There is a big difference between falling in love and staying in love. One takes a pulse and the other takes a commitment.
I can tell you that after being married 45 years, staying in love is not something that happens automatically, nor is it easy. Yet real love is the glue that holds a marriage together… a foundation built on rock and not sand.
Who doesn’t “love” being “in-love?” We are in love with the idea of being in love. The reason you want to fall in love is because the idea of love makes us feel all nice and fuzzy inside. Love may make your heart beat faster but that’s not a sign of real love.
Love is not a feeling… an emotion…like the Hollywood version. Feelings come and go… up and down like a roller-coaster. It is normal in married life to have periods of both romance and disillusionment. But why can’t two people who fall in love, stay in love?
The problem is–relationships are a lot of work. I suspect that’s why so many relationships fail. Some people just don’t realize how much effort is required. We have the tendency to do bare minimum in our marriages, but would never consider that in our jobs. When I ask couples is marriage a 50/50 deal, the majority say yes… each believing that if they put in 50% effort, and their spouse puts in 50% effort… it equals 100%. Trying telling that to your boss about you and your co-worker. We’d be fired. Marriage is a 100/100 deal… each of us putting in 100%.
Love is a decision. If love were as fleeting as a feeling, people would “fall” into and out of love all the time. Relationships would never last. Love is an action word, not only a feeling word. Action follows emotions. When we are enjoying romance and feeling close to our spouse it is very easy to make a decisions to love by putting the other first and our needs second. As comedian Rodney Dangerfield says: “We sleep in different rooms. We eat apart. We take separate vacations. We do everything we can to keep our marriage together.”
When we live love as a decision we take responsibility for the relationship. We make the choice to put our spouse and our relationship before any issues. I will take responsibility for my actions, make amends, and do what I need to do to let you know how important you are to me. That is how I would demonstrate your value, your worth, to me. Their actions tell you how they really feel. Love is like any communication, if you never send it out, you won't get a return.
C.S. Lewis suggests how he came to view love and others faults differently:
“There is someone I love even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me… if I can love myself without approving of all I do, I can also love others without approving of all they do.”
Making decisions to love means we make sacrifices for the sake of the other; forgiving rather than holding a grudge; listening rather being distracted; instead of “giving in” we make the decision to “give” without resentment or expecting anything in return. Love becomes our unconditional gift.
"We decide that the marriage is more important than being right, doings things our way or “winning this one.”
Love as a noun feels despair when you no longer feel “in love” with the person you are married to. Love as a verb understands the ebb and flow of feelings. It focuses more on expressing love than feeling love.
The best example of love as a verb/action is in the reading of the bible verse 1 Corinthians 13 which is often referred to as the “love chapter” and used at most weddings. It says that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Ask someone you love, “What specific things can I do for you that will let you know how much I value our marriage (friendship, relationship, partnership etc.)?”