A Letter About Choosing Love

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Shana Schutte shares truths to guide you through your marriage.

I recently read an article online published by the Huffington Post by Elad Nahori who says he was swooning with burning passion when he met his wife, fell in love, and later took her hand at the altar. But he also writes, “I didn’t love my wife when I married her.”

“This fire was burning in me, a fire that burned just like that second date: I was in love.

But then we got married, and everything changed.

Marriage, quicker than I was ready for, did this thing: It started sucking away that emotion.”

As intensely as the fire had burned the stresses of daily life were like water thrown on love’s flame.

Thankfully, Elad later learned a priceless secret many people never learn: when feelings fade, love is a choice, an act of the will. And when you choose love with God’s help, the emotion of love often follows.

One of the benefits of getting older is you realize you really don’t know much of anything, that you need God’s wisdom for just about everything, and that you are capable of making some pretty stupid mistakes. I made some dumb errors in love in my younger years because just like Elad, I thought love was just a feeling. Unfortunately, this led to some horribly selfish decisions.

With these truths in mind, I wrote a letter to myself to keep in my Bible to hopefully guide me in my upcoming marriage. Even though I will make lots of mistakes, my prayer is that over the years God will use it to remind me to not fall into the deceitful traps of selfishness and pride which destroy so many relationships. If you are married or single, I hope it encourages you.

Dear, Self.

As you enter into the holy covenant of marriage, there are some things you need to remember. These are godly principles that, if heeded, can prevent you from falling into marital destruction.

You know that once the flower of romance fades, the warts of our humanity show, and the flutter of love abandons the human heart, that the choice to love must be made.

You also know selfishness and pride are the roots of contention, and that fighting with one’s mate instead of fighting for one’s marriage is a cause of much heartache.

You know the need to control, blame, or the inability to be flexible causes marital strife.

You know pride destroys relationships (Proverbs 16:18), but humility draws people together.

You know tenderness is necessary, and compassion required, to make any relationship work.

You know your internal wounds can cause you to unrealistically expect your mate to meet needs God never intended for them to meet.

You know submission is not about submitting to your mate as much as it is about submitting to Christ (Ephesians 5:21). If you refuse to keep a tender heart, admit your wrongs, put your mate first, exercise loving patience, and care for your mate like you care for yourself, you are in rebellion against your Lord.

You also know transparency often begets transparency, that tenderness begets tenderness, and that trust takes time to build but can easily be destroyed in a moment. You know contention, dissension and selfish ambition are works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-20) and are agreements with the devil.

You know you cannot change your mate, but that with God’s help you can change yourself. You know love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), forgiveness is required,  (Ephesians 4:32) and encouragement is needed for the human heart to feel safe. And, you also know God is the only one who can help you do the above well.

So Self, throw yourself on Jesus. He is your Helper. He will remind you of truth (John 16:13). Guard against pride. Embrace humility and love, and consider your mate better than yourself (Philippians 2:3) . When both you and your mate practice these principles you can win at love and your marriage can go the distance.

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