the feelings to happen

If you want immediate help mending your marriage and bringing back the love, we recommend Dr. Lee Baucom’s life changing program Save The Marriage.

Click the link above to check it out, or keep reading to learn what to do now.

What Are the Signs of a Loveless Marriage?

Sometimes living in a loveless marriage can make you feel like you’re going crazy.

Are things really as bad as they seem?

Is this just a rough patch, or has the love really gone from your relationship?

If you need confirmation, here are the signs of a loveless marriage:

  • Typically, a lack of sex and physical intimacy
  • No cuddling, kissing or affection
  • You and your spouse don’t ask about each other’s day
  • Your spouse spends all their free time away from you
  • You and/or your partner is always irritable
  • Your partner ridicules you, is constantly critical and treats you disrespectfully
  • Your partner stonewalls you, refusing to respond to you
  • You don’t feel you could turn to your partner for support
  • You don’t fight, but you don’t solve your marital problems either
  • You’re dreaming of escaping
  • You can feel that the love and caring are missing in your relationship
  • You like yourself better when you spend time with other people

Read Next: How Do I Know If My Marriage Is Over?

Can Loveless Marriage Survive?

couple ignoring each other with a quote about loveless marriage surviving by accepting the status quo

A marriage with no love left in it can survive. It can even work well for some partners.

Crucially, surviving loveless marriage takes accepting the status quo of the marriage.

It also works best if both partners treat each other with a baseline of respect.

You can continue in a loveless marriage as long as you and your partner decide, for better or for worse.

But ultimately, the best and longest-lasting marriages are not loveless.

If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to survive in a loveless marriage temporarily so that you can fix what’s broken and fall back in love? The answer is a resounding “yes.”

However, it’s hard work and takes constant vigilance and dedication.

Later in this article, we’re going to give you the steps to start rebuilding the love in your marriage.

But first, we’ll talk about what you can do to stay centered in your loveless marriage below.

Read Next: How to Save Your Marriage

How Can I Be Happy in a Loveless Marriage?

If you’re stuck in a loveless marriage, you need to know where to go from here.

There are lots of reasons we choose to stay in an unhappy marriage, from financial reasons to feelings of duty toward our children.

But just because you’re living in a loveless marriage doesn’t mean you can’t carve out your own sense peace and fulfillment. Happiness, even.

It takes willpower and focus. But it’s possible with practice.

Below are the steps to start taking to make the best of your unhappy marriage.

Shift focus to yourself

sad man sitting on the edge of a bed with a quote about finding your own happiness apart from your partner

If you’re constantly obsessing about your spouse and the lack of affection you’re receiving, you will never escape feeling miserable and unfulfilled.

Simply put, you can’t base your happiness on your partner.

Because the way you relate to each other is deeply problematic.

So what’s in order now is to re-discover your relationship with yourself.

Turn the lens inward. Notice what makes you feel good.

Basically, you’ll need to reclaim ownership of your own happiness and wellbeing.

It’s a form of self-love, and it’s the first step toward self-healing.

Work on your mental health

If you’re depressed or your mental health is suffering (which is likely if you’ve been struggling in a loveless marriage), you need to prioritize it.

That may look different for different people, but going to therapy is one option that can be very effective.

Adding meditation to your daily life can also create more inner peace and release stress.

But a healthy emotional and psychological state must come first.

Not to mention, being able to think clearly will help you make better judgments for your life, relationship and family.

Dedicate time to your passions

One of the key things you can do to shift focus is to begin dedicating serious time to your passions.

If you feel like you’ve lost yours, get out and find something new.

Pick up a new hobby, whether it’s pottery or rock climbing. Immerse yourself in it.

A recent study from the Society of Behavioral Medicine verifies what we already suspected: having hobbies boosts your mood and lowers stress.

And most importantly, your hobbies are sources of fulfillment not based on your spouse’s actions or judgments.

Stop making bids for your spouse’s affection

Anything you do in attempt to get your spouse’s attention or affection is considered a bid.

In healthy relationships, it’s common to solicit a spouse’s affection.

But this is not a well-functioning relationship, and attempting to give a hug or make physical contact can be counter-productive if your spouse is not responsive.

If you’re aiming to survive in a loveless marriage, your best bet is to stop torturing yourself waiting for your partner to react in the way you want.

Read Also: Why Won’t My Husband Fight for Our Marriage?

Allow yourself to experience your emotions

woman looking out of a window with a quote about accepting your emotions in a loveless marriage

Facing your feelings will help you come to terms with a loveless marriage.

At the same time, the death of love in your relationship creates difficult emotions and memories.

You may experience grief and its various stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance.

Unfortunately, accepting your emotions can be a painful process.

But suppressing your (very valid) anger or sadness will only create deeper wounds.

Be honest with your spouse about how you feel

Tell your partner how your marriage affects you.

Even if your partner is not moved to action, it can be validating to make yourself heard.

Of course, the best outcome would be to open a channel of communication in your marriage.

Your partner may not know the extent of how their behaviors are affecting you.

Other times, simply hearing your honest thoughts can make an emotional impact.

But you won’t know until you have that talk.

Consider your options

When you’re at the point of feeling like your relationship is completely devoid of love and caring, it may be time to stop and think about your options.

Envision your life in the future.

Do you think you’ll stay in the marriage, separate or divorce?

What would each of these options look like?

Financially, in your kids’ lives and so on?

If you choose to stay married, it’s vital to have a sense of agency in your decision.

When you take control this way, you help to remove yourself from a state of victimhood, which can have an enormous impact on your state of mind and positivity.

We cannot function well if we’re struggling to keep our heads above water.

But if we can see the destination, we can better assess the challenges and find the strength and resources to succeed.

Consider joining a support group

We all need to feel seen and understood.

This is especially important if you’re not getting that in your marriage.

Researching a local support group for married individuals to share their struggles can give you much-needed connection.

Not to mention a place to share your own story or make friends.

There’s also the possibility that you could learn some techniques that others have applied and found success with.

Take stock of what you do have

husband looking out at a vista with a quote about cultivating gratitude

It may seem impossible right now, but research shows adopting an attitude of gratitude during trying times improves your mental health.

In one research study, individuals struggling with depression and anxiety wrote letters of gratitude each week and reported significantly improved mental states four to 12 weeks later.

As it turns out, cultivating gratitude has an amazing healing effect.

And it’s simple to begin doing if you have a pen and paper.

You may try keeping a journal to write down what you’re appreciative of in your life.

If you need prompts, there are journals that come with questions to contemplate and get you started.

Lean on your support network

Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends and family.

People who care about you can help get you through hardship and take your mind off your marriage.

If you’re wary of talking about your relationship because you hold out hope for regaining lost love, you don’t have to get into any details that make you uncomfortable.

Potentially, a therapist could listen and may not be a bad addition to your support network.

Sadly, many people unhappily married for 15, 20, 30 years find that they don’t have many friends to lean on.

In this case, you could look for local meetups around shared interests to make new friends.

Just getting out of the house and interacting with different people can make a world of difference in your perspective and mood.

How to Get the Love Back in a Loveless Marriage

Now we’re going to talk about what you can do to save your marriage and rekindle the love—not just survive.

Before you give up on the idea of restoring your loving marriage, you need to institute a plan of action.

This is where many couples go wrong, assuming their partners will come around if they keep treating them like gold, or else there’s no hope.

You wouldn’t do a business deal or even go on vacation without first envisioning it and creating a plan.

Your marriage also requires the same sense of gravity and structure.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the elements of a plan designed to bring back the love between you below.

Level with your partner

silhouette of a couple holding hands with a quote about being upfront with your partner

If your marriage is going to survive and thrive, you need open and honest communication.

Be upfront about your plans to work on your relationship.

Don’t attempt to be the hero and work on it in the background, trying to “win” your partner back.

You may find that your partner wants to work together on your marriage.

Acknowledge that something needs to change because the way you feel is unacceptable.

Just don’t shame, blame or use criticism.

Say, “I have been feeling lately like we’ve lost our closeness, and I want to change that.”

Not, “You’ve been cold and rude to me.”

Start fostering open communication and clarify your intentions now.

Recognize love is what you do, not what you wait to feel

Partners who act lovingly toward one another create and reinforce loving feelings.

This is because love is an action.

Consider the concept that how you think is how you feel.

In other words, your thoughts directly influence your emotions and actions. This is the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy.

If we take this concept and put ourselves in a loving mind frame, we may take loving action and allow the feeling to follow.

This is a practical way of building love in relationships, rather than trying to force feelings that aren’t there.

It’s part of long-time therapist and marriage expert Dr. Lee Baucom’s program guiding couples to fix their marriages with reliable success.

If you want his formula, you can start applying it now with Save The Marriage.

Communicate your needs without finger-pointing

Pretty much every marriage could use some help in communicating effectively.

One of the things you’ll want to do now is to share your needs with your partner.

Don’t assume they should know. This is an unproductive mentality that continues poor communication cycles and passive-aggressive behaviors.

What do you need from them in order to feel loved and appreciated?

Be as specific as you can so that it’s more attainable.

But you should also keep your expectations reasonable.

If you haven’t had sex in years, your spouse isn’t going to jump into sexual intimacy three times a week.

Ask your spouse what they need from you

At the same time, you’ll want to ask your partner what you can do from their perspective.

Just as you’ve communicated your needs, you need a clear idea of what they need.

Nobody is a mind reader!

Think back to a time when you were loving toward each other

happy couple hugging with a quote about reminding yourself of the good times in your marriage

It can be a massive help to repairing your emotional relationship if you simply reach back in your memory.

Think about the early stages of dating or marriage when you were in love.

Bring that memory forward and hold it as inspiration.

Reminders of the relationship you once had offer proof of what it (still) can be.

Spend alone time together

If you have children, you may be spending time together as a family.

That’s good—but you also need to spend time as a couple, alone.

This does not mean that you focus on sex or sexual contact.

Sex should be a result of your connection and feeling aroused by your partner, not a goal in and of itself.

Instead, you will want to slowly increase the amount of time you spend doing enjoyable things together, the same way you would if you were dating.

Creating positive experiences will give you a foothold in a new, healthier relationship.

Get out of your comfort zone

Many relationships require some amount of spontaneity to thrive.

But if surprises aren’t your thing, partners can still push themselves to leave home and join a pottery class or visit a new town.

Doing something novel will pull new responses from you and allow you to show a different side of yourself.

It can help you feel like a different person if you’re struggling to remove yourself from negative patterns.

Fun and playfulness trigger feelings of lightheartedness, creating fertile ground for love to grow.

Take responsibility

Self-reflection is a key part of the process of healing your marriage.

You will want to reflect on how your behaviors may have contributed to your marital path.

Not only this, but you also want to address any hidden issues holding you back from accepting love.

Any anger or resentment must be dealt with in order to move forward.

Respond to your partner’s bids for attention

couple showing affection in the grass with a quote about responding to bids for attention from your spouse

When and where your spouse makes bids for affection and attention, try to be open to them.

It may feel strange at first because you’re out of practice.

But shifting your responses helps to redefine the dynamics of your relationship.

The more you embrace vulnerability and open up to your partner, the easier and more natural it becomes.

Don’t fixate on progress

You may be tempted to monitor your relationship for progress.

But don’t get too caught up in it. Pressure is the enemy of love.

Instead, turn your attention and action to your goal.

Take it one day at a time and allow yourselves time and, when necessary, space to heal and grow.

Consider professional help

Sometimes an outside perspective can do wonders for relationships.

A trained marriage and family therapist can assess your relationship and give you homework to work on the functionality of your marriage.

In the long run, this can be a valuable investment in your relationship.

Don’t look at your spouse as the bad guy

Finally, you’ll need to work on your perception of your spouse.

If you look at them like the bad guy, it will color your interactions with them.

No matter how sad and lonely you’ve felt in your relationship, it’s crucial to see your spouse in the most accurate light possible.

Many times, when your spouse is angry or resentful, there are deeper problems and personal issues at play.

In other words, they aren’t being rude just to be rude.

Keeping this in mind helps you to stop reacting to old, negative patterns that can hurt progress in your relationship.

Final Thoughts

There are ways to live your life at peace with your decision to stay in a loveless marriage.

However, if what you desire is to have the love and caring return to your relationship, you will need to focus your efforts on a structured plan.

We’ve outlined steps to accomplish either goal, and resources like Save The Marriage can be pivotal in changing the dynamics of your relationship.

With dedication and the correct tools at your disposal, you can get back the love you lost.

FAQ

How do you survive a loveless sexless marriage?

If you are in a loveless and sexless marriage, you will need to decide what you want to do.

If you do not want to get a divorce, the best option is usually to work on your marriage.

Go to couples therapy, try dating each other and focus on strengthening your emotional bond.

What is stonewalling in a marriage?

Stonewalling is the term for when one partner ignores and shuts out the other partner.

They make it so that communication is impossible because they will not cooperate.

Is it better to divorce or stay unhappily married?

This is a very personal decision.

For some, divorce is not a viable option for financial, religious or other reasons.

A famous study by Dr. Linda Waite concluded that the majority of married individuals who separated or divorced weren’t any happier than those who stayed married.

On the other hand, staying unhappily married requires commitment to your decision and learning coping skills.

Consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage

It’s well-documented that staying in an unhappy marriage without learning to cope is detrimental to mental, emotional and physical health.

Unsurprisingly, constant conflict and stress take their toll over time.

When should you walk away from a loveless marriage?

Signs you might decide to give up on trying to save your marriage include:

  • Feeling unfulfilled no matter how hard you try to take care of yourself in the marriage
  • Constant criticism and disrespect from your spouse
  • Having your relationship negatively affect your kids
  • When there is any violence or abuse, whether physical, emotional or verbal, in your relationship (please don’t ignore this—contact 800-799-7233 for help)

Staying in a loveless marriage for children

Staying together for the sake of the kids is common.

And while it can work for your family, if the household environment is toxic, it can be damaging to the kids.

The outcomes for your children, should you decide to stay together for them, will be swayed by how you and your spouse treat one another and the home life you create.

Marlene Davis is an experienced blogger with a focus on interpersonal relationships. Her dream is to help improve people's lives and relationships through sharing of practical knowledge and evidence-based practices.