My clients often report that they don’t feel loved by their spouse. People from abusive or neglectful homes may grow up with a deep sense of emptiness, of being unloved. They will invariably get married pinning all their hopes of love on their partner. When the partner ends up being imperfect, they will be disillusioned and left feeling unloved. The real problem, of course, is not being unloved, but feeling unlovable. This is a much deeper problem that will take serious time and effort to resolve. This post assumes you are married to a kind, caring, well-intentioned person who deeply desires your happiness. If your spouse is not such a person, perhaps they truly do not love you. I will deal in another post with ways to tell if you are truly unloved. Assuming you are married to a person with good intentions, here are five ways to fight the feeling of not being loved.
1. Doubt your doubts. People who feel unloved nearly always believe it implicitly. That is because it plays so deeply into their deeper sense of being unlovable. After all, if you are unlovable, how could anyone love you? This appears to make sense, but it is a doom-loop. When you begin to doubt that you are loved, doubt that doubt. After all, how has believing it helped you so far? Challenge yourself. Tell yourself that idea is garbage, because it almost certainly is.
2. See your patterns. A husband’s failure to pick up milk on the way home from work, instead of being an annoying but minor mistake, will often be seen by his wife as evidence that he does not love her. Since all husbands and all wives sometimes forget things their spouses ask them to do, the wife’s sense of being unloved over the forgotten milk simply cannot be true. People who feel unlovable will see nearly every mistake others make as further evidence that they are not loved. To see this pattern is to begin to step into the truth.
3. Ask the right questions. What would it take for you to feel as loved as you’d like to feel? If a man forgetting to bring the milk home after work affects your sense of being loved, how perfect would this man, or any man, have to be in order for you to feel loved? Is it possible for anyone to always act in ways that will always lead to you feeling the way you want to? How long will you continue to attach minor things like this to your sense of basic lovableness? The next time someone does something and you are left feeling unloved, what reasons could there be for it other than they don’t love you? Is that the only or best way of explaining it? Why do you keep picking an explanation that causes you so much pain, when other better explanations are so easily available? (Careful, this question will lead you right into the heart of the truth!) These are the right questions. The question, “Why don’t you love me” is not the right question. That question is exactly like the question, “How long have you been beating your wife?” Merely in answering the question, a person has to cop to something that may not be true.
4. Step into truth. There is a difference between feeling unloved and being unloved. The sad reality is that the people around us are usually trying hundreds of times a day to love us in various ways, and we often don’t see it because of our own blind spots. It is perfectly possible that you are more loved at this moment than you have ever been.
5. Connect with God. If you are firmly connected to God and have a deep sense that you are loved beyond every possible circumstance, you will find yourself feeling safer and more secure. Ultimately your sense of being loved and lovable must spring from deep within you, not from any specific things others do or fail to do. If your ability to feel good about yourself and know you are loved depends on others acting perfectly towards you, you are in for a lot of unhappiness in your life.