My sister gave me a book many years ago titled, Love Is A Decision. After reading it, I told others about it and was met with some very strong opinions on the subject. I'll never forget one friend in particular who became almost argumentative as she insisted that love is a feeling, not a decision. I can still remember sitting in her kitchen tossing comments back and forth as we pondered the meaning of love. We were both single and had our share of heartbreaks.
Love is a very powerful thing. It is perhaps the most popular subject of all. What discussion doesn't eventually turn toward the topic of love? Many books have been written about it and yet it remains a mystery to many. We just can't figure out how to love and we often find ourselves longing for it even though we've supposedly found it.
What makes love such an elusive and mysterious thing? If love is a feeling, why does the feeling come and go like a ghost on an occasional haunting? And if it is a decision, why don't more people decide to do it.
I believe that love is both a feeling and a decision, but the decision has to come first. We must first decide to love before someone can feel our love. And that is where things often fall short. Whether it is due to our own laziness, lack of desire, or plain ignorance, we just aren't willing to put in the effort it takes to nurture love. It is the greatest of all emotions and yet we take it for granted and refuse to do what it takes to keep it alive and thriving. We actually put more effort into our jobs, our hobbies, and our material investments than we put into our investments of marriage and family.
For example, how many people actually know the love language of each member of their family? A love language is the way that a person longs to be loved. Some people feel loved when they receive gifts. Others feel loved when they are given physical affection. Some need words of affirmation to feel loved. There are five basic love languages that people long to have spoken to them. Some people long for more than just one. How many people are in relationships right now and don't have a clue what language they should be speaking to keep their partner's heart satisfied and feeling loved?
The Five Love Languages is a book that everyone should read. Let me give you an example of the importance of speaking someone's love language. I'll use a fictional couple to demonstrate. Barbie and Ken have been married for fifteen years. For those fifteen years, Ken has been quite satisfied in the marriage. Barbie, however, is not happy and she hasn't been happy since the year they were married, when Ken stopped doing the things that made her feel loved. Her love language is physical touch and words of affirmation.
She thought those loving gestures would continue after they were married, but Ken was all too happy to finally relax after the wedding, knowing that he had won his bride and now he could settle into married life without having to pursue his wife anymore. They no longer spend recreational time together. He rarely expresses physical affection for her and has more compliments for the dog than he has for his wife.
The reason Ken is happy in the marriage is because his love language is acts of service. He likes having a wife that only works a few hours a week because having a hot meal on the table when he comes home makes him feel loved. He also likes a clean, well-kept house. He likes that Barbie keeps the pantry well-stocked, the laundry caught up, and she does everything it takes to keep the household running efficiently. Ken can come home after work and relax, knowing the household chores are done. His wife makes daily deposits in Ken's love tank by doing these acts of service and speaking his love language every day. His love tank is full and Ken is a satisfied husband.
On the other hand, Barbie has been running on an empty love tank for fifteen years. Physical touch and kind words are what make her feel loved. But her husband makes little effort to compliment her or praise her. She might get a pat on the back once in a while or an occasional peck on the cheek, but not on a daily basis. She feels lonely, unloved and unappreciated because her husband makes little effort to speak her love language. What hurts even more is how quick he is to praise and compliment other women. He thinks nothing of pointing out how beautiful, smart, or talented another woman is, but is not so quick to deliver words of affirmation to his wife.
The only way that Ken could understand how Barbie is feeling is if Barbie suddenly stopped cooking, cleaning, shopping for groceries, doing the laundry and performing all those acts of service that are so important to Ken's happiness. And on top of that, Barbie could go to another man's house and cook him a meal, wash his clothes, and clean. Then Ken would understand how much it hurts Barbie when he makes deposits in another woman's love tank by complimenting her instead of his wife.
This is how one spouse can be content in a marriage and another spouse can be miserable. Barbie has decided to speak her husband's love language. She's been doing it for years. But her husband hasn't made the same decision.
In every relationship and in every home you will find either love or a lack of it. Whichever it is, it is by choice. That's what makes love a decision. You're either willing to put forth the effort or you're not. There are no excuses. Either the person is worth the effort or not. And if you're getting everything you need from the relationship and giving little in return, then you've decided not to love. And someone is running on an empty love tank because of your decision.