Are marriage and love the same? In this article, we discuss 4 things you need to know about love and marriage so you can build your relationship on a solid foundation.
In a rather cynical OptEd piece, columnistGenna Edwards sees marriage as an ‘institution of ownership.’
I certainly do not agree with her assessment of marriage, but I do agree with one observation:
Our culture doesn’t like the talk about what happens after we get married. We marry for “love,” ostensibly, but then what? What tends to happen after the knot is tied, and even before, shows that marriage doesn’t necessarily equate to love. If love is a practice, an action, American marriage has some serious issues.
Marriage in America is not what it should be. Not what it was intended to be.
Our focus tends to be more on what leads up to marriage, than marriage itself. This is the proverbial ‘getting the cart before the horse.’ What happens AFTER you say ‘I do’ is far more important than what leads to it.
God’s purpose for marriage has many implications. The highest expression is marriage is an example of our relationship with Christ. We have certainly fallen short on our end.
In answering the question, ‘Is love and marriage the same?’ our answer should, Yes! However, it often is not.
To begin understanding why this is so, it’s important to define what real love actually is.
What Is Love Anyway?
(The) concept of getting into arranged marriage worries us. Is it really something to worry about..?? Is the marriage out of Love more successful than the arranged marriages..?? Research says it isn’t. Reported success rate of both sort of marriages are surprisingly same.Ms.Sneha Bhat Psychologist
I quote this, not as an advocate of arranged marriages, and certainly not of loveless marriages. But rather to drive home the point that our definition of love has a lot to do with how we answer the question, ‘Is love and marriage the same?’
The obvious answer is, No! They are not.
We can all point out relationships (marriages) that are filled with hostility, abuse, anger, resentment, and unfaithfulness. These are not the marks of love.
People enter marriage for a lot of reasons:
- Financial security
- Peer pressure
- Physical attraction
- Family pressure
The list is almost endless. We marry for a lot of reasons. Some good. Some bad. Sometimes love is even a factor.
But the most important question is not what led us to marriage, but what sustains a marriage.But the most important question is not what led us to marriage, but what sustains a marriage. Click To Tweet
This may sound controversial, but in the next section we will dig deep into the differences in young love and mature marriage.
Rylan and Lacy’s Story
I know a young couple who have a tremendous marriage. Tremendous meaning healthy, solid, and loving.
The irony of their story is they had a lot going for them before they tied the knot.
They dated for a while in college, but their dates consisted more of parties, drugs, and living on the wild side. They were attracted to each other, but neither was looking for a long-term relationship. It was all about the party.
Things changed when Lacy got pregnant. Lacy did not want to terminate the pregnancy and they both wanted to be involved in their childs life. After a lot of thought, they decided to get married.
They knew it wouldn’t be easy. To their credit, they both realized to build the kind of home and family they wanted to raise their child in, they needed to have a foundation bigger than the one their dating relaitonship had. They went to work laying that foundation.
They asked an older couple to be a mentor to them so they could learn how to grow deeper in their relationship. They changed their lifestyle, joined a local church, and committed to the work of growing up.
Rylan and Lacy have been married now for almost 15 years. They have a loving family and a strong marriage. Although they have faced many challenges, their love has grown deeper and more satisfying through the years.
This is how they say it: We love each other more now than ever! We trust each other and have each other’s back.
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What Are The Differences in Young Love and Strong Marriage?
In this section, let’s explore the differences between young love and seasoned marriage.
Not all of these differences are noticible in every relationship. They are, however, generally characteristic of many contemporary couples. These observations are verified by many psychologist and relationship therapist. We cite them when available.
For definition purpose, young love is based on passion and attraction. Seasoned love is based on commitment, connection, and acceptance.
1. New love seeks to hide our real selves. Secure marriages are open and transparent.
I realize this is exagerated. Not all dating relaitonships (or new marriages) fall into this category. But many psychologist note the difference in how we approach our relationships based on how long we’ve been together and how comfortable we are with our partner.
In other words, it is typical of couples to be on our best behavior at the beginning of a relationship. The longer we are together, the more comfortable we become, and the more open we are with our partner.
This is normal. The longer a couple is together, the more secure they should become in their relationship. This naturally leads to a more open and transparent relationship. Which leads to a deeper conneciton.
2. New love is about attraction and caring. Seasoned marriages are about intimacy and sharing.
Again, this is an over simplification of a point.
Many believe deeper intimacy happens at the early stages of a relaitonship. I disagree.
True intimacy can only come when we feel fully accepted, valued, and respected. This only takes place over time.
The longer the relationship, the deeper the potential for intimacy.
3. New love is a choice. Secure marriages are mystical.
There is probably not a scientific evidence for this, but it is something I have observed in many couples.
This doesn’t mean that marriage is not a choice. It is. But it is something deeper. At lease, strong, secure marriages are based on something deeper than a ‘grind it out’ type of choice.
Rachel Pace puts it this way:
When you meet someone and find their qualities interesting, you start loving them. This happens once you’ve evaluated their best qualities and appreciate them for who they’re. This defines the feeling when you love someone. However, if you’re in love then you have no choice but to love the person. It’s something that happens without your consent. Furthermore, you simply can’t walk away from this.
I agree. At least, to a point. The strongest marriages have a bond and connection that is unexplanable. It runs deeper than the ‘I choose to love you.’
It is based on a number of factors. Some of those factors go beyond what we understand about the nature of friendship and relationships. That’s why I use the term ‘mystical.’ There is an element of mystery about deep love.The strongest marriages have a bond and connection that is unexplanable. It runs deeper than the 'I choose to love you.' Click To Tweet
For example, I recognize many great qualities in my wife. I can name hundreds (of not thousands) of reasons I find her attractive and lovely. But I cannot explain WHY I love her so deeply. It’s a mystery.
Even if I name all the reasons my mind can recite, it doesn’t answer the deepest part of my heart that simply loves her.
I’ve often put it this way…
The Greeks saw love as such a mystery they created Cupid with his arrows of love that struck people and made them fall in love.
I do not believe in a little person flying around shooting love arrows, but it makes as much sense as anything else. Why? Love is a mystery.
NOTE: This doesn’t take the place of working to make marriage great. Love is important, but it is also something that has to be cultivated, nurtured, and valued for marriage to be everything it can and should be.
4. New love can be self serving. Strong marriages are about giving.
One big difference (in my opinion and observation) is new love is often more about how the other person makes us feel. When we are with them, we feel alive. Special. Valued.
These are important parts of a healthy relationship. But the longer the relationship continues, there is a shift. We become more interested in making sure our spouse feels love, appreciated, and valued.
We don’t necessary lay down all our desires, but there is a definite shift when deep connection is established. The more secure we feel in the relationship, the more we want to invest in the other person.
A great example of this is found in the story about people without elbows. It illustrates how giving is the key to getting your needs met.
The Difference in Love and Marriage
I recently ran across a beautiful story that illustrates the difference. I am not sure who originally wrote this. My apologies to the author.
A student asks his teacher, “What is love?”
The teacher tells the student to go to the wheat field and choose the biggest wheat. The student does as the teacher says but when he gets to the field, he wonders if there might be an even bigger wheat later.
The student keeps going and finds a few wheat that are bigger than the first one but eventually realizes that the wheat are not as big as the first one he saw.
He goes back to the teacher empty handed. The teacher tells the student that this is love. You keep looking for the better one but when later you realize, you have already miss the best.
The student asks the teacher what marriage is.
The teacher tells the student to go to the corn field and choose the biggest corn. The student is careful not to repeat the previous mistake and chooses a corn that is good and suitable.
The teacher tells the student that this is marriage. You look for one that is suitable and good, then you have faith and believe this is the best one you get.Love is a part of marriage, but marriage goes beyond emotional and physical passion. It is based on the foundation of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. It is rooted in a commitment tied to value, trust, and emotional security. Click To Tweet
The bottom line: Marriage is (for the most part) what we make it. As one of my friends once said, ‘Love and marriage are not synonomous; but they should at least be playing the same game.’
Final Thoughts on Marriage and Love
We often wonder if love and marriage are the same. The simple answer is, No! They are not.
Love is a part of marriage, but marriage goes beyond emotional and physical passion. It is based on the foundation of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. It is rooted in a commitment tied to value, trust, and emotional security.
- What Is Love Anyway?
- What Are The Differences in Young Love and Strong Marriage?
- 1. New love seeks to hide our real selves. Secure marriages are open and transparent.
- 2. New love is about attraction and caring. Seasoned marriages are about intimacy and sharing.
- 3. New love is a choice. Secure marriages are mystical.
- 4. New love can be self serving. Strong marriages are about giving.
- The Difference in Love and Marriage
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If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.