In 1977, Linda Ronstadt released a single entitled “It’s So Easy,” which landed on Billboard’s Top Five that year. One line of this song says, “it’s so easy to fall in love.”
What’s not so easy is to GROW in love.
Someone once said:
“The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes
from your enemies. It comes from those you trust the most.”
Betrayal from porn addiction, sexual addiction, or an extramarital affair destroys you from the inside out. In the excellent book Intimate Deception, Dr. Sheri Keffer says, “Sexual betrayal causes post-traumatic stress and changes the way women feel about themselves and how they live. Like in an earthquake, women caught in sexual deception feel the layers of impact that turn their world upside down.” She’s exactly right. I felt my world shift and slide off its axis when my husband revealed his addiction. Though he expressed remorse and brokenness, I couldn’t hear him. All I heard was the shattering glass that was my life.
If you place your relational focus on how to “fall in love” instead of how to “grow in love” with your spouse when the troubles come, you have little to grasp to find your balance.
Make no mistake. Every marriage relationship experiences tough times. It’s not “if” but “when” and “how often.” Some marriages begin with difficulty but manage to find their way through to an enriching relationship. Other marriages start with friendship and love but rather naively approach life with the attitude of “do everything right, and it will turn out okay.” And still, others start rocky and eventually crumble even though the partners sought help and worked hard. But notice, all marriages experience trouble at some point.
The naive belief that your marriage should not experience any pain or heartache sets you up to fail at that first earthquake rumble.
To grow in love, we need to anchor ourselves in God.
Those that build their relationship on God reflect a different demeanor. There’s something special that’s hard to identify, especially in marriages of over 40 years. But it’s palpable when you’re with them. Ask them about their “wonderful” marriage, and you often observe a smirk or quick, intimate look pass between them. They know the work and humbling they’ve been through. Life was never perfect, as it seemed to outsiders. Instead, they fought together and toward each other.
My personal coach tells the story of an older couple whose relationship seemed so idyllic. But, when asked about their relationship, the wife related the devastation of an extramarital affair years earlier. Their marriage survived, and they grew in love because she chose to forgive, and he chose her. The wife related, “It’s a choice I make every day.”
God’s intimate relationship design looks very different from what we see in movies or hear in popular love songs.
1 Corinthians 13 gets quoted often at weddings. This chapter talks about the characteristics of love and how God designed it. Sandwiched between two chapters about living together as one body and using our gifts to serve others well, you don’t read anything about “falling in love.”
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake
to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do,
I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
When I read these verses and compare them to other passages where Jesus talks about what love looks like, it’s:
I see how growing in love takes hard work. It’s a radical departure from our instincts for self-promotion and self-preservation.
Nothing tests your ability to grow in love like marriage.
We’re often asked how we survived our marriage crisis. What did we do? I find this question simple to answer but difficult to live.
We chose God first and then each other. To save our marriage, we decided to trust God to heal the broken places in ourselves and our marriage. It’s a simple answer which requires a daily choice. Like the wife referenced above, I choose my husband and my marriage every day. I choose to forgive him for being human and making that mistake. My husband chooses me each day and our marriage. He and I trust God to heal us from the inside out, teach us how to love according to the Bible, and forgive as we’ve been forgiven.
It’s so easy to fall in love. But, it’s even easier to fall out of love.
Learning to grow in love challenges us to the core.
It does matter if our marriage relationship grows in love or not. If we don’t nurture it every day, we lose out on the benefits, joy, and satisfaction of a committed, growing marriage.
Nothing else challenges us or compares to this type of marriage. Though it will never be perfect, it’s good with God’s help.
You can recover from betrayal, and your marriage can grow in love. If you aren’t sure where to begin, let’s talk.