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   Home  > Articles

Love is Something That We Do, "Communication in Marriage". Part 4

By Norman & Ann Bales Of All About Families

INTRODUCTION

We confess to being the kind of people who listened to country music when "country wasn't cool." Some of the lyrical content is terrible, but some of it preaches truth to people who won't listen to preachers. A case in point is Clint Black's song, "Love is Something That We Do." In the song Clint makes the point that love is not just something that we feel; its something that we do. We couldn't agree more. Today we want to share some thoughts about things that love must do in a marriage relationship.

The English word "love" has to be one of the most unusual words in our language! It's supposedly packed with meaning, yet it seems inadequate when we really want to say something. (So much for Edgar Allen Poe in his beautiful poem, Annabel Lee. "We loved with a love that was more than love.") The word is overworked. Some dictionaries list as many as twenty-five meanings for love and we're apt to use them all in our every day conversation.

In one sentence we may say, "I love my husband so much" and then in the next sentence say, "I really love fried chicken or Quiche Lorraine." In so doing we are comparing our spouses that we have been married to for several years to a French cheese pie or a bird that lays eggs and we like to eat. Not only do we say we love Jesus Christ, but we just love Leonardo di Caprio or Julia Roberts. It all adds up to careless talk and sometimes fuzzy thoughts.

We pick up a book that has "love" in the title. When we read some of its contents we realize the author is talking about "sexual attraction" whereas a book right beside it may have love in the title and the author will be talking about our feelings for our Lord and Savior. How can we overcome the confusion about love?

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOVING AND BEING "IN LOVE"

The "in-love" experience

"Most people get married believing a myth - that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things that they have longed for - companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship. The truth is that marriage, at the start is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage, love is in people. There is no romance in marriage. People have to infuse it in their marriages. A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising - keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty." - J. Allen Peterson.

What love does.

  1. It seeks the best interests of the one you love (Ephesians 5:28). In his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine wrote, "Love. . . can only be known by the actions in prompts."

  2. It requires constant effort. (Hebrews 13:1). Love means that you "keep on loving one another." Dave Grant defined love as "The commitment of my will to meet your needs and best interests regardless of how I feel." The Ultimate Power. p. 118. ". . . little of life is passed in moments of intensity, important as they are. The best relationships are built up, like a fine lacquer finish with the accumulated layers of many acts of kindness." - Alan Loy McGinnis. The Friendship Factor. p. 51.

  3. Love sacrifices. (Ephesians 4:1) ". . . the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving not receiving." - Erich Fromm

  4. Love forbears (Ephesians 4:2). "Answering the call to love demands much courage and determination because self-exposure always involves the risk of being seriously hurt." John Powell. The Secret of Staying in Love. p. 66.

ROMANCE IS TEMPORARY INSANITY.

Leaders in the field of marriage and family therapy recognize the "in-love" experience as a fleeting, short-term, illogical phenomenon. It has been called a time of "ecstatic paralysis." (The origin of the word "ecstasy" actually means "derange.") Those who are "in-love" are beyond reason and self-control.

Dr. Frank Pitman calls this experience, "a conceit that the entire universe has rolled itself up into the person of the beloved." (Time February 15, 1993) The article goes on to suggest that researchers have even identified certain amphetamine type chemicals which flood the brain and produce the "in-love sensation." The body cannot handle this sensation for more than two years.

"But our bodies do not abandon us with no chemical support for lasting relationships. Continuing with your partner prompts the production of other chemicals, which result in a feeling of security, calm, and peace. I often have people tell me, 'I love my spouse, but I'm not in love with my spouse.' I tell them, 'That's great because the in-love bit isn't a stable state anyway and now you can get down to the business of reason and responsible living.'" - Mikal Frazier, marriage and family therapist.

SUSTAINING LOVE

If marriage cannot be sustained by an "in-love" experience, then how do we develop real love in our marriages? May we offer some simple suggestions.

  1. Concentrate on behaving in an unselfish manner on a consistent basis (1 Corinthians 13:3). "Effective love is not like a retractable ballpoint pen." - John Powell.

  2. Love unconditionally (Romans 5:8).

  3. Love unselfishly (Matthew 16:24).

  4. Act beyond your feelings (John 13:1).

  5. Consider the eternal consequences (2 Corinthians 5:10) "When we come to the end of life, the majority of us will say 'we did not love enough." - George Sweeting

CONCLUSION

People who are successful at whatever they do reach their objectives by a series of little things they do every day. If you do the little things on a daily basis, they will make big differences in your relationship and your mate.

Start today:

  1. Spoil each other.

  2. Express appreciation.

  3. Know when to apologize.

  4. Take time out.

  5. Know that gifts matter.

Love's Opportunity: "I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again." - Stephen Grelett. 1773-1855.

For the next article in the series click here

For the previous article in the series click here


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- Cultivating Intimacy Requires Hard Work, "Communication in Marriage". Part 3
- Til Dissatisfaction Do Us Part, "Communication in Marriage". Part 2
- You've Got to Have the Right Parts, "Communication in Marriage". Part 6

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