Love is a Decision
by Lynn M. Griesemer
Falling in love is easy; staying in love is not as easy. Falling in love requires little effort; staying in love often becomes a decision.
What is love? Love involves willing the truest and best for ourselves and others, despite the cost or inconvenience. It is sacrificial and extends beyond momentary feelings. Some say there are at least three types of love: agape, eros and filial. Others say there are various types such as friendship, affirmation, caring, desire and familial affection. Feelings do enhance love, but love is more than a fleeting feeling, which is subject to change; love is a decision and is deliberate. Sometimes you have to choose to love someone if the person or relationship is difficult or “impossible.”
In many dating relationships, people see mainly “the good.” Once married, and after years together, we see “the good, the bad and the ugly.” After a while, many people get tired of the bad and the ugly.
There will be times when deep down you know you love your spouse, but you might not like him or her. Maybe you’re changing and you don’t think your spouse is. Maybe after 20 years, you secretly admit that this is not the person you would have married, given today’s circumstances. Maybe certain needs aren’t being met or there are silent longings for a better relationship.
Most couples will go through major and minor upheavals throughout their marriage. The trouble is, some will choose to bail out, or divorce, when tension builds to an unmanageable and intolerable level. Some decide that they can no longer go through life with the person they once thought would be their partner for life.
The vows you made no longer apply, you might think, and it’s better to move on as opposed to staying in a relationship whose list of “cons” is triple the “pros.” What happens with many couples who walk down the divorce path is that they make a decision to break up.
Lately, I’ve been witnessing many acquaintances ending their marriage after fifteen or more years, with several children. In many cases, problems were not dealt with as they arose. Ending the unhappy marriage seemed to be the logical conclusion. Divorce appears to be the best choice, or decision.
Let’s go back to the early years of marriage. Getting married to one’s “soul mate” or to one who seems to be the perfect fit lends the promise that nothing can interfere or come between a perfect love. At some point, the romance stage transitions into the settling in stage. When the romance is over (popular opinion has it estimated anywhere from two to five years), the real work begins. There comes a time when what was previously cute or unnoticed becomes annoying. You will discover that forgiveness is necessary, humility becomes key, and self-examination is required.
Newlyweds might not notice the sacrificial acts and tenderness freely and effortlessly shared. Love comes easy. As life’s responsibilities mount and stress or burdens creep into life, loving one’s partner can be more challenging.
At some point in your marriage, you may be faced with choosing to love, choosing to leave or choosing to stay in limbo (not love, but continue to stay in an unhappy marriage, without trying to improve). I hope you choose to love!