Understanding what love is and how it grows in a marriage

Many of us have grown up dreaming of the wonderful feelings of romantic love and wait expectantly to fall in love. Movies and love songs have a way of stirring up that longing in us. People in love seem so joyful and alive and we yearn for that in our lives too.

Those of us who are in relationships or marriages for a couple of years now, do have partners or spouses in our lives that we love and care for deeply. So where are those magical heady feelings of love?

That’s the first shocker – contrary to all the stories we’ve seen – love is not just a feeling.

What is love?

Many of us mistake love to be only a feeling. Let’s take a moment to think about our own experience of feelings. We’ve all experienced feelings of attraction – these feelings go up and down – here one moment, gone the next! Which can be confusing and painful. If we confuse love with a feeling, we may find ourselves asking questions such as:
“How could I love someone I didn’t really know so well?”
“I love and care about my partner so much, how come I don’t feel that kind of excitement around him / her anymore?”
“Is this love?”
“Have we fallen out of love?”

The questions are many and the answers can be scary so at times we attempt to shut out these thoughts. But even if we do that, there could remain a sense of lingering sadness – of something missing. What is missing perhaps is an accurate understanding of what love is.

Clearly, feelings are transient and so love would have to be more than a feeling. Love has been described by psychologists and writers as a decision, a choice or actions. According to social psychology, love is a combination of emotions, cognitions and behaviours.

To understand what love is better, let’s look at real life as opposed to the fairy tale.

Understanding the difference between passionate and companionate love

We often get together with our partners when we ‘feel love’ or ‘fall in love’. The experience of ‘fa