I recently spent some time with some students. They interrogated me on issues surrounding love, relationships, dating and sex. It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. Being with them reminded me that when you’re a teenager, love is a mystery. That evening they asked lots of great questions. ‘If you get married, how can you know if you will always get on?’, ‘Marriage is such a risk, committing to one person for your whole life, what if it goes wrong?’ ‘Is there just one person out there who is specially matched to you?’
I could easily answer the ‘how do you know if you will always get on?’ question. The answer is you definitely won’t. If you choose to get married there will most likely be times when you wish that you hadn’t and when you struggle to accept the failings of your partner. But that’s why you get up and make a promise to them in front of all your friends that you will always stay together ‘for better or worse, in sickness and in health’. Loving a person is a choice, an act of the will. In those times when it’s very difficult, the promise to stay together might be all you have.
We also discussed what happens if you ‘fall out of love’, like so many couples seem to do these days. There are no easy answers to the pain of relationships that are breaking, but there are choices we make every single day that cause the loving feelings we have towards our partner to grow or cause them to diminish. We can choose to be kind, to spend time together, to forgive. Or we can choose to resent, criticize and let our anger burst out. If we want to stay together we have to choose to love every day, whether we ‘feel’ like it or not.
The evening was hosted at the home of Jimmy and Jana who have been married for 10 years. I liked Jimmy’s response to the question “How do you know when you’ve met ‘the one’?” He said, “I knew the day we got married. When I put a ring on Jana’s finger and promised to love her until one of us dies….that’s when she became ‘the one’.