Meshing the ideas of my two previous posts, I’d like to take some time to talk about being in love and its relation to a commitment to love. I left off last time with a question of whether we are designed to sustain long-term relationships, or if, as has been suggested, we are incapable of this. I believe it starts with defining love.
So what is love? There used to be a comic in the newspaper (maybe there still is, but who reads a newspaper anymore, right?) that was a one-panel drawing with the words “Love is…” at the top and then a depiction of something nice being done by one person for another. It was followed by a written description of what was in the picture, such as “Not asking her how much her new dress cost.” The idea was to point out many of the little ways we can show love to one another. It was cute, if perhaps a little syrupy sometimes. But is that really what love is? Is it the little moments and simple gestures that are often easily overlooked? I think that’s part of it, sure.
There is also an oft-used Biblical passage that has an almost summing-up quality to it that explains what love is. You know it, but indulge me:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This is not the King James version that you may used to, however I like this because it puts it in easily understood language. But I digress. Let’s talk a little bit about this one. I could probably do an entire post on just this passage, but for now, let’s take a longer view. You will notice, that nowhere in this passage, nor in the comic strip mentioned prior, is love described as that starry-eyed, butterfly-bellied, pulse-quickening, pheromone-induced hyperstate that we frequently attribute to the act of being in love. Not at all.
Love protects. Not, Love makes my palms sweat.
Love perseveres. Not, Love makes me see your face when I close my eyes.
Love is not asking how much the dress costs. Not, Love makes me think of how hot you looked in that dress last night.
Love is patient. That’s a big one. It’s patient when your husband is focused on fantasy football and doesn’t notice your new jeans. It’s patient when your wife spent more time talking to her friend who just got in a fight with her boyfriend than talking to you about your jerky boss. It’s patient when one of you is “in the mood” while the other is exhausted and would simply prefer a foot rub.
I don’t want this post to go on too long and lose you, so let me just say a couple of things, and then we can dig in some more in another post. Here’s the point: All of the things that “Love is” can be boiled down to verbs. Actions. Things that you do not things that happen to you. It’s active, not passive. You have to decide to love. You have to make conscious choices.
I asked a while back if we can love monogamously and if we can commit to love long-term, and I asked you to ponder whether relationships, marriages, could really pass the test of time. What do you think?
I think the answer is a resounding “yes” when we grow up, mature, and realize that love is something we do, on purpose, all the time, not just when we feel like it. We choose to love, just like we choose get up and go to work in the morning, just like we choose to care for children or pets, just like we choose to eat right or exercise. We choose to do it on good days and bad days, when it’s easy and when it’s hard, when we feel like it and when we don’t. But especially on bad days when it’s hard and when we don’t feel like it.
That’s what love is.