My husband and I will hit our ten year anniversary this month, which is so exciting. I remember many times during our marriage asking why my husband loved me, searching for reasons or things about me that he loved, and he would get kind of annoyed at the question. I came to understand over the years that his annoyance was because his love for me was because he chose to love me, period.
The other day the situation was reversed when my husband jokingly said, “Why do you put up with me?” I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, “Because I am committed to our marriage.” He pretended to be shocked at my answer, “It’s not because you love me?!” and I said, “I do, but because I choose to…” And then a discussion ensued which ended with my husband telling me I had my next blog post…go figure =0)
Why Marriage is NOT a Testimony of Feelings, but a Testimony of Character
Our culture is inundated with the idea that love is some utterly uncontrollable feeling that you have no way of predicting where it will and will not land. “So what if you are already married, if love suddenly takes over your heart adultery is obviously the only option.” This idiotic idea, and yes I mean idiotic, has led many, many people down desperately painful paths, or down those that ultimately lead to an indecisive living situation with no final declaration of lifelong commitment in marriage.
But, the Bible teaches another story altogether. Time and time again we see two flawed and sinful human beings coming together for a lifelong relationship before God, even if there is ample sin involved throughout the marriage. Clearly I am not condoning sin, but it is critical for all of us to realize that our spouses are not lacking in human flesh and that we are all prone to sin. Failure to remember this fact is at the heart of most of our marital issues as a whole.
Although the common belief for love is that it is an uncontrollable urge or feeling, the Bible reveals that love is not a feeling, but a way of living, or set of actions…in other words, love is a very active behavior that holds very little regard for internal feelings. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is the most common scripture that reveals this.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
Marriage brings out the need for such character in each of us. Our spouse is rarely in perfect form, so to truly learn how to love like God, who is our ultimate teacher and example, we must intentionally choose on a regular, daily basis to show love as He loves. Love is never just a bunch of words said in a vacuum, but it is shown in how we live out our days and how we use our words.
Your spouse is your first ministry…not your children, not your house, not your job, not your friends. He is the person to whom you committed yourself for as long as you both shall live, and it is with him that you have the opportunity to grow in Christ-like character with each passing year. Marriage is rarely an easy exchange between two already Christ-like people, especially in this day and age, so each of us need to recognize and understand that the Lord calls us to marriage not because of involuntary feelings, but because He wants us to learn to become more like Him.
Sometimes marriage is difficult, and sometimes spouses become estranged. It is during these times that we can learn even more about the character of God, and our own lacking of it, when we realize that He daily endures the pain of millions of people turning away from His offering of love. But, when we or our spouse act in ways that reflect God’s love, we come to know His great pleasure even more deeply and how our same responses of love to Him please Him greatly, too. Marriage is one of the most effective relationships at teaching us how to love as the Lord loves us…the second, in my opinion, is that of parent and child.
“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” ~ Proverbs 28: 26
Trusting in our feelings to lead us in wise ways is foolish. Our hearts are easily led astray and bent towards selfishness. The only sure way to go in a path of righteousness is to follow the Lord and His Ways in all things. Leading our hearts through conscious action is the best way to achieve the results we all desire: a strong marriage between a joyful husband and wife.
What About You?
Have you ever thought about love as a set of actions and behaviors rather than a feeling? Does doing so give you pause to your actions on a regular basis? Share your thoughts below =0)