I do lots of marriage and pre-marriage counselling, as well as being a blessed veteran of 43 years of marriage. One of the startling observations that I have made is that our culture has blindly accepted the notion that romantic love and sexual chemistry is the major measure of selecting a mate. We feel something “special” for one another, we seem to be happy, we are pretty compatible; so let’s get married.
I was struck by an illustration I read of a pastor counselling a woman who was in a serious relationship with a man, but was wondering if she should break it off. She had been married twice before and thought that this was the guy. She told the pastor that her man was being unfaithful to her and emotionally abusive; the same traits evidenced by her previous husbands. “So why are you still in this relationship?” the pastor asked. Are you ready for this? She said, “Because I’m in love with him. I genuinely and deeply love him.” What would you say to her?
Here is what the pastor said: “Were you in love with your first husband?” She replied, “Yes, and I was devastated when he cheated on me and left.” The pastor continued, “Were you in love with your second husband?” She said, “Yes, it was different, I think, because he fed some ego needs, but of course, I was in love with him.” Then the pastor gently said, “Maybe feeling like you’re in love with someone isn’t enough of a reason for you to get married. Maybe you need to set the bar higher and find something more.” And then he said, “Just because you’re ‘in love’ with someone doesn’t mean you should seriously consider marrying them.”
This episode was found in a book I have been reading; “The Sacred Search” by Gary Thomas. This is a great book for those who are single and seriously thinking about marriage someday, or soon. Thomas finishes this section by asking us to consider that “romantic attraction, as wonderful and as emotionally intoxicating as it can be, can actually lead you astray as much as it can help you. I’m not talking it down; ‘connecting’ with someone at that level is a wonderful thing. Enjoy it, revel in it, even write a song about it if you want, but don’t bet your life on it.”
This is solid counsel. I have observed many couples who had the “chemistry,” but had issues that everyone could see. Yet, because they “felt” so intensely about each other they were blind to these issues and were willing to risk a future generation on their romantic attraction. Perhaps this is what is meant by the saying “love is blind”.
By the way, next week I would like to share what I think should be the basis for deciding to get married. Stay tuned…