Do you know of that lovey-dovey feeling you get around someone you like of the opposite sex? The one that makes your heart flutter so much that it feels like it might burst? The feelings you got just by looking at their face, height, mannerisms leap out to you like a blossoming rose? Where you would do anything for that person just so that you could hold them in your arms?
Or how about the feeling when you are attracted to a person’s personality because its similar to yours? When you realize that you share the same life goals and the feelings are “more than mutual”? That feeling that you are both compatible for one another and that the long-term prospects are good?
While all of the above are necessary in maintaining a healthy relationship, if its only the above then sadly its just infatuation. That is, infatuation being a short-lived passion that doesn’t have the fuel to carry a long-term, vibrant, biblical marriage. Even compatibility, one of the most prized virtues even among Christians is NOT the secret sauce toward a good marriage.
How do you know that you love someone deeply and that its not just infatuation?
The bible tells us how to recognize this deep love. It’s found in 1 John 3:16 which says
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
But what does this have to do with romantic love? The answer is much closer than you may think. God who is the very definition of love, loves us in every essence – romantically, brotherly and parentally. Even if we hate him, he STILL loves us. God loves us regardless of how many mistakes we’ve made and whatever state we’re in. Even if we don’t love yourself, he still loves us. God’s love for us is unconditional. To prove this, he sent his son Jesus to die for us and give us eternal life as a demonstration of his love. His gift of eternal life is something that we cannot earn and can only receive by faith. To this measure, we can understand the qualities of true love from 1 John 3:16.
- True love is unconditional – God loves us just for who we are and not what we can give him.
- True love is sacrificial – God sacrifices everything he has for our joy (and ultimately his glory) to the point of death
- True love is commitment – God remains 100% faithful to his promises all the time. Never will he back out and revoke the promise of eternal life by faith through Jesus.
For those looking for a spouse, you must then stack up your expectations against the litmus test of God’s love – is it unconditional (they don’t have to be a specific ethnicity/height/appearance/demeanor/social class)? Is it sacrificial (would you be willing to go into utter poverty for them)? Is it committed (If they lost an arm would you love them any differently)? If the answer is no to any of these, it is more likely infatuation.
Here’s a conversation from the TV show “Lark rise to Candleford” (season 2 episode 7) which has been a most sobering reality on the matter for me. Fisher Bloom, a young travelling clockworksman wants to marry the local Laura Timmins but her wise father confronts him with this reality:
It’s not just a girl you have to want Fisher Bloom. It’s the life you want to have with her. The home. The children. All too easy to make someone else pay when all the art and beauty are gone from your craft and its about putting food on the table. That can make a man more cruel that he thought he had it in it to be…If there’s any doubt in your mind. Go. Break her heart now. Better that then stay. Break her spirit over years…Or leave anyways…Few years… Clutch of children down the line. Kisses like that children will come sooner than you think.”
As the episode ends, Fisher Bloom decides to give up on Laura because his dream of travelling the world was too much to give up for marriage. I’m glad it ended that way, and we all need to evaluate our relationships in the light of such wisdom.