Falling in love is beautiful and finding that special someone who accepts you as you are is just magnificent; makes you feel like the best thing God made… All of a sudden, everything around you becomes so colourful and lovely- the sound of rain, the green leaves, the setting of the sun, everything. I guess that’s the logic behind the statement “love is such a beautiful thing”. That person becomes the center of your universe and daily, you plot ways to make him/her happy, funny enough, the ideas flow effortlessly. He/she is all you can think about throughout today. Wow! Words like happiness, ecstasy, elation… what else? They all describe your current state.
Now, I’ve come to see that it’s so easy to fall in love but staying in love requires work but sadly, most people aren’t ready to sign up for that work and so we see myriads of broken hearts and divorces. How would you explain that a couple who were gushing over each other, months or years later can’t wait to be apart from each other; people who took vows at the altar before God, friends and family with so much emotion and conviction begin to “drift” from each other like objects carried by the waves of the sea. They move from lovers to housemates to strangers and worse, to enemies. Gary Chapman, author of the 5 love languages, stated that some married couples, years down the line, become nicer to strangers than they are to themselves. Why? Surely they didn’t plan to become strangers when planning the wedding. In fact, if asked, they won’t be able to point out when their relationship lost sizzle…“it just happened”. Now, I’m not trying to scare anyone from getting into a relationship or getting married… certainly not! I believe marriage is a beautiful thing, I am engaged to wonderful man and I’ve got my heart set on enjoying the rest of my life with him but I want to point out an obvious trend and trace the root of this trend, so that you and I don’t add to the statistics of broken hearts/marriages.
It’s been scientifically proven that when a person falls in love, it has an astounding effect on the brain… same effect cocaine has. Now, this effect translates into euphoric feelings which also manifests on the physical body- you know, the goose bumps on the skin, fastened heartbeat, feeling of butterflies in the stomach, when you see that person. The brain quickly associates those feelings with this person and they are “let loose” when we come in contact with them. That’s why we always want to be with them and all… you know what I mean. These feelings are not wrong; they are all part of the package but not the whole package. It’s so easy to express love with these feelings on board but what happens when these feelings begin to fade or rather when they start to dwindle; its common knowledge that our feelings are like rollercoasters- up today, down tomorrow. They are unstable and thus, we definitely cannot expect to have a stable relationship with them driving us. Expressing our love only when we feel like makes us very unreliable and inconsistent. This cannot sustain a relationship. ‘Coz no one wants to feel like the best thing today and the most unwanted fellow tomorrow. And one thing I’ve realized is that people need love the most when these feelings are not “gushing”.
This should be an obvious truth but we seem to practice this over and over again- base our love expressions on euphoric feelings. Couples mount on these feelings that usually accompany the beginning of the relationship expecting them to take them to the land of their dreams- “happily ever after” but they do not realize that this saddle can only take them so far. It is not potent enough to take them to the very end. We all have different ideas about love but one major idea of love is that it is a decision; one we make consciously, one that has consequences and requires commitment and commitment to a person or a cause goes beyond feelings. Early in relationships, it’s easy to ignore the fact that loving a person requires conscious effort because we are guided by the euphoria and we can’t imagine that loving this person being so difficult. We set out with intentions to love our partners forever but it is dangerous to let the euphoric feelings be the basis for our relationships. The basis for our relationship should rather be a decision to love our partners no matter what whilst we enjoy the feelings as and when they pop up and use them as tools to express our love. Our emotions are tools, not dictations.
Making the decision to love your partner will help you keep your ship sailing when the euphoria begins to fade. This is the secret behind lasting marriages. This is why people who have been married for 30 years are still deeply in love and are even more grateful that they met each other- they decided to love each other through life and not abscond when they no longer felt like it. They decided to consciously express love to their partner (in ways they’d understand- See Gary Chapman’s five love languages; now that’s a topic for another day), to forgive their partner always without holding a grudge and accept them even when times change. This is not an easy decision but it sure is worth it.
In case you don’t know what love looks like… I honestly believe Hollywood hasn’t given us a proper picture of it. Here’s what it looks like:
“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut.
Doesn’t have a swelled head.
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first”.
Doesn’t fly off the handle.
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel.
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth.
Puts up with anything.
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best.
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end”
So you see, euphoria can’t help you accomplish this. Let this be your standard.