The Feelings of Love
What happens when marriages take a turn for the worse, when people “grow apart”? We put the problem this way: “I don’t love her/him anymore.” There is a seeming lack of good feelings. We elicited a basic principle from Scripture: Feelings Follow. That is, practice the Word of God and good feelings will follow hard upon your actions. This is of course quite the opposite of bad feelings following disobedience. The principle is however quite the same: Feelings Follow. Let’s apply this basic principle to love and marriage.
First we define love. “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 John 6). This is a very concrete definition. On the other hand, 1 Corinthians 13 describes love. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). These texts teach the “what” and the “how” of love.
If we define love biblically, we note it is first of all and primarily an action. The Fifth Commandment requires us to honor father and mother. Every spouse must honor his wife or her husband as the father or mother of the household. A wife or husband may never denigrate a spouse by calling her “the old lady” or him “the old man.” Spouses must show love to their mates by patiently holding them in high esteem in the family. The Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder,” holds a similar requirement. A spouse must never call a mate stupid, or dumb, or foolish (See Matthew 5:21-22). A spouse must show love by always pointing out good qualities with utmost kindness (Philippians 4:8-9). Along this line, love never keeps a record of a mate’s failings, a record of wrongs. Love does not glory in a mate’s failure by saying “I told you so” or “I knew it.”
The Seventh Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” requires faithfulness in affection and physical love. Marriage partners must maintain fidelity and purity and be devoted to each other. Every marriage partner must find total satisfaction in his or her spouse. Carousing and pornography must therefore go. This will dissolve all jealousy. Love is not jealous. You can begin to see proper feelings emerge as proper actions are taken.
The Eighth Commandment is “You shall not steal.” Gambling and playing the lottery steal support due to a spouse. Love provides for the welfare of others especially our spouse, our closest neighbor. “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). The Ninth Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” requires us to tell the truth. Love is truthful, especially to a spouse. The Tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet,” sums up the Ten Commandments. It forbids lust, the very opposite of love. It forbids self-centeredness and self-seeking. It requires contentment. This is something we learn (Philippians 4:11).
May we therefore learn love? Yes! “Practice these things” (Philippians 4:9). Practice the “what” and the “how” of love. Practice following the precepts of the Ten Commandments. Do them as described in 1 Corinthians 13. Exercise patience. Be kind. Rejoice in the truth seen and practiced. Practice these things conscientiously. Gracious feelings about your spouse will follow. You will joy in him or her more and more.