Most people do not enter into a marriage having any doubt or hesitation that their marriage will last forever. When we walk the isle and say our vows we do so with nothing but pure love and infatuation in our hearts. Newlyweds look at their relationship and their future together with their new spouse through rose-colored glasses, choosing only to see the good things. You might even say that they are blinded by their love for one another. So, if nearly all marriages start out this way, in this perpetual state of bliss, why is it that so many marriages (nearly 50%) today end in heart-ache and divorce?
A big reason why so many of today’s marriages which start out so happy and ‘in love’ end up crumbling into divorce, is because most couples who get married today are not honestly committing to ‘true love’ when they walk down the isle and say their vows. They are getting married on the euphoric feelings of infatuation, based solely on “Hollywood’s” version of love. A version of love that is based strictly on emotional passion and sexual gratification rather than a true commitment to eternal and sacrificial love that God said should be the foundation of a lasting marriage.
Sadly most people don’t even realize that there is more than one kind of love, and in the fervor of their emotional romance, they think that their infatuation is all that is needed to stay in love forever, and they assume that it will be enough to make the marriage last. Indeed when you find yourself in the midst of a new romance, the chemistry and the electricity of new love does make you feel like your romance will last forever. Unfortunately history and statistics show us a very different truth.
The reality is there are several different types of love that are required to make a marriage strong enough to last the test of time. In fact there are three unique kinds of love that I want to talk to you about today – Affinity; Passion; and Genuine Love. Each of these loves are important, and even necessary at some point in a relationship, but the most important one that will help a marriage to stay strong for the duration is Genuine Love.
Let’s take a look at each one of these loves today and find out why each is important to a happy relationship. First we will look at Affinity.
Affinity is that initial spark of attraction that you feel towards the opposite sex. It is that “I like you” feeling. That feeling that makes you want to spend more time with a person. Affinity is the butterflies in your stomach, it is what makes you want to get to know a person on a more personal basis, because you see attributes in them that make you feel alive. Most relationships are birthed out of affinity. We all experience time of affinity in our lives, those moments when we notice attractive features in others that make us want to get to know them better.
Affinity is a very important part of getting a relationship started, but it is not a strong enough love to make a marriage last. Affinity is too superficial to stand the test of time. It is too emotion-driven to be a foundational love. The truth is our emotions are fickle feelings at best. Affinity is often based on appearance alone, or appearance coupled with a few personality traits which are often subject to change as our lives progress. After several years of marriage, your partners physical appearance is bound to change, it happens to all of us. With age come more wrinkles, extra pounds of body weight, and many other factors that will change our physical appearance. The point is that a relationship that is based only on affinity is bound to fizzle as aspects of our life begin to change. If affinity is all that is holding a marriage together, then something needs to happen to build a closer bond that will have the strength to hold you together when the times get more difficult.
The next type of love is passion. Passion is an emotion-driven love too. Like affinity, passion is often connected with physical attraction, but passion is a much stronger force than just affinity. It is the kind of love that makes the heart beat faster, and makes you go out of your way to be with your object of desire. The Grecian people called it Eros… it is a sensual and physical form of love that usually drives the romance and sexual connection in a marriage. Passion is certainly an important aspect of a good healthy marriage, and for a marriage to be strong their should be a good deal of passion. However passion is not a deep enough love to hold a marriage together on it’s own. Passion can quickly turn to disgust and hate if other areas of your relationship turn sour. Read the biblical account of Amnon and Tamar in (2 Samuel 13.15).
The last type of love we are going to talk about today is Genuine Love. Genuine love is radically different than the other types of love. One of the big things that sets genuine love apart is that genuine love is not focused on satisfying its own desires. Genuine love is ‘others focused.’ Genuine love says “I see a need that you have, and it brings me great joy and satisfaction to fulfill that need for you to make your life better.” Genuine love is selfless, it is sacrificial, it is about giving of yourself to make your partners life more fulfilling and more enjoyable. Genuine love seeks no gain, it is not a reciprocal love it is a choice, a decision, a commitment.
As I close this article, I am reminded of one of my favorite passages of scripture from the bible. Paul talking in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 gives perhaps the best definition of what genuine love is all about:
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
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