The big day is right in front of you, and it is full of hopes and dreams.
Family and friends will arrive, the ceremony will be performed, vows will be made, and rings will be exchanged. Later, drinks will be poured and good food will be enjoyed amongst speeches and toasts celebrating the two of you. Surely, this will be the day that you have always dreamed about. It will be perfect. This is the beginning of your happily ever after.
Almost everyone makes it through the beginning of the love story, but few experience the happily ever after The preparation often starts and stops with the wedding.
There is a romantic sentiment that is both spoken and felt – “Love is all we need.”
But love is not all we need. A beautiful marriage needs much more than love.
We are obsessed with the magical idea of love, but what is love? Is it tied to happiness? It is a feeling? Is it intimacy? Is it finding your spouse attractive even though he/she is wearing sweatpants and has bad breath and bedhead? Is it something you can fall out of or into? Is love conditional? If so, what are the conditions?
The truth is love has parts of all of these things. The questions are: what happens after the honeymoon? What happens to love when there is more bad breath than good, more pain than pleasure, and more conflict than peace? What happens when attraction wanes? What happens when you go to bed at night and that feeling is no longer there? We move on, and the search for happily ever after begins again.
Love is a fruit that grows only when it is firmly rooted in the right soil. The soil of love is commitment. Commitment is what allows real, self-sacrificing love to overcome all things big and small. Commitment, not love, is the secret to growing old together.
Commitment not only allows love to grow, it also defines love. Love becomes a choice that supersedes our fickle feelings. It’s not as romantic as the epic love of the movies, but the truth is, commitment is the authenticity behind the beauty we seek in marriage.
Originally, marriage was designated to be a covenant – more intimate and loving and enduring than a legal contract. A contract says, “I will live up to my part of the deal as long as you live up to your part of the deal.” A covenant says, “I will live up to my part of the deal, regardless of whether you live up to your part of the deal.”
This kind of commitment is vital in marriage because true love cannot be forged when there is fear of losing someone. The greatest opposition to receiving love is fear. Fear reigns when there is an absence of commitment. When we fear losing our spouse, we become self-motivated and self-protecting rather than self-sacrificing. We are afraid to be truly known because, “What if they don’t like who I really am?”
Love deepens when we make the decision that no matter what, we’re not going anywhere. There is a reason why we vow for better or worse, in sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth, until death do us part – these words that emphasize commitment are the true foundation of love.