Monday, February 14, 2011

L-O-V-E: Part 2

In Hebrew there are three words for love - 'raya', 'ahava', and 'dod'. The first, 'raya' is the kind of love we have for friends. The second, "ahava' is the kind of love that we have for our families - a love that means a committment. The third, 'dod' is a physical kind of love.

All three of these types of love are used to describe love in the Song of Songs - the book in the Bible that is a love story written in poetry. This book has been interpreted as an allegory of the love story between God and humankind as well as the more literal interpretation of the love between husband and wife.

It is as if God is telling us that in the most important human relationship we have, we need more than one kind of love. That makes sense. If we only have the friendship type of love in our marriage, one or both partners will stray at the physical level (even if only mentally) because that God-given part of our lives is not being fulfilled and the committed love is not present. If we have the physical side of love without the committment or the friendship, the relationship will not endure because it is not going to meet your basic need for connection. If we have the committed love without friendship or physicality, again, the connection that draws two people together is missing - it is a cold, rather than warm type of love.

A successful marriage is a difficult thing. It takes work, endurance, patience, and faith in yourself and your partner. When I write "successful", I don't mean that you never argue, or that you never get annoyed or need a break. To me, a successful marriage is one in which the husband and wife involved never give up. They work to make sure they still have fun and talk together. They share with each other about their day - the good, the bad, and the stuff that made them laugh. They make allowances for each others shortcomings. They make it a point to have the time and space to have physical relations on a regular basis. And last, but definitely not least, they know that being in a relationship is like the seasons of the year. There are the lovely easy times like Spring, when everything is wonderful and beautiful, and there are hard times like an Alaskan Winter, when it is cold and dark and you have to put your head down and just walk through it. But just like the Seasons in the year, the seasons in marriage also shift. It is not alwasy going to be hard and it is not always going to be easy. That is where the committed love comes in. If you can't make it through the winter in one marriage, you are almost certainly not going to make it through the winter in your next one.

To these three aspects of love I would add a fourth thing that we need to have successful

marriage and that is the presence and companionship of God. Without God's help, we will fail at this most important human relationship. That might not mean a divorce, but it will certainly mean an imbalance of the three loves. God can helps us stick to our committments, be a companion and cheerleader for our spouse, and help us translate those loves into a passion for our partner in life.

Pray for your marriage and your spouse every day. Ask God to bring him/her closer to you as well as to God. Ask God to help you mind your tongue and to treat your spouse as a gift that God has given to you . Look for the ways you can show love to your spouse instead of waiting for them to show you. Remember daily that you have committed yourself to love this person more than any other on earth. These things are not easy but in the end they will bring you much more love and joy than you will get from chasing the temptations of this world.


"My beloved is mine and I am his..." Song of Solomon 2:16