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Straight Talk About Love

I wish I had a nickel for every divorcing couple in which the leaver has "reassured" their spouse: "I still love you; it's just that I'm not in love with you." I call this the ILYBINIL chorus (don't worry, I can't pronounce it either).

C'mon, get real. Love is a verb. You love or you don't. If you love me, good; let's get to work and save our marriage. If you don't, I'll have to accept that; I'll start grieving, and we can get on with our divorce. Just please, please, don't give me that "not in love" crap.

We spend entirely too much time these days analyzing and re-analyzing our feelings of love. If my concept of love depends on whether I feel in love at the moment, I'll be constantly disappointed. I'll feel good about you one day, perhaps just after we've had sex or because you said something nice about my hair. Then the next day I'll decide I don't love you, because "that spark's just not there."

On the other hand, if I come to view love not as something I feel but something I do, I then can take full responsibility for whether I love you, and I don't need any response from you. I love you because that's what I do. I love you with curlers in your hair. I love you when you're staring intently at the beer commercials between quarters of the football game on TV. I love you, purely, simply, completely. Now that's love.

So what does all this mean for divorcing couples? I think it means that if your spouse is waffling around with the ILYBINIL chorus, perhaps you'll have the nerve to demand something more definitive. It may hurt, but you're entitled to know. Once you know the real truth about your spouse's love for you, you can then decide if you're willing to hang around and hope things get better, or if you just need to begin dealing with the crud of divorce.

 

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