What's More Important Than Love in a Marriage?
Marriages are falling apart all around us. Broken homes have become the norm instead of the exception. Something is wrong, how can we fix it?
The American culture has done our young people a great harm by exalting love to the primary position in marriage. What! Isn't marriage all about love? Isn't that what it is for?
I say no, and I believe the Bible agrees with me. I have never seen a verse in the Bible that tells us to marry someone we love. It does say love the one we are married to, and there is a great difference. Marrying the person you love assumes that love is involuntary, it just happens, you "fall into" it. Loving the one you are married to is a choice and an action. Feelings cannot be commanded, and love is commanded. Therefore, love is more than just a feeling.
Many cultures in the past and present arrange marriages for their children on the basis of family reputation and respectability, as well as considering their children's preferences. These arranged marriages have a much higher rate of success than those left completely up to the young person. Why? They possess an ingredient, I believe the most important ingredient, that is lacking in many others. This is the element of respect. Respect for their parents, respect for their partner, and for their partner's family. Out of this respect they perform their duties to the best of their ability, not demanding personal reward in return.
So respect is the missing ingredient in many marriages. It is the rock on which the foundation of a lasting relationship is made. Choose to marry someone you respect, and commit to that person, and love will follow. But marry someone you have loving feelings for but no respect, what love there is will die in the onslaught of life and its frustrations.
Let's teach our children that the picture of romantic love and its accidental and uncontrollable nature presented by the media is wrong and harmful. Teach our young people not "fall in love" by accident, but to choose a person of character that they will respect through the years to come. I can testify that this will produce a long and fruitful relationship in which there is unimaginable love.