Do you think it’s strange that I’ve chosen to start writing Marriage Tuesdays again in the middle of the Covid crisis? I hope not. Honestly, it’s a pretty risky time for marriages. Home routines have been disrupted. No relief from the kids. Job insecurities. Financial pressure. Health concerns. Emotions on edge. Uncertainty over the future.
Yeah. I bet there are a bunch of marriages taking hits right now. So what do you do?
Go back to ground zero.
I think one of the first places where marriages get off track is with a wrong understanding of love.
For the last forty years, or so, I have asked the same question to dozens and dozens of young couples who have come to me to help them prepare for marriage. It’s a simple question, but I’ve got to ask it, and the dialogue usually goes something like this:
“So why do you want to get married?”
“Because we love each other. Duh.”
“How do you know you love each other?”
“We just know.”
“But how do you know?”
“Well, we can’t explain it, but we just know it.”
Stop the presses. Here’s an insight that deserves to be passed on, even though you’ve heard it again and again. Love is not a feeling.
Passion. Anger. Dread. Romance. Infatuation. Worry. Stress. Sympathy. Lust. Exhilaration. Emptiness. You can make a pretty good case for all of those being feelings.
But not love.
I learned a long time ago that love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. Love is a decision. Love is an action. Love is not words. Love is not an impulse. Love does not tingle and send chills up your back. Romance does. Emotion does. Sensuality does.
Love? It simply does the right thing.
Love is a decision to act in the best interest of your partner. Love is choosing to do what your partner needs. Love is looking at the situation and saying, “This is not about what I want…it’s about what you need.”
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be feelings in a marriage. Far from it. I think our marriages should be full of emotion and passion and warmth and over the top happiness. But that’s not the foundation we build our partnerships on.
We build on love. The kind of love that moved God to send his son to redeem the world. The kind of love that motivated Jesus to go to the cross. The kind of love that digs deep, stays long, presses on, runs on empty, doesn’t give up, endures through darkness, sees possibilities, and draws lines that are never crossed.
Now that’s what marriages need.
Husbands, do you love your wives? Wives, do you love your husbands?