My friend recalls the first time she saw Eric and me together. Apparently, I was giddy and noticeably crazed with excitement. A couple of days after Eric and I became an official couple, one of my young middle school-aged friends at church commented that I was glowing. It didn’t take a detective to deduce that I was a love-sick twenty-something who could not believe she was living her dream.
I could finally understand the Westside Story lyrics, “I feel pretty. Oh, so pretty. I feel pretty, and witty, and gay. And I pitty any girl who isn’t me today… I feel stunning, and entrancing. Feel like running and dancing for joy. For I’m loved by a pretty wonderful boy.”
I thoroughly enjoyed what I call the ecstasy stage of our relationship. Men in black with machine guns could not have kept me away from our standing 9:00pm phone date. The way I felt about him went deep – or so I thought – and there was no doubt that I was in love.
First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…
Then came the realization that this man I love so dearly is… flawed.
He doesn’t do everything the way I do – and that’s weird and off-putting! He wants his t-shirts folded in a strange way; he is not overly concerned with keeping people happy; and, sometimes, he even hurts my feelings. How DARE he?!?! I thought he loved me! <cue hot, angry tears>
As we approach ten years of wedded bliss (read: ups and downs), I am more convinced than ever that the human condition is one of deep, intense, passionate… selfishness. We love ourselves. We seek to please ourselves. We love those who make us feel good about ourselves.
When Eric and I were newly in love, we did deeply care about each other; but, perhaps more than we wanted to admit, we loved that the other made us feel so important and cherished. Had Eric stopped giving me so much positive feedback, would my “feelings” for him have faded over time? Likely. Let’s just be honest. We like those who celebrate our favorite person. ~smile~
Take a Peek Inside Your Heart
It’s not fun to admit our selfishness, but I think it’s profoundly important to be aware of it prior to marriage. You should know that the person you are counting on to love you passionately is counting on the same from you. Some days, you are not going to feel like loving him or her. Once you don’t feel so crazy in love, it will become an effort to give and give and give and give. However, marriages – at least healthy marriages – call for much giving. We are not inherently selfless – which means we have to war against our sin natures and choose to act selflessly.
One of my newfound favorite speakers on the subject, Dr. Paul Tripp, says that “we love our self and we love what the other person will do for us. That attraction isn’t love.”
This attraction we mistake as love always gives way to some disappointment. There’s not a married person alive who has seen all of his or her expectations fulfilled through marriage. Only Jesus could have been such a spouse and He never married. When the realization sets in that our perfect someone is not so perfect, we become intimately acquainted with the contents of our own heart.
Eric may not have been the Prince Charming I expected; however, I surely was not the dainty, sweet, tender rose he had hoped for either. As it turns out, I have a dark side. ~frown~ When I’m unhappy with his shortcomings, I can become loud, immature, pouty, disrespectful, and irritable. These are traits my parents and friends were likely aware of all along, but marriage made me come squarely face-to-face with them!
Beware!!! If you think you are good, marriage will prove you wrong!!!
As the years have flown by, God has been faithful to show me the wickedness in my own heart. Now, when I’m tempted to shake a finger in Eric’s face and accuse him of all his faults, I cannot do so without thinking of my own. Somehow it’s not as satisfying to brush a splinter out of someone’s eye when you’re busy balancing a log in yours.
Post-Valentine’s Day Soul Searching
Valentine’s Day 2015 is gone and we hope it was an excellent one for you all; but, now that it is over, we urge you to take a long, deep look into your heart. What do you see? Is it possible that your selfishness is negatively affecting (or could negatively affect) your sweetheart? In order to make the rest of the year as special for your honey as you did (or should have! ~smile~) for Valentine’s Day, do a little self-searching:
- Could you stand to hold your tongue more often?
- Are you slow to anger?
- How do you communicate when conflicts arise?
Lasting love has nothing to do with glowing or emotional butterflies. It comes from looking past your own needs and choosing to give your best to someone else regardless of the return on your investment. When your sweetie’s needs matter more to you than your own, then you will be experiencing love.
What’s in your heart?