Our culture has a serious misconception about what love is. I constantly hear and read things about love being a feeling, emotion, something that we fall in and out of having no control over. This delusion of love agitates me because it erodes the very fiber of society, the family unit. The belief that love is a feeling weakens the bond of marriage, and destroys the foundation the family is built upon. Marriage vows are meant to be until death, but we only uphold our vows until discomfort, unhappiness, or boredom. The prevalence of divorce shows that the majority of people are flat out wrong about what love actually is.
I believe love is comprised of three core elements: passion, commitment, and intimacy. All three must be present for two people to be in love. What our culture considers love is just passion. This is the emotional element of love. It can be very dangerous, because passion provides a pseudo-intimacy with the illusion that love is complete when it may actually be deficient in commitment or intimacy.
Passion is all the feelings of desire, lust, and pain. It is not only the positive feelings of infatuation, but also the anger and hatred that results from unmet needs. Hate is a negative form of passion. It is not the absence of passion. One who lacks any passion for another does not get hurt or angry, they simply lack emotion toward the other.
Commitment is the decision to stay in a relationship in sickness and in health, the good times and the bad, through riches or poverty. Commitment often acts contrary to emotions. It acts in love toward another by staying in a relationship no matter what, till death.
Intimacy is the bond of the souls. It is highest when both people’s needs are being met in a relationship. Men’s top need is typically sex. Women’s top need is usually emotional connectedness through time, attention, and conversation revealing one’s thoughts and feelings. Intimacy grows passion, but passion does not grow intimacy.
Throughout a marriage commitment should always maintain a high level. Intimacy will wax and wane. Passion will be erratic, because it is subject to many things (hormones being one of them). Love is a firm foundation that does not result in separation other than death. Very few in our culture of greed and instant gratification reach the emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity to truly experience love the way God created it to be.