Occasionally, you may hear relationship terms that you are unfamiliar with.
While empty-shell marriages are relatively common, this is a phrase that you may not hear of often.
So, what is an empty-shell marriage? What causes it? And if you are in an empty-shell marriage, how do you fix it?
An empty-shell marriage lacks passion but seems stable by outside appearances.
These marriages were often initiated due to societal pressure or other superficial reasons.
While empty-shell marriages usually end in divorce, it is possible to put the spice back into the marriage.
Have you ever known a couple that has been married for twenty years, but just seems to go through the motions?
Maybe you have never seen them kiss each other or say, “I love you”. And yet they still seem to get along perfectly fine!
Or maybe you’ve met a couple who married young due to pregnancy, religious beliefs, or family pressure.
Although they may love each other – or did at some point – they weren’t ready to make the commitment when they said, “I do”.
But even though they may be unhappy, they smile and act content in their marriage when around family and friends.
These are examples of possible empty-shell marriages. Sure, there may be an effective domestic partnership and even a friendship.
They may or may not still love each other, but the marriage is completely devoid of passion.
While that answers the question at hand, it still doesn’t explain how a couple reached the point where the marriage became an empty shell or what can be done to fix it.
Recognizing the signs of an empty-shell marriage is only the first step to revitalizing it.
This may sound surprising, but some marriages were lacking in passion from day one. Of course, this probably leaves you wondering why they got married in the first place.
In some cultures, arranged marriages are the norm.
While the newlywed husband and wife may develop a bond with each other and possibly fall in love, they don’t go through the usual dating routine nor do they choose their spouse on their own.
If your parents chose your spouse for you, do you think you would feel passionate about your partner?
Probably not. The marriage was established through cultural expectations and was never based on love.
When a member of the LGBTQ community marries a person that they aren’t attracted to in order to hide their same-sex preferences or gender identity, this can create an empty-shell marriage.
Often, their spouse may become their best friend, but the passion is never truly there.
Sometimes, their spouse may feel deceived and resentful when they eventually reveal their true sexual orientation.
Fortunately, it’s become easier in recent years to “come out of the closet.”
Same-sex marriage has become legal in many states and is more socially acceptable, but religious beliefs or upbringing may still inhibit a gay, lesbian, or transgender person from embracing who they are.
In other scenarios, the passion may have been present in the beginning, but dissipated over time.
This can happen when young people rush into a marriage too soon due to unplanned pregnancy, parental or religious pressure, or just taking an impromptu trip to Vegas on a passionate night without considering exactly what marriage entails.
Also, there are many older couples that were in love when they first got married, but the marriage lost its spark and they settled into a routine as they aged.
Often, they are aware that the marriage is dead but stay together for the kids or financial reasons.
Although they usually get along and have become comfortable in the relationship, they are more like friends or roommates than a married couple.
If they are religious, staying married may seem like the right thing to do and may even work for the couple.
Their options are to remain in an empty-shell marriage, or both put in work to revitalize the marriage. Divorce isn’t an option.
Often, the couple will stay together for the sake of the kids.
Although many children are negatively affected by divorce and want their parents to stay together, older children usually notice that their mom and dad don’t seem to love each other.
While the couple may put on a good front in public, they may occasionally argue in the confines of their home.
The couple justifies staying together for the best interest of the children but witnessing arguments and living in a home filled with tension can be even more detrimental for the kids.
Teenagers may even come right out and tell their parents, “Why don’t you guys get divorced already?”
When an empty-shell marriage develops due to getting married too young or before the couple is ready, the end result is usually divorce, cheating, or both.
Occasionally, the couple may stay together for financial reasons, especially if they placed the relationship ahead of education and career.
If the choices are staying together or moving back in with their parents, they may decide to remain in an empty-shell marriage.
Fortunately, it’s possible to bring the spice back into an empty-shell marriage, but it takes willingness and effort from both partners.
If a couple in an empty-shell marriage truly wants to save the relationship but is tired of routine and obligation, they can seek marriage counseling or take steps to revitalize the marriage.
Now, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes the couple will realize that they are trying to bring back something that isn’t there anymore.
Maybe divorce is the best option for them unless they are content with continuing the marriage as it is and merely being domestic partners.
Staying together may work for some couples, especially elderly partners who have been married for decades and no longer have much interest in sex.
Well-meaning friends, family, and clergy may offer advice to a couple in an empty-shell marriage, it’s up to the couple to decide what works for them.
Here are a few tips for bringing the passion back into a marriage:
Many marriages become empty shells because partners eventually settle into a routine of everyday life and stop making time for one another.
If you are having this issue in your marriage, revive the passion by scheduling a weekly date night, hiring a babysitter (if you have children), and going out somewhere special in the evening – just you and your spouse.
If you want to make it extra special, go to a place where you and your spouse once had an awesome time together to remind each other of the passion that you once had in the relationship.
Obviously, if a marriage is still functional, but devoid of passion, then something is probably lacking in the bedroom.
Try investing in new sexy lingerie and seducing your spouse as you may have done early in the relationship.
Talk about trying out new positions, role-playing, and fulfilling fantasies that you are both comfortable with.
But only if both you and your spouse are dedicated to saving the marriage.
It’s not a smart move to book a therapy appointment and either drag your unwilling spouse along or threaten them with an ultimatum.
If you try to force your spouse into counseling, it could only drive the two of you further apart.
Instead, sit down with your spouse and explain that you would like to save the marriage and think therapy would be beneficial.
Empty-shell marriages still continue to appear stable, but the love and passion have dissipated in the relationship.
While there are several scenarios that can lead to an empty-shell marriage, it is possible to bring the spice back into your love life.