Marriage without attraction?


#1

Love is an act of will, not an emotion. Therefore it follows that I can choose to love someone I’m not attracted to. For most of history, people married from a very narrow choice of people in their immediate surroundings, or even via arranged marriages.

I am in two minds about whether I ought to be looking for another partner now that my fiancee and the only woman I was ever truly madly in love with has left me. It’s been 4 months, and many people are telling me I need to move on. If I were to start dating again, I would be looking for something very different, not somebody I would ‘fall’ in love with as before, but somebody I could will to love, someone who I could support and help, someone who would be a good mother to my children, someone who would put up with and not resent me. I’m not looking for that ‘spark’ anymore, because I honestly feel I would be doing my ex a disservice by trying to replace that feeling.

I’m interested in the experiences of anyone on here who chose to love by an act of will rather than ‘falling’ in love. Anyone who chose a partner out of necessity rather than the one they really wanted more than any other. I realise nobody wants to admit to having married Mr or Ms Second-Best, so please feel free to PM me instead of posting publicly if that would be easier. I just want to know if it’s possible to fall in love as an act of pure will, without the aid of the emotions, and if that kind of love ever satisfies a life companion or makes for a healthy family environment.

On the other hand, should I wait a few years until these feelings pass, or hold out for a few more years in the hope my ex might change her mind. When she left, I had a 14 year plan to wait for her, contacting her at 1, 3, 7 and 14 years to see if she’d changed her mind, then I modified it to a 7 year plan, because it didn’t seem fair to either of us to hang on until 14 years, and it didn’t seem like a plan that rigid would allow God the freedom to work in my life, now I’m questioning the whole idea of a plan. The whole point about this is I need to move on as she is moving on, and trust God that if He wants to bring us back together He will. Can I really move on if I won’t consider being with anyone else?


#2

Four months? That’s not a very long time when there’s a broken heart. give yourself more time to heal.

Move on? What does this mean exactly? Does it mean dating other people, or stop wanting her to come back to you? Again I think time is needed.

You said:

I’m not looking for that ‘spark’ anymore, because I honestly feel I would be doing my ex a disservice by trying to replace that feeling.

I think you would be doing the woman you married a disservice (not so much your ex).

I would not want to be married to someone who never had a spark for me and that has to “will” to love me in the first place (there’s enough of that in normal marriages anyway, kwim?)

You seem like you are in so much pain. I’m sorry you are going through this.


#3

4 months is not that long, what do other people know about your grief (and it is a grief process when a relationship ends) to dictate to you when you should “move on”? tell em to stuff it, or better yet, don’t discuss this with others esp. those for whom it is NOYB.

what I suggest, and it is classic advice, is to turn all of your life over to Jesus, work on discerning God’s will for you in regards to vocation, and the career in which you will live out that vocation. Work on the virtues, particularly that of friendship, and humility which is true self-knowledge, which more than anything will prepare you for future relationships that may develop into something deeper.


#4

I’m not looking for that ‘spark’ anymore, because I honestly feel I would be doing my ex a disservice by trying to replace that feeling.

You are not doing your ex a disservice, because you don’t owe her anything anymore. Four months is too short a time to give up on marriage with attraction.

You are not replacing your ex - you are looking for the woman who will be your wife. Your ex could not be your wife - that is why she is your ex. I really think that some level of attraction is necessary. Certainly, there are those that marry without attraction. There are also those that marry without love, without compatibility, without respect, without consent. Some can make it work, but is it what you want to seek for yourself? I think not.

Take a few months, and mourn the loss of your relationship. Reflect on what you did wrong. Determine what it is about yourself that ended your relationship, and resolve to grow in those areas. Reflect on what it was in your ex that ended your relationship, and determine how you can avoid that in future partners. Don’t give up on attraction just because your last relationship had that. That’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and it’s not what you should be doing now. Turn inward, and don’t focus on what you lost, but what you want to gain. Good luck. Prayers are going out your way.


#5

4 months is not a long time in the grad scheme of things. Don’t listen to others when they tell you it’s time to get back on the wagon. You need time to heal. You need time for you to feel whole again and no one but you can tell you when you have reached that point. I haven’t dated for the last year and i am telling you it was the best thing in the world. I got to know myself and was really able to discern what God’s calling for me was. I was also able to spend more time with Jesus and fall more deeply in love with the Church and was able to work on my relationship with God and friends. Don’t rush yourself or put pressure on yourself that you have to follow a timeline. You have to let go and Let God direct your life.

My prayers are with you.


#6

Thanks very much, perhaps I should shed more light on my situation.

One of the reasons I think it will be hard for me to have another relationship is because I’m not certain I’ve had all I can with my ex. We both need to grow as people, and to explore life, and we both have to do that apart, but I’m still hopeful that something may bring us together again in the future. I’m not going to try to plan, as it’s planning and control that were two of my major problems in that relationship, I think my behaviour bordered on manipulation. Instead, I want to trust God and become a better man for whatever and whoever is in my future.

Another thing though is the way that I ‘fell’ so deeply for my ex. We crossed the boundary of acceptable behaviour for an unmarried couple. I think it will be difficult to go into a marriage with someone else without crossing those bounds again, otherwise I’ll be worried about being underwhelmed in that department, unless I resign myself at this stage to not wanting marriage for those carnal reasons. Also, when we met neither me nor my ex were Catholics. I was Christian, she was pagan, I had reservations at that time. Our Blessed Lady provided the bridge she needed to explore and accept the Catholic faith, and my ex gave me the push I needed to cross the Tiber after years of considering it. Still, when we first started, it was a bit of a fall. I believe we gave eachother what we needed at that time, but now we both need something different, though I’m still hopeful that we’ll find that something different in the new people we’re both becoming.

Finally, I’ve been considering recently whether I might be called to the Diaconate. I have a real passion for the Word of God - I know I’m not called to be a priest though. I know I need another person in my life. If I’m thinking of exploring a vocation to be a Deacon in the future, shouldn’t I be looking more for someone who is going to be a good Deacon’s wife, someone with a commitment to serving the needs of the Church and prayer, rather than someone who satisfies my personal needs? I know in the Eastern Church (where they have more experience of these things) being the wife of a Priest or Deacon is seen as a vocation in its’ own right, and clergy wives are often choir leaders or ikon painters who marry ordinands shortly before ordination so that they can support one anothers’ calling.

OK, lots of scrambled thoughts at the moment, maybe I do need more time to get these things straight in my own head. Yes, I know that “trust in God” is the best advice, but I still need to be a co-operator in His will, I can’t just sit in my room praying and expecting my life to suddenly slip into place.


#7

There’s no obligation and hardly any pressure you wouldn’t be able to overcome at least for the present moment. Take time to heal and nothing will go bad by this. :slight_smile:

It’s been 4 months, and many people are telling me I need to move on.

Moving on doesn’t require finding a new person. :slight_smile: At the moment I’m past a break-up too and I think actually staying single is the best help in moving on. At least until one’s completely over the lost relationship. I don’t think you are, especially as you two were engaged.

If I were to start dating again, I would be looking for something very different, not somebody I would ‘fall’ in love with as before, but somebody I could will to love, someone who I could support and help, someone who would be a good mother to my children, someone who would put up with and not resent me. I’m not looking for that ‘spark’ anymore, because I honestly feel I would be doing my ex a disservice by trying to replace that feeling.

But you could then start looking on purpose for someone who would be the opposite of your ex-fiancee and that wouldn’t do anyone any good service, either. Besides, you could also reserve a special place in your heart for the ex-fiancee, where your future wife wouldn’t be able to get, which wouldn’t be good. It’s not like you’ve loved only once and you won’t be able to love again. :wink:

I’m interested in the experiences of anyone on here who chose to love by an act of will rather than ‘falling’ in love.

Hard to say. My will affects practically everything I make since I’m a bit of a control freak and I always want to have sufficient data on the situation, make sober choices and so on. The last girl I picked in a large part because she was my best female friend. I had the will to love her, but there definitely was a feeling. It was not a tornado of hormones, but more like a light, sentimental, warm and friendly affection which wasn’t just friendship. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t attracted to her.

Anyone who chose a partner out of necessity rather than the one they really wanted more than any other.

No way I’m doing that. My father’s name will be carried on regardless, so I don’t have to. :wink:

I realise nobody wants to admit to having married Mr or Ms Second-Best, so please feel free to PM me instead of posting publicly if that would be easier.

No one wants to be Mr or Mrs Second Best. :wink: I don’t think anyone deserves that, although situations in life may prove me wrong on this or that account. People have married best friends or siblings of former spouses. Widowed queens have married nobles. Things happen like that. But normally no one wants to be a second-best choice.

I just want to know if it’s possible to fall in love as an act of pure will, without the aid of the emotions, and if that kind of love ever satisfies a life companion or makes for a healthy family environment.

There’ll be many voices in the affirmative, but I’ll remain skeptical. I believe your actions can change your feelings - feelings are generally awakened by facts that happen and facts that happen are often effected by conscious acts or at least actions of a person. That person can be you and certainly the choice of your will affect your acts directly and actions indirectly. Therefore, yes, you can somehow help falling in love with someone, but I doubt you can command yourself to fall in love. Perhaps if you choose someone you can like and respect, and well, perhaps love, then you will fall in love eventually. But you can’t really alter the state of your emotions with your act of will.

On the other hand, should I wait a few years until these feelings pass,

Not a few years perhaps, but maybe months…

or hold out for a few more years in the hope my ex might change her mind.

Perhaps it’ll be better to move on. She can still come back if you’re single.

now I’m questioning the whole idea of a plan.

And I think reasonably so. :slight_smile:

and trust God that if He wants to bring us back together He will. Can I really move on if I won’t consider being with anyone else?

You don’t have actively to seek out women and you don’t have to lock yourself in a desert hut either. :slight_smile: Just live your life like you did before. :wink:


#8

It is not just your thoughts but also your feelings are little bit off. I think you are in denial at the moment. Denial is one stage of the healing process. That means that you still have hope that your ex would come back sometimes in future. This is very unlikely to happen. In order to recover completely you would have to let go off the hope you still have, and this is not easy. It might take months or years. It is very important to stay active at the moment. Prey, go out, meet friends, relatives, other catholics, try to find a joy in your singlehood.


#9

Like i said you need to time to heal. the fact that you went too far as unmarried couple says alot of why you feel the way you do. There is a reason sex or any physically behavior is for marriage only. It makes a bond between two people that is oh so difficult to get rid of.

Right now you may be feeling the way you do because you miss that bond with her. You need time to look at your life and decide what things you really want in a future spouse. She may or may not be it. You can’t keep dwelling on her because you will end up putting her on this pedistool of what women should be. When the truth is if you take the blinders off and look at the relationship from clear eyes you would see that even she is not the perfect women for you.

I don’t know anyone women who would want to marry a man who doesn’t love her for her or is only using her to fullfill his own dreams (ie becoming a deacon). We women want to be loved for who we are and if we get an inkling that our mate doesn’t love us then we quite possible will bolt for the door. I would rather stay single then marry a man who thought i was second-choices.


#10

You are not doing your ex a disservice by trying to replace that feeling…but you are doing God a disservice by beleiving that your emotional attachment to your ex will never be felt for another woman in your lifetime.

Surely the same God you beleive created the Universe, raised the dead, healed the sick, performs countless miracles and created you down to the last hair on your head…has the capacity to send you another woman that you could love even more than your ex-girlfriend! It is possible! Trust in God!

You are in much pain. I will pray for you.


#11

I would say don’t be in such a rush to marry that you would do it as an act of will. Not only would you be cheating yourself, but also the woman that you married. A wife should be treasured by her husband.

I think attraction is a very important element for a relationship between a man and a woman. I think that was a part of the overall design, so I wouldn’t just leave it out.

I can tell you from a woman’s perspective…not only would I never marry someone I was not attracted to, it would be a deal breaker for me if I found someone who was perfect in every other way but did not have that attraction for me. I know a marriage is not all about passion, that it is something that will come and go throughout a lifetime, but it just seems like a defeatist attitude to settle for going into a marriage without that.

I’d say, set your standards high. I know maybe it seems like an easy thing to do to settle for something uncomplicated. Just I can not understand how someone could contemplate making a permanent lifetime commitment that is for so much less than what they want, when they know that the REAL thing exists.

Just try to have the faith that if you are meant for marriage, that it is going to be everything that it could be and should be. With where you have said you are at right now, I think your focus needs to be on having things right between you and God as you enter the Church. Try to push all of these other anxieties out of your mind right now, because now is not the time to try and settle them, so don’t be tempted to.


#12

DL82 - I’m so very sorry for your loss. I know how horribly difficult long distance relationships can be, and compounded with the immigration process, that I know was a difficult stress for you, does not make it any easier.

Give yourself time. And you will not know how much time that is - only God will know when you are ready to consider women again. In the mean time, take care of yourself, pray, and don’t think about the future so much. Just think about today and how you can best serve God NOW in your life. Each day will then take care of itself.

Will keep you in my prayers. :signofcross:

~Liza


#13

This thread I started was on a similar idea…

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=200863

I should update that he felt that I wasn’t attracted to him and didn’t have the patience for me to possibly build into a love relationship with him.


#14

Look DL.

A woman wants to be loved… you should read the book “Captivating” or something to learn what a woman wants… she does not need another friend but a person who is passionately in love… actually most of us are apalled at the thought of matchmaking because there is no feelings… not even when the two have sex… :frowning:

You say:
“Love is an act of will, not an emotion”.

Yeah sure! … come on… who comes up with this stuff? was it some angry hermit in the beginning of the 8th century who wanted to deny his own dreams ?
Rather stay away from women if you have that little passion.
stop trying to control everything okay…

So… you are hurt… so am I. I too was in a relationship that ended five month ago… the only man I have ever been passionately in love with… the only man I have ever loved. And I thought: could I ever fall in love again like that?.. or… wont I just get hurt? maybe I should resignate… I even told my self I did not believe in love anymore…
but
NO!.. Living is about feeling… when you love and you are loved, intensely… it is then that you are most alive… Its fantastic.
You may not think so right now but… God, working in time, is a healer…

He will send you someone who will sweep you off your feet… dont settle for less and dont offer any less to a woman… a woman needs to be loved… love is an EMOTION … a wonderful, strong, beautiful one of a kind- kind of emotion… dont ever get so holy as to deny that… passionate feelings such as intense love and making ourselves fragile in that process might get us into trouble and tears… but its worth it.
God made us living, breathing, weeping, feeling beings in order that we may live, and live authentically :slight_smile:


#15

Love is absolutely NOT an emotion.

Jesus did not “Feel” like dying on the cross. THAT is what true love is.

If we all did what “feels right”, we are not loving. When we self-sacrifice, when we make descisions to stay in a marriage and work things out, even though the feelings are gone, THAT Is true love.

Grace, what you are describing…feelings, has to do with infatuation or lust or both.

Feelings are a symptom of Love. It can be a wonderful thing, feelings are not bad.

In addition in an edit: Feelings make us want to be physically active with a date…but that is not loving. THat is giving into our feelings.

But feelings can lead us astray. Love is not feelings.

Love is a decision-an act of the will. This is basic truth. You can hear Fr. Corapi talk about it. It is in the catechism.


#16

I’m going to say two things that contradict each other, but, hey, that’s the way I am.

  1. My wife broke up with me several times over several years before we were married. There’s always hope.

  2. Don’t count on getting back together, ever. It’s over. Finished. Move on. You owe her nothing. Get on with your life.

What you are feeling is terrible, but normal for someone in your situation. But, there is hope. I don’t think that there is one person on this earth you can be madly in love with and have a great marriage to, and if that doesn’t happen, you are sentenced to a life of misery. The relationship is over, not your life. There are other people you can be happy with.

Work on healing and moving on.


#17

Agape.

Jesus did not feel like dying on the cross?

Look… I think you are making language too complicated for my taste.
I feel and I have emotions and all that stuff and if I say love I mean love and not infatuation or lust. when it comes to infatuation I think many people use it as a bad word describing passionate falling in love… because they are jealous of their own lack of ability to really live fully in the moment…
Look I am not talking about sinning or being totally blind or something…
God created people with the ability to fall in love and you make that wonderful feeling into something low… it isnt… not in my life… ill never be so sterile and rigid as to not find beauty in passionate feelings and emotions. Feelings and emotions is what they are… and they should be “baptised” for certain as Soren Kierkegaard said… but if you kill them then you might as well go through this world like a zombie.
The danish philosopher Kierkegaard also speaks at great length about a generation with no passion… he goes as far as to say that faith and passion is one and the same thing… oh you should read his reflections on love… I think hes got something and I also thinks it helps to explain why both marriage and church is not thriving these days… neither our faith nor our love is passionate … and then we point fingers at those who actually live…

You dont have to agree… but thats my opinion


#18

It’s not about being sterile or rigid. I am not making feelings “low” as you say.

I said they can be good. God gave us emotions. They are wonderful things.

But we cannot follow our emotions. Emotions are fleeting and are not the base for making decisions.

Jesus did not “Feel” like dying on the cross. He made a decision to. “There is no greater love than someone laying down their life for a friend”. Scriptures and the catechism give clear definitions of what love is, and it is NOT feelings.

I know a man who committed adultery because it “Felt so right”.

Our feelings can lead us to sin, as I gave the example about sexual activity before marriage.

Its quite a simple concept. God allows us to enjoy passion, feelings and things as a benefit to marriage, and to love. But it is not the base for love. It’s a result and symptom of it. We don’t have to strip one away to see the other, but we should be clear in discernment what is what.

You should listen to Fr. Corapi and read the catechism. That will tell you what real love is.


#19

I’m writing this from the perspective of a girl who left a guy. I think she may have felt you were too needy and based too much of your happiness on her. I wouldn’t be interested in going back to a guy who waited around for 7 or 14 years for me when I told him I wanted to split. I believe you need to respect her wishes and move on. If she returns to you and things are the same she’ll leave again. I never respond to manipulativeness. It is selfish and a very unattractive trait. I think you need to get interested in other things and keep hopeful about finding someone else. Don’t ever marry someone you don’t love. I’ve never subscribed to the belief that love is not an emotion. Love is a powerful emotion. True, one must also love when things are tough but love isn’t a robotic thing you will to do. It comes from the heart. Remember, seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you. Put your focus on doing God’s will and he will lead you to good places. He probably has someone in mind for you. You just need to be ready when he sends her.


#20

DL82, I wrote a long response like I too often do, but I decided to make it short. You need time. You are not over your fiancee. Your heart speaks through you. You can’t dedicate yourself with your will to a woman, while keeping your ex walled up in your heart in some kind of sanctuary inaccessible to your wife. You know that this can’t do. You need to be free and willing for your wife. Your children will be happier with a father that loves the mother and you’re both able to love and deserving to be loved by a woman. This can happen again. You will realise this when you allow more time to pass. Pray a lot and maybe find something to occupy your thoughts with. You can also start praying for your future wife. It will mean much when you meet her and you’re able to say that you prayed for her long before you met.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.