God created marriage in the Garden of Eden, not in Hollywood. If marriage was about internal chemistry and external appearance, Hollywood marriages would last longer. Contemporary dictionaries define love in terms of emotions. The media has distorted God’s concept of love. God’s love (agape) is not based on emotion. Agape is a word that bespeaks commitment, rather than romance. God Himself is defined in terms of love, for God is agape (I Jn.4:16). God loves us with His will, not His emotions. Marriage vows which include “in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer” picture the absolute commitment of agape. Whereas agape love builds trust, emotional love results in distrust when “the thrill is gone.”
Some believe they must find the right person in order to be happy. God says we must be the right person. Christian singles today often spend so much time trying to find “the right one,” they spend too little time on personal spiritual development. Neither mate can magically solve the emotional issues in marriage.
Marital love is often like a thermostat. Each partner tries to set the temperature. Ideally, both should predetermine the setting. Either deliberately or inadvertently, both toy with the thermostat. Emotional pressures cause couples to fight for control of the dial. “If you hurt my feelings, I’ll make it colder. If you bring me a gift, I turn up the heat.” Many factors can change the climate without warning. Issues such as children, money, and in-laws affect the emotional atmosphere. It’s too easy to let moods dictate the temperature of your home.
The works of the flesh, in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit, are all emotion based (Gal.5:19-21). Marriage is an ocean of emotion, but wedlock founded on feelings cannot endure. Inviting the Holy Spirit into your home begins the process of proactive love for your spouse.
Love is like manna. It must be gathered early and daily. You cannot store up a year’s supply. Stale manna breeds worms and stinks (Ex.16:20). Your marriage will “smell funny” without daily gathering your love and sharing it with the other. As we ask God for our daily bread, so we must ask for patience and understanding every day (Mt. 6:11). Marital relationships require perpetual care for it is the most important and significant work you will ever do.
You were designed by God to walk in the Spirit (Gal.5:16). With the Holy Spirit in control, emotions cannot rule and ruin your marriage. Couples led by emotions let the flesh control them and the results are always negative. The fruit of the Spirit grows and such growth is always positive (Gal.5:22-23). We move from an emotion-based marriage to a commitment-based marriage by spending quality time together and having open and honest conversations. Allow the oil of the Holy Spirit to permeate every part of your marriage and keep it running smoothly.