Two Halves Don't Make a Whole
In a marriage, two halves don't make a whole. In fact it takes two completely whole individuals to make the marriage a fulfilling union.
Young girls picture this knight in shining armor bounding into their lives and sweeping them off their feet. This wonderful knight is handsome, brave, and equipped for all of life's challenges. He exudes such strength and confidence that his lady is in awe of his prowess. His very presence makes her feel secure, loved, and beautiful, like a true princess.
Truthfully, what generally brings two opposite people together is the innate desire to be loved completely by another person. If I honestly look at what drew me to my husband, I know it was how wonderful I felt when we were together. I was so blinded by my own warm, fuzzy feelings that nothing mattered except being together.
I heard a story about a young couple who were in a premarital counseling session. As they sat starry-eyed with blissful hearts the counselor asked the young lady to write down a list of negative traits she had observed in her fiancé. She took pen in hand and after several minutes still had a blank sheet. With a smile on his face, the counselor assured her that this time next year she would have no trouble at all with her list and might in fact need a second sheet of paper.
Such is the nature of young love. It generally starts off as eros or romantic love founded on physical attraction. Before you discount this kind of love as young and immature, consider its value. Most of us would not be married today without having experienced erotic love. This type of love attracts young lovers to one another and is foundational in leading a couple to make a lifelong commitment. Erotic love allows a man and woman to physically act upon their words of love.
Phileo love, which is the kind of love shared between close friends, may be present or even develop soon after marriage. Phileo love is born and grows out of time spent together. It brings a bond between two people that causes them to prefer each other's company more than anything else.
Kindness can be a key element to feeding and nurturing phileo love. I heard a story of a young couple from India whose marriage was arranged by their parents. The groom was several years older than the bride. The young couple was married but it was evident to the husband that his wife was emotionally distant and was strictly performing her wifely duties because it was expected that she do so.
The wise husband desperately wanted to win the love of his young bride so he decided he would just be kind to her and treat her like a queen. He refrained from approaching her for sexual relations. He merely became her friend. Before long his young bride grew to love, admire, and desire her husband. She blossomed into the wife of his dreams. It's amazing what kindness and friendship will produce in a love relationship.
Eros and phileo are most evident because of the strong feelings of attachment and emotional fulfillment that they bring. But neither of these kinds of love will bring into the marriage relationship what each partner is searching for. If it did our lives would be totally complete once we found our life's mate. But the staggering divorce rate is proof enough that marriage is not the answer to our life's greatest need.
The third type of love is agape love. It is the God kind of love. It is the kind of love we identify in 1 Corinthians 13. It is never rude or acts unbecomingly; it does not insist on its own rights. It is not touchy and doesn't even keep account of wrongs suffered. It bears up under all things and is ever ready to believe the best in others. Agape love never fails.
If you're like me, just reading the definition of the God kind of love makes you very aware that you don't have the capacity for such a love. That's why it's called godly love. Without the love of God in our own lives all other kinds of love will fail. Yet by receiving God's love and filling our lives with Him we not only receive agape love, but we can demonstrate this godly love to our spouses. Our capacity to love grows to a whole new level.
Knowing and understanding God's perfect love for me helps me to be fully whole. I no longer feel the need to search within my marriage for my husband to fulfill my needs. I can be complete in Christ Jesus lacking nothing. That takes all the pressure off my husband to make me happy. (I can hear him cheering now.)
One way I seek to fill my love tank with God's love is by reading and memorizing verses in the Bible on His love. I love Psalm 139. It tells of God's thoughts being on me constantly. If I continually find my fulfillment in my relationship with God then whatever happiness that comes my way through my marriage or other venues is just frosting on the cake.