Many books and films portray romantic love – a couple meet, they feel attracted to, and have affection for, each other – they fall in love and live happily ever after. However, in the real world, the initial attraction is not the end of the story – we must decide to love every day because love is a decision. When we first heard this, it was quite a revelation – love is a decision which means that it is not an abstract noun but a verb, something active that we need to choose.
The decision to love is needed in the small and the big things in life – it is there to be made for the good of your marriage and sometimes huge sacrifices need to be made. Asking for forgiveness, accepting and acting forgiven, affirming each other, doing an extra household chore, putting down the paper to turn and listen to my spouse … these are all decisions to love.
When we are on the receiving end of this decision, we feel loved, touched, valued, respected … it is the glow that is often felt when someone does something special for you.
This is Christian love. It is this love which will sustain our marriages and allow them to mature and deepen. It is not always easy. We need to take responsibility and ensure that our feelings do not control our behaviour and remember that love is something we do for the other’s good, not for ourselves. Love asks “What can I do for you?” rather than “What’s in it for me?” Love is an act of the will, a discipline we practice. Love is not limited to simply something we feel. Mature love is given unconditionally and this is the only kind of love that can help us change and grow and be sustained in the longer term.
Without love, human life is seriously incomplete. Love is the only present that, when we give it away, leaves us with even more to give.
This blog was written by Caroline & Michael, Co-ordinators of Retrouvaille England & Wales. Retrouvaille are part of the Alliance of Catholic Marriage Organsiations. For more information on the Alliance please click on the link below: