Love on Purpose
Updated: Apr 8, 2019
with purpose-directed and design-directed love.
Welcome to another online marriage counseling blog post by a guy who’s basically still a newlywed. My wife and I are nearly 2 years into our honeymoon, and we plan on going another four or five decades before calming down a bit. How?
We’ve all heard the saying, love isn't a feeling, it's a choice. When I heard that, I thought to myself, "I guess so, because feelings are so fickle, but shouldn't there be some warm feelings of liking your spouse?" I was unmarried at the time and pretty much had no experience with relationships.
Also, we’ve all probably heard the saying that marriage is hard work. Our romantic idealism of marriage rejects this for a notion that the words “I Do” marks the discovery of the happily ever after, unicorns, and the golden city of El Dorado. Did that sound too cynical? Maybe a little sarcastic?
The point is, you have two broken and hurting people who are entering into a life-long commitment of supporting each other. Even if you got the lesson of the last blog down, and you focus on each other instead of inferior things or your own needs, you still have to face the rock climb of each other’s abrasiveness.
Proper Perspective of Purpose
Now my wife and I are naturally drama-averse people. We don’t feel like it’s worth it to take something that may irk us and blow it up into a recreation of ram fighting. We like keeping small things small.
As wedding photographers, our ideal clients are those people who either similarly dispositioned, or respond well to our laid back, easy-going natures. In case you didn’t know, most photographers do an in person consultation because it's a mutual interview. They want to know their personalities are a good fit for their client. If bride and groom needs someone who is level-headed next to them the entire day, we’d probably be a good fit for them. If a bride and groom are likely to have an episode of Jerry Springer on their wedding day, we may kindly pass on that... opportunity.
That being said, one more thing we’ve all heard, and many people have experienced, is that the early years in marriage are wonderful, but then it goes down hill from there. Yeah, I’m not okay with that. Now, I’m sure most guys want to be the exception to this rule, but there’s something that has to happen because the downhill slide is going to be the natural result if nothing happens to change it. Thus the prior mention of hard work.
So what is this hard work? Choosing love. Ask yourself the question, "how can I choose love in this situation?" If you don’t like the answer, perfect. Go and do the answer with the confidence that it’s the right thing to do, and you’ll get over the feeling of your hurt pride or unfulfilled desire for justice.
Like I mentioned before, I’m a Christian, and I believe people have a purpose and design. I also believe that marriage has a purpose and design. People are sacred, and marriage is sacred. When we fulfill our design as people, we find ultimate fulfillment. We become what we’re made for. When marriage fulfills its design, guess what happens?
Love that gives
Once, I attended a wedding of some friends of mine, and I brought my camera along for fun. I didn’t have a business at the time, and I knew how to stay out of the way of the hired wedding photographer as I'd worked as a second shooter before. Of course, I’d ask the hired photographer as well, and not be “that guy.”
When I arrived, I was surprised when the bride and the groom told me that their wedding photographer had to cancel, so they wondered if I could shoot their wedding. I knew I could do it, so I agreed.
Afterwards, the groom came up to me and asked me how much I wanted to be paid. I tried to refuse the money, but he insisted. So I gave him what I thought was a fair number, and he tripled it. After I chased down my socks, (because he blew them right off) I thanked them both for the opportunity, but that act of generosity also taught me a lesson. What they did is a picture of how love works.
My wife and I-- we both have faults that challenge our drama-averse natures. We both can get overwhelmed by life outside the marriage. I do my best not to, and I’m learning to trust the rest to God, but when it comes to what’s inside my marriage? I’m all about the hard work. I’m all about choosing love. I’m all about the looking beyond faults and seeing needs. Why? Because I’m just such a great person? No. Because the unity we get in our relationship is worth the investment. It’s so much better than being “right.”
Purpose Promotes Punctilious Pleasure
A husband is a word picture of a gardener. One who tends, prunes, weeds, waters, and makes the environment a place where growth can happen. To be a husband, I need to go back to the idea of purpose because every plant doesn’t thrive in every environment. I have to know the basic design of the plant to cause it to thrive. What's the design of people? What's the design of love? Without design and purpose, love is meaningless. If love is just a feeling that's separated from purpose and design, it can mean anything, and you can "love" people while enabling them in self-destructive behaviors. That's like letting your dog wee (as my wife says) on your flower garden and wondering why the flowers never grow.
There's so much that today's society has tried to normalize from casual sexual relationships, to the dregs of the internet. People are free to do what they want, but I believe we’ve been lied to when it comes to the consequences of what will bring us happiness and what leads to deeper and deeper emptiness.
So who gets to say what the design of someone is? As a Christian, I believe that's God's decision because God created us, and He defines truth. I believe that the Bible is one of the most accurate and coherent descriptors of the human condition you can find on the Earth. In it, you find a description of marriage, where the man is the authority or head of the marriage, but it clearly paints this authority as a servant-hood, to be directed towards the growth of the spouse.
When a marriage fulfills its purpose, you have two broken people healing each other by leaning on God for strength and perspective. By giving, by loving first, by blinding myself to her faults because her need is so much more important, by leaning on God for what I need, I’m fulfilling the design and purpose of our marriage, and guaranteeing the continuity of it as long as God’s grace keeps me on this Earth.