I Love My Spouse But Don't Like Them. Should We Divorce?

Love is complicated. One moment, you may feel supported and cared for. The next moment, not so much. Unfortunately, the one you love most can also be the source of your more profound frustration, disappointment, and, in some cases, abuse. 

Can you love someone and still not like them very much? How do you get clarity to decide what to do next with the relationship?

Does this sound like you?

As it turns out, the dichotomy of love vs. like isn’t all that unusual. Loving and liking aren’t always on the same spectrum. In fact, it can be far easier to fall in love with someone than to find someone you consistently like throughout the years. 

For example, Chris and Alex have been partners for over a decade and love each other deeply. But Chris has grown frustrated with Alex’s continual criticism and negativity. While the love is still there, the negativity has become draining, and the “like” part of their relationship is shaky, at best.

Now consider Jordan and Taylor, who have been married since college. They’ve always prided themselves on having a respectful and equal relationship, but after a financial setback, Taylor’s behavior has become controlling, angry, and even emotionally abusive at times. Is “love” enough to keep them from the current harmful behavior affecting their relationship?

Does this sound like you? Early in your relationship, you got the softer, loving side of your spouse’s personality. They actively did small things to make you happy. You felt so grateful for the relationship, especially when comparing it to other couples you knew. But lately, this softer, gentler side has been missing in action. You still love your spouse, but they’ve become critical and selfish. Instead of kind gestures, you get nagging and irritability.

Do you find that despite loving your spouse, you no longer like them that much? If so, at what point does their behavior go from “fixable” to a deal-breaker?

What are your options?

Divorce isn’t a decision anyone should make lightly. After all, you’ve likely put years of blood, sweat, and tears into the relationship. Your spouse may not even realize what they’re doing. Or, they may be reacting to things beyond your knowledge or control. But, unfortunately, while you love your spouse, you also know things need to change. 

An action plan is in order.

What can you do?

  • You could do nothing and hope things change. Taking a passive approach is easiest, but it rarely fixes underlying issues, and it usually leads to even more resentment.
  • You could confront them. Honest communication is a good start. You could begin by saying that while you love them, their behavior is affecting your relationship. This alone can get the wheels of change in motion.
  • You could get professional advice. Couples counseling can provide a safe and structured environment where you both can express yourself and get feedback and relationship strategies from a professional.
  • You could separate from them. You might need to take a break. This gives both of you the time and space to evaluate your relationship from a new perspective and decide how you want to go forward.
  • You could get yourself to safety. If your relationship has become abusive, your safety is your first priority. Reach out to friends, family, or professionals for immediate protection and support. 

Read: What Domestic Abuse Victims Need to Know about Leaving and Divorce

Why do you feel this way?

Maybe it’s not your spouse’s behavior after all. Maybe it’s you. Perhaps you still love them, yet your feelings about them have changed.

Perhaps you’re dealing with external stressors from your job or a health issue. Maybe you’ve grown and evolved but your spouse hasn’t, and it’s shifted how you feel about your relationship. Maybe some unresolved issues between you are standing in the way of your present-day contentment. 

It may be uncomfortable, but taking ownership is important if you want to move on from your current impasse. What part are you playing in this, and is it possible to turn it around?

Gaining clarity

How can you get insight into what is going on with your relationship and what alternatives you have? Consider these ideas. 

  • Honest personal reflection: Is your marriage still fulfilling your needs? If you no longer like your spouse, has your love simply run its course?
  • Therapy: Whether it’s individual or couples therapy, exploring your feelings and needs can help you make informed decisions about your relationship.
  • Discernment counseling: If you and your spouse aren’t on the same page about the future of your marriage, discernment counseling can help you make solid decisions about your next steps. 
  • Divorce coaching: If divorce is your chosen path, a divorce coach can guide you in the practical and emotional matters you’re likely to face.

Loving your spouse but not liking them much can leave you feeling very conflicted about your marriage. That emotional conflict can cause you to grow apart despite the love you profess. Getting insight into the root of your feelings can help you explore your options so you can make the right choices for your future.

Read: Can Marriage Counseling Save Our Marriage?

At Hello Divorce, it’s our goal to provide you with the most comprehensive resources and legal options about marriage and divorce so you can make the right decisions for yourself and your future. When your relationship is at a crossroads, you have our team of professionals dedicated to helping you along the way. Need more information? Schedule a free 15-minute call to find out how we can support you. 

Head of Content
Communication, Relationships, Personal Growth, Mental Health
As Hello Divorce's Head of Content, Katie is dedicated to breaking down the stress and mess of divorce into clear, helpful content that delivers hope rather than fear. Katie most often writes about the emotional toll of divorce, self-care and mindfulness, and effective communication. Katie has 20+ years of experience in content development and management, specializing in compelling consumer-facing content that helps people live better lives. She has a Master's in Media Studies from the University of Wisconsin. Katie lives in Texas with her husband and two adorable cats, and you can find her hiking and bird watching in her free time.