There isn’t much that surprises me. However, since becoming a marriage counselor I have been surprised by the amount of times a spouse has cheated and still declared their love for their partner. It seems a bit inconsistent, right? It got me thinking that maybe we live in a world so saturated with the word ‘love’ that we don’t even know what we’re actually saying.
So, let me ask you, how do you define love? When you tell your spouse you love them, what do you actually mean? This might be the most important question you answer all day. Why? Because a stable marriage is only possible when both partners are on the same page in how they define their love for one another.
Google is a good place to start figuring just about anything out, but if you try Google-ing: “What is love?”, you’ll get at least a thousand different definitions. There’s a great passage in the Bible about love being patient, kind, etc. (1 Cor. 13:4-8) and it’s a good place to start, too, but even Christians struggle getting on the same page about a working definition of love (hence the reason many people have cheated).
We can certainly agree love is a strong feeling that has inspired movies and country songs, but it has got to be more than a strong feeling, right? In my experience, it most definitely is.
Here’s an easy recipe:
1 Part Desire (that’s the feeling)
1 Part Commitment (that’s the choice)
It’s that simple. Well, kind of.
A stable marriage has a healthy combination of both. Here’s why the combination is important. If you have a marriage that is only based on commitment then you’ll wind up becoming roommates – and I’ve never had a couple that was ever satisfied living as such.
If your marriage is only based on desire then you could easily wind up being one of the folks who tell me, “Gary, I love my spouse, but I cheated.” You know why? Because feelings aren’t always consistent. Sometimes you might actually ‘feel’ like you hate your spouse. Feelings are not your friend. You can’t always trust them. “Go with your gut” people say. But, just as feelings can lead you down the right path, they can also lead you down the wrong one. Question them. Do not underestimate the power of desire within your marriage and I’m not just talking about sex. I’m talking about simply enjoying the presence of one another. This is important.
Desire says, “I want you.” and commitment whispers, “and only you.” Commitment is choosing your partner every day, despite how you feel. It’s putting their needs above yours and consistently doing whatever it takes to make sure your marriage stays together. It’s the tough part of marriage.
The quality of our closest relationships – primarily the one with our spouse – often gives life its primary meaning. So, what do you mean when you tell your spouse you love them?
You currently may not desire you spouse. That’s ok. Remember, feelings come and go. Desire can be created. If you feel that you and your spouse could use come help learning how to desire and stay committed to each other, give us a call at 832.421.8714.