No wonder you don't love each other

There is one essential ingredient for keeping love alive in a relationship.

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  • Editor's note: This article was originally published on Kevin A. Thompson's blog. It has been republished here with permission.

  • How much time will you spend with your spouse today?

  • An hour?

  • Thirty minutes?

  • Five minutes?

  • How much quality, one-on-one time will you spend with your spouse that does not revolve around the kids, work or managing day-to-day life?

  • None?

  • Well no wonder you don't love each other anymore.

  • It happens on a near daily basis. A couple comes to my office. Their marriage is in serious trouble. Their body language says it all. Sometimes they are angry. Sometimes they are dejected. In the worst-case scenarios, they are emotionally dead.

  • They've nearly always written a story of what has gone wrong:

    • They married the wrong person

    • The person they married changed

    • There is no such thing as lasting love

    • Their spouse is no longer attractive

  • Yet rarely do they confess the obvious. They talk about how "life has been crazy" and "we are constantly running a thousand different directions" and "work is demanding." They might mention how tired they have become.

  • But they never admit their deepest failure — they have stopped spending meaningful time together.

  • I listen and then I ask, "How much time tomorrow will the two of you spend together?"

  • Most of the time they stare blankly at me as though I have just asked a ridiculous question.

  • Sometimes they try to answer, but they nearly always answer with something that involves taking care of children or running a house or taking care of the details of life.

  • Physically they spend time with each other each day, but emotionally, spiritually and relationally, they haven't seen each other in months and sometimes years.

  • Is it any surprise that a couple who never spends any time together apart from trying to manage day-to-day life, no longer feels a deep emotional connection and love for one another?

  • Remember how you fell in love

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  • No one falls in love without spending time together. Time is required for two people to get to know one another. Without time there is no knowledge. While you can lust after what you do not know, you cannot love what you do not know. Knowledge is a prerequisite for love.

  • This is why relationships begin with dating. Two people who may or may not have a romantic interest in another go on dates. This allows them to spend time with one another, to get to know each other, and to determine if they will choose to love or not.

  • True love develops over time as we come to know another person and choose to love them.

  • The same way love begins, it continues.

  • Without meaningful time together, a couple will at minimum forget whether they love one another and at maximum they will actually stop loving one another.

  • Time is required for love to grow.

  • You don't have to spend time together every day

  • While the newly married and empty-nesters might have the opportunity to spend time together every day, that is not the story of those who are raising children. The demands of life will be too great to allow a couple an hour or two of alone time. There are some days in which a couple will be lucky to eat together, much less talk.

  • Yet, a couple doesn't have to spend time together every day in order to be successful. We can thrive without hours being spent together on a daily basis.

  • You do have to spend time together on a regular basis

  • You don't have to spend time together every day, but you do have to spend time together on a regular basis. The longer a couple goes without spending time together, the greater they are at risk for:

    • The feelings of love to fade

    • Frustrations and disagreements to create greater destruction

    • Being open to the temptation of an affair

  • It is never shocking to me when a couple experiences difficulties in marriage when they have not created and guarded time for their relationship to be nourished.

  • Isn't this why nearly every marriage counselor recommends a weekly date night?

  • Isn't this why I'm insistent that every couple vacation together (without kids) once a year?

  • Isn't this why I've written before that even a day in court can energize a marriage?

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  • A couple must spend time together.

  • It doesn't have to be today. It doesn't have to be every day. But it must be sometime and it must happen more often than many couples choose to have it happen.

  • Unless a couple intentionally makes an effort to have meaningful time together, it will not happen. Life has too many demands and distractions that without intention we will foolishly live our lives without spending meaningful time with our spouses. The consequences of this foolishness are disastrous.

  • But it doesn't have to be this way.

  • You can find time for one another

  • We can:

    • Stop during the morning routine, look each other in the eye and have a two-minute conversation.

    • Take a break from our work day and text one another.

    • Turn off the television and have a meaningful conversation.

    • Take a walk

    • Get a babysitter and go to the park

    • Have lunch together

  • It doesn't take a lot of money. It doesn't even demand a large chunk of time. But it does demand intention and attention.

  • Love requires time. To the extent we choose to spend time with our spouses, we will likely feel love for them.

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Kevin A. Thompson is Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church, a multi-site church in Fort Smith, AR. He currently writes a daily blog focusing on leadership, marriage, and parenting (specifically parenting a child with special needs). Along with his wife, Kevin is co-owner of JThompsonMMC, a full-service​ media and marketing company based in Fort Smith. He is a graduate of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and Oklahoma Baptist University. Kevin is also the author of "Friends, Partners, and Lovers—What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work.

Website: http://www.kevinathompson.com

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