Marriage can be a satisfying and exciting life-journey for a man and a woman who love each other. However, the significant number of divorced and separated persons indicates that there is a fundamental problem with their marriage preparation.
The dreaded phrases “I just don’t love you anymore” and “where has the love gone” are common among those who mistook their intense feelings of attraction as love. This is a very easy mistake to make because the popular culture defines love as attraction.
How Love Was Defined
Our concept of love has been defined by romantic: letters, poems, songs, stories, novels, movies, theatrical productions, etc. They have all defined love as strong feelings of attraction. If these feelings are felt by both parties, then they are said to be “in-love” with each other, and are expected to “do” something about it.
Attraction is not love, neither is it a component of love. Attraction is a natural emotional force that we can feel, which enables us to bond with each-other. Its intensity can fade. The couple that interpreted their strong feelings of attraction as love, will justifiably conclude that they no longer love each other when the intensity of their initial attraction fades. The typical options available them follow.
- Artificially try to conjure up feelings of attraction with gifts, vacations, and other sacrifices.
- Try to get along for the sake of the children.
- Keep the facade of a happy marriage in order to avoid the embarrassment or costs of separation.
- Have an affair with someone with whom they feel a new intense attraction.
- Give up trying and accept a life-sentence of misery.
- Separate or divorce.
The Actual Definition of Love
It is possible to avoid all of these options by simply choosing to love. Love is a promise to do four progressively more challenging things. For the man:
Promise number 1 is to accept her exactly as she is right now, with everything that he knows and does not know about her – and there is much that he does not know.
Promise number 2 is to accept everything about her as she ages – for better or worse, richer or poorer, health or sickness for as long as they both shall live. He promises to accept her even if she is later disfigured by an accident or crippled by an illness.
Promise number 3 is to forgive her. Neither of them is perfect; therefore, they will both make mistakes, and they will both need to depend on the others’ forgiveness.
Promise number 4 is to encourage her passions and encourage improvement in areas of weaknesses. This provides purpose for the marriage, otherwise she can quickly get bored with the routine.
These promises are identical for the woman.
Love and Sex
If they are both ready to make and keep these promises to each-other, then they are ready to love. When they keep them, they demonstrate their love for each-other. After they formally make their promises at their wedding, they complete or consummate their promises with sexual intercourse. Every time that they subsequently have sexual intercourse, they reinforce their promises – it is truly a wonderful and mutually satisfying mental, physical, emotional and spiritual experience.
The problem is that if they have sexual intercourse before making their promises, then he shows her that he is capable of justifying forsaking her for a younger and shapelier rival when she gets older. If he is able to restrain himself when his attraction for her is at its highest, then he shows her that he is capable of resisting the rivals that will inevitably come – and they will come. A wise woman will let a man prove to her, and to himself, that he is both willing and capable of keeping his promises.
Love and Marriage
The couple who is ready to make and keep their promises of love is ready to get married. Spouses of those with no intention of keeping these promises are destined to endure a life sentence of misery. Please do not join them. Choose to build your marriage on the solid foundation of love, rather than on the illusory foundation of fading attraction.
My experience is that most couples never reach the love stage. They seem to simply ride the wave of emotional attraction until it is exhausted, and then they settle on one of the 6 options previously mentioned. Fortunately, most marriages can be improved, almost immediately, if both of them choose to love.
So, who am I? I am the president of Walbrent College. I have spent approximately 15 years successfully counseling men and couples in their preparation for marriage, and over 20 years designing solutions to complex engineering problems. You can read more about my qualifications on the side bar.
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