“I fell out of love!” “I just don’t love him anymore!” I heard these statements several times during my time as a Director of Family Ministry while I was working with people in struggling marriages. I would hear these statements and I knew I had to send a challenge back to them? I would always respond by saying, “How do you define love?” Almost 100% of the time I would hear, “I just don’t feel the butterflies anymore.” “When I look at her, I have no happy emotions.” After I heard that, I knew I had material to work with ? Call me manipulative, but I believe that in today’s world we just do not understand love!
English is the only language that uses the same word to talk about our spouse and pizza in the same way. I love my husband and I love pizza! How in the world can we even compare those two? One is a human being, the other an inanimate object. Yet, here we are…using the same word! We equate the word to the way something makes us “feel”. Let me fill you in on a secret, love is NOT a feeling.
To all couples preparing for marriage, I want to be the first to let you all know that the butterflies will disappear, the happy feelings will fade away, and there may be times, dare I say it, in your near future when you’d rather not be in the same room with the person you “feel” so happy with right now. Marriage is difficult, exceedingly difficult. It takes way more work than most people realize when they propose and accept that proposal. During our time of engagement most of us never worry about us being part of the 50% statistic of divorce. After the “I do’s!” typically our true colors start to show. We no longer are on our best behavior…and guess what…love isn’t as easy as it used to be.
When I am visiting with these couples who tell me that they just don’t feel happy anymore, I remind them as gently as I can, that love is not a feeling…LOVE IS A CHOICE! In my fifteen years of marriage, there have been many times when I haven’t felt the warm fuzzies of love, instead I’ve felt frustrated, angry, sad, and yet each morning, I wake up and I make the choice to love the one God has given to me. When I do not feel as though I have the power to love him, I ask God to help me love him! God never fails me and always gives me the strength to love my husband, even if I’d rather send him to the moon!
I remember way back to my first year of marriage, after we moved in and got settled, my husband thought a clean kitchen was not necessary. I also found out that he didn’t like cold pizza! (I do believe that the cold pizza question should be asked on the pre-marriage inventory…it was almost a deal breaker for us ?) These things made the warm feelings go away, but guess what, I still woke up each morning and chose to love him. He realized that I was OCD about the cleanliness of my kitchen! He also learned that I can get crabby when I don’t get enough sleep. His warm fuzzies went away too, but yep, you guessed it, he still chose to love me too! As months turned to years and children entered our world there were many more things that made the “feelings” disappear. However, when we got married, we knew that love was not a feeling and we committed to making a choice each day to love each other. It has not always been easy, but it has always been worth it!
So, I challenge the world to look at love, marital love, very differently than our world portrays it. Marriage is difficult! If you are ready to say, “I do!” then I hope you are ready to make the choice each and every day (sometimes several times during the day) to love through all the highs and lows that marriage can bring! Make the choice to love, even when the feelings disappear!