Tracking the four “love” ingredients that build a lifelong relationship
‘Til death do us part! It seems not all that long ago those words (which were in some way included in every marriage ceremony) really meant something. They symbolized the depth of a promise made between a man and a woman to stand beside one another through any and all circumstances. I really couldn’t tell you if some semblance of those words is still part of a typical marriage ceremony, but I can tell you that unfortunately more than half of all marriages fail. Why? What are the missing or overlooked or unknown ingredients that make a strong marriage? What should we be saying, doing or thinking to be continually building a relationship that can not only last but will grow in meaninful ways over a lifetime?
Aside from being the refrain from a classic Beatles song, “All you need is love” is the answer that seems to get the most traction when asked about making marriage last. While this “love” answer tends to lean too much on warm and fuzzy feelings, it also far too general. Talk about “love” in a marriage and you usually end up talking about “being in love.” This in turn often brings us to an emotionally satisfying vision of star-crossed lovers gazing into one another’s eyes. Don’t get me wrong, while romantic love is a deeply powerful part of the relationship it is NOT a true foundation for a lifelong “happily ever after.”
The fact is, there are four different kinds of love that drive any successful marriage. These four brands of attachment are clearly described in the Bible. By examining what they are and the ways they are applied in Scripture, we can see a pattern emerge that shows us a formidable marriage success formula.
The first and perhaps most foundational brand of love is that of “brotherly love.” At first glance this does not seem to fit. After all, anyone can have brotherly love in all kinds of circumstances, and marriage is special, so it seems like it should be far beyond that. Stop and think for a moment. Why is it that about half of marriages fail and an even higher percentage of romantic relationships fizzle? I would submit that one major reason for this massive level of unhappy results is that the two involved were not really friends – good friends. The biblical word for this brotherly love has a meaning of “fraternal affection” implying a deep, loyal, give and take relationship. It is a word that expresses a strongly interactive friendship and not merely an association.
Check out our February 11, 2019 podcast, “What does a Marriage Need to Be Strong?” for the better understanding. We lay out the importance of real friendship as a place to build (or rebuild) a marriage. Piece by piece we add in the other types of love, covering how the Bible defines each and explains their place in our lives. The final result is a practical and easy-to-understand process for a stronger and more God-honoring marriage. Who wouldn’t want that?
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