How to Love when Love is Dead

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How to Love when Love is Dead

Table of Contents

The more time I spend talking to women who have been betrayed, the more I get asked questions about how to love their unfaithful but repentant husbands. They go something like this: “I know he’s trying, but I just don’t love him anymore. It’s like my love is dead. I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to love him again. Did you ever feel this way? What did you do about it? What can I do?”  

Let me start by saying, YEeeSsss! I felt that way. 100%

I don’t know if I would’ve been brave enough to say it out loud, but the feelings were definitely there. Broken hearts do not love well. Not on their own. The good news is, God convicted me about this early on, and then gave me great victory very quickly. I’m eager to share with you what He taught me.  

A word of warning though, what the Bible has to say on this topic is hard to swallow. If you’re in the middle of betrayal, it’s probably going to ruffle your feathers a bit. That’s okay. If you’re in a situation where repentance hasn’t happened yet, then maybe skip this post and read this one about how to deal with infidelity Biblically instead.

Whatever your situation, I simply ask that you allow the Word of God to speak to you, and pay much less attention to my words. I get things wrong, but the Word of God is perfect. Many of the passages I’ve referred to in this post are LONG. I’ve linked their references to open through instead of including the full passage in the post. Please, if you have time, click through and read the full passages. They are SO good.

Coming to Terms with God’s Heart for Love in Marriage 

God designed marriage to be a loving and fulfilling relationship between a man and a woman. He created Eve because the creation of Adam wasn’t “good” on its own. Not until the two were united was His creation of humankind deemed “good.” Marital love was meant to bring completion to each of the individuals involved as they each become half of a new whole. When either one of those halves fails to love the other, it is a contradiction to God’s design.  

In Mark 10:5-6, Jesus addressed the law of Moses which permitted divorce for any reason, and made it clear that God never wanted divorce to be an option, because what He joins together should never be split apart. 

If you take a minute to read Malachi 2:13-16, you’ll see that God hates divorce, but there’s something else there that he hates too. He is angered by the mistreatment of wives going on among His people and has no tolerance for the unfaithfulness of these men to their marriage vows. He tells the men of Israel that God will not accept their worship until they are wholly faithful to the vows they made. 

Friends, we can be sure that when one spouse betrays another it brings deep grief to the heart of God. His desire is for marital love to be unconditional, exclusive, and unbreakable. 

For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. Song of Solomon 8:6-7

But here’s the tough part: God’s passion is just as fierce going the other way. Even when we’re wronged, what God has joined together should not easily separate, because His intention for marital love is for it to be unconditional, exclusive, and unbreakable. Anything less brings Him great sorrow.

Understanding God’s Love for Me 

This part is pretty straight forward, but it’s important we understand it. The reason we’re able to give unconditional love is that we have been GIVEN unconditional love. Before we move on, we HAVE to grasp this truth. 

Colossians 3:12-15 – Since God chose you to be the holy people that He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 

It’s so easy to forget how much we’ve been forgiven. At least, it is for me.

When we’re faced with one who, from our perspective, has done so much damage, we’re tempted to see our own sins as minor. But it is a terrible trap to allow our minds to walk down that path. We are all utterly sinful!

The pain we have caused our Lord because of our rejection of Him is every bit as real as the pain we feel because of the betrayal we’ve endured. Every bit! And yet, His love is steadfast. Never ending. Unconditional. Persistent. FIERCE! (Psalms 86:15Romans 5:6-8Ephesians 2:4-5) His expectation is that we follow His example. 

Learning how to Love with Real Agape

1 John 3:16-18 – We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters… Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 

The kind of love we’re called to have for our husbands is not a feeling- that’s affection. It’s not a stimulation or stirring – that’s attraction. It’s not really even a two-sided relationship – that’s friendship, or intimacy. Real, agape love is a willing and active giving up of oneself for another.

It is what Jesus did for me. And for you!

His love for me has NOTHING to do with me. Nothing! There isn’t anything I can do to make Him love me more, or love me less. NOTHING!!!! He loves me because He chose to. Period.  

And because of that, I can know what real love is. AND, because I belong to Him, I am capable of real love too. Through His Spirit, I can willingly and actively love no matter what. Even when it feels like love is dead.

What Does Agape Love Look Like? 

1 Corinthians 13 is always a great place to start when talking about love. Especially if you’re trying to define it or learn how to love. Please take a minute, and go read the whole chapter.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal. I don’t want to be useless. I want to put away childish things and live my life in such a way that the bounty of my life will last forever!  

How? By willingly and actively giving of myself to those God has called me to love. Even when Especially when they aren’t being very lovable and I feel like my love is dead. And that list of people not only includes, but probably needs to start with my husband.

Let’s look at some qualities that will mark this willing and active giving of myself. This agape love will be:

Patient and kind. Not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude.

(Ephesians 4:2-3) – Loving like this will make allowances for the weaknesses of others. These are traits of humility that come with an understanding of our own faults and weaknesses. They seek to gently restore our loved ones to right standing. Their goal is to unite, not divide. 

Not demanding of its own way. Is not irritable. Keeps no record of being wronged.

(Romans 12:14-21) – This kind of love is one that trusts God! It lets Him be the executor of justice. It is a love that, when given, frees the one giving it far more than the one receiving it.  

Does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

(Romans 12:9-10) – To love like this means that we will not stand silently by when sin is prevailing. It’s a fine line between refusing to go along with wrong, and taking justice into our own hands. True love, though, knows how to walk that line. 

It says, “I love you too much to silently watch you destroy yourself, but I also understand I can’t make you do what’s right. I will always speak truth in love to you, I will set up boundaries to protect myself and you, but I will leave the outcome in the hands of God.”

And true love is very quick to rejoice when repentance and redemption win. 

Never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

This is a love that lasts forever. It is not dependent upon the one who is loved. It is given freely and it is unquenchable.

It is a love that trusts GOD. A love that says, I may not like what the situation looks like today, but I don’t know what tomorrow holds. So I will choose to remain faithful in love as I wait for God to move this mountain. Because I know He will!  

Proverbs 31:10-12 – Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 

Asking God to Fill Me with HIS Love when My Love is Dead

1 John 4:7-19 explains that true love (agape love) can come from no source other than God Himself, because God IS Love. The truth is, I can’t love my husband on my own. I’m not capable of it. Just as he is not capable of loving me on his own, and you are not capable of loving anyone on your own.

If the capacity to love is what we desire (and it should be, because it’s God’s will that we love) then we must start by asking Him to fill us with His perfect love. We must confess that we need Him and that we can’t do it apart from Him.” He is eager to shower us with His Life-giving Spirit and grant us the power to love!  

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 

It’s Not for Our Husbands, it’s for Our Lord!

If you’re anything like me, there’s a part of you that’s a little riled up right now. You might be thinking something like, “But HE ruined all that. He doesn’t deserve to just be loved in spite of all this. I gave him unconditional love for years, and he trampled all over it. He deserves to suffer the consequences of what he’s done, and one of the consequences is that I don’t love him anymore.” 

You know what? If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re absolutely right! He doesn’t deserve your love. Not one bit. Just as I don’t deserve God’s love. This just isn’t about what he deserves. It’s about what God has called us to.

It’s about me and you choosing obedience to God in spite of how we’ve suffered. It doesn’t mean we won’t separate or divorce if that’s what the situation demands. It means we will willingly and actively give up ourselves (our rights, our desires, our feelings) for him Him.

In Luke 6:27-37, we find a call to all believers to love our enemies and do good to those who hurt us. We’re told to go the extra mile for others, even when they’ve done nothing for us. We’re reminded of our call to stand out in this world. It’s easy to love those who love us, but what sets us apart is that we can love and forgive even those who hate us! We’re called to forgive, and to love in the face of hurt.  

But be encouraged, the command comes with a promise. The good news is that we’re promised exponential reward for our obedience. When we give the gift of unconditional love, our gift will return to us in full, and will spill out into even greater blessing!  

1 Peter 4:8 – Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 

1 Corinthians 13:13 – Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is LOVE.

Cherith Peters

Cherith Peters

I am a wife, mother, and passionate follower of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. After the realities of my husband's sexual addiction and infidelities finally came to a head, I began blogging about our journey to healing. God has worked many miracles in our life and marriage since then, and grown a ministry committed to helping others find the healing in Christ that changed our story forever!

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At Broken Vows, Restored Hearts, we believe that when two people surrender to God there is no marital brokenness He can’t redeem. Our God is a chain breaker and a heart healer. We only need to believe, repent, and obey! So let’s turn to Him and be healed.

“Oh Lord, if You heal me, I will be truly healed; if You save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for You alone.”
Jeremiah 17:14

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