Love has since disappeared in so many marriages leaving the couples hanging on other elements/factors in their marriages. As they hang on, they go through untold physical and emotional trauma occasioned by abuse and which some times culminate into death. Millions of those who do not care about these other factors such as family, children, culture and creed have since thrown in the towel. Some are divorced while others are separated. Some are separated for a while, others are separated permanently.
One of the most commonly used English words is love. The word ‘love’ is used more than 300 times in the Bible and referred to as the greatest commandment by Christ (Mathew 22:37-40). St. Paul also referred to it as the greatest of the three virtues that endure (faith, hope and love).
When love fails in marriage, it is very obvious that a lot of other virtues such as trust, joy, peace, happiness, respect, friendship etc would also disappear.
Why does Love Fail in Marriages?
There are many reasons accounting for this. Some times the root cause would be that the marriage was never a product of love. I’ve repeatedly admonished young people to ensure that their marriage is based on love. A lot of people marry for different reasons other than love- some believe they’ve outgrown the age of marriage, therefore any proposal is yes. Some see material possessions while others seek status and fame. I’ve seen those who are forced into marriage because of pregnancy. When love does not lead in making marriage decisions, do not expect love in that marriage thereafter.
Apart from marrying for different reasons, some individuals erroneously believe that they can learn to love someone as time goes on; let us first get married then learn to love each other later. The truth is that love is not learned; it is natural and it cannot be a subject of postponement or procrastination.
Another reason is that many who claim to love each other practice what is called contractual relationship. A contractual relationship is that which is based on conditions. Such relationships have claims like “I love her because she loves me too.” The commonest response to the declaration ‘I love you’ has always been “I love you too.” Most times when this response fails to come, fight begins. You suddenly begin to ‘hate’ someone you ‘loved’. True love does not need to be returned, it is not conditional. It only needs to be acknowledged and appreciated. Therefore, a better response would sound like: “I really appreciate your love; it means the world to me.” Therefore, love is not symbiotic; it is not a give-and-take phenomenon. This does not mean that love should not be requited but it should be returned with something greater – respect. A biblical injunction says: men love your wives ….women respect your husbands. The Bible did not instruct the women to love their husbands too. To respect means to reverence your husband and hold him in high esteem because he loves you. To me, saying I love you too is a way of cheapening what it should really be. To respect/reverence your husband is far more edifying than struggling to love him back. Let’s assume love to be an object/item, I give you a gift of such an item and you give me the same thing in return, it’s going to be really, really monotonous. Men need what is more edifying – respect. When a wife respects her husband, she builds up a reserve for his love, she deposits more in him and that means she has so much to draw from her deposits. This is where love and respect become symbiotic. The more you love, the more respect/reverence you get. The more respect/reverence you give, the more love you get.
Love also dies in marriages because people expect so much when they fall in love. Now, what happens when someone falls in love? To fall means to collapse. A fall might lead to many unpleasant things. You might get hurt; if it’s really true love, getting hurt is part of it. A lot of people have fallen in love in human history and died for it. When you truly love someone, a part of you must go. You must lose something you cherish so much for the sake of that love. It could be your prestige, time, money, pride, personality, freedom, your physical beauty etc. You cannot eat your cake and have it. If you are too economical to show this love/respect in words and actions, it’s definitely going to be shaky.
Ignorance is also a reason for failures in love relationships. Many do not know the hows and whens for expressing their own part of this love and respect concept. There are people who really love and respect their partners but lack the knowledge of how they are expressed. You cannot do what you don’t know; you need to read up how to practice love and respect in a relationship. You cannot pluck it from the sky. While we agree that you cannot learn love, you can learn how to show it. Loving someone is quite different from showing it. But, what is love if it cannot be shown? Most of these things are simple things and because they’re simple, we ignore them. As we ignore them, the strength of our love wanes. A man who does not know the shoe/clothe size of his wife, cannot buy her a pair of shoes/a dinner gown as a surprise gift. A woman who does not know the core values and the principles of her husband cannot respect those values and by extension cannot respect her husband. This happens even in a relationship/marriage where both partners value each other. They value each other but they don’t really know each other.
When the candle of love seems dim in your relationship/marriage, find out what the problem is, take steps towards solving them. Be disciplined and don’t procrastinate. Don’t expect it to be easy; to love/respect is a big deal; it’s a huge responsibility. Remember, there’s a difference between your partner and the problem; separate the issue from the person and face the problem rather than facing the person. Be positive; believe you can make progress. And, above all, pray to God; every good thing comes from God, if being with someone you love/respect is good, then it must be from God. Go to Him in prayer and do your part too.
May you find joy, peace, happiness, harmony, trust and hope in your relationship/marriage.
See you there.