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Can You Be Happy in a Loveless Marriage?

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On an almost daily basis, I have people who contact me and ask for advice on handling or coping with their "loveless marriage." Sometimes they are describing a relationship where the spark, connection, affection, and chemistry is gone. And other times, they mean that they and their spouse are no longer having sex. Whatever the actual living arrangements, they are usually reaching out because they know that there is a serious flaw in their marriage and they want to find a way to be with happy within in.

Most of the time, they don't see divorce as an option perhaps because of their children or because they believe that this commitment should be forever. I often hear comments like "We'll never get divorced so how can I learn to be happy in my loveless marriage?" Or, "how can I survive and keep my sanity in a marriage without love?" In the following article, I'll explore whether it's possible to truly be happy when you're living in a loveless marriage.

Finding Happiness In A Loveless Marriage. Is It Possible? Before I get to this specific question, I want to offer some reassurance that this is an incredibly common situation. Often, when people tell me that they're living in a marriage which they don't see as loving, it's as if they confessing something truly strange, and they're almost ashamed of it. I have to tell you though that I'm seeing this situation with much more frequency. Perhaps it's because of our economy or other external factors, but this situation is not one that is at all uncommon. So, if you're feeling guilt or shame, you can rest assured that you're most definitely not alone.

Another issue that I've noticed is that most people who contact me about this issue have given up hope that their marriage can or will change. Many of them see the lack of love as something that is going to be permanent. They usually aren't looking for a way to change the marriage into a loving one (at least at first.) Instead, they're looking for a way to be happy or to cope in spite of it. I find this to be somewhat frustrating because I've seen even marriages which appeared to be completely devoid of affection turn around.

But back to question of whether it's possible to be happy in this situation. I think that it's possible to be happy in other areas of your life. For example, you can be happy because of your children or your career or your friends. You can be happy with yourself. You can have a very rich internal and even external life so long as you are able to separate all of these things from your marriage.

And that's really where the problem lies. When you are in this situation, your ability to be happy almost lies within your ability to simultaneously separate your life from your marriage. This is not to say that it can't be done because I've seen people who are able to do this. They basically have come to accept their marriage for what it is and they live around it. And some of them even appear to be content.

But I'm always left wondering what would happen and what their life and contentment level would look like if they were able to find some love or loving feelings within their marriage again. I suspect life would go from firing on half cylinders to full cylinders and this would feel quite different to all involved.
I truly believe that you don't need to be in a romantic relationship to be happy. In other words, I certainly don't believe that a woman always needs a man to be complete or to feel fulfilled. But, when you are already in a relationship and are accepting that this relationship will never be a loving or fulfilling one, then I suspect that you might be selling yourself short.

Sure, you can learn to separate your satisfaction in other areas of your life from your marriage and in this case you could function just fine and even feel happiness and satisfaction. But the joy that comes from loving and feeling loved would be absent and I suspect that this absence would be certainly be felt.
Does this mean you can't be happy? Absolutely not. It just means that you have to learn to be happy without this particular aspect of your life present, which could potentially mean that although you don't reach your entire capacity for happiness, you generally feel happy enough.

What Are Your Options When You're Living In A Loveless Marriage?: Sometimes when I discuss this topic with folks, they tell me that they don't feel as if they really have any choices. For a variety of reasons, they aren't going to walk away from their marriage or from their spouse. Mostly, I don't think that they feel that their problems are severe enough to walk away. Many tell me that their spouse is a good person with whom that get along but whom they just aren't "in love with."
So, the options would appear to be to leave the relationship in search of a better one. (And as I said this usually is seen as the last resort. I can certainly respect this because I too believe that in many cases, marriage should be forever.) The second option would be to learn to live around the marriage as best as you can and to seek happiness in other areas of your life. And some people have become quite good at this.

The third option would be try to improve the marriage so that you no longer have to try to mesh a loveless marriage with your own happiness. I am generally surprised that more people don't pursue this option. I firmly believe and have experienced marriages which had been "loveless" for years make dramatic and satisfying come backs. And I'll often suggest that this is certainly worth a try. What do you have to lose if the marriage is already one that is lacking in love? I would suspect that the possibility of being happy in all areas of your life would make this an option worth pursuing.

It was my husband, not me, who felt that our marriage was "loveless," so he threatened to end it. I knew that it wasn't over for me and I refused to give up. I felt very strongly that we could be happy again. But, for a long time I drew on negative emotions rather than positive ones. This seriously backfired. Thankfully, I realized my tactics were not working and changed course. Eventually, I was able to not only restore my husband's love, but to change the dynamics of our marriage. You can read a very personal story on my blog at

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