This week I read the following in a news article* by Author Sandra Tsing Loh: “Sadly, and to my horror, I am divorcing. This was a 20-year partnership. My husband is a good man, though… …he did travel 20 weeks a year for work. I realized…I would not be able to replace the romantic memory of my fellow transgressor with the more suitable image of my husband, which is what it would take in modern-therapy terms to knit our family’s domestic construct back together.” Apparently Sandra developed an outside relationship with a man and decided the “love” she felt when with him was worth throwing 20 years of history with a “good man” out the window. (I wanted to scream.)
So, just why exactly does Sandra want to do this? I suggest two likely answers… The first is: I honestly think the focus of “falling and staying ‘in love’” is a bit overrated. Now I know I am treading on thin ground here, so stay with me OK? The second has to do with the title of my article: “Falling out of love BY failing to love.” Zerrin and I have been married for 30 years. We have three awesome kids that we love hanging out with – and they with us. I have spent well over 10,000 hours sitting with couples helping to rescue, restore, or renew their marriage. With all that in mind, would it shock you to hear me say I don’t always feel “in love” with my wife? In fact there are days, yes even sometimes weeks that have sometimes gone by when my feelings for my wife have waned?
Is that really surprising to anyone? It’s not to me. Why? Well, first of all and simply put, we aren’t new to each other anymore. There’s always more “romance” with something (or someone) new. We all know that. We may not like that, but it’s a reality we can’t ignore. There comes a time when the new toy, the new car, the new job, yeah even the new wife or husband isn’t new anymore…and the romance that once was is no longer a buzz. The plain fact of the matter is that when the newness wears off, so do the feelings. OK now, think with me. What do we do when the newness wears off? I’m not asking – what SHOULD we do or what do we do when we are HOLY, I’m just asking what do we typically do? We find something else new! A new tool, a new purse, a new toy, a new…love(r).
This leads to the second reason why my feelings for my wife wane at times. In my pursuit of something “new” to find some level of satisfaction again, my focus begins to shift off of my relationship with Zerrin and on to other things. I get busier with my job. I start off with a new vision on something. I go to Lowe’s to find a new tool. I start a new project around the house. I start a new hobby…etc. In reality what is happening, is I am taking my eyes off what is more important! I am pursuing feeling good rather than what is lastingly good. We have fallen “out of love” if you will, because we have failed to persist in our love towards each other!
The Bible makes our focus clear – live for that which is eternal. To love another is a LASTING GOOD. As I turn away from my “new” pursuits and turn back to my blessed pursuit, surprise surprise…not only do I get the satisfaction of knowing I am doing what is right, but it leads us back to the feelings of love once again, only deeper and deeper… It’s a true case of getting your cake and eating it too! Or getting your lover and keeping her too!
*Tsing Loh, S. On Marriage: Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off. The Atlantic, June 22, 2009, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31452178/ns/today_relationships/page/2/