I met my wife three years ago, and we have a two-year-old daughter. The problem is that I have never loved her, not even when we were dating. I only got together with her because of physical desire. I thought that I would come to love her in time, but that has not happened. I don’t feel anything for her, but she does love me. I feel like a prisoner, with no way out, but I can’t tell her that.

Dear Friend,

What a sad situation for all of you! You feel trapped, your wife is unloved, and your daughter is the innocent victim of your decisions to marry and then to have a baby with someone whom you do not love.

Fortunately for you, we have good news! A good marriage does not require that you have feelings of love for your wife.

Marriages that are based on feelings rarely last very long. That is because feelings can change as often as the sun rises and sets. You can feel that you are madly in love one day, and the next day you can feel the exact opposite. How you feel depends on your health, your circumstances, your background, and your experiences. Therefore, basing any decision on your feelings is a mistake.

Most people get confused about love, thinking that love is just a feeling. But love is really much more than a feeling; it is an action. When you care for a sick infant or an elderly parent with dementia, it is not usually because you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of love. Rather, it is because you are expressing love through your actions. And on the day you got married, you made the decision to express love to your wife through your actions for the rest of your life.

Stop expecting to feel love, and instead renew your decision to show love. Show love for your daughter by building a peaceful home where she can grow up loved by both parents. Show love for your daughter’s mother by honoring her, caring for her, and keeping your promises. To break those promises now would be to decide to follow your own feelings with no care for your daughter’s feelings or her future.

More than four decades ago, when my husband and I decided to get married, we also decided that we would stay together for life no matter whether we felt love or not. Our decision was motivated by our feelings of love, but it was based on our commitment to show love whether we continued to feel love or not. We promised that we would never even consider a life apart from one another.

Do we always feel the same love that we felt all those years ago? No, we don’t. The feelings come and go, but that is what we expect. Our commitment to one another does not come and go. It remains strong despite any circumstance or feeling.

Our highest priority is pleasing God and following His plan for our lives. At the time of creation, the first man, Adam, understood that God’s plan is for a man and woman to be united together and to “become one flesh.”(1) Our advice for you is to follow God’s plan, keep your commitment to your wife, and show your love by your actions.

We wish you the best,

1 Ge 2:24