True Love in Marriage

Several years ago, my children struck up a friendship with two classmates from India who lived just a few houses away. During this time, I had the privilege of getting to know their father, Naren. He eventually decided to send his kids to a private school and we lost touch.

One day, as Naren and I watched our children play together on a nearby basketball court, I asked him, “Did you and your wife have an arranged marriage?” “Yes,” he replied. I was also wondering if he and his wife knew each other before the wedding ceremony. They didn’t.

Naren probably didn’t expect my next question. “Do you love your wife?” I inquired. With a slightly-startled look on his face, he replied emphatically, “Of course I do!” I liked his response and said, “This demonstrates that love is something that can be learned.”

Isaac, the son of Abraham, found himself in a similar situation. Abraham arranged for Rebekah to become Isaac’s wife, even though they didn’t know each other previously. The book of Genesis tells us that Isaac took Rebekah into his mother’s tent and she became his wife, “and he loved her” (Genesis 24:67). Like Naren, Isaac learned to love his wife.

True love in marriage is not so much an emotional reaction as it is a matter of the will. Put another way, it’s far more than a feeling; it’s a decision! It can be defined as that which seeks the good of the person loved (Romans 12:9). Ultimately, the greatest good that we could do for our spouse (and others) is to help him or her to get to heaven!

The Greek word used to describe this kind of love is “agape.” It’s considered the highest form of love mentioned in the New Testament and is what compelled God to send His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). There is no one who is more concerned about what is good for us than God himself because he is the perfect embodiment of love (1 John 4:8).

Today, it’s not uncommon to hear about people who have “fallen out of love” with their spouse. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that many view love as a feeling rather than an act of the will. In contrast, the true love of which the Bible speaks “never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

If we are to seek the good of our enemies (Matthew 5:44), how much more should this kind of love be found in our marriage (Ephesians 5:25)!

I conclude with a poem by Minor Ceciliano (translated from Spanish).

Love Is a Decision

A tender look,
A poem for the heart,
A warm hug,
An “I love you,”
A song,
A passionate kiss,
A perfume,
A flower.

Love is more than that.

Gazing at the stars,
Walking hand in hand.
Drawing two hearts
At the sea’s edge.
Moments that you wish
Would last an eternity.

Love is more than that.
Love is deeper.

Love is a decision,
Not simply what the heart feels.
It’s more than fire, madness, and passion.

Love is a decision
That remains until the end
And nothing will be able to extinguish it.

Even when you don’t feel
The same as yesterday.
Maybe you’re thinking
that everything is over.
Love remains.

It will never cease to be.
It’s not a feeling.
It’s not emotion.
Love is deeper.

Don’t let yourself get carried away today
By what you feel.
Just allow yourself to think
about a firm decision to love,
about a pact and unconditional surrender.
Don’t live any longer for yourself,
Live only to give
And you’ll see how everything will change.

Love is a decision,
Not simply what the heart feels.
It’s more than fire, madness, and passion.

Love is a decision
That remains until the end
And nothing will be able to extinguish it.

–Jerry Falk