Feelings can be fickle, and this is frustrating. Have you ever been in a situation where you know that you should be happy, but your aren’t? Lost feelings happen to couples, too. If you are married, don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning and notice the feelings of love have vanished. Yes, this happens. To some extent, this is normal. It is also not that big of a deal–unless you choose to make it one. Feelings are funny. They come, they go, and they return again. Feelings are confusing and chaotic at times. Of course, this is frustrating. It is so frustrating that some people turn to sugary foods, copious amounts of caffeine, alcohol, and even illegal drugs in their attempts to restore their positive outlook. As I am sure you are well aware, these negative strategies result in a short gain, before a much longer decline. Fortunately, there are a multitude of helpful ways to get positive feelings to return. Here are three of my favorites:
- Understand the natural rise and fall of emotions.
I once worked for a church where the senior pastor gave this rational for working on Monday. He said, “Jed, since I’m going to feel miserable anyway, I might as well get some work done.” This statement comes from a wise minister who understands the natural rise and fall of emotions. For preachers, Sunday is a high-energy day. A ton of emotional energy is spent. Since emotions follow a natural pattern of rising and falling, feeling up on Sunday and down on Monday is normal. If you do any type of public speaking, it is important to understand that after a big presentation, you will likely experience a decrease in energy and overall happiness as well. Fortunately, the solution is simple–just wait. Yep, that’s it. Feelings rise, they fall, and then they return to normal. The day after a big presentation is the perfect time for paying bills, filing papers, preparing the next speech, and other low-key busy work. Following an emotional high, it’s normal to feel increasingly irritated, less joyful, and have a more difficult time problem-solving than usual. Wise leaders are self-aware. They plan around the natural rise and fall of their emotions.
- Take care of you.
An increase in agitation is like the warning light on the dashboard of a car. It signals that something needs to be attended to. A car requires regular oil changes, tire rotations, and routine maintenance for optimum performance. When our feelings are out-of-wack, it is a signal that we may need some routine maintenance as well.
- A good night’s sleep
- A healthy meal
- A brisk walk
- Plenty of water
These simple self-care ideas help bring emotions back into balance. It is amazing how a few moments of self-care can improve a person’s entire outlook on life.
- Play the part.
This third idea is key. Do you want to be happier? Would you like long-lost feelings of love to return? While the first two strategies lay the foundation, this tool is exceptionally powerful. Here is the secret:
Happy people do the types of things that happy people do.
Couples in love act the way that loving couples do.
Feelings follow actions. Abraham Lincoln stated, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” If you would like to make up your mind to be happier, then try this experiment. Smile! Smile while you’re driving in your car, smile as you walk by strangers, and smile at everyone you meet. Not a creepy, fake grin like the Joker from Batman–that’s just weird. Instead, radiate warmth with a soft, gentle smile. Here is what you will discover. First, you will feel happier. We are biopsychosocial beings. Our feelings connect to our thoughts and actions. It is impossible to act happier, without feeling happier. Second, when you smile, you will discover that others return the favor. Of course, this leads to even more joy. Growing in happiness is as simple as intentionally forcing ourselves to do the things that happy people do. Do first, and the feelings will follow. Love is similar. Couples who feel love do the types of things that loving couples do. I have heard it said that couples who want to stay married should do the same things to keep their spouse as they did to attract their spouse. This is good advice! Getting married is no excuse to stop dating. Simple actions that will help include:
- Going on a walk
- Holding hands
- Small gifts of chocolates and flowers
- A soft smile
- Casual conversation
- Finding joy in the times together
It was our first date. We met through eHarmony, and up to this point, the two of us had only chatted by text. I sat outside The Village Inn Pizzeria–a casual restaurant with a stunning view of San Diego Bay–and waited. Glancing behind me, I noticed a young woman looking around. She was stunning! That must be my date… at least I hope she is, I thought to myself.
After introducing myself, the two of us sat down for dinner. We talked, laughed, and simply enjoyed being in each other’s presence. Following our meal, I invited my date on a walk. It was getting late, and she hadn’t brought a jacket. However, she said “yes” anyway. As we walked and talked, my date shivered. “Are you cold? We could go back?” I offered. In fact, my date was shivering so much that I asked a number of times during our stroll. The start of spring is not the ideal time for a leisurely walk by the bay, even in San Diego. Yet, every time I suggested going back, the reply was the same, “No, I’m fine” she would answer with a smile.
When our walk concluded, I headed off to work–I was doing an overnight shift at the time. I thought about our time together all though the night. I had enjoyed it so much, I knew that if I asked this girl out again there was a good chance she and I would one day be married.
I took plenty of time before asking for that second date. She patiently waited… and waited… and waited. Fortunately for me, when I finally asked, she said “yes”. Just under three years later, Jenny and I were married.
I was infatuated with her from the moment we met. Beside from being gorgeous, her soft smile, gentle spirit, compassion for others, and willingness to laugh at my jokes all attracted me to her. Adding to this, was knowing that Jenny enjoyed spending time with me. There was something special about our first walk together. I watched Jenny shiver, and say in her own way, “I enjoy being with you, more than I dislike being cold…let’s keep walking.” Today, sharing this story still makes me smile.
It’s the simple things that draw couples together, and it is the little things that keep couples together. Willard Harley, the author of His Needs, Her Needs (an excellent book for couples, though by no means an easy read) writes, “By encouraging each spouse to try to do whatever it took to make each other happy and avoid doing what made each other unhappy, that feeling of love was restored with the very next couple I counseled.” Happiness comes from focusing on others. It is a natural result from choosing to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Happy people do the types of things that happy people do. Couples who fall in love do the things that loving couples do. Couples who stay in love, continue to take the actions that loving couples take. Are the feelings missing from your relationship? If so, I would encourage you to act like they are present. Play the part. Chances are, you will soon discover that the feelings have returned.