The Other Stuff
Janice bounced into my office and said, “I’m getting married.” “To whom and when?” I asked. “To David Brown in September,” she said. “How long have you been dating?” “Three weeks. I know it’s crazy. I can’t believe it myself, but I know David is the one for me.”
Later, I discovered that David had been married twice before, had three children, and had lost three jobs in the past year. None of this seemed to phase Janice. “I’m so happy, she said. ” I have never been this happy before.” Janice is in for a rude awakening. Two years later she was back in my office saying, “I think I’ve made a big mistake.” What Janice illustrates is that “falling in love” is not the foundation for marriage. Better check out “the other stuff.”
Falling in Love
Falling in love is a euphoric experience. We become emotionally obsessed with each other. We wake up thinking about them. All day long they are on our minds. The person who is in love has the illusion that his beloved is perfect. Her mother can see his flaws, but she can’t. His friends will say, “Have you considered…..?” But he hasn’t and he won’t because he is in love.
What no one has told us is that this euphoric experience is temporary. We have been led to believe that if we are really “in love” it will last forever. The fact is, it will last for about 2 years. Then you will realize that what your mother said was true. What your friends tried to tell you was real. Why can’t we listen before we leap? Family and friends are God’s gift. Accept the gift.
The euphoric experience of “falling in love” gives us the illusion that we have an intimate relationship. We feel that we belong to each other. We feel altruistic toward each other. One young man said “I can’t conceive of doing anything to hurt her. My only desire is to make her happy.” He believes also that she will make him happy.
Such thinking is fanciful. Not that we are insincere in what we think and feel, but we are unrealistic. We fail to reckon with the reality of human nature. By nature, we are egocentric. Once we come down off the high we begin to assert ourselves. Without the help of God, marriage will become a battlefield. It’s time to pray.
Is It Love?
Some researchers have concluded that what we call “falling in love” is not love at all. For three reasons:
- Falling in love is not an act of the will or conscious choice. It just happens to you.
- Falling in love is effortless. We do outlandish things with no effort at all.
- The in-love experience does not encourage us to help the other person grow. We view them as perfect; no need for growth.
In the Bible, real love is a choice, requires effort, and seeks the well-being of the other. It may start with euphoric feelings, but when these fall aside, real love will continue. Real love doesn’t walk away when the feelings subside. Real love is the foundation for life-long positive relationships.
Love is a Choice
We are emotional creatures and one of our deepest emotional needs is the need to feel loved. When we “fall in love” we think we have found the answer. It is heavenly while it lasts. Our mistake is in thinking that it will last forever. It was not meant to last forever. It is only the introduction to the book. The heart of the book is a love that is far more rational, and volitional.
This is good news for those who have lost the “in love” obsession, and are back in the real world. Now you can choose daily to do something that will be helpful to your spouse. To give them affirming words and tender touches. To buy them a small gift and to look into their eyes and say, “I love you.” When you do these things, warm feelings return. Learning to speak the love language of your spouse is one way to make the choice to love.
If you don’t know your spouse’s love language, direct him/her to visit www.5lovelanguages.com and take the love language assessment. Then, ask them to share with you the results. If you make the choice to speak his/her primary love language frequently and often, you will soon notice changes for the better. Love is a choice.
Adapted from The 5 Love Languages® by Dr. Gary Chapman.