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Forget About Feelings, Real Love Is A Deliberate Choice

My wife and I have known each other since high school, but didn’t date until much later. We had only dated a couple of weeks before we realized that we were madly in love and wanted to get married.

I was all for it! I even suggested a spontaneous, immediate wedding in Vegas. (Seriously.) Kim, however, was a bit more practical about the whole thing. She wanted to take time to plan it all out.

I felt deflated. “We’re so different,” I said. “You like to plan, while I like to be spontaneous.”

Kim’s eyes widened. “I can be spontaneous!” she said, hurriedly. “I can totally be spontaneous. You just have to tell me in advance when you want to be spontaneous, and I will write it down in my planner…”

I gave her a strange look. She was totally serious! Clearly, Kim did not understand the meaning of spontaneity.

Funny as it may seem, the more I think about this conversation the more I’ve come to realize that planning to love someone—or choosing to love someone—is actually one of the most beautiful things about love.

I’ve heard it said that real love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

It’s true.

When all the butterflies have fluttered away and your wedding day becomes a distant memory, you will discover that you’ve married someone who is just as imperfect as you. And they, in turn, will come to learn that you have problems, insecurities, struggles, quirks—and body odor—just as real as theirs!

Then you will realize that real love isn’t just a euphoric, spontaneous feeling—it’s a deliberate choice—a plan to love each other for better and worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health. Of course, you don’t choose who you’re attracted to, but you definitely choose who you fall in love with and (more importantly) who you stay in love with.

Our society places a lot of emphasis on feelings. We are taught that we should always follow our feelings and do whatever makes us happy. But feelings are very fickle and fleeting. Real love, on the other hand, is like the north star in the storms of life; it is constant, sure, and true. Whenever we’re lost and confused we can find strength in the love that we have chosen.

Besides, life already offers us plenty of spontaneity: rejection, job loss, heartache, disappointment, despair, illness, and a host of other problems. We simply can’t abandon ship every time we encounter a storm in our marriage. Real love is about weathering the storms of life together.

When my grandma was in her fifties, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that disrupts the body’s ability to communicate with its nervous system. Within a few short years, Grandma had lost the ability to walk and was confined to a wheelchair. Grandpa, who was then the chief of police, retired two years earlier than planned in order to take care of Grandma. He helped her do everything—from getting around the house and visiting the doctor, to helping her take her medicine and bathe.

In speaking about my grandma, Grandpa once told my mom, “It hurts me to see her like this. You know, when I got married I thought that everything would be smooth sailing. I never imagined that I would have to help her change her catheter every day. But I do it and I don’t mind it—because I love her.”

Love is so much more than some random, euphoric feeling. And real love isn’t always fluffy, cute, and cuddly. More often than not, real love has its sleeves rolled up, dirt and grime smeared on its arms, and sweat dripping down its forehead. Real love asks us to do hard things—to forgive one another, to support each other’s dreams, to comfort in times of grief, or to care for family. Real love isn’t easy—and it’s nothing like the wedding day—but it’s far more meaningful and wonderful.

I recently came across this wonderful quote: “No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice.”

Whenever my wife and I run into a problem in our marriage we do our best to choose love. While we’re certainly not perfect, the love we share today is more real and more wonderful than anything we had ever anticipated.

So, whatever spontaneous storm may come our way I plan on loving my wife.

If you truly love someone (and they truly love you), commit to that love and plan on it being hard work.

But also plan on it being the most rewarding work of your life.

Article Source: Sethadamsmith


7 Men on Why They’re Glad They Married Young


“We learned to be there for each other when all you have is almost nothing.”

When it comes to getting married young, two schools of thought emerge: It’s unwise to get married before you’ve had time to date a lot and mature, or it’s something that happens to very lucky people who find their ~true love~ early in life. In any case, ask anyone who’s married young and they’ve heard both responses. But how do people who actually took the plunge in their early 20s feel about their decision? To fuel everyone’s inner hopeless romantic, seven guys who got married young (or well before the average marriage age of about 29) opened up about the best parts about it.

1. “At first had a lot of anxiety about getting married young. I’d always pictured myself as the kind of person who gets hitched later in life. Then, to add Caesar to the salad, my parents were going through a separation. Was this the right thing to do?

It was. Every time I come home after a long day in the soul-sucking world outside, I’m able to see and kiss and talk to a wonderful person that I’ve taken some big life steps with. It’s not all sweetness of course, but having and maintaining that fountain of sweetness earlier in life seems like a great gift to me.” — Jorge, 25, married at 25

2. “We married days before graduating from college. We started a family about two years later. While the finances were tight with fledgling careers and a new baby, we have never regretted marrying and starting a family young. Had we been in our 30s when we got married, we would have missed out on many unique growing experiences. I would tell any man who is certain they have found their life partner to not wait.” — Daniel, 52, married at 23

3. “It gave me more time with my wife. In our 20s, we launched our careers, traveled, and bought our first home (and did a ton of work on it). We had our kids in our 30s, which was great because we were still young. Our daughters are now 12 and 14 which means we will be empty nesters in our 50s. That hopefully will give us at least another 20 years together. Very glad I got married young.” — John, 46, married at 24

4. “When you’re 20, you haven’t fully grown into the person you’re meant to be yet. That can be a scary season for sure, with so many uncertainties in life — wins, failures, closed doors and new experiences all ahead. I️ can’t imagine going through any of those things without [my wife] by my side, knowing that she’s in it for the long haul. In the midst of absolute chaos, she’s an absolute certainty. I️ don’t think I️ would have come out of it the same way without her.

When we first got engaged I️ heard so many people (uninvited input, I might add) say things like, why so young, aren’t you afraid you are going to grow apart? And personally I️ think it does the opposite. I️ think you grow together.” — David, 23, married at 20

5. “We have been able to build the life we both want together from a young age instead of having to merge our already established lives. We truly appreciate the opportunity we have to help each other become better people, grow and enjoy life together as a couple.” — Marcus, 30, married at 23

6. “We met during college when we had time to be friends, work together, goof off, and just grow in our relationship. We had kids young, too. Our oldest was born when I was 24. But by then we had been together for five years and had really started working on what it takes to build a lasting relationship. We learned to be there for each other when all you have is almost nothing. I know that she loves me for me, and I love her for her because I didn’t have anything else to give but me. I see so many people trying to date in their 30s and I can’t imagine. And now, at 38, I’ve been with my wife for over half my life and it’s hard to imagine not being with her. She’s a larger part of my history now than my single self!” — Aaron, 38, married at 22

7. “Having been married since before I️ was 25 is awesome! The long and short of it is that we get to take on life together for more of our lives and that is completely worth it!” — Matt, 27, married at 23

Article Source: Cosmopolitan

The Burdensome Myth of Romantic Love

A collection of Einstein’s letters auctioned off in 1996 contains a list of marital expectations for his wife, Maliva Maric. The list includes daily laundry “kept in good order,” “three meals regularly in my room,” a desk maintained neatly “for my use only,” and the demand that she quit talking or leave the room “if I request it.” The marriage ended in divorce, but the list lives on as an illustration not only of Einstein’s darker domestic side, but also of assumptions commonly held about marriage in 1914.

Compared with Einstein’s requirements, modern marital expectations have surely evolved for the better. Or have they? An insightful study by Sarah K. Balstrup theorizes that as people abandon religious institutions, they start expecting romantic relationships to satisfy a host of needs that formerly were satisfied through religion. If you think clean laundry and regular meals require effort, try meeting the demands of relationship-worship circa 2018 by providing transcendence, unconditional love, wholeness, meaning, worth, and communion.

The Western fixation on romantic love creates a crushing burden for mere mortals. It engenders a powerful myth regarding love, courtship, and marriage: that a fallible human partner can not only share our passions but sate our existential yearnings. Contemporary couples expect much more from marriage than it can realistically deliver, a phenomenon noted by social psychologists. As Eli Finkel of Northwestern University observes, “most of us will be kind of shocked by how many expectations and needs we’ve piled on top of this one relationship.”

The problems arising from the myth of romantic love affect not only the secular culture but also people who, while trying to adhere to their faith, must deal with the competing ideology-mythology surrounding them. We all fall prey to the lore, and so the rise of the romantic-love myth has coincided with an increase in marital breakdown, emblematized by a 50-percent divorce rate. A recent survey by the University of Maryland’s Philip Cohen reinforces the breakdown narrative by showing that marital satisfaction has declined in the last several decades. In the 1970s, 68 percent of Americans said they were “very happy” in their marriages; today, 60 percent say they are.

Though reasons for marital discontent abound, Cohen teases out a correlation of religion with marital happiness. This correlation suggests that, in order for a relationship to flourish, existential needs should be met outside it. In study after study, the most successful marriages tend to unite religious couples whose shared beliefs conduce to stability and satisfaction. These marriages not only buck the trends of divorce, abuse, neglect, violence, and dysfunction, but also benefit from the incentive religion offers for couples to work together for something outside the self. Through years of serving, sacrificing, problem-solving, and forgiving, couples derive the experience of being profoundly known, understood, and loved.

The myth of romantic love promises a faster, easier route to transcendence. Balstrup writes that relationships have “become the primary mythology of the sacred in the collective tongue” of Western culture. The initial rush of endorphins that accompanies falling in love and the sexual experience imitates the “religious experience of ultimacy.” Desire for this experience drives men and women forward in a quest for mythology’s unattainable lover. Proliferating online matchmaking services, part of a two-billion-dollar growth industry in which 15 percent of adults participate, attest to the appeal of this quest, as do dating coaches. These and other cottage industries offer seekers a form of providence oriented to romantic redemption.

Traditionally arranged marriages—the kind Tevye’s children rebel against in Fiddler on the Roof, with each successive daughter’s marriage involving an increased ratio of romantic love to tradition—provide an interesting contrast to the romantic myth. In general, arranged marriages exhibit the same levels of passion and intimacy as non-arranged marriages. Yet one study of Asian Indians in the United States showed that arranged marriages tend to be happier and last longer than non-arranged marriages. Another study suggested that “choices made throughout a marriage have more to do with marital happiness than [does] choice in mate selection.” But this hard-won happiness faces stiff competition from the temporary euphoria of romantic connection.

Secularization has not undone the connections we feel among beauty, love, truth, and the Ultimate, but simply rewritten the holy journey. In today’s lore, writes Balstrup, “all individuals have a soul mate, yet all must prove themselves worthy of this Ultimate gift,” enduring trials of faith that enable salvation by romantic love. Converts on film and the Internet preach that you, too, can be saved. Americans increasingly value romance over the institution of marriage, just as they shun religious institutions for the ethereal appeal of spirituality. But even as we fall out of love with institutions, we continue to have the needs they once satisfied, displacing those needs onto relationships that collapse under a weight only God and faith can lift.

Article Source: FirstThings


The Secret to a Happy Marriage Is Knowing How to Fight

It’s peak “engagement season” — the span of time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day when, according to the website WeddingWire, more than a third of couples pledge to marry.

As couples move from whispering sweet nothings to mounting strategic wedding-planning campaigns, their minds and inboxes will be deluged with checklists and countdowns, vendors and venues. But for the most part, their attention will be riveted by the Big Day, not by what comes after.

And why not? Couples understandably want to savor their giddy joy. The sociologist Andrew Cherlin has observed that marriage has become a capstone, rather than a cornerstone, of adult life. Accordingly, weddings have become less of a symbolic expression of a couple’s commitment to a shared future and more of a curated Instagram spectacle of “having arrived.”

The capstone wedding promotes the notion that its flurry of decisions represents a high point of stress and intensity, to be followed by the predictable routines of married life. Not so. I have been treating couples as a therapist for 20 years. I see couples whose unproductive fights over the dishes or in-laws are virtually unchanged, 17 years in. I also see couples whose frozen 17-year marriage begins to thaw once they start saying difficult things that need to be said.

Newly engaged couples do need to plan a wedding, if they want one. Chicken or fish for 150 doesn’t materialize out of thin air. But while they’re thinking about the Big Day, they should also think about how they will cope with disagreement. We’ve made love and marriage into such an ideal that people are afraid to consider, at the outset, just how stressful it can get.

Take money, a perennial source of wedding-related tension and marital strife. Three-quarters of couples pay more than they intended to for their wedding. According to a survey conducted in Britain, of the couples who went into debt paying for their wedding, a quarter of them immediately regret it. Weddings are expansive (and expensive) times, and a discussion of trade-offs can chafe against romantic enthusiasm.

But money decisions never stop being a challenge. I hear couples talk about money by casting one partner as the obstacle — the wife wants a vacation, the husband wants a car — instead of noting that life itself presents obstacles. Financial decisions need to take into account the other person’s thoughts, which are often in conflict with one’s own. Many people are conditioned to avoid talking openly about money, so they simmer in silence.

Once in a restaurant, I overheard a young woman announce to her dinner partner that she had decided to quit her job to plan their wedding. An excruciating silence ensued. Something had to be said, and I was rooting for the man to say it: Why didn’t you talk about it with me? Instead, he remained quiet.

People who study marriage, or work with couples in therapy, as I do, talk about the need for a “we story,” a collaboration between partners about values and goals. But if couples are going to collaborate, they have to figure out how to have a productive conversation. A conversation — as opposed to parallel monologues — involves two people who are making an effort to understand each other. In the grip of strong emotion, productive conversation can be surprisingly hard.

That is why many manuals offer advice for navigating communication traps. They counsel asking your partner whether it is a good time to talk (since couples routinely broach complicated topics on the fly), and striking a balance between empathy and problem-solving. If your partner is an avoider, don’t give up trying to connect. If your partner is an emoter, stay compassionate and firm: “I’ll be able to respond better if you take it down a couple of notches.” In bad moments, we all need these skills.

In our conflict-averse culture we don’t necessarily think of these skills as part of romance. But I’ve seen how the best marriages involve people who can deal with strong negative emotions — and who are cleareyed about how hard it can be. They don’t avoid anger, but they don’t indulge it. They tackle hard issues without shutting down. They apologize for their own bad behavior.

What will matter most in marriage is what’s possible on the other side of love’s first blush: conversations that are rewarding, intimate and real. It’s not that we come together in electric recognition and pure understanding, then fall away from that through conflict. Rather, we come together in a rush of passion, then we achieve love through continuing conversation.

Through that conversation we cultivate the essential emotional attitude in marriage: I can try to understand what you think and feel, without it taking away from my own experience. Your reality doesn’t cancel out mine.

All this may seem an awfully low priority when the to-do list is a mile long and the wedding planner needs an answer now. But in married life, a sense of emotional emergency almost always means it’s time to slow down. Emotions are often inconvenient.

The artist Georgia O’Keeffe said, “Nobody sees a flower — really — it is so small it takes time — we haven’t time — and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” What most people want from marriage is an intimate friend. The key to lasting love is taking time to understand and respond.

A wedding is a one-shot celebration of tying the knot, but marriage is an open-ended practice of disentangling misunderstandings. I wish the newly engaged great happiness. I also wish that in between picking a caterer and a font for the invitations, they pause to think about how they fight, and how they want to talk.

Article Source: NYTimes

Robinson's mom and dad

A wedding photographer captured her parents’ love in this incredible viral photo shoot.

Amber Robinson, a photographer from Raleigh, North Carolina, is used to capturing photos of young couples in love.

Much of her business comes from weddings and engagement shoots with couples bursting at the seams with new love. Recently, however, she took on an assignment that was… a bit different from her usual fare.

The photos she took were no less romantic or full of love. Unlike her usual clients, the stars of this photo shoot were her own parents.

Robinson’s mom and dad — Marvin and Wanda Brewington — have been married for 47 years, and Robinson felt it was time the world heard their powerful love story.

She shared the glamorous photos on Instagram where they quickly went viral, racking up thousands of likes and comments.

The lifelong connection the couple has shared practically jumps off the screen, and has people across the internet swooning.

The photos weren’t just adorable. They held a powerful message about making love last far beyond a wedding day or engagement shoot.

“In this wonderful creative industry that I worked in, I focus so much on providing couple hours with a day of beautiful photography,” she wrote in the emotional post. “To be honest, rarely do I stop to think about the day, weeks, months or years that follow a wedding day.”

In her parents’ 47 years together, they’ve endured cancer, raised children, been through dozens of ups and downs, and have shown their children how to live with the generosity of an open heart.

“They are the epitome of where I strive to be in my own marriage and a constant reminder that a wedding is only a day, but a marriage is forever,” she wrote.

“If you are one of the millions in love, or maybe one of the millions of broken-hearted that need a visual reminder that love always endures, I would love for you to share this as a way of letting my mom and dad know, they are an inspiration to anyone who wants, believes, or is in love.”

There’s a myth floating around out there that true love is dead, killed by divorce and casual hookups — but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

People love to cite outdated divorce statistics, or “hook up culture,” as a sign that younger generations don’t take relationships seriously. But the data shows otherwise.

People are waiting longer and longer to get married, have more freedom to choose their partner, are feeling less pressure to settle down when they’re not ready (or at all, if they don’t want to!), and likely as a result of that, divorces are actually at a 40-year low.

“I guess people have been given a restored sense of hope through these images,” Robinson writes in an email. “So much bad is happening in the world and to look at these pictures and image that a lasting love IS possible just brings hope, especially during this time of the year.”

Lifelong monogamy isn’t for everyone. But it’s hard not to look at these photos and not get all warm and tingly.

Article Source: Up Worthy

How Do We Fight Shaytan? By Getting Married – Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir visited SeekersHub Toronto on the evening of January 1st, dropping in for the marriage ceremony of a dear Hub student. Imam Zaid emphasized being agents of good in times when forces of corruption spread harm against families. One of the key means of good in creation is marriage.

Imam Zaid said, “Four things are from the Prophetic tradition: using the tooth-stick, perfume, shyness, and marriage. Marriage is a great sunna that we should strive to keep together and alive in the world. We should try to get married young. I got married when I was 21, but I was ready at 15. I just had to wait for the right young lady to come along.”

“Parents, if your children want to get married let them get married and if they can’t afford it, let them live in your home until they get on their feet. Don’t discourage them because there are all sorts of temptations out there. And Shaytan’s greatest delight is preventing people from staying married,” he continued. “And if he can do that by keeping them from getting married in the first place, then for him it’s all the better. He strives for that 50% divorce rate. But I think Shaytan wasn’t satisfied with just that; he figures that if he can get that other 50% who stay together to hate each other… then he’s happy.”

Imam Zaid concluded by sharing, “We are a community that fights back against Shaytan. Allah says in the Qur’an, ‘So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak.‘ (4:76) And how do we fight back? By reviving and keeping alive Prophetic traditions in the world, and one of the greatest of these traditions is marriage, which is the foundation of our families.

“Our marriages should be a source of great tranquility. Allah says in the Qur’an ‘And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.‘ (30:21) Love and mercy from Allah the Exalted facilitates the peace and tranquility.”

We have to take our marriages seriously, work on ourselves so that we make our marriages work, and resist the negative, satanic influences that harm and/or break up wholesome relationship. May Allah the Exalted pour His love and mercy into our marriages and make them a means of drawing closer to Him. Amin.

Article Source:SeekersHub

26 Ways Couples Say ‘I Love You’ Without Saying A Word

Finding someone who knows your love language, and learning there’s is something very special. Matchbox loves loves loves being part of finding your love language. What is yours?

But finding ways to show your partner just how much you care means even more than those three little words ever could. We asked HuffPost readers to share the thoughtful gestures and everyday acts of love that reaffirm their romantic bond. Read on to see what they had to say:

1. “My fiancé keeps a hair tie in his pocket because he started noticing I always forget! Whenever he sees one, he always sticks it in his pocket for later when I inevitably forget to bring one when we go out.” — Leah W.

2. “He helps out with things my parents need done.” — Rima B.

3. “Every morning before he goes to work, he loads the dishwasher and puts away the toys so when we wake up, we have a nice clean house to start the day with.” — Sarah B.

4. “He warms my side of the bed for me before I come to bed.” — Cathrine L.

5. “After a long day, we relax in our living room and watch a little TV. He sits on the couch and I lay down. He reaches for my foot and begins to rub. Next is the other foot. I don’t ask, he just does it. I would say that’s love.” — Deby H.

6. “I have night terrors and PTSD and he stays up so I can fall asleep first so I know I’m safe.” — Taye S.

7. “He makes me dinner every night. 12 years strong.” — Katy A.

8. “He lets me sleep in and brings me bacon sandwiches in bed when I’ve been out till 6 a.m. on a girls night out.” — Ze N.

9. “My husband died suddenly when he was 48. What I miss the most about him was when he made me coffee, he heated the cup first so it didn’t cool off quickly because he knew how much I love hot, hot coffee.” — Jacque C.

10. “He kisses me goodbye and then I see him eyeing my tires to make sure they’re filled with air.” — Clarees E.

11. “I love Snickers and salted caramel. Whenever he goes to the market, he always comes back with either a Snickers or salted caramel snack. Doesn’t matter what day or occasion, I know whenever he looks at a Snickers he thinks of me and gets me one just to see me smile.” — Laura C.

12. “He doesn’t allow company over on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ nights because that’s my favorite show.” — Crystal L.

13. “He takes allergy medication as part of his morning routine. I’ve recently started suffering from allergies but I’m way too forgetful to include in my routine, so every time he takes his pill after breakfast, he brings an extra upstairs to me as I put on my makeup. It’s silly but it warms my heart every single time.” — Renee C.

14. “He carries band-aids if we go out on the town because he knows my shoes will start to chafe!” — Ashleigh M.

15. “My fiancé has to get up pretty early to get ready for work but he makes a point to wake up 15 to 20 minutes earlier than he needs to so he can get back into bed and cuddle with me before he leaves for the day. He does this every morning even if I don’t wake up to realize it.” — Heather M.

16. “If my fiancé can tell that I’m upset by something I don’t want to talk about, he makes me food, cuddles me on the couch and watches stupid shows and documentaries with me until I finally talk to him about what’s bothering me.” — Rebekkah A.

17. “He takes the bus so I can go to work by car.” — Audrey B.

18. “He has texted me every day at 4 p.m since the day we met. It’s always something sweet just to brighten my day.” — Terri H.

19. “He runs errands after work, like picking up my prescriptions, so I can come right home and not worry about it.” — Ali E.

20. “My husband Nick cleans the hair out of the shower drain for me because it makes me gag.” — Mahina H.

21. “He comes to every music gig that I get hired for, and always makes time for me even though he’s in medical school.” — Savanah P.

22. “When I worked late at night I would have tea when I got home. So he would set it all out for me so all I had to do was put the kettle on.” — Deborah L.

23. “Every time he travels somewhere for work, he spends his free time browsing local shops and markets for food gifts to bring back. When he comes home he always has stories and delicious treats to share that make me feel like I get to be a part of his adventures!” — Gina I.

24. “He always puts the toilet seat down when he’s finished. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s indicative of his love and respect.” — Kate J.

25. “My husband will trim and bread raw chicken for me because he knows I hate touching it.” — Ashley S.

26. “He listens — plain and simple. Not many take the time to just stop and hear what you are saying.” — Anni B.

Article Source: Huffingtonpost