If it wasn’t for attraction and romance and love, men and women would probably never join together as one. Let’s face it, without love, men and women aren’t the most compatible companions because we are such different creatures. Yeah, yeah, some try to claim that they can have someone of the opposite sex as their best friend, nothing else, but I have my doubts. I would bet there is love going on in at least one side of that relationship. (This information is concluded merely from the viewpoint of what I’ve observed in others and in myself before I married – and from many movies I’ve watched.)
That initial “head-over-heals in love” is how God designed it to get us aliens together. The love and romance is only the bait. Unfortunately though, many marriages try to base their relationships on these feelings that were meant mostly to get our attention. Those relationships don't last because people want to stay in that la-la land without applying the hard work it takes for a healthy marriage.
That “head-over-heals love” can be sustained throughout a marriage with proper maintenance. Delving into the deeper realms of love, though, will guarantee success. The love that makes a couple whole and willing to stay together is agape love.
In Sparkling Gems, a devotional I’ve talked about before, Rick Renner talks about agape love. I really like how he explains it and want to share it with you. He says:
Agape occurs when an individual sees, recognizes, understands, or appreciates the value of an object or a person, causing the viewer to behold this object or person in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation. Such great respect is awakened in the heart of the observer for the object or person he is beholding that he is compelled to love it. In fact, his love for that person or object is so strong that it is irresistible. (This proves my theory about people of the opposite sex as best friends.)
You see, agape is a love that loves so profoundly that it knows no limits or boundaries in how far, wide, high, and deep it will go to show that love to its recipient. If necessary, agape love will even sacrifice itself for the sake of that object or person it so deeply cherishes. Agape is the highest form of love—a self-sacrificial type of love that moves the lover to action.
Agape is a love that has no strings attached. It isn’t looking for what it can get, but for what it can give. Its awe of the one who is loved is so deep that it is compelled to shower love upon that object or person regardless of the response. This is the profound love God has for the human race, for He loved man when he was still lost in sin with no ability to love Him back. God simply loved mankind without any thought or expectation of receiving love in return.
When you love with such a pure love that you expect nothing back in return, it is impossible for you to feel hurt or let down by the response of the recipients of your love. You don’t love them for the purpose of getting something in return; you shower them with love simply because you love them.
This last paragraph says it all. We’ve gotten so far away from this kind of love, though, in our “me, me, me” society. Our relationship with our spouse should be like our relationship with God. Both have to come ahead of our own “self”. That is when you arrive to the deepest level of love, the healthiest part of marriage, when your desire is for what’s best for your spouse. Any less will result in problems and possibly divorce. When you convince yourself that what you want is more important than your spouse’s needs, you might as well start packing your bags. The world will advise you to divorce – and lead you out the door.
Next week: How do you put your spouse first?