Mike - I love "discussing" issues with you. Mike has sent several comments about "real love". I agree with all he says except for a few hair splitting issues. Here's what he said,
Here's another thought. Real love grows and changes. Love must be able to change and grow or else it stagnates and dies. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't realize this simple truth. True love changes from the giddy, giggling fuzzy, can't live without you love, to a mature admiration, respect, keep safe at any cost, let me help you grow and stand behind you and cheer you on kind of love. A love that says "go ahead spread your wings, I'll be right behind you". A love that enables us to do the things for the other person that we wouldn't normally do.
I remember not to long ago, when my 7 year old mouthed off to his mother. My first thought was not to reprimand him for being disrespectful to his mother, but remind him that she is my wife and NO ONE talks to my wife in that manner, including him. My wife later admitted to feeling a little more special because I reminded my son that not only was he being disrespectful to his mother, but first and foremost to his father's wife. I believe a person's lack of maturity hinders them from recognizing the subtle changes that occur between a couple who truly love each other. The fuzzy happy feeling goes away and what replaces it is so much better and so much stronger that words fail to describe them. A mature person with real love cherishes the change.
And here is most of my reply.
Real love "usually" does grow and change. If it doesn't, the love may become stagnant - but it may not die. It's just not as good as it could have been. We have to give people room to achieve what works for them - especially in a relationship. I have known couples that married, had children and for them life was over. Neither one of them grew or changed in their lives or in their love. I'll admit their love for each other never reached the highs that I feel my marriage and many others like me have achieved; but for them it was okay. They were the type of people that were 98 years old on their 30th birthday. Their love for each other was mature and strong enough for them on their wedding day and in their eyes didn't need any adjustments. They agreed with 95% of the other partners decisions and life held no surprises. Their life together was okay.
It was okay but sad at times. They never really knew or understood the intimate details of each others hopes and dreams and often didn't seem to connect with inner feelings. Because of that both of them felt alone at times. Perhaps you could say they were stagnant. But they were truly as happy as they were willing to be with their marriage. By your definition they didn't have "real" love. I choose to say it differently. They had real love but not to the heights that others have it. They just didn't have higher goals for their love. I don't believe their love died, it just didn't step up to a higher level.
Let me pose this to you. Perhaps there are different degrees of love. Like a ladder, giddy would be the grass, the first rung would be attraction and the top rung would be God's best real love.
I also don't believe that real Love is ever giddy, giggling fuzzy, can't go a day without touching you. That's romantic love. Love is a process. It's a journey that can take you to new heights if you keep the rules of love and push yourself to constantly keep that other person in the forefront. Here's the progression as I see it.
The first step is attraction. This is when we see someone at a party or in church and we take the second look thinking, "Oh my, now that's what I'm talking about!" We know nothing about them as a person. All we know is that we like what we see.
The second step is attraction II. That's when we follow up on our first attraction and follow the introduction with an attempt to get some information on who they are. We ask questions. We want to know where they live, where they work, if they like the new songs at church, etc.
The third step is when we take attraction II to another level by asking "other" people to weigh in with their opinions. We begin to feed off their comments. If they think he/she is a great match our excitement level begins to build.
The third step is the first date. This is where so many people take the destructive bunny trail. They get excited on the that first date because they find a lot to like. They ruin it by going home with them or getting too physical too quick. What the world is conveniently refusing to tell our young teens is that physical love is like a fire. If you put it in the right confined place (fireplace, bonfire, open pit barbecue), it can bring warmth and great memories. But if you just let the fire have it's way and go where it wants - it is totally destructive. There is no controlling a "wild" fire and it ruins everything in it's path. It's extremely hard to find beauty in the ashes of a fire. And that's what you are trying to do when sex has played a major role in the relationship.
If you are on the road to getting to know someone and you add the element of sex outside of marriage - you destroy the ability to bond on an intellectual level and build deep sacrificial love. Sex adds an emotional level that prevents you from being totally objective and able to walk away when necessary.
If you choose properly and the first date is controlled - you can be free to explore "who" this person really is without your emotions making excuses for their shortcomings. And an added plus...anticipation. Anticipation is a wonderful tool that can keep any relationship exciting. Even married couples should learn the art of anticipation.
The fourth step is to take a journey down the trail of patient wall demolition. That's when you date someone over the course of time - without sex - in order to see them when their defenses are down. You want to find out everything you can about them. How will they react to your friends? Will they still like you when they meet your parents and find out their shortcomings? Will they be able to interact with a crazy family? Do they like children? How do they act when they are disappointed, tired, angry, sick? Do they have financial problems? Do they run from emotional difficulties? Are they honest?
Once all the walls are down and you can see this person clearly, it is now your task to see yourself with them down the road. How will they treat YOU when they have problems at work or when they lose their job? How will they treat YOU if you were to get sick or gain 50 pounds? Are they basing their love on who you really are or is it based on what you can do for them? Imagine every situation you can and put yourself in that situation with them and all their traits and shortcomings. There's nothing you can imagine that won't be worse when you've been married 15 years.
This is about the time that the giddy, fuzzy I can't live without you feeling goes away. You may have thought you were in love before this point, but it was connected to the attraction thing and not at all "true real love." This attraction kind of love is either replaced by the knowledge that this is truly "real" love or it's time to back off and find someone else. Either you see them at that point as a person you want to be around for the rest of your life or you still have doubts. I can't believe the number of people I talk to that have been married for decades yet they still have doubts. I think that's a miserable way to live.
I agree with all the wonderful attributes you placed on true love and I agree that it replaces giddy love, I just think there's a difference in how it evolves and that some marriages can exist without it.
However, I've also known a lot of people that back away from "real, mature" love at this point. They have the mistaken idea that mature love is boring. So they cling to the fuzzies with everything they can. If one person feels this way it's a real problem. The mature partner has to "babysit" the immature person for the rest of their lives and that can get pretty old. But if both people are clinging to the fuzzies they can exist, make it through a lifetime and survive. It won't be the kind of love that takes you to heights unknown - but they can survive.
Unfortunately for both of them they will be disappointed in the other's decisions many times during their marriage. Yet, it is possible to stay together and tell others that they are happily married. Usually in this type of marriage the fuzzies are replaced by buying things, having children, achieving goals at work or even finding new hobbies or sports to take the place of the lonely feeling they have inside.
I hope you can see the difference I'm making. I agree with you that it takes mature people to reach the heights in marriage that will make both people successful, well-adjusted, growing and happy individuals. But sometimes through the "ignorance is bliss" philosophy - some couples have a committed love that mimics "real love" and gets them through life. It may be stagnant - but it doesn't die. It just survives.
Three crickets were born in a old church attic. They chirped happily for most of their little lives until.....one day when one of them said, "I wonder what is beyond the black above us". Every once in a while he could see small flashes of light. The other two crickets had a field day making fun of the first. "You are crazy to even think of that. You don't know what you are talking about. There's nothing there - and even if there was something there it would probably kill you. You are much safer here in our nice warm home."
Not wanting to miss anything good in his life, the first little cricket just couldn't be satisfied. He hopped and chirped his way to the top of the ceiling. One more jump and he would be outside. He called to his friends and again they made fun of him. He hopped on to the roof and couldn't believe his eyes. The world was huge with all kinds of wonderful sights, smells and good things to eat. And look at that sky. It's huge! He stuck his head back through the ceiling and tried to tell his friends. They just didn't understand. Finally realizing that they were happy with what they had, he jumped off the roof and into the cool green grass.
Moral: It is our job to inform others when we experience the "best" life has to offer. But we must always remember that there will be those who can't or won't understand. You can't bully people into exploring God's best. We should allow them to continue in their ignorance, pray for their deliverance and not make fun of them for what they refuse to understand. Instead be thankful that you have experienced the splendor of ALL of God's goodness.
If you want to get in on any discussion.....I WOULD LOVE IT !!!
God loves you,