I remember clearly the day I first laid eyes on the girl of my dreams (now my wife). It was a thing of absolute beauty that I saw. I knew immediately that she was the one I wanted. I began to find myself looking for excuses to ‘run into her’ in the halls at school or to find ways to talk to her either at church or on the athletic fields on campus. She became a little bit of an obsession. I found her extremely attractive and pursued her relentlessly.
What is love? I have heard some refer to this phenomenon as a feeling. An emotion that runs through your body and consumes your every thought and behavior. While I feel that this is partially true, it is more of a temporary ‘high’ that one may feel. Physiologically there is a part of the brain that becomes addicted to this feeling that allows and even encourages this relentless pursuit. This feeling, however, only lasts for a few months. Some researchers suggest it may average only 6 months. During this time, one can become ‘love sick’ or you may have heard the term ‘love is blind’. We become so infatuated with this person we often look past little annoyances.
A few years later my wife and I married. We really enjoyed spending time together for the most part. However, the physiological part in the brain began to wear off. My wife quickly became aware of my shortcomings and I began to notice my wife’s shortcomings as well. We would both say we changed after we married. Now, I am sure part of that is absolutely true, but I know that both my wife and I were not that much of a different person before we married. We just never paid attention to those things before.
'We become so infatuated with this person we often look past little annoyances'
Once our differences became noticeable, arguments happened. Sometimes, arguments would happen a lot. Conflict became a regular part of our daily exchange. There are many things that neither my wife nor I am proud of that only helped to instigate more conflict. Yet, despite this conflict, we chose to stay together in the relationship.
Which goes back to that question, what is love? Love may begin as a feeling (that physiological affect I was referring to earlier), but at some point, we move beyond that feeling and must make a commitment to each other. I discovered a quote not long ago that I found very true.
‘No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice.’
So is love a feeling or a choice? Yes. There is a component that is a feeling, but when those feelings wear off, it becomes a choice. I choose to commit to working through things that come up in my relationship. If you hear yourself or someone else say, ‘I just don’t love my spouse anymore,' what they are saying is they are having a difficult time choosing to stay committed. That is OK. Some have a more difficult time adjusting away from the fairytale feeling to the real life commitment that all couples inevitably face
So hear are a few quick ways to re-commit if your relationship is struggling right now.
Recognize your spouse is not wrong, they just see things differently than you do
Commit to talking more about things you are arguing about (stay focused on finding a solution, not your differences)
Commit to actively listen to your spouse’s perspective before you share yours