Love is a decision, not a feeling; it is a conscious choice to act in a loving way toward another person. Love is an initiated action. To understand what a Love Extinguisher is, you could read the Basic Concepts article to get a more indepth explanation. Briefly, to help you envision the idea, think of the love in your marriage like a campfire. The feelings of passion and interest are the fire. Around the fire are the protective stones of your vow. You can choose to do actions that build the fire or you can choose to do actions that put out the fire–but even when the fire is out, there is still the protective barrier of the vow so that the fire could be rebuilt.
There are actions that people do that are likely to stoke the fire of love and make it hotter–those are Love Kindlers. When you make the decision to love, you choose to act in a way that is likely to kindle feelings of interest and passion; so you decide to act in a loving way. Just as adding fuel to a fire keeps it burning–making it brighter and hotter–so concentrating on Kindlers, making them part of your daily interactions with each other, builds the fire of passion in your marriage.
Then there are actions that people do that are more likely to quench the fire of love like putting water on a fire–those are Love Extinguishers. When you do not act in love, you may choose to act in a way that is likely to extinguish feelings of interest and passion. Some Love Extinguishers are like dribbles out of a holey bucket and only slightly decrease the blaze, but some are like dumping a big bucket of water on the fire. Concentrating on Love Extinguishers, making them part of your daily interactions, will smother the fire of love and eventually put it out. Actions that kill the fires of your love are Love Extinguishers.
When we first meet the person we love, it’s natural to invest a lot of Kindlers and have very few Love Extinguishers–partly because there are not yet kids, bills, and some of the pressures of living together. After the wedding bells are over and the honeymoon bliss wears off, sometimes life can creep in and without meaning to, slowly but surely more Love Extinguishers creep in while Kindlers decrease…the fire can begin to fade. When you choose to act in love and kindle the fire, that is honoring your commitment. When you choose to stop acting in love and extinguish the fire, that is neglecting your commitment–so we use the term “Neglect.” Here are some of the Love Extinguishers that are the most common, and a few examples under each type:
1. Emotional Neglect
2. Spiritual Neglect
Will Not Forgive
Lack of Personal Transparency
Smoke and Mirrors
3. Physical Neglect
No Tender Touches (Hugs, Kisses, Touches)
Withholding Sexual Fulfillment
Abandoning Physical Attractiveness
4. Financial Neglect
Ongoing Unemployment (that is not part of a mutual agreement)
Unwilling/Unable to Live by a Budget
Hidden Spending or Overspending
IRS or Legal Financial Trouble (Judgements, Liens)
5. Family Neglect
Refusing to Leave and Cleave
Not Making Time for Personal Adult Time
Not Making Time for Each Child-Child Rearing
Inequitable Distribution of Household Chores
Getting Too Comfortable–Giving Up
6. Social Neglect
Irritating Habits (Discourteous)
Not Sharing Activities or Free Time Together
The Silent Treatment or Not Listening Actively
7. Security Neglect
Attack Dog (Verbal/Emotional Abuse)
Passive Warmonger (Passive-Aggressive)
Not Being a Safe Haven
To find out which Love Extinguishers you may be doing, please go to the Love Extinguisher Questionnaire and ask your spouse to fill it out–or fill it out as if you were in their shoes. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be going over one Love Extinguisher every weekday to examine them more fully.