Is Love Enough?
By Sean Mungin
Is “love” an adequate enough foundation for the marital relationship? What begins as “love” can quickly take a sharp turn into conflict and chaos after the honeymoon phase passes. What is the underlying factor behind the change of events which have altered the interaction between the two people? Oftentimes, it is because we enter into a relational situation with blinders on and with a one-track mind. As often as we have encountered this, and as often as we have witnessed the experiences of others, we still find ourselves falling victim to this vicious cycle almost always.
We are quick to use the word, “love”, but in seriously examining our personal historical and recent failed relationships that were allegedly built on “love”, one must take a step back and question whether we really know what “love” is. Once a word with an absolutist background, “love” has now become dominated by post-modernistic, relativistic thinking. In other words, “love” means whatever we want it to mean individually. Where there was once ‘black and white’ vantage points, the defining line has been blurred and a gray dimension has been added to an already complicated belief system. So we find ourselves in a moment of introspection and asking the same question again…‘What is love?’
What happens when those feelings go away and we find ourselves having to deal with the real person? The real person appears on the scene when there is a conflict of interest. This conflict has always been there, but because of “love”, we were either unable to see the potential conflict…or we made a conscious decision to overlook the potential conflict. If we are blinded by “love”, we have the possibility of overlooking something that is a real cause for concern in the near or distant future.
So in realizing and acknowledging this, we find ourselves once again asking, ‘What is love?’ The Apostle Paul provides a description of what “love” is and what it is not in 1 Cor. 13:4-8. “Love”, according to Paul,
“…endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evildoing to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevails. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]…” (AMP)
The question now moves from ‘What is love?’ to ‘How do we experience this type of love?’ One thing is definitely certain…it does not happen at first sight nor does it happen overnight. Each characteristic of “love” expressed by Paul has a common denominator…time. It takes time to be able to learn many of the essential pieces that help to frame the essence of the person who has captured our interest. So there has to be another level of relationship prior to there being a “love” relationship and this is called ‘friendship.’
Real friendships take time and patience as we build and nurture the relationship over a period of time wherein factors like trust, loyalty, and honesty play a very significant role. These intricate details about a person that are often overlooked can be raised to the surface by establishing a friendship with the person. During this period of friendship, many of the conflicts of interest can be addressed. During this season of friendship, it can be determined whether the friendship should remain a friendship or whether it is strong enough to sustain the relationship should the two individuals decide to proceed with caution.
We have to be careful to not allow ourselves or others to talk us into rushing into a decision about entering a relationship for which we know that we are not ready because…
– The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? – Jer. 17:9 (KJV)