How Can I Save My Marriage?

This is part 1 of a multi-part series.

I've never had to rescue my marriage from the jaws of divorce so everything I am about to write can be chalked up to idle speculation and whimsy.

Last year I watched two dear, close, married friends casually realize that they were no longer in love with each other. They were happy and successful at the time and they just sort of grew apart. You know how it is, things change, people change, it just happens. It was nobody's fault really and the divorce proceedings were quite amicable. Remarkably, their friendship has actually been strengthened by the whole thing.

Last year I watched two dear, close, married friends emotionally rape each other for a while, tire of it, and then do the only sensible and humane thing. They wrestled their wedding vows into a sack, dragged them off into the woods squealing and thrashing, bound them to a stump, and blew their collective brains out.

One of these two stories is true and it really doesn't matter to me which one. I don't want either to be the story that my kids recite about themselves when catching up with long lost friends. So, in the event that they do face difficult times in marriage, I want to go on the record with how I believe one can be saved.

1. Believe That Love Is Not An Emotion

I heard a man say once that love is not an emotion. What he said was:

"Love is an act of the will, accompanied by emotion, that leads to action on behalf of it's object."

If this is true then we've been taught a lie. I don't know about you, but I've been told that love is something that happens to me and not the other way around. It's something I "fall" into and "fall" out of. That love is quite unpredictable and equally out of my control. I've been taught that love is an emotion.

But love is not a feeling. It is grander and more noble a thing than that. Another way to say it is that love is not merely biochemical. It is not a rush of endorphins or the perfect cocktail of serotonin. It sort of sounds silly until you realize that some of the most epic and inspiring acts of love are those that are expressed in direct opposition to personal feelings. Like when a wife forgives her husband's infidelity, not because she is feeling at all loving or sentimental, but because she is honoring the love she felt in the past and choosing to believe she will feel it again in the future.

Let me tell you about emotions. Emotions go on vacation. They leave and forget to bring you with them. Or they blend in with the scenery like a chameleon so that you cannot detect them. Or they go to work and they stay there, sending your husband home every night without them, so that it seems like he is only alive when he is away from you.

But love? Love is different. Love is an act of the will, accompanied by emotion. It is more intricate, more ornate, and more holy than a simple feeling could ever aspire to be.

If you want to save your marriage then the first step is to believe that love is not merely an emotion.

[Go to Part 2]