The Dangers of Romantic Love
Flurries of Romance
Editor’s Note: Don’t forget the 30 Dates in November challenge begins tomorrow, November 1st!
The freshly laundered guy picks you up for dates. He rings your doorbell. He holds open the car door. He takes you out to a nice restaurant. Maybe he gets you flowers. He sends you cards and candy and gifts. You spend hours talking to each other on the phone. He’s so easy to talk to and you can talk about everything. You begin to spend every waking moment together because you can’t bear to be apart. It’s easy to “fall in love” with someone who gives you such flattering attention and care.
Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, writes, “At its peak, the ‘in love’ experience is euphoric…We are emotionally obsessed with each other. We long to be together…we believe we will always have the wonderful feelings that we have at this moment.”
Romantic love is wonderful. I remember all the lovely butterflies that would float around in my stomach. I remember coming back from nights with Adam and hardly being able to contain my giddy enthusiasm. He likes me! He really likes me! grew into He loves me! He really loves me! And oh, I love him!
At our wedding, when I gave a toast to Adam, I remember telling everyone how much “love” I felt for my new husband. I told a story of coming back to college after a summer home in California. As the plane was landing at the Pittsburgh airport, I saw a sign that said, “Welcome Home.” I know that it was meant for the returning military men and women, but that day it felt like it was just for me. It was the first time in my life I felt like I was truly coming home. When I thought about being with Adam, I knew that I was “in love” with him because to be with him felt like coming home.
I meant every word. But a month later I was angrily arguing with Adam about how much I hated our apartment with its missing window blinds and doorknobs, holes in the wall, ugly carpets, streetlights that interrupted my sleeping patterns, and dirty mice. “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!”
Marla Taviano, author of From Blushing Bride to Wedded Wife, explains this:
“The euphoria of the ‘in love’ experience gives us the illusion of intimacy and complete unselfishness toward each other. ‘I’ll do absolutely anything for you!’ we say. Then reality hits, and we realize how egocentric we really are. Sure, we’ll do anything for this person – as long as it’s what we wants and he reciprocates.“
Dangers of Romantic Love
1. Romantic love has unrealistic expectations.
I remember thinking that if I was “in love” I’d want to be with Adam every single second of the day. Wrong! In truth, I actually allowed him to bring his computer games and computer on our honeymoon and I brought books because I knew we’d want a break from each other. Not because we didn’t love each other, but because no person can literally be with another person every single second of the day.
Taviano humorously explains how her new husband was under the impression that married people shower together all the time. She writes, “Being with someone 24/7 was hard for me to get used to. I took my privacy for granted until it was gone.” I’d add that the whole showering together all the time thing can quickly become claustrophobic as a new bride!
I appreciated Adam’s kindness on our honeymoon in allowing me personal space. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be with your husband every waking moment in order to truly love him.
Real love allows your spouse the room to breathe, grow, and thrive. Real love lets go of expectations, accepts that reality isn’t perfect, and loves anyway.
2. Romantic love won’t last forever.
I remember a few months into our marriage I was wondering where all the awesome 5-hour conversations went. My husband suddenly became more quiet and withdrawn. This was initially incredibly hurtful and I took it as a personal affront. But with time, I learned this is a side of Adam I didn’t really see during our dating life but it didn’t mean he was a completely different person. He still loved me, but the need for 5-hour conversations diminished now that we were living together. I remember Adam reassured me that although we didn’t talk for 5 hours at a time anymore, we did talk more from the moment we got up until the moment we went to bed. And more importantly, we communicated more non-verbally through touch, tone of voice, and our actions.
What a wonderful blessing! We could connect on new levels in ways we couldn’t before marriage. I could talk to my best friend first thing in the morning from the pillow next to his and at night when we prayed together, he could put his arms around me instead of talking to me and praying over the phone.
Taviano quotes from Gary Thomas, bestselling author, who says, “The romantic roller coaster of courtship eventually evens out to the terrain of a Midwest interstate – long, flat stretches with the occasional overpass.”
She adds, “As time goes on, hopefully we’ll realize that we kind of like the terrain of the Midwest highway – and nice little hills do pop up here and there. Sometimes even thrilling mountains.”
While the initial fluttery romance of lengthy conversations faded, the real love beneath lasted and blossomed into something deeper and more meaningful.
3. Romantic love doesn’t sustain a marriage.
Thomas also writes, “The idea that marriage can survive on marriage alone… has wrecked many a marital ship. Romantic love has no elasticity to it. It can never be stretched; it simply shatters. Mature love, the kind demanded of a good relationship, must stretch.”
Real love takes work – and lots of it! Do you think patience comes easy when my husband continuously throws his dirty laundry on the floor right in front of the laundry basket instead of in the laundry basket? Do you think kindness is easy when my husband continuously pulls out his smart phone in the middle of the conversation?
Taviano says, “This is what separates the women from the girls. Will you dump your marriage and search for someone else who will make you feel that emotional high again? Or will you suck it up and pursue real love with your spouse?”
Romance – the gifts, the date nights, the giddy feelings, the excitement, the flowers, special trips together, the honeymoon sex – it won’t last forever. Marriages must be built on something deeper – an intentional covenant.
In the Old Testament, when people made a covenant, they sliced an animal sacrifice down the middle and walked through the two sides basically stating, “I’ll be cut in half if I break my promise to you.” The fulfillment of the covenant would be based on both parties. However, in Genesis 15, we see that God is making a covenant with Abraham, yet Abraham doesn’t walk through the two halves… God does! God knew Abraham wouldn’t be able to keep up his end of the covenant, but God was perfect! He would hold up His end without failing.
That’s the kind of God we are to imitate in our marriages – the kind of person that sacrifices herself on behalf of another – the kind of person who loves unconditionally. Covenant love is forever!
“Place me as a seal over your arm; for love is as strong as death…” Song of Songs 8:6.
While keeping romance alive in your marriage is a healthy, godly thing, we typically think of romance as “feeling-based.” Real love transcends feelings.
Real, mature, godly love in our marriage does feel like “coming home” because it is home. Adam and I have intentionally purposed to make our love a sacred place to be comfortable, safe, and vulnerable without fear of judgment, to work at sacrificing selflessly for each other, be our retreat from the world and a place to recharge, but also a place to equip us to go out into the world and serve Christ. I can’t think of a better definition of home…or love!
Meet Me for a Cup of Coffee
How did your romance start out? How has it progressed? What do you think of intentional covenant love? How does intentionally purposing to love your spouse the way God loves you change your perspective on married love?
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…”
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:7-12