By Dr. Robert Goddard
Love is a verb. It is not a feeling.
Love is an active verb; action has to take place to demonstrate love. Our cultural perspective on love is that of a feeling. “If I don’t feel love, then I am not in love.”
Here is the opposite approach that we should take on love.
Love is putting your spouse and his or her interests ahead of your own interests. Love is not the mixture of brain chemicals that gives us that great feeling of falling in love. It is not the heart racing when we see the person that our affections are directed toward.
Those chemicals allow us to begin to see a person in a new light, as a potential partner. But if we rely on the feelings that are produced by those chemicals to determine whether we are in love, we are basing our decisions on fickle feelings.
Marriage is based on the act of putting your partner’s needs ahead of your own. Feelings come and go and can easily be changed. For example: have you ever been in the middle of an argument and felt very upset? What happened when someone came into the room who you did not want to know you were fighting with your partner? Did you immediately shut down those feelings and act as if there was nothing wrong? Did you later pick those feelings back up and decide you were still angry with your spouse?
True love is more lasting than those fleeting feelings. Love is being interested in another person, wanting to know all about him or her, wanting to be in his or her life. Love is serving your partner, paying attention to his or her wants and needs, and making sure that those wants and needs are met. Love is making a meal for your spouse and cooking his or her favorite foods instead of yours. Love is giving up what you are doing at the moment and giving your full attention to your partner because he or she needs to tell you something or needs you to do something.
If you love someone and put his or her interests first—if you put your love into action—you will find that you will renew and revisit those initial feelings that you had for your spouse in a deeper and more meaningful way.
You will also find that your spouse also wants to put your interests first. In that moment, you will have found that the action of loving someone in marriage produces more love. You will find that serving and caring for your partner is much more fulfilling than meeting your own needs. You will have found the secret to marital love; it is based on action.
After all, love is a verb.
Dr. Goddard is the business division chair. In addition to his role at the college, he volunteers at his church in marriage and men’s ministries.