It may seem a paradox, but marriage is more important than love. Why? Because marriage is the normal situation out of which true and abiding love arises.
The popular notion, championed by fiction and motion pictures, is that love is primary, and marriage is nothing more than a dull anticlimax. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve found that real love hardly exists outside the context of marriage. How could it? Real love is a slow growth coming from unity of life and purpose. Love is a product. It is the thing to be created by mutual service and sacrifice.
In his classic book Foundations for Reconstruction, D. Elton Trueblood, a former chaplain at both Harvard and Stanford universities, said he believed “love outside of marriage or before marriage is largely romantic fiction. Before marriage there is a certain amount of passion and the mutual attraction which is the possibility of love. That is a good starting point,” he concluded, “but it would be a very weak conclusion.”
It’s interesting that when Martin Luther married, neither he nor his bride, Katherine von Bora, felt “in love.” She was getting over a broken engagement; he admitted to not “burning with desire” for her. Yet, their love for each other blossomed during their twenty-year marriage.
No wonder Ephesians 5 so beautifully teaches the concept of mutual submission and respect: of each person in the marriage working with each other, over time and out of reverence for Christ, to learn to serve each other in love. Such deep commitment is only possible in marriage.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31 ESV) This is far more than sexual union. This is a union of spirit and soul.
Two ways you can love your marriage through practical acts of submission and respect are:
- Make the marriage—and your spouse—more important than yourself and your perceived needs.
- Ask yourself today, “What more can I put into my marriage to show my spouse that I am truly committed to this relationship?” Then do that one thing.
Your marriage is not a Hollywood romance. It’s way, way better.
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