It’s so easy to fall in love, wouldn’t you agree? It’s been said, “The only requirement to fall in love is a pulse.” It’s never been easier to fall in love and I believe it’s never been more difficult to stay in love. In the movie Juno, the main character (Juno MacGuff) asks her dad, "I need to know that it's possible for two people to stay happy together forever?” What a great question. Why is it so hard to stay in love?
Many of us have not seen a healthy marriage relationship modeled to us. We live in a nation where over 50 percent of couples get a divorce and don’t go the distance. Many of those who are going the distance are just surviving but not thriving. So how can couples stay in love and develop marathon marriages that go the distance? Here is best marriage advice I know:
MAKE LOVE A VERB.
We treat love like a noun. It's an experience that happened. A moment. A thing. For many of us, we focus on the external qualities of love and ignore the internal. We talk about falling in love and falling out of love like gravity has something do with it.
In a popular wedding reading, we see a different side of love - a new definition of love:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.”*
In this reading, we see that love is a verb, an action, not just emotion. We see what love does and does not do. Marriage isn’t just about choosing the right person; it’s about becoming the right person, the type of person who loves the other person unconditionally. It’s easy to love somebody who loves you, isn’t it? But real love acts and does the loving thing when your spouse doesn’t deserve it, when they don’t respond, or when you don’t feel it. Actually, acting in love when you don’t feel it is the highest form of love. I call it graduate level love, when you act loving toward a person who does not respond the same way.
Have you discovered that it’s easier to act your way into a feeling than it is to feel your way into an action? What do you do when you’ve lost those loving feelings? How do you rekindle the feeling of love again? The good news is you can act your way into a feeling. You may say, “I don’t feel like acting loving toward my spouse.” It doesn’t matter. If you start acting in love, the feelings will follow. Why? Because feelings follow behavior.
The late Ruth Bell Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham was once asked if she had ever considered divorcing her husband. Her reply: "Divorce? No. Murder? Yes." I think we've all felt that way at times.
* 1 Corinthians 13:4-7