Falling in love is easy. It seems we fall in and out of love with people as we would a favorite pair of shoes or chocolate cake….mmmm that sounds good, I need a piece of chocolate cake…okay so where was I, yes love, what is this epidemic of love and why doesn’t it last? Why is it that we seem to fall in love so easily but especially this day in age we can’t seem to make it last?
Well lets look at the word “Love” what does it really mean to love someone? Do we love our husband or wife when we have those gushy heartfelt feelings for them? Do those butterflies in our stomache or our racing heart indicate that we love them? What about that season of our relationship when our spouse can do no wrong, and we enjoy being around them every minute of the day, that must mean we truly love them.
“The person meant for you, is the person who will love you even when there’s no reason to love you.” – Unknown
I took the liberty of looking up the definition of the word “love” in the dictionary, and what I found disappointed me, the reference of the word love is in a noun form, and the definitions range from “a feeling of warm personal attatchment, to a sexual passion or desire.” Excuse me for saying so but that’s not LOVE, that’s LUST!
It doesn’t take much to feel a sexual passion or desire for someone else, I mean just look at your TV or favorite clothing magazine, they even know this, that’s why half naked people are plastered all over for you to see, because it appeals to the human emotion. Take a look at pop stars, I’ve seen grown men ad women bawling their eyes out because this pop star touched their hand, I mean it’s pretty obvious that we allow ourselves to become personally attached to pretty much anyone that can appeal to our emotions, so c’mon really, this is our definition of love?
I will say that those passing feelings are important, and I believe can and should be a part of your marriage, but they don’t last on their own, and when those gushy feelings go, it’s not an indicator of “falling out of love” with someone, it’s indicating that the small stuff is ending, and the largeness of marriage is beginning, and the largeness of marriage takes work, sacrifice, self-lessness, compromise, humility, grace, forgiveness and faith. (Really this applies to any deep relationship however I’m just touching on marriage in this post.)
There is a chapter in the bible when Jesus was dealing with the disciples’ objections to the stipulations of marriage. Up to the point that Christ walked, the law of Moses deemed it okay to divorce your wife and provided the process on how to do it. Wanting to badger Jesus, the pharisees asked him the question whether it was permissable to divorce your wife or not, and Jesus basically said, no, God’s design was for the institution of a man and woman to join in marriage was meant to be a life long covenant and that’s what Christ wanted to restore. He made the exception in dealing with adultery and you can read more on that in Matthew 19, but other than adultery, He said that he was restoring the original intent of marriage. The disciples were very discouraged by this statement…. but I love Jesus’ response to them….
10 Jesus’ disciples objected, “If those are the terms of marriage, we’re stuck. Why get married?”
11-12 But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.” (Matthew 19:10-12 MSG)
I remember when my husband and I first got married, and every time he’d say or do something that made me mad, I would instantly go to that place in my mind that shut down and assumed we needed to just get a divorce. We’d enter those stressful seasons where just the sound of him blowing his nose sent me into a irritable fog, and I read it as an indicator that I just didn’t love him anymore and it was time to move on. See I grew up in brokenness and assumed that every good thing ended at some point. It wasn’t until God began to show me the truth about what it meant to love, that I realized I had the ability to love through hard times and pain, and as a matter of fact, that’s when love in it’s truest form was being lived out. Love is in fact a verb, an action verb, it’s the act of giving a person what he/she needs or wants when they don’t deserve it. It’s easy to love a person that’s loveable…
31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)
Just think, if Jesus asks us to treat our enemies with such grace and mercy, how do you think we should be treating the one we’ve promised our hearts to for life? And might I add that sometimes when we are in the thick of battle in our marriage, it seems that our spouse is our enemy, so even more so this verse applies!
I want to very briefly venture through a typical wedding vow, this may have not been your exact wedding vow but you may have had some version of this to your spouse at your wedding….
I Jon take you Jane to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward…
For better or worse – It’s easy to love someone when they’re at their best, but what about when the two of you are growing at a different pace and don’t relate to or understand one another? Or how about when you’re in the middle of the stress of life and there’s alot of responsibility and not alot of fun? How about when you disagree on seemingly everything? Will it be as easy when you and your spouse aren’t spring chickens anymore and your spouse is growing hair out of his ears, or gravity takes it’s toll on your wife’s body after children and she’s not a young hot bod anymore?
In sickness and in health – what if the sickness is a thyroid disease and your spouses weight begins to grow or plummet? What if the sickness is terminal? How about mental or emotional sickness? Eating disorders, paralyzation, struggles with alcohol, depression, social or general anxiety, and the list goes on…
In good times and in bad – We all know how much fun marriage is when we’re in good times, but what about those bad times? Do they last? Is it possible to love someone during a bad time? Bad times are different for every couple, but when you find yourself in the middle of a season that you would refer to as a “bad time” how do you handle that? What should our response be? You feel lost, lonely, forgotten, taken advantage of, tired, bored, un-loved, un-cared for, what do you do? Does this part of the promise we gave to our spouse really apply to even those darkest and lowly of places?
There is no cut and dry answer to these questions, but they are questions that we all come face to face with. I will say that from experience, the more my husband and I go through in life together instead of giving up, the stronger and closer we become. He is my very best friend, and it’s not because we just magically get along or always see eye to eye, or are 100% compatible, it’s because we’ve resolved to live an excellent life in all areas including our marriage. As a matter of fact, I know when we hit those seasons of our relationship that seem so lonely and dark and I feel like giving up and running away, that we’re about to enter into a whole new level of our marriage and it’s always greater than the former level. Remember that tough times don’t last but tough people and tough marriages do!
When you feel that you and your spouse are on a different path, you can’t relate, you no longer like the same things, your’e not the same anymore, remember that we all grow differently, and the two of you will always grow apart, it’s what makes you human, the key is as you are on your own journeys, to continue to find eachother in the midst of it all, just the way you found eachother the first time. Appreciate your ever growing differences, instead of fighting for your own way, find the lesson in learning from the other person, embrace their uniqueness, shoot a smile across the room when chaos is breaking out with the kids to let the other know you’re on their side, allow God to open your heart and mind to new possibilities and perspectives.
Dare I say to you that maybe you’re the one that needs to change, not the spouse!! Live your life to serve, to truly love your spouse and find your friendship through everything, find a way to relate to laugh, to live, don’t give up. When the season is dark, know that there is hope, God always makes things turn for good for those who love Him, dark times don’t last. Enjoy the journey, you only get one.
It really discourages me when I see people hopping from relationship to relationship, in eager hopes that this next one will offer all that they’ve dreamed of. Thinking the grass is always greener, only to realize that no matter who you are with, you will always hit a point of work, it takes work to love others and love yourself. You have to be determined to get through the tough times if you want the great times to last, and those great times don’t come for free, the path of the great times comes through the tough times!
I have a good friend of mine who said something quite funny but so very true “If you have a King/Queen, don’t shuffle the deck, you might just end up with a Joker!”
I will not pretend to know your current situation or your past situations, but I encourage you to use divorce and giving up as a very last resort. Take your worries, your hurts and your fears to the Lord and let him heal you. He’s there to fill you up, because your spouse was never meant to be your source of feeling complete, God has to be your source, if you look to your marriage to fulfill you and keep you sustained, you will always be disappointed. Let God show you what it means to be whole, and allow your spouse to be your best friend on your journey….
God bless you and your marriage, there is nothing more powerful than unity!
Fit to Be Tied – Hybels
For Women Only – Shaunti Feldhahn
For Men Only – Shaunti Feldhahn
The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted – Dr. Gary Chapman