One of my absolute favorite gifts God gave us is the gift of marriage. It’s this beautiful, messy, life-giving, infuriating, hilarious, terrifying, lifelong journey we get to go on with another imperfect human, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to experience it.
I’ve been married to Taylor for two years and I would say I’ve surrounded myself with a pretty good ratio of those married vs those unmarried. I enjoy learning from both groups and, hopefully, being able to influence both groups. A few months ago, I had an interesting conversation with one particular young single friend of mine. I was sharing with her how thankful I am for marriage, particularly because I think the whole love-is-a-choice thing is so beautiful.
My friend was visibly stunned as I was sharing this with her.
“Why would you stay in a relationship with someone if you don’t have feelings for him?”
“My feelings for him are stronger than ever. But that isn’t always the case. There are days, and even seasons, where the feelings seem non-existant, and that’s when you get to choose to love that person. It’s similar to how your parents love you. They don’t always feel like loving you, but they do because you’re their kid and they’ve committed to loving you forever.”
“But falling in love is different than loving someone. The feeling of falling in love doesn’t just just disappear.”
“Falling in love is a feeling, just like being angry or sad or excited. Feelings are fleeting and when they’re gone, you’re left with a choice. Are you going to choose to be joyful even when life is tough? Will you choose to love this person even when you don’t feel like it?”
Our conversation went on, and, well, she never agreed with me. I’m pretty sure she thinks I live in a loveless marriage after that conversation [insert crying-laughing emoji].
Everything we’re surrounded by teaches us that feelings are more important than anything else and if you don’t feel it, don’t do it. Men and women live together before they get married so they can feel it out and see if they could live together long term. Those first physical interactions have become so important that if a first kiss or one-night-stand doesn’t feel right, the relationship doesn’t even have a chance to succeed. Divorce rates are sky high because when people decide that the love is “dead” or another man or woman catches their eye, they cheat or get divorced.
Hear me out. Feelings are not bad. A feeling needs to be the start of the relationship. Don’t finish reading this blog and then go out and find the first guy you see, even though you’re completely unattracted to him, he smells like he hasn’t showered in a month, and his personality is similar to how vanilla ice cream tastes. BUT relying entirely on our feelings is what has gotten us to where we are today.
If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the Bible.
God gave us the gift of marriage to reflect his relationship with us. My love for my husband is just the tiniest glimpse of the love God has for me, and for you. And even His love for us is a choice. John 15:16 (NIV) says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you…” Ephesians 1:4 (NIV) says, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world… In love, He predestined us for adoption…” God doesn’t have to love us. He chose to love us, and chooses to every day.
I don’t think I ever truly understood that until I experienced the love Taylor had for me. I could be (and can be) at brat at times. I nag him, I always have to have the last word, my words bite, I can be lazy, etc., etc., etc., and still Taylor chooses to love me. I was absolutely floored at that when I first discovered it. It gave me a glimpse at God’s love for me, which is something I think I had always taken for granted.
Marriage is not about me and it’s not about Taylor. It’s not about how I feel about him on any given day. Marriage is about God’s love, and loving another imperfect being the way God loves us, His bride.