In this last part of our examination of the various basics of a happy, strong, and “till death do us part” marriage, we have to look at love.
One of my two favorite movies is Shenandoah starring James Stewart (the other is the Patriot with Mel Gibson). In Shenandoah James Stewart plays Charlie Anderson, a stubborn Southerner who is against the Civil War because it has not come to his property; therefore it does not involve him. James McClure plays Lt. Sam and Rosemary Forsyth plays Jennie Anderson, Charlie’s only daughter among five sons. Lt. Sam approaches Charlie one evening to ask for Jennie’s hand in marriage (as they used to do in the day). When Lt. Sam asks Charlie, Charlie turned his face to him and asks Lt. Sam if he liked his daughter. Lt. Sam grins and says, “Yes sir, I love her a lot.“ Charlie says, “Sam, that’s not what I asked you. Do you like her?” With a confused look on his face, Lt. Sam says, “Yes sir, I…I’m not sure what you mean, sir.” Charlie said, “Sam, I liked Jennie’s mother for five years before I loved her. Do you understand?” Still confused, Sam says, “Yes…well, no sir.” Charlie said, “Sam, you’ve got to like a woman before you can love her.” Sam perked up and said, “Yes sir, I like Jennie a lot.” (The words may not be exact according to the script, but you get the idea.
I am not one to believe in love at first sight. Love is a combination of the growth in the basics of marriage, which are commitment, trust, sacrifice, and loyalty. Love is not something that just happens. Most people who believe in instant love have confused having sex, infatuation, or puppy love with true love. I will never forget what one of my Christian counseling professors said about puppy love. He said it may only be puppy love, but to the puppy, it is real.
Love, as I said, is a combination of the basics of marriage as they are growing to maturity over the couple’s lifetime together. None of the basics of marriage occurs instantaneous. They take nurture, attentiveness, and hard work. Could this misunderstanding of love be the cause of over 50% of marriages (even among Christians) end in divorce? I think it is the major cause.
The only person who has ever fallen in instant true love with someone is Jesus Christ and that occurred when you were conceived. Other than that, because we possess the fallen, sin nature, we are committed to our welfare, distrustful of others, do not like to sacrifice for others, and are loyal to our purposes and desires.
As we spend more and more time with that person who we seem to like much more than anyone else, we begin to overcome those distorted attitudes toward the basics in marriage and from that we see a love relationship begin to develop and form over time.
Personally, I am glad love does not happen instantaneously. It is so much more fun to be involved in actively growing love to more and more maturity.
I hope these articles on the basics of marriage have been help either as you shared them with someone else or as you have let them act as a catalyst in examining your own marriage.