What is love? Guest Post No. 2
Danielle has 3 children and lives on the north coast of N.Ireland.
I have been married to Graham for 15 years (16 in May). We were crazy in love from our first date. After just 8 months together we got engaged and 10 months later we were married; I had just turned 20 when we married. It was a bit of a whirlwind romance, especially considering I was quite young.
We were madly in love
I look back on those first years together with a wry, knowing smile. We were madly in love; we spent all our free time together, we were more than happy with just our own company; our conversations were filled with big hopes and dreams and we easily saw the best in each other and cheered each other on with great enthusiasm.
16 years and 3 children later, we have experienced many great joys together and faced many storms we would rather have avoided at the time. Our relationship has, undoubtedly changed over the years.
Love became a little more challenging
In the beginning love came so easily, no effort was required; it was fuelled by the excitement of a new passion and the hopes that it carried. Somewhere along the way love became a little more challenging and called for more intentionality. It depended upon both of us being committed to the promise we made to each other on our wedding day.
On those days when I find Graham irritating or I flat out disagree with him I have to choose to love. To me that means I choose not to take offence, I choose not to huff when I feel like I don’t want to talk to him and I choose not to speak those sharp words that come to the tip of my tongue far too easily. I can even replace that offence by reminding myself of some of the kind, selfless things that Graham does for me (he brings me hot water bottles because he knows I’m always cold!)
To me, love is found in a perfect balance of both parties making selfless choices, which leads to an atmosphere of trust between you where both people feel secure in the relationship. This kind of foundation then allows grace for the times when you mess up and act or speak in a way that is unkind or unloving.
We look forward to an end that will be much better than the beginning
As committed Christians we both believe that marriage is one of God’s best ideas, that it is for our good and that with His help our marriage can grow stronger and better. We believe that the love we share now is different to the love we shared in the beginning, but “better different”. That which has been tried and tested has grown deeper roots and been proven to be true.
We look forward to an end that will be much better than the beginning. We look forward to having a more loving, secure, joy filled marriage 16 years from now.
So what is the difference between being in love and loving someone? For me, being in love with Graham is the result of the consideration we have given to intentionally loving each other over the years. I believe if we had stopped making those small choices to be selfless and thoughtful, somewhere along the way we would have found ourselves no longer “in love”. I think the difference is that “being in love” is a description of the status of our relationship which is borne out of the habitual action of “loving” each other. You cannot achieve the joy of the former without consistently doing the work of the latter.