When Love Shifts: Understanding Reasons Your Marriage Doesn’t Feel the Same

As we go through life, our relationships will evolve. Life will unfold in many ways which will impact all our relationships. Marriage or our partnership is no different. The first stage of marriage is usually one that is filled with passion and enthusiasm. Mostly fuelled by our oxytocin – also known as the love hormone – which makes us cherish and see no evil in our partner. However, over time the oxytocin dwindles and troubles start to arise. It’s not uncommon for the nature of love to undergo shifts over time. In this blog, we’ll explore some reasons why your marriage might not feel the same and how understanding these shifts can contribute to a stronger, more resilient relationship.

The Evolution of Roles and Responsibilities

Finding our spot in our dyad is very important. As we navigate the relationship, we start to understand the different roles and responsibilities we have with each other and our life together. In the early stages of marriage, roles and responsibilities may be less defined. As time goes on, couples often navigate great changes such as career changes and developments, the arrival of a baby or moving towns and countries. These changes whether small or considerable will have an impact on dynamics of the relationship. Often couples don’t make a point of having a conversation about these shifts as they happen, which can lead to feelings of imbalance or unmet expectations. Having such conversations along the road, is crucial for couples. To be able to openly communicate about their evolving roles and find a balance that feels equitable to both partners will help to build a more trusting and solid relationship that can continue to weather the storms that life brings them.

Communication Challenges

As life unfolds, there can be more challenges. Key to managing these is effective communication. It really is the backbone of any successful marriage or partnerships (this is very much the case in most relationships be it parenting or work relationships too). Over time, couples may find themselves communicating less openly or experiencing misunderstandings. This will only lead to greater feelings of resentment and potentially anger. The problem with this is that communication gets more complicated and potentially more damaging. This is why as responsibilities and stressors increase, it becomes essential to prioritize open, kind, clear and compassionate communication. Make a point of having regular check-ins with each other which involve, active listening, and expressing emotions constructively. Expressing your needs in positive and constructive ways, without judgement and attack, can help bridge communication gaps and foster a deeper connection.

Fading Intimacy

Over time, as our oxytocin bank dwindles, our intimacy both emotional and physical, can shift in a long-term relationship. This is normal and expected. Our inevitable busy schedules, work and life stress, and external pressures can contribute to a decline in physical affection and emotional closeness. Investing in spending time together, expressing affection and appreciation, having quality time together requires intentional effort. Creating daily rituals to connect will help make this a part of your lives and your relationship will thank you for it.

Unresolved Conflicts

Over time, with the unfolding of life, all relationships will face challenges. However, it’s not the challenges themselves by how couples navigate conflicts which significantly impacts the relationship. In fact, navigating challenges as a team and coming out the other end together can lead to a deepening of the union. However, unresolved issues can accumulate and create a sense of distance between partners. Being able to address conflicts with empathy, compromise, and a willingness to understand each other’s perspectives is vital for resolving conflicts and finding a way forward together.

Individual Growth and Development

As our lives unfold, we change. Perhaps our values or interests and priorities change. A new role at work with greater responsibilities or having a child and wanting to spend more time at home. These changes are inevitable. And they will have an impact on our relationship. Being able to navigate these changes together, through conversations to help both partners feel supported and understood is important to help weather the possible ruptures in the relationship.

External Stressors

Life will inevitably bring new and challenging stressors, that are often outside of our control, such as financial difficulties, work pressures, or family challenges. A relative getting sick or our own health challenges, can take a toll on a marriage. When couples are faced with external stress, this is where team work is essential. Couples need to work together, offering support and have open conversations to find constructive ways to manage the challenges.

Relationships change, and that is okay

Your relationship will change over time. But change isn’t necessarily going to be a problem for the relationship. However, being mindful, recognizing and understanding the reasons why your relationship may not feel the same is a crucial step toward building a resilient and enduring partnership. The shifts that come with time don’t need to be seen as insurmountable obstacles. Instead they are opportunities for growth and even a deepening of connection. By fostering open communication, addressing conflicts, and adapting to the changes that life brings, couples can navigate the complexities that life can bring our relationship in ways that strengthen their bond over time. Remember, love is a journey, and with commitment and wise effort, it will deepen and flourish even as it evolves.

If you need support navigating the beautiful journey of marriage, please get in touch for relationship and marriage counselling support in downtown Singapore. 

Written by Emma Waddington, Founder & Senior Clinical Psychologist, reviewed in 2024