Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. 1 Corinthians 13:4
So you have fallen out of love, have you? And it didn’t take long after he moved in with you. In fact, you are not sure whether he ever loved you, though he said he did. This, of course, brings up the issue of what love really is.
Yes, everybody knows it is what makes the world go ‘round and drives our hormones, but are passion and love really the same thing? And can you fall in love like you fall into a ditch or a swimming pool when you lose your balance? Is love merely an emotion which swings back and forth?
Psychologists tell us that romantic love—the kind that makes your head spin and your hormones rage—lasts on the average about two years beyond marriage, provided you have a marriage as opposed to what is now referred to as “a relationship.”
- C.S. Lewis, a man who was a confirmed bachelor for years, then married – perhaps more out of pity than anything else – and then learned what love is, reflected on the vagaries of love in his book Mere Christianity. “Being in love,” he wrote, “is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling but it is still a feeling. Now, no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all…. In fact,” he says, “the state of being in love does not last…. But of course ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love.” Love, he contended, is what fuels the engine of marriage, but “being in love” was the explosion that started it.
What makes the whole business of cohabitating apart from the commitment of marriage so dangerous is that the whole business is based on the touchy-feely issue of emotion and eroticism. Love, the authentic kind that keeps a man coming home to his wife and keeps intact the bond she has toward him no matter what her emotions, is a commitment, a decision to be there, and the assurance that the other person will be there as well.
In many places of the world--believe it or not—marriages are arranged and not the result of sexual attraction, and when I first encountered this I thought, “There is no way these can work apart from romance!” But in due time, I learned that they not only endure, but in many situations, they prove to be far stronger than the average relationship where the mutual attraction was merely how beautiful or how handsome someone was.
Do they have problems? Certainly, just as those who fall in love have problems, but the difference is that the families are there to support, to encourage, and to be a firewall against walking out on a mate, and—to my great surprise—in due time love is born, a deep commitment to the one whom the bride or bridegroom hardly knew at the altar.
No, I’m not suggesting that this be the norm. But be done with the thinking that we fall in love and fall out of love, then fall in love with another! Like the strong oak which has weathered the storm, the marriage which survives the winds of turmoil and the stress of life grows stronger with the passing of time; and with each spring when new growth appears, the roots of the tree have gone deeper into the soil.
It’s time to disengage ourselves from the turbulence of living with emotions, our senses saturated with feelings, and to accept that love—the living, enduring kind—can be there no matter what may be the temperature of the heart.
That’s the kind that endures.
Resource reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13