Vol 2, No. 5 Mar 2012

...A monthly newsletter designed to help make your marriage great. Each issue contains articles, tips and more.

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!

Lynn M. Griesemer is a Marriage Coach and has been happily married for over 25 years. She helps struggling marriages improve and good marriages become great. www.marriagecoachlynn.com.

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Be careful of making the decision to not love.  The seduction to end a marriage is stronger than ever.  Moms get breaks on the weekends when their children go off to dad’s house; moms can have a semi-single life of glamour, travel and fun, previously unknown to those who felt stuck and trapped in a burdensome marriage with obligations and little free time.

If you are entertaining a fantasy to end your marriage, think twice and ask these questions:  1.  What would it look like if I decided to love, rather than end my marriage in a low state of love?  In other words, is it possible to work on my feelings and commitment and if so, what could I do?

2.  Advice from Jenny Hatch (see “Couples Corner”):  Imagine you are divorced and free from your ex.  If you have children, you will not be as free as you think.  You will still be involved in your ex-spouse’s life.  And, are you willing to have your children partially raised by a future wife (husband) / step-mother (father) to your children who is a complete stranger and who you know nothing about?

(Note:  Researchers say that the instant euphoria after divorce is often liberating, but after a year goes by, the story is a little different, especially if children are involved).

Picture Couples Corner

    Meet Paul and Jenny Hatch.  Married on March 5, 1988 (Happy Anniversary!), they are the parents of five children.  Through the many trials and tribulations during their marriage, Jenny says this phrase is what she thinks of often:  “white knuckle cleaving.”  She is intrigued with the word cleave and believes it is a directive that we dig in and do whatever it takes to fight for our marriage, not letting anything come between husband and wife.

    Jenny says that when things get difficult, our first instinct is to run away.  But rather than getting frustrated, we have to remember that our spouse is the most important person in our life.  We must cleave to our spouse physically and spiritually. “Family Sovereignty” is the goal.

    “In sickness and in health” has tested Paul and Jenny.  There have been situations that have lasted a long time, testing their endurance and everything they’ve had emotionally.  Today they feel that they’ve been through so much that they can withstand major difficulties.  It is as if there is a calm, quiet strength at the foundation of their marriage.

Jenny appeared on “Your Marriage Matters” Radio Program on 8/2/11 where she discussed “Why My Faith is the Cornerstone of My Marriage.”  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/marriagecoachlynn/2011/08/02/why-my-faith-is-the-cornerstone-of-my-marriage.  Visit her website at www.jennyhatch.com.

“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”
Erich Fromm, The Art Of Loving


Nurture your marriage and invest in resources, conferences, weekend retreats, therapy or coaching as a way to deepen your understanding of yourself and your relationship. Some people spend 15 minutes a day with prayer, meditation or spiritual reading.  How about 15 minutes per day on marital reading?! Professional development is one’s career is important and so too is your marriage.   Please add “Reenergize Your Marriage in 21 Days” to your personal library.  You won’t be disappointed!


Here’s what others are saying about the book:

“You have provided a lot of practical advice and exercises that should help the reader. If I had to sum it up in one word, 'communicate' would be my choice. Much of the advice and many of the exercises help the two partners to rekindle communication with one another.” – P.W., Annandale, VA

Reenergize Your Marriage in 21 Days it is very informative, friendly and positive. What I like is that it gives positive reinforcement. What you are doing is great. I am thankful for people (like yourself), expressing and living their lives about what they are passionate about.” – F.A., Chantilly, VA.

© 2012 Lynn M. Griesemer

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