During one of our seminars, a woman asked a common question. She said: “How do I know if I married the right person?” I noticed that there was a large man sitting next to her so I said: “It depends. Is that your husband?” In all seriousness, she answered: “How do you know?”
Let me answer this question because the chances are good that it’s weighing on your mind. Here’s the answer.
EVERY relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse. You anticipated their call, wanted their touch and liked their idiosyncrasies. Falling in love with your spouse wasn’t hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything. That’s why it’s called “falling” in love… Because it’s happening TO YOU.
People in love sometimes say: “I was swept of my feet.” Think about the imagery of that expression. It implies that you were just standing there, doing nothing and then something came along and happened TO YOU.
Falling is love is easy. It’s a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few years of marriage, the euphoria of love fades. It’s the natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.
The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship, but if you think about your marriage, you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage.
At this point, you and/or your spouse might start asking: “Did I marry the right person?” And as you and your spouse reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when marriages breakdown. People blame their spouse for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment.
Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most obvious. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV or abuse substances.
But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage. It lies within it. I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you’d feel better. But you’d be in the same situation a few years later. Because (listen carefully to this): THE KEY TO SUCCEEDING IN MARRIAGE IS NOT FINDING THE RIGHT PERSON; IT’S LEARNING TO LOVE THE PERSON YOU FOUND. SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It’ll NEVER just happen to you. You can’t “find” LASTING love. You have to “make” it day in and day out. That’s why we have the expression: “the labour of love.”
Because it takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it takes WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make your marriage work. Make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your spouse) to succeed with your marriage.
Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise programme makes you physically stronger, certain habits in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger. It’s a direct cause and effect. If you know and apply the laws, the results are predictable… you can “make” love.
Love in marriage is indeed a “decision”… Not just a feeling.