The short answer is 'NO'. No real marriage can continue if the couple are not in love because it would have lost the basis of its foundation, its reason and its purpose! Love enhances individuals and when two people come together, they do it for mutual enrichment and the love of each other. In fact, the feeling of 'being in love' is an elated state of joy everyone aspires to so, if that is absent in a relationship, the couple are on very tricky ground!
We don't marry our sisters, brothers, friends or relatives - relationships that only contain platonic love. We become attracted to someone, date them, fall in love with them, and then we marry them. At the heart of attraction is respect, communication, affection and sexual feelings. Those four elements make up the 'love' we often talk about. When that love goes it generally means that the people would have stopped communicating too, or lessened their connection because the initial interest that created dialogue would be missing; the respect would have dwindled and there would be little or no sex, though there might still be some affection. The attraction which drives sexual feelings and affection would also be lost.
If one got married in the first place purely for companionship and activities, that is a different matter. That kind of relationship does not depend on any physical contact or 'love' as we know it to exist. Just an understanding and mutual agreement between the couple. But if both people fell in love in the first place and then fell out of love because the attraction faded, that marriage is doomed afterwards. The couple might carry on as long as possible without love, sex or affection. But what is bound to happen in the end is that one or both parties will meet another person who shows them the love they have been missing, which will then likely to result in an affair or a review of their situation. No one can live for long periods without feeling wanted, desired, appreciated and loved, so when the love goes, it takes a lot of natural essentials with it.
We are all emotional beings who have to relate to others for our reinforcement and affirmation. When people live without love, they live with an emptiness and detachment which is not human. There will always be an effort to balance that emptiness with something else, which then results in looking outside the home for that remedy. One does accept that some people can 'love' their partner without being 'in love' with them, a subtle difference in long relationships. But the physical desire, the respect and the communication all have to be in place to a major degree to give that relationship any hope of continuing for a long time afterwards.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2011
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"