Today is about romance, hearts, flowers, cards, candy and wonderful fond, fuzzy feelings. But what happens tomorrow? See, the truth is that mature love is not based on feelings, fancy, or fickleness. Warm and fuzzy feelings are the result, not the cause, of love.
Unfortunately, Hollywood and Hallmark have taught us that romantic love is generated by the other person and is focused on us. We have been conditioned to expect the other person to initiate the first move and then meet our needs to fulfill us and make us happy. That is the stuff of which romantic fantasies, novels, pornography and chick flicks are made.
But the exact opposite is true. Mature “agape” love is both self-generated and other-focused. We are to love our spouse no matter what, and we are to be committed to doing what is best for their welfare no matter what it costs us. Genuine love always has an altruistic attitude and agenda (I John 3:16-18).
It is our personal character which should motivate us to love our spouse, not their personal characteristics. When we expect the other person to love us and make us happy, we are eventually bound to be disappointed. By expecting our spouse to make us happy, we subconsciously idolize them in the place of God. As with so many other things, we are unintentionally and unwittingly are tempted to worship and adore the creation instead of the Creator. We confuse the vehicle (marriage) with the destination (God’s will for our lives).
God meant for us to find Him through marriage—not in marriage! No matter how winsome and wonderful a marriage partner may be, no spouse is worthy of worship all day every day. The inevitable hurts, hassles and heartaches of marriage should drive us to divinity—not to divorce. Our spouse is not our ultimate source, God is.
So this Valentine’s Day (and always), love your spouse, but don’t worship them. It is because of God’s empowering love them that you can actually give them the gift of love more fully, and more freely, than ever!
Jared Pingleton, Psy.D., serves as the Vice President of the American Association of Christian Counselors. As a Clinical Psychologist and credentialed minister, Jared is dually trained in both psychology and theology and specializes in the theoretical and clinical integration of the two disciplines. In professional practice since 1977, Dr. Pingleton has had the privilege to work with thousands of individuals and couples to offer help, hope, and healing to the hurting.