Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Love and Happiness

Marriage is a sacred institution, but some people just don’t get it. In a book I read the other day was a statement by a character concerning another character that was considering leaving her husband for another—actually, I can’t say man here because she would’ve left him for an elf. The statement was along the lines of you are the only one who can decide what will make you happy. Happy? Really? At what point did marriage become about the happiness of the individual? And what if the other person doesn’t make you happy?

Marriage is about commitment. The Bible tells us that a man is supposed to leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife. The Bible also tells us that a man is supposed to love his wife and the wife is to respect her husband. That’s not to say that if a man doesn’t love his wife and she does respect him that they should split up. These things aren’t optional. These things are commands. Men are commanded to love their wives, but even if they don’t, wives are commanded to respect their husbands. They are to cleave together through thick and thin.

But our culture has introduced this idea that love isn’t an action but a feeling. People have the idea that they love each other because they make each other happy and when the happiness disappears the love disappears also. They then think that because there is no love in the marriage they should separate. Love isn’t a feeling produced by happiness, but happiness is often produced by love.

What is love? Love is putting aside what we would rather be doing and doing things with and for the other person. Suppose a married woman meets this really hot guy that makes her heart race every time she sees him. He asks her to go have coffee with him, but she refuses, goes home and cleans the toilets instead. That is love. Yes, it is easier to make those choices if there is affection in the marriage, but we can love someone without being affectionate or liking that person. Of course, if you love someone through your actions, it won’t be long and you’ll love that person in feeling as well.

As writers, we have a responsibility to write about love in the right way. Let’s stop telling people that they should be looking for happiness in marriage and instead encourage them to love their spouses in action. Happiness is the byproduct of doing the right thing, not the way to decide what is the right thing.