Long gone are the days when the average American considered divorce scandalous. Between 40% and 50% of marriages end in divorce, according to the American Psychological Association. And sadly, even though the divorce rate is somewhat lower among committed Christians, the church can’t immunize a marriage to an ugly separation.
Dr. Doug Weiss—a Christian psychologist in Colorado—says he has ministered to countless couples who have told him, “We’re just not in love anymore.”
Even couples that have been together for up to 30 years can go through seasons of feeling distant from each other. In an interview with Weiss for my “Strang Report” podcast, he told me that the key to fixing a passionless marriage is for spouses to change their perspective. (Click here or scroll up to listen.)
“What’s interesting is when you’re dating, you think like a lover,” he says. “But what happens is that as soon as the pastor says, ‘I pronounce you husband and wife,’ you go from thinking like a lover to now defining what your role in the relationship, your role as a husband.”
Weiss says that this transition from thinking like a lover to thinking like a spouse drastically changes the way couples relate to each other. It also changes husbands’ and wives’ expectations for themselves.
“It’s easy to say, ‘OK, I fix things. I work hard. I’m a good husband,'” Weiss says. “Well, that doesn’t meet the emotional-connection need of a woman, so she feels unloved. She feels alone. And she says, ‘Well, I’m a good wife if I cook, if I can make a decent apple pie.’ And what happens is you’re defining your own role, which may not actually have anything to do with your spouse feeling close or connected or wanted or desired or pursued.”
Weiss has so much insight to share about this topic that he wrote a book called Lover Spouse, which you can purchase at his website, drdougweiss.com. One of the exercises in the book requires spouses to write down how they would act if their spouse was their lover.
“I’ve done this in my clinical sessions many times,” Weiss says. “And 100% of the time, the other person knows what that means—whether it’s ‘Getting you coffee,’ ‘Show you by taking you out more’ because they haven’t had a date in three years, or whatever it is. They intuitively know how to be the other person’s lover 100% of the time.”
But the problem is that they no longer think being their spouse’s lover is their responsibility. Thankfully, Weiss says, the couples who do this exercise often have an “aha” moment when they realize what is truly required of them to love their spouse.
Even Weiss’ pastor has benefited from reading the book. Weiss tells me that while he was in church one day, his pastor’s wife began praising her husband. She said he had been serving her and being there for her in sweet ways as of late.
“He had been reading Lover Spouse,” Weiss tells me. “He’s told me on four different occasions, within a week, that this book is the best one. [He says,] ‘It’s changing the way I think. It’s helping me to get into a different mindset about my role as her lover. She says I’m a good husband, but I haven’t been a great lover. And this is putting me in a whole different path, and it’s been great.'”
If you feel as though your marriage has lost the spark it once had, don’t give up hope. I encourage you to read Weiss’ book Lover Spouse, and when you’re done, share it with another married friend!
Listen to my full interview with Weiss for more insights and tips to having a healthy marriage by clicking here or scrolling to the top of this article.