The other evening I was watching a T.V. documentary about bride stealing in Chechnya, the practice of grabbing a girl, then negotiating with her family to marry her. Often the girl hardly knows the man but more often than not the marriage takes place. One girl was asked, what about love, do you think you will love him? She replied that she hoped that in time she would. Many of us would put love as a major condition to want to marry someone - these girls get no choice. So it got me thinking.
In looking for a marriage partner we often put a high value on what the other person looks like, how they dress or what our emotional or sexual connection with them is and wrap it up by describing it as love. Of course these all play a part in our attraction but we should not forget that people change, wear different clothes, look different as they grow older then we might feel attracted to someone else as our partner changes. Perhaps the Beatles summed it up nicely in their song 'When I'm Sixty four' - "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty four?"
Do we expect relationships to last or are they just as disposable as last years "latest" mobile phone or i-pod version or last years fashions? Do we fall in and out of love with each other or is it really a choice we make to love someone else or to continue loving that same one person?
Well I know that other women catch my attention, as well they might, theres nothing wrong with admiring; I know that just as I mess up so does my wife and I am certain that I am at least as irritating and annoying as she is. Thirty plus years of marriage have taught me that whatever the initial attraction, love comes at a price, love hurts. A price that means loving through all things, in all situations, that one person who becomes a true soul-mate, a companion it says in Genesis as God decided to create woman and for all time men and women will leave their parents and be joined as one, for life. It means not following up on attraction to someone else, which often is just our greed being let loose; it also means gaining the reward of a relationship that grows and blossoms and matures in all of its beauty.
When I think about love as the Bible talks about it, 1 Corinthians 13 comes to mind - but then that has to be seen in the context of the Church before trying to apply it relationships. It tells us that love will overcome all if we are able to put the other first and seek to share with them, look out for them, understand their needs and above all continue to choose to love them in spite of how they change, how they meet up to our expectations or not and any other distractions that draw our eyes.
Ultimately our model is God, who loves each of us so deeply that he came himself, Jesus, to put right what we manage to repeatedly mess up. He offers relationship that is eternal, based on his love for us and his desire to know us and for us to know him. He will love us when we reach sixty four and beyond, he will love us in the great times and the hard times; he will never let us down. Choose that love for yourself and love the God who loves you enough to have been there, done it and got the T-shirt long before you.
This is the God who will not walk away from you when you are not all that he wanted you to be, this is the God whose love for you is so deep that he hurt - suffered for you.
Model your relationship with your partner on that kind of love and it will work out no matter how tough it might get at times.