In today’s world so many of us are struggling in our relationships. Falling in love is easy, but staying in love is a whole different thing. Sometimes we might end up wondering if it’s even possible. Is it possible for two people to fall in love and stay in love for the rest of their lives? I’m not talking about just staying together, most of us can agree that there is a big difference between staying together and staying in love, I’m talking about a life-long love.
The other day I watched and awesome video-based bible-study by Andy Stanley. The four-session study is called “Staying in love-falling in love is easy, staying in love requires a plan.” I love how this video-based study is described:
“We all know what's required to fall in love… a pulse. Falling in love is easy. But staying there—that's something else entirely.”
One problem in today’s world is that few people have grown up in a family where their parents had a loving relationship. It’s hard to build a healthy loving relationship of our own if we have never seen one. The lack of healthy loving relationships in our family leads us to learn a model for relationships that is so wrong, yet we adopt this model, because we don’t know anything else. As young adults we take on relationships according to this broken model and it becomes almost impossible for us to stay in love.
The second problem that affect our relationships as adults is how we felt growing up. Research has shown that every child has needs that have to be filled for the child to become emotionally equipped to engage in healthy relationships as an adult. Every child needs a home that offers constant respect, encouragement, comfort, security, support, acceptance, approval, appreciation, attention and affection.
If we grow up with many of these needs unmet it makes it a lot harder for us to succeed in relationships. Chances are high our future partner also has many of these needs unmet from his or her childhood which makes staying in love even more difficult. It’s a fact that many of us today are not equipped to stay in love.
Problem number three is that we live in a culture that doesn’t like pain very much. It doesn’t take much discomfort before our culture says: ”That’s enough, it’s time to get out!” A message we often hear in our culture is this: “If you aren’t happy in your relationship, maybe you are with the wrong person.” You need to choose someone else, you need to start over.
If you ask any happy couple you know who have been married for 20+ years they will tell you there were times when they thought they might have chosen the wrong person. They will also tell you that they then decided that their spouse was going to be the right person for them. Instead of getting out they decided to stay and work through their difficulties, and they’ll tell you that they are so glad that they did that! They chose to persevere.
It’s definitely important that we choose the right person to marry, but it’s equally important that we learn to become the right person. Our modern culture doesn’t do much to help us learn to become the right person for our partner.
Jesus gives us the foundation for enduring relationships. What Jesus says is so simple but yet so important. This is what Jesus says:
“Love one another.”
Today we often hear couples say: “we no longer love each other”. Jesus’s advice to these couples would probably be: “go home and love each other.” The couples might respond “Jesus, you are not listening, we said we are no longer in love with each other.” Jesus’s response would probably be “Well, you are married so you ought to love each other, now go home and love each other.”
If we pay attention to what Jesus said in John 13:34 we will notice that Jesus uses the word love as a verb. “Love one another” is a command! The lesson we get here is that we won’t stay in love if we treat love as only a noun, we need to make love a verb. Love is something you do.
Couples might argue: “what’s the point of “doing” love if we don’t feel it?” That’s the point right there, if you do love you will start to feel in love, not the other way around. You stop feeling in love when you have first stopped loving each other. If you want to stay in love you must make love a verb! I like how Andy Stanley describes it:
“The feeling of love is the caboose of the train, it ain’t the engine.”
If you want a tip from me on what to get your spouse or friend for Christmas I would say get Andy Stanley’s video-based bible-study called “Staying in love”. You can buy this four-session study on DVD by Andy Stanley on www.chapters.indigo.ca
If you, like me, aren’t willing to take a chance on your marriage and just see what happens then I recommend learning some tools for building a lasting relationship. The statistics are clear, about 50% of all marriages end in divorce. If we don’t want to end up divorced I think we better face facts and admit that we need to learn how to do marriage. We don’t take on our careers without getting educated first, so why do we still think we will be able to handle marriage without learning a few things first?