What is Love?
Is it something tangible or just a feeling? Is it chemical, biological, or just plain irrational? Is it a choice?
Those are all good questions, and the answer is “yes”.
When you first met your wife you likely felt a hormonal rush, possibly even an early crush as your body responded to her presence. That was infatuation. Later you got to know her and developed a connection to each other. That was attraction. Both are easily confused for love, and it can be a terrible thing to sort out where they end and love begins.
Most relationships manage to hold onto that feeling until either the honeymoon period ends, children are born. Then things start to fade, we slip back into worrying more about our own happiness than that of our spouse – and in doing so we begin to act selfishly. This only drives a wedge between you and creates unfilled needs in both of you. The flame eventually flickers and dies when this continues unabated. The selfishness increases, and eventually you begin to wonder what you saw in your spouse to begin with.
I propose that Love began the moment you made a choice to put her needs and wants before your own. Love is a choice we make every day of our marriage. Not to say that it is a hard choice, I have found over the years that it is important to rededicate yourself to the sacrament of marriage and to your partner. Doing so kindles the fire and prevents it from burning out. Make the choice to see the good in your partner, to build her up instead of tearing her down, make the choice to put her before yourself. Start your morning by thanking The Lord for bringing you together. Take the time to think of her often in a kindly or flattering manner as it will set the tone for your interactions throughout the day. Don’t let yourself be drawn into negative thinking by peer pressure, rather than running your wife down to fit in with the guys – admit your happiness with your spouse. More often than not you will be met with jealousy rather than derision. If you fail her in this, it is little different than urinating on the flames of your love. Worse than any direct harm you do her, you harm yourself by bearing false witness against her.
Make this choice every moment of every day. You will not always be head over heels in love, but that feeling will return. Your thought and actions toward your wife will drive that return. By choosing to love your wife, you are learning to love God as well. Loving God is a choice, one we must make anew every day. A choice that is reflected in our thoughts and actions. Marriage is no different, if we cannot love one wife – how can we hope to love God.
Remember that in the sacrament of marriage you become one flesh and your body is not your own. Your priorities are now forever changed to God, you spouse, and everything else – in that order. True love is found in the bliss and security of becoming one in thought, mind, and action. It is found in the gentle tenders of affection we exchange every day. Most importantly that inner fulfillment that mankind seeks is found in the warmth of the flame of love burning within their partner. Clear away impediments and barriers to communication, cling to your partner in times of crisis and hold fast for them when they must cling to you. For true love to blossom you must loose part of yourself in surrender to each other, any other foundation will be hollow and weak. True love takes time and shared experiences during which you must grow together and not apart. Your foundation cannot be based on baser things lest it crack and topple the relationship.
In short, love is not about something you receive. Love is something you give. To love without it being returned is common enough, to love and be loved in return is something special. It is in the love from your wife, and hopefully children, that you will first truly experience that aspect of the love of God that we as human beings are capable of comprehending. It is in the return of that love that you will find the fulfillment you seek, and such love must be given unconditionally before it can be received.
Women of course must do their part as well and the same standards apply to them as well. However, as the husband in the home, you are tasked by God with providing leadership for your family – an especially critical task because your children will be looking to you both as models for their own marriages and choices of spouses. Take your responsibilities seriously, that your children might also find happiness in their lives and not be misled into sin and misery.
**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.