We live in a culture that praises the fairytale concept of true love. Hollywood would have us believe that love is all about that moment when you first meet and there is a “magical connection” and you “just know” that this is the person you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with. Or it is about those feelings of euphoria you get when you first start dating, and that if those feelings go away the love is gone.
And people chase this false idea of love their whole lives. You hear women say things like “I thought he was the man of my dreams but we got divorced because the love just wasn’t there anymore”. People talk about falling in love like it is inevitable, a force as powerful as gravity. And they talk about falling out of love like it is equally inevitable.
I call this initial period of emotional excitement the honeymoon phase. One thing is inevitable: this phase will not last. Those feelings fade. The intense desire to spend every minute together goes away.
People get divorced or have affairs every day because their marriage isn’t living up to the fairytale. They feel like their marriage has failed because the emotions faded.
These feelings are not love, they are attraction. Attraction paves the way for romantic love, but it is not love.
True love doesn’t start until after the honeymoon phase ends.
True love is when your wife picks up your socks and underwear from the living room floor because you left them there AGAIN. Or when she puts a new roll of toilet paper up even though you were the one to use it last. It’s when she picks up dog poop off the floor because you forgot to take her (the dog) out the night before. Or when she packs your bags for the hospital in expectation of delivering your third child.
True love is when your wife has the flu and you have to clean up her diarrhea, or her vomit. It’s when you hold her hair out of her face while she vomits and you’re just trying not to smell it. True love is helping her put her pants on when she’s 8 months pregnant and can’t bend down. Or giving her an anal suppository when she is constipated. Or pulling her tampon out after she just had surgery.
True love is like the old couple I just heard about on the radio, where he is hard of hearing but understands with perfect clarity every word of his wife’s soft spoken voice.
True love is about the choices you make every day, both big and small. It is sacrifice and sometimes it is suffering. Suffering with her because of her pain or suffering because something she did that hurt you deeply. Or suffering with worry because you don’t know if she will make it home in the storm that came out of nowhere while she was grocery shopping.
True love is about Jesus Christ dieing on the cross for your sins, suffering more than anyone ever has. It is opening yourself up to receive His love, to let it fill you up until it overflows, spilling into those around you.
What is true love? It isn’t a feeling. It is a choice. It is all the little choices you make long after the feelings are gone. It is so much better, so much richer, so much more rewarding than the fairytale.
And it’s yours for the taking. You just have to chose not to give up when things get tough.
Have you experienced true love? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.