The early years of my relationship with John overflowed with euphoria. I can remember sitting at my computer and feeling thrilled when an instant message from him popped up on my screen. The first time I visited, we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other.
The day after our wedding, we sang, “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” to each other. We were giddy! People told me that the butterflies would eventually subside. Intellectually, I knew they were right, but my emotions told me a much different story. I simply couldn’t imagine looking at John without feeling butterflies.
I’m not sure when the butterflies flew away. One day I just realized that they had given way to a much more satisfying love. This new love satisfies me even more, for it roots itself in commitment to John and to the Lord.
Loving a husband definitely includes romantic feelings, but we do ourselves a terrible disservice if we limit our understanding of love to butterflies and fireworks. As fun as those things are, they lack the splendid depth of mature married love.
Butterflies don’t stick around when the finances force your husband to cut back on meals out. They flutter away when he can’t stop coughing, and they shy away from his hospital room after cancer surgery. His annoying habits put butterflies to flight — or at least turn them into dull brown moths.
Happily, mature married love helps you find interesting new recipes that turn another Friday night supper at home into a culinary adventure. His coughing fits remind you to pray for him with compassion, and hospital visits remind you to cherish every moment God gives you together. His habits may drive you crazy, but they also teach to forgive as Christ forgives you.
And as Christ brings you and your husband through the difficulties that chase butterflies away, He deepens your love for the man He gave you. The early ecstasy melts into the richness of enjoying his companionship. There are times you silently pray for more years of marriage to him, recoiling from the very thought of life without him. The Lord has made you one with this man, so much so that you can’t imagine living without him.
Loving a man through all the twists and turns of marriage requires repentance from selfishness. In marriage, that beautiful passage of Scripture that someone read at your wedding challenges you.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~~1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
As the Holy Spirit teaches you to treat your husband with patience, kindness and all the other qualities listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, you’ll see that those early euphoric feelings (as fun as they were) had little to do with real love. Furthermore, this real love satisfies you in ways that those early feelings never did.
Do you want to know the best part? Every so often — and usually when you least expect it — a butterfly or two will come by to make you smile.