Experience, observation of marriages and reading about the subject all indicate romantic love is never and has never been enough to sustain a marriage. And not even wonderful sex between the couple can keep a marriage strong and lasting. Here I am considering male- female marriages.
For the purpose of this blog, I shall define romantic love as excitement, warm feelings and becoming starry eyed when a man or woman thinks about or sees a member of the opposite sex they like very much and have strong feelings for.
Romantic love is very evident at the beginning of friendship and even marriage when each person does not notice or even consider serious faults, weaknesses and bad characteristics of the other. Most times, what are considered good and wonderful characteristics of each person are imagined or assumed rather than actually experienced in the relationship.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, it is best each person keeps the eyes open to problems during friendship and courtship, then close them right after marriage! That way you avoid unnecessary shocks to your relationship: that way you are able to make your marriage work. You can then determine to make your relationship enjoyable most of the time.
You can share romantic moments together – exhibiting romantic behaviour , expressing verbally romantic feelings for each other or simply feeling romantic within yourself- from time to time. It however helps a lot if the couple remembers romantic times and feelings are not sustainable. Otherwise one or both of them will suffer extreme disappointment!
After marriage, everything possible must be done to ensure the relationship lasts a lifetime. Ideally knowing each other quite well before entering and after marriage can enable each person to treat the other with consideration and respect despite the nature of feelings at any particular point. You can tell how your partner will feel in most situations so you behave accordingly.
Christian spouses are expected to understand the marriage relationship in the sense that Jesus Christ cared for his followers, the Church. He was willing to die for every person who believes in him so they are able to lead the life He taught and lived on this earth. This explains why it must be difficult for the sincere Christian to hurt the partner. The reason is that he is expected to love the spouse to the extent that he loves himself.
At this point the marriage becomes a relationship that is powered by commitment and the willpower to be and do the best for each other. The feeling to do otherwise may be strong but the sincere Christian spouse can rely on his faith in Jesus to do the right thing most of the time. Romantic love alone is too fragile to be useful here.
Prospective couples who receive professional premarital counselling can use the knowledge gained to help their marriage endure. This is even more important where the marriages of their parents and loved ones are not exemplary. They must also practice their faith sincerely, and for me that is Christianity.
These to a large extent, can help the couple to know and be willing to treat each other well to the best of their ability. They are also enabled to try to solve problems so they do not escalate to the point where the relationship is destroyed. This is called agape love where each spouse tries to put the good and welfare of the other before his own- whether he feels like it or not.
The ability to forgive offenses goes a long way to make marriages endure for many years. Adultery, cruelty and other serious infractions can hurt a partner so much that he starts thinking of ending the relationship.
Disease and grave misfortunes like loss of job as well as the commitment of crime can shake a marriage to its foundation. The faith of the Christian spouse or couple can enable them to keep the union on an even keel.
I pray many married couples are able to do their best to think, speak and act in ways that promote the welfare of each other and the endurance of their marriage. And none rush to destroy a relationship that can be saved.
And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister – 1 John 4:21 (NIV).