On the 15th of May, 2011, I was honored to conduct the wedding ceremony for my youngest daughter, Katrina.
I love my new son-in-law and consider him to be my newest son. But I did give him some words of
warning encouragement about treating my daughter well! Coincidentally, I mentioned that I do have a shotgun in my home (grin).
I also believe that Aron and Katrina have a deep love for each other. However, with so many marriages ending in divorce these days, something must be broken in our present-day concept of love. So, during the ceremony, I offered some advice about what might help couples “stay in love.” I do have a bit of experience: my lovely bride Vivian has tolerated me for the past 50 years of our marriage.
First, here is a quote from 1st Corinthians 13, verses 4-8 (Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible):
- Love never gives up.
- Love cares more for others than for self.
- Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
- Love doesn’t strut,
- Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others,
- Isn’t always “me first,”
- Doesn’t fly off the handle,
- Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
- Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
- Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything,
- Trusts God always,
- Always looks for the best,
- Never looks back,
- But keeps going to the end. Love never dies.
That is a powerful description of love. But this is poetry and lest someone claim “poetic license” was used, I feel that I should elaborate.
Here is a short summary of what I believe are the five elements of true lasting love:
- Attraction: All humans (and even the animals) experience the natural attraction for another and the base desire to reproduce. Often it is based exclusively on physical appearance and is sometimes called “love at first sight.” For some, this is the extent of love as they know it and after sexual union, they are off to another “conquest.” Others may move from the initial attraction mode to a deeper experience. Those who do not, tend to express their “love” in a way that seems to say, “I will love you as long as you please me.” With that attitude, they are certain to “fall out of love” in a very short time.
- Emotional Attachment: This is how many dictionaries define love. It is certainly an important element in true love but emotions are subject to a wide variety of external influences. Some have surmised that the line between love and hate is very thin. And what can cause one to slip from emotional love to hatred? It could be something as simple as a misspoken word or a misunderstood action. It could be the result of the actions of a third party. At a ball game, the actions of the players result in our emotions running the gamut from exaltation to near grief. If we are to experience true love, we must go beyond our fleeting emotions.
- Passion: Here, we are not speaking about erotic passion (although that kind of passion does have a place in the marriage bed). Any focused and long-term zeal might be called a passion. The zeal for doing things together is more in line with the concept of passion in love. We must never stop wanting to be close to our mate and to experience everything together. But neither should we live so as to smother or stifle the object of our affections. We must be self-controlled and balanced in our passion. If not, the same pressures that case burn-out in over-zealous workers may lead to a total loss of passionate love. From the opposite perspective, the overly jealous mate may be so controlling as to cause the other to loose true passion in the relationship.
- Intimacy: Again, the secular & base definition of “being intimate” is so much less than true intimacy with our marriage partner. The “world” knows that all these things are needed to make love last. By re-writing the definitions into purely sexual terms, they assure that the number of divorces will continue to increase. The intimacy that is meant here is the closeness and caring that is defined by the agape’ love of Christ. It is that care that is self-sacrificing and puts the needs of the other before our own needs. As Peterson says (above), “Love cares more for others than for self.” This kind of intimacy will cause one to be willing to suffer great personal loss in order to bring care and comfort to the other.
- Commitment: To some extent, each of the previous elements could be considered as external. (Intimacy probably does not fit this generalization.) To a greater or lesser degree, each of these elements are dependent on other people and their actions. But in the Bible, we are commanded to love – regardless of the actions of others. That is an internal decision that we must make. It speaks to your mate, “If your mind gets feeble and you don’t even recognize me any more – I will still love and care for you — Till death do us part!” Perhaps that is the element of love that is most absent in the multitude of marriages that end in divorce.
THAT is the kind of love that “never dies.” So, to my “bride” of 50 years: Vivian Waldo, “I CHOOSE to love you – until death separates us.” Will you join Viv and me and renew YOUR commitment to your spouse?
Updated on November 10, 2014 to correct some grammatical errors.
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