My Own Thoughts on Love and Marriage
“Give me a text when you land. I’m not too far away, love. I’m excited hashtag excited hashtag excited.”
Jeff is not a social media guy – not at all. I often have to log on to his Facebook to accept friend requests that have built up over the last 6 months just so friends and family don’t feel rejected by my social-media-clueless-hubby. So, when I read this text, I thought that he could not be any more adorable. When I opened the text message on the tarmac, I had one of those butterlies-and-goose-bumps-school-girl moments. I was about to spend 5 days with my love in California, our first trip without children since our honeymoon.
When I got off of the plane in LA, I had nervous knots in my stomach that made me feel like a 11th grade girl going to her first prom. I couldn’t wait to see him, we had been apart for a few days and he has been traveling so much for work we have been like two ships passing in the night. When he pulled up in his rental car, he quickly threw in my luggage, gave me a hug, kissed me on the cheek, and off we went. For the next 20 minutes, all I could do was stare at him and notice how attractive he was. His hands, his shoulders, his piercing blue eyes; I couldn’t believe that this guy chose to marry me 8 years ago.
You get the point.
I’m one of those girls. <roll eyes here> You know, the girl who posts pictures of their romantic escapades, and gets all sappy whenever she starts talking about him.
There’s just something about that man that has a grip on my hopeless romantic heart.
But let’s get real; I don’t always feel this way. There are some mornings that I wake up, roll over to see my husband, and he is snoring like a freight train with a slow leek of drool coming out of his mouth, and just a few moments later assaults me with his atrocious breath (as I assault him with mine!). In that moment, do I squeal in delight at the sight of my husband and get those school-girl-butterflies? Nope. Quite the opposite. And let’s just bring this to a whole new level of reality: There are other times that my husbands systematic, detailed, organized, strategic, analytical mind makes me bat-crazy. 8 years ago when we were registering for our wedding gifts at Bed Bath and Beyond, I got a solid dose of my husband’s personality. Every gift we registered for was analyzed, measured, inspected, researched, and mulled over for what seemed like a century. “Why can’t we just register for the item? Why do we have to sit here for 30 minutes and talk about the specs on everything?”
Oh, but then there’s me. Poor Jeff. Poor, poor Jeff. I lose my keys on a weekly basis, I’ve dropped my iPhone in the toilet more times than we can count, I take entirely way too long to get ready for any event, I’m too easily distracted by social media, I worry over things way too much and like to hash it out with him for days, I leave wet towels on our bed, I get grumpy over the dumbest things, I’ve lost my debit card at least a dozen times and then Jeff is the one to deal with the bank, I sometimes only wash my hair 2 times a week, and this girl could go on.
Jeff loves me.
And I could write 10 pages on the ways Jeff shows me how he loves me, but I’m pretty sure you, the reader, don’t want to throw up in your mouth yet again.
And I love Jeff.
My point is this: I don’t think either of us always feel like we love each other. But I get the impression from so many in our culture that love is a feeling in which we fall in and out of. I recently read this blog post that at first glance seemed like pretty good thoughts. Her logic? We are human, so we are going to fall in and out of love easily. The blogger writes this:
The #1 reason why people fall out of love is because they’re human. Yes. We are designed to fall out of love. And then, if the relationship is healthy and both people understand what real love is about, we fall back in love, deeper than before. And then we fall out of love and back in love. You get the picture. Falling in and out love is as cyclical as the tides of the ocean.
We are designed to fall out of love? Says who? I’m pretty sure that we are created to love. This sort of logic of “falling in and out of love” tells me that love is about me, a self-fulfilling love. But here’s the thing about love:
Love isn’t always about me.
Professor, Rev., Author, Scholar, friend, and mentor, Scot McKnight says, “Love is a rugged commitment…” Let that sink in for a moment…
“Love is a rugged commitment.”
“…a rugged commitment.”
In other words, we are committed to love, even when we don’t feel like it. We are committed to love even when we don’t see eye to eye, even when we are like two ships passing in the night, even when we don’t have this school-girl-butterflies, and when we have to put up each other’s short comings and annoying habits – love is a rugged commitment.
So what is the fastest way to fall out of love? Choose to stop loving. Love is a choice, we get to choose daily to love our spouses. And by choosing to love your spouse you are:
- Choosing to be interested in what they are interested in.
- Choosing love even when the going gets tough.
- Choosing to celebrate your spouse’s quirks, uniqueness, and differences.
- Choosing to admit when you’re wrong, ask for forgiveness, and be quick to forgive.
- Choosing to make decisions together.
- Choosing to share intimate thoughts.
- Choosing to celebrate in each other’s victories and accomplished dreams.
- Choosing to schedule time together – never stop dating.
- Choosing to be faithful emotionally and physically.
- Choosing to be the first to admit you are wrong.
- Choosing to give more than you take.
- Choosing the New Testament model of submission (mutual submission, Christ-like humility, two people submitting to Christ as they submit to and serve one another) and love.
- Choosing to give oneself up for the other – mutually.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Some of you might be thinking, “You’ve only been married for 8 years, what do you know about love?” I am not claiming to have it figured out; Jeff and I are figuring this marriage thing out daily. But we choose to do this together, for the long haul, ‘til death do us part. The more seasoned reader will have much more to add, so I’d love to hear from you. What would you add? What would you take away?
But you get the point, love isn’t always about you, it isn’t just a feeling, it’s a “rugged commitment”, and it’s always, always, always a choice. It’s a life of mutual submission, a life lived toward the cross. It is dying and rising with Christ, living in the style of Jesus; it is a radical act of love and respect for our spouse.