“I just don’t feel what I used to feel for you.”
“I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore.”
“I believe I’ve found my soul mate…and it isn’t you.”
Or as the Righteous Brothers sang, “You’ve lost that loving feeling.”
However people want to word it, the bottom line is this: the fabulous and intense experience of our early love isn’t there anymore. I guess it wasn’t true love after all.
In the wonderful movie classic, The Princess Bride, the cotton-mouthed, speech-challenged priest talks about “true love” (or “twuuuu wuv” as he says it!) at the wedding ceremony of Princess Buttercup and Prince Humperdink. He states that true love will follow you forever. While it makes for a great movie line, in reality it is a bunch of nonsense. True love doesn’t follow you like a little puppy that is constantly there. It’s actually more like a greased pig! You have to chase after it and pursue it. You have to run it down and tackle it and when it gets away, you go after it one more time. You may finally get a hold of it for a while, but then the little rascal can slip away and you have to chase it down again.
I know, I know—a greased pig isn’t all that romantic of an analogy to use, but it surely is more realistic and more accurate! Men and women who ascribe to all this romantic fantasy stuff will be sorely disappointed. So many people actually think that love and marriage will always be easy; that it will always be a skip through the meadow with birds chirping and butterflies flitting and the orchestra playing in the background. They think that the emotional high and buzz they experience at the beginning of dating or marriage will always be there. “Our love is true love and it will never fade!” That’s why so many people become disillusioned once they get into marriage—and sometimes it doesn’t take very long at all. They think that they have “fallen out of love” with their spouse once the flames of passion begin to die down to a smoldering ember.
Of course our feelings change over time. There is no way that the initial euphoria can go on and on. It gives way to a deeper and more mature kind of love. The stages of marriage have been well documented in the research. That initial high that people experience at the onset usually only lasts six months to two years. Once the buzz is gone, the mistake that people often make is to allow their “feelings” to dictate their actions. They don’t feel that rush of emotion that they associated with love in the beginning; therefore, they assume they aren’t in love any more. And naturally, since they don’t feel love, they reason (wrongly) that they must be true to their feelings. As a result, many cash in their marriages to try and find someone that they can feel in love with again. Sadly there are people who go from relationship to relationship and marriage to marriage, yet never learn the reality that they will never find a person with whom they will share all that heat, magic, and excitement every day for the rest of their lives.
The stuff of life happens—kids, in-laws, exhaustion, dirty laundry, lack of sex, so on and so on… Sometimes it’s huge stuff like loss of a job, death, serious illness, an accident or other catastrophes. But it’s in these “for worse” times that real love is fostered and developed. It’s easy to have all the happy feelings toward someone when everything is going great. But true love, the kind that Scripture talks about, is tested and tried in the difficult times. True love requires patience, perseverance, dying to self, and forgiving.
Feelings are fleeting, that’s why you have to chase after love. Be intentional. Pay attention to the girl, give the boy some extra time and focus on one another. One of the reasons new love is so exciting is simply due to the exorbitant amount of time that the couple spends together. Sadly, after a few years and a child or two, they spend little to no time with one another. How on earth do they expect their relationship to survive, much less thrive? No wonder there are not many feelings of love left!
Make your spouse and your marriage important. If you rarely see each other and are not investing time and energy into the marriage, it won’t work. Try growing plants without tending and watering them. Or think of your pet—no dog or cat would survive without basic care and feeding. Neither will your relationship.
So, go after it! Wrestle that greased pig to the ground and when it squirts out of your grasp and gets away, chase it down again. Realize that it is work and commitment that allows you to hold on to love… as greasy and slippery as it can be sometimes! Don’t let it just squeal and run away.