l·ove — ( ˈləv )
noun: an intense feeling of deep affection.
The dictionary defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection. Sure, that’s true, but love isn’t always going to be pleasant. Raise your hand if you ALWAYS feel 100% deep affection towards your spouse — I can ask this here, because I know there won’t be a single hand raised if we’re being honest. And if you’re not married, you’ve probably had a roommate, and I’m sure we can all agree that living with another human isn’t always pleasant.
I’ve seen divorces happen because people didn’t “feel” the love anymore (I know there can be other reasons, and I’m not saying divorce is or is not the best option, nor am I telling you what to do with your marriage) but some people don’t recognize the commitment they made when they got married. They promised to love each other for the rest of their lives — which should not be mistaken for a promise to “feel” love all the time.
“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision?” – Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
This made me realize that 50/50 doesn’t actually work in marriage. You have to give every piece of your 100%, 100% of the time. Whether your spouse gives their full 100% that day or not, it isn’t your responsibility. You are responsible for your 100%, and that’s it. When both people give every ounce of their 100%, your marriage will be functioning at a 200% level, and that’s when you truly thrive.
Let me give you another definition, this one by Voddie Baucham in his Love & Marriage series:
Love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action by its object.”
Read that again: Love is an ACT.
I remember a time when my husband and I were in an argument and I hadn’t felt very loved lately. I thought that he wasn’t doing a good job of showing me he cared about me, so I started making a list to myself of ways he could love me better. Then I made a list of ways *I* could love *HIM* better, and I realized I was significantly slacking. I had been too focused on myself and my own feelings to give anything in return. I was being hypocritical, because while I thought that I wasn’t feeling loved, my husband probably wasn’t either.
Even though Hallmark movies may say otherwise, acting in love or showing love doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture. It can be something as simple as…
Sending a mid-day “I love you” text.
Opening up the car door for her.
Stealing a kiss at a stoplight.
Putting toothpaste on his toothbrush.
Grabbing an extra glass of water before bed.
Holding hands as you fall asleep.
Love can also look like mourning, grieving, longing, failing and trying again, forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. It doesn’t have to feel like a happily-ever-after story every day, because we aren’t living in a fairytale.
Falling in love is a feeling, while staying in love is an ACTION. Oftentimes little actions — just everyday things — but it’s the small things that remind me of how much I love my husband and how much he loves me.
I want to end this with three things that I try to do (keyword: *TRY*) whenever I’m feeling upset with my husband:
- Remind yourself of why you got married in the first place.
- Re-read your wedding vows.
- Make a list of all the things you currently love about them.
- Maybe think about taping one of those lists to your spouse’s bathroom mirror. I’m sure it’ll make them feel extra loved.
“Let all that you do be done in love.” — 1 Corinthians 16:14
I hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day! I think the holiday itself is cheesy, but it’s always fun to get dressed up to go on a date. How do you celebrate?
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