I’m still processing the fact that Barack and Michelle Obama are no longer in the White House. I miss them. I am sure you do as well. And my disappointment isn’t just about missing President Obama’s leadership (although I do), but it is about what I experienced by watching their lives as a couple. It’s about seeing a beautiful display of Black love in the public eye. We needed to see that as a community. The world needed to see that. I needed to see it.
Through their eight years in the White House, I watched many interviews where they answered questions about politics, marriage, parenting, and so much more. One interview that still sticks out for me is an interview with Michelle Obama where she was asked about the secret to their strong marriage. She simply said, “I really like him…. I like being with him.”
That simple answer spoke volumes.
It made me smile because I thought about my marriage and was so grateful that I was (and am still) able to say that I like my husband. He makes me laugh, and I truly enjoy spending time with him. But then I thought about all the people trying to navigate relationships that may have been founded on genuine love and like, but with time have diminished into relationships where the ability to like one another has faded.
I believe in love. But I also believe that liking your partner is even more important than loving him.
Think about people in your family that you love because—well, because they are family. Now, think about all the characteristics they possess that cause you to not like them very much. Sure, if trouble arises you are there to offer love and support, but the idea of waking up in the same house with them daily makes your head hurt.
Imagine feeling that way about your spouse. Imagine waking up next to someone daily that you truly love but you’ve grown to dislike. It can be painful for sure. Spending a lifetime with anyone shouldn’t be based only on love—it should also be based on liking that person.
So how do you know if you just don’t like your spouse that much anymore? Here are a few signs as well as what you can do to turn things around.
You enjoy spending time with a list of other people much more than spending time with him.
When you first fell in love, you probably enjoyed being with your spouse. But now, several years in, you start to realize that being with him just doesn’t feel the same and you’d rather hang with your friends or go to happy hour after work than spend time with your mate.
You get annoyed every time she makes a suggestion about almost anything. At one point you welcomed her ideas—maybe you even liked most of them. But now, she makes the smallest suggestion and you want her to shut-up because you feel annoyed. And she’s not even really being annoying; it’s just that she annoys you.
Sex starts to feel like an obligation instead of something you truly enjoy.
A once enjoyable and very intimate act now just feels like something you do because you should, not because you want to. And the sex isn’t even bad, but the connection you once experienced isn’t there anymore.
He’s no longer the first person you run to when it’s time to share good or bad news.
One of the best things about being married is having someone to share good and bad things with. When that desire fades, you know things are just not what they should be. Something is wrong.
You genuinely feel happy when she’s not around for a long period of time.
I’ll be the first to admit that the occasional night alone feels nice. I am a bit of an introvert and gather my energy from spending time alone. But despite that fact, I love being around my husband. When your spouse’s long business trips start to feel like a relief, it’s a definite sign that things aren’t right.
When you do things together that you once enjoyed, you just don’t have fun anymore.
The cornerstone of a happy marriage is the ability to have fun together. When that starts to diminish and eventually disappears, you can’t ignore that something is off. You should have fun with the person you chose to spend a lifetime with.
What has changed?
Love is deeply important, but it’s not enough to sustain a healthy, long-term relationship. You need like and love for that to happen. When you start to feel like you no longer like your spouse, you have to ask yourself what has changed. Did your spouse do something? Have you changed? Why is your time with him no longer enjoyable? Have you faced problems as a couple in recent years? Is there something you need that you aren’t getting?
Once you get to the root of the problem, you can begin the process of changing things and healing. Through therapy or counseling, you can begin to find out why you no longer like the one you dedicated your life to, and you can take steps to implement small changes that will lead you back to loving and liking the one you chose to spend your life with.
Sure, being open and honest with one another may be all you need, but don’t shy away from getting help. It’s not easy to restore what you once had and you may need help doing so.
BMWK family, what do you do if you feel like you no longer like your spouse?
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