Falling In and Out of Love

Recently I was asked the question: Do you believe it is possible to fall out of love with your spouse—or were you just never in love in the first place? Sorry to disillusion all of you over-romanticized thinkers out there, but my reply is not the stuff of romance novels or movie and TV land.  I know that people say they “fall in love”—sometimes even at “first sight”.  I’ve heard the scientific studies about what happens to your body and your brain when you “fall in love”. I see the way the media portrays “falling in love” as this wonderful buzz of emotions that you feel when you’ve met just the “the right one”. But truthfully, I don’t think one “falls in love”.

One can fall in the toilet or in a ditch or off a ladder. You can even fall on your face…but you do not fall in love. What are people really talking about when they use the phrase anyway? I think what they’re referring to is the failed notion of love being what you feel. That sensation that is some combination of lust, infatuation and the flurry of passionate emotions you experience in a new relationship. Quite simply, what they call “falling in love” is the buzz you feel.

Funny thing is, the Bible never talks about “falling in love”. When scripture talks about love, not once does it mention feelings.  People ask me, “Well, didn’t you fall in love with your wife?”  I love my wife, because I choose to love her.  Sure I had some euphoric type feelings way back ages ago when we first met. I’m sure I got the buzz, but if “falling in love” is merely about the buzz you feel when you are around another person, then I’ve fallen in love with many people!

Everyone has experienced this when you get around some attractive, high-energy, fun-to-be-around person that you enjoy. It’s great, you get that little buzz when you spend time with them, and then you go home to the person you’re married to and they just aren’t quite as much fun. It’s not so appealing when your husband tells you to stop spending so much money or your wife yells at you to pick up your underwear. The little buzz quickly becomes just a Zzzzzzzzzzzz…. and they will incorrectly think that this indicates they are no longer in love with their spouse.   These  people  will then believe that the bundle of emotions they experience around the other person means they are “falling in love” and will pursue that buzz—when those feelings really don’t mean anything!  They have  absolutely nothing to do with real love.

Let’s go back to what the Bible says about love. In I Corinthians 13 it says that love is patient. Tell me, when you feel that rush of the new relationship—what people call “falling in love”—do you feel patient?  Nope, what you feel is happy and giddy and all a-twitter. Patience is what you experience and what kicks in when life sucks. Nothing in the early throws of passion requires a person to be patient the way real love in real life does. You know, when the baby hasn’t slept for the twelfth night in a row and that wonderful Prince Charming who swept you off your feet hasn’t gotten his butt up one time to take his turn! Patience kicks in when your lovely bride interrupts your viewing of the Monday night football game with her fifty-fifth question and it’s only the end of the first quarter!  Real love is patient when you don’t feel like being patient.  If this is your understanding of what love is, then even when you hear that great big sucking sound over your life you will be able to say, “I love my spouse.”

The same passage of scripture tells us that “love is kind” and I’m quite positive that in the rush of new passion most people have no difficulty being kind.  How about after the newness and the buzz wear off and the same-old-same-old settles in? When you feel or think rotten things are you able to love and be kind and keep your mouth shut or do you emotionally vomit all over your husband or wife because you think the key to love means having to “be honest with your feelings”?  That’s nonsense!  The Bible doesn’t say “love is honest,  or love says mean, cruel and hurtful things”—on the contrary it says love is kind, it does not envy or boast, it is not rude or self-seeking, it is not easily angered nor does it keep a record of wrongs. All of those things are what love really  is. Love is a choice—it is not a feeling and you do not fall in and out of it. The word of God makes it very clear what love is and is not.

But most people don’t understand this Biblical meaning.  If you are going to use the huggy, kissy, snuggly set of feelings as the definition, then  I gotta tell ya’, my wife and I fall in and out of love all the time. Sure there are times when it’s all sweetsie and it’s enjoyable, but it doesn’t stay like that constantly. Those feelings cannot be equated with love. Real love is keeping your word, honoring your commitment, dying to self when you want to live for yourself. Love is laying your life down for another, seeing that person through thick and thin, holding on to each other during illness, loss, hard times and choosing him or her above all others.  All of that has absolutely nothing to do with this broken concept of love that far too many people adhere to.

Do you want to be “in buzz” with your spouse or do you want to love them?  The truth of the matter is you will be sorely disappointed and your marriage will not work if you think BUZZ = LOVE.  Choose the right definition of love; live by that and not your feelings. Better to leave the buzzzzzz to the bees and you won’t get stung.

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8 Responses to “Falling In and Out of Love”

  1. Pastor Rance says:

    Mark, this hits the nail on the head! In my pre-marriage counseling sessions, I stress this part emphatically, and put the question to the couple: “Once the handshakes, hugs, gifts and wedding gowns are put away and you go back to the ordinary, dull world with just the two of you, what will keep you together?” It always comes down to love that is a choice, and not a feeling. That’s why in the wedding vows I have the couples say “I WILL”, not “I DO”, because “I do” implies, “I do…for NOW – until I don’t feel in love or we have an argument, etc. etc.” “I WILL” means, “even when you leave your clothes everywhere, bite my head off for no reason, the kids are screaming, the bills are high, the job is lost…I WILL” Agape love rooted in Christ is a totally different mindset than the eros love the world loves to trumpet and no marriage can ever be what it is meant to be (or likely to survive) without it.

  2. M.R says:

    Great post, very enlightening. So my question, is there such things as soul mates? I hear sometimes people refer to their spouse that they married their soul mate or best friend?

    • B says:

      I’ve heard Mark talk about this concept. The idea of a ‘soul mate’ is actually rooted deeply in Greek Paganism. Originally we were 2 headed, 4 armed, 4 legged, etc (you get the picture) beings in heaven. However we were disobedient and the gods punishment to us was to cut us in half and cast us down to earth. Our fate was to now wander the earth to and fro in search for our ‘other half’ in order to be made complete again. You run into the same problem with this idea as the article talks about – when the feelings of ‘completeness’ and ‘buzz’ start to fade, you think that maybe this person really WASN’T your soul mate, and that you are missing out on the one who was ‘REALLY’ supposed to be with you.

      What Christianity teaches are these Biblical principles of love and forgiveness that are SO POWERFUL they will literally work with any two human beings on the planet. Period.

  3. Jennifer says:

    This is just what I needed to read/hear. We got married last summer and I was starting to wonder if we had made the right choice. Well…you are right, he is the ‘right choice’ but sometimes I am just impatient. Thank you for reminding us of what really matters!

  4. Rosanne says:

    Your marriage seminar saved my marriage and your blogs keep our conversations going.
    This post really hit home and was a straight up reminder that I must be patient…kind…not rude…and not keep score with my husband. God is good always and I am grateful.

  5. Jane says:

    I was in a very obnoxious mood when I read this article. I had already set up a meeting with my husband to talk about an issue that is weighing me down big time. Being the 5th time we have talked about it and with not much in terms of change, I was ready to, using your own words, “vomit allover him”. After reading your article I feel admonished and challenged to tone down, keep the respect, cut out the hurtful “honest” stuff and be my brother’s keeper; after all if I destroy him, I destroy myself as well. God bless you. It helps to keep simplifying obvious truths that elude us so easily, especially when the buzz fades and reality hits home.

  6. Lisa says:

    I totally believe you can fall “in” and “out” of love and back “in” again. My parents have been married 64 years and my mother has always said one of the best things about being married that long is getting to fall in love with my father over and over again.
    Couples who stay together for a lifetime have one thing in common, they made a decision to stay married – period. Feels ebb and flow. A relationship is much like a river, you can’t stick your toe in the same river twice.

    I recently wrote an article on how to get the spark back I’d like to share.


    Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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