Whether we call it couples’ counseling, relationship therapy, or something altogether different, the one thing every session has in common is the topic of love. Couples and their counselors talk about both falling in and out of love. But these two phrases are ambiguous. Couples come to us claiming they are falling out of love. But what does that really mean?
Successful couples’ counseling is rooted in an understanding that people make choices. Emotions can be wrapped up in those choices, and they often are, but they don’t have to be. Some people are capable of making choices about romantic relationships that are completely separate from their emotions. Others are not. That seems to be the dividing line between loving another person and falling in or out of love with them.
Falling in Love Is Not a Choice
There is a difference between choosing to love someone and having the experience of falling in love. It boils down to this: falling in love, in the sense that we typically mean it, does not involve a conscious choice. Rather, it is an emotional response to current circumstances.
This suggests that someone who feels like they are falling out of love is experiencing a loss of positive emotions. Those emotions that were once so alive and passionate at the start of the person’s relationship are either waning or gone altogether. This is perceived as falling out of love.
The other side of the coin is falling in love. Again, this is an emotional response to circumstances. The joy of finding someone else to be with, the thrill of a new romance, etc. all work together to create those positive emotions. We call this ‘love’ even though it really isn’t.
It Can Be Addressed
The beauty of falling out of love is that it can be addressed. You see, emotions are not permanent. They are not set in stone. Emotions can be influenced by everything from circumstances to thoughts. Change your circumstances and thoughts and you will also change your emotions. It is not hard in principle, though it can be difficult in practice.
One of our goals in couples’ counseling is to address those thoughts and circumstances that may be contributing to negative emotions. We work with couples in hopes of uncovering hidden problems so that they can work together to iron those problems out. Hopefully, the positive emotions return as they work things through.
There Are No Guarantees
Unfortunately, we cannot offer any guarantees that couples’ counseling will be successful. No counseling or therapy center can. We are here to help clients figure out what has gone wrong and offer sound advice for fixing uncovered problems. But ultimately, it is up to the people involved to make it all work. Ultimately, whether a marriage is renewed is determined by what they do with the advice received.
One other thing to note is that falling in love again isn’t really the primary goal of marriage counseling or couples’ therapy. The goal is to learn to work out those things that cause problems in relationships. When couples know how to do that, they can change their own circumstances and thoughts. They can create the same circumstances and thoughts that lead to the positive feelings associated with love.
Falling out of love is an emotional response to negative circumstances. Though many people choose to end their relationships when feelings of love are gone, others choose to press through and find solutions. The choice is ultimately yours. We are here to help if you want to give couples’ therapy a try.