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Articles by Dr. Greg Smalley


Dr. Greg Smalley

Dr. Smalley also helps lead marriage seminars around the world and helps train pastors, professionals and lay leaders how to effectively work with married couples. read bio

Is Your Heart Open to Love?

The answer seems like a no brainer. But things like past hurts, disappointments and un-forgiveness can cause us to push the door of our heart closed—until we simply become incapable of letting love in or out.

Have there been times when you didn't feel love toward your spouse? I'm sure if you're honest that there have been moments or even seasons like this. Perhaps you feel that way right now.

When I experienced those lonely, empty feelings, the only thing I was certain about was that I needed to do something to bring back the love. I thought there was something I could do to rekindle or ignite the love I wasn't feeling.

However, this is where I went wrong. This is the part of love that I didn't understand. As a matter of fact, it is the most common question I hear from couples who come in for marriage counseling: "Can you help us feel in love again?"

Erin and I were there too. I asked the counselor the same question: "I love her, but I'm not sure I'm 'in love' with her. Can you help?" I was so confused when we fought and doubted our love for each other, because the conflict was so painful. I remember putting so much pressure on myself to figure out how to generate love for Erin. Looking back, I wish someone had explained a very simple, relationship-changing concept to me. And it has everything to do with where love comes from.

Where does love come from?

In my work with couples; when I hear the statement, "I don't feel love for my spouse anymore," I just blow by it. "What?" you might be thinking, "How can you simply let that go? Isn't NOT feeling in love with your spouse a huge problem?"

It's not that I ignore the fact that someone does not feel love for his or her spouse. It's that I've come to recognize that I need to help this couple shift paradigms and look at their situation differently. Instead of discussing love, I usually ask them something that really gets them thinking. Where does love come from?

Love is not about chemistry or magic. Love cannot be generated. My inability to create love for Erin was not a sign that something was wrong with me, that Erin was unlovable, that our marriage was broken, or that she wasn't my soul mate (I hate that term!). It was simply a function of the reality that, as humans, no love originates with us.

God is the author, creator, and generator of love. Love comes from God and God is love (see 1 John 4:7-8)! As a matter of fact, the only reason we can love at all is because He first poured His love into us (see 1 John 4:19). The point is—all that love we talk about, write about, and sing about—none of it comes from us. We do not generate a single drop of love. It all comes from God.

By design, here is how the process of love works. When we open our hearts to God, we receive His love. He then fills our hearts abundantly full of His love (see Romans 10:10). Once our hearts are full of God's love, we then open our hearts and share love with others. His love passes through me from God to others. When I wholeheartedly engage God and my spouse, the flow of love is full and complete. This is how we live out the Greatest Commandment.


Related Resource: 3 Ways to Open Your Heart to Love


Pillow Talk: 

Do you think you make friends easily? What’s the best part about making a new friend?



Taken with permission from The Wholehearted Marriage: Fully Engaging Your Most Important Relationship, by Dr. Greg Smalley and Dr. Shawn Stoever.

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