“For love is blind, and lovers cannot see.” Shakespeare penned those words in his play, “The Merchant of Venice.” I have no doubt each of us have heard the words, even though we may not have read his play. One wag wrote “Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.”

Because of my practice of Marriage and Family Therapy, I have had letters and questions about love, what is it, and how can we be sure we are in love. In my book, “Letters on Life and Love” (Harvest House, 1978) I included a letter from a former client. When her feelings about her second husband began to wane, she wrote, “Today is our anniversary. I’m ashamed to say this but there isn’t much spark left in our lives. I wonder if I love my husband. He says he loves me, but I just don’t feel what I think I should. How can I be sure of love?”

This article won’t allow me all I wrote to her, but here’s part of what I said: “Deep within each of us is the desire to love, and the longing to be loved and accepted. It’s your dream but in three attempts at marriage that dream has been shattered.”

Love isn’t something that walks up to us in another person’s body. When love happens in a lasting sense, we begin to feel it internally before it is expressed externally. When we learn to accept ourselves we can accept love from another person. Only then will we be able to give away true affection and care. Love, at its best, is a choice to care for someone else — almost as much as we care for ourselves.

Being physically attracted is important, but without something more, the relationship soon falls apart. The Bible says two become one! I think I can illustrate that. When I was a boy, I visited a farm and watched while some trees were being pruned. I learned something about grafting. A loving marriage is like two varieties of trees being grafted together. Each can produce good fruit independently but when they are grafted together, they produce a new hybrid version of the fruit — a better quality than than either of them could have previously produced. (I’m referring here to a quality of life, not to having children.)

Loving does not sap away your individuality or limit either of the partners. Actually, loving another is being willing to encourage freedom to grow in the life space that is his or hers. “At the heart of love there is a simple secret: the lover lets the beloved be free.”

You see, we don’t “fall” into love; we jump in with both feet.

Love at its best and highest is an outgoing, affirming experience. It doesn’t cost me anything because I GIVE it away.

The most famous verse of the Bible, John 3:16, reminds us “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”

I can’t find a better model for loving than that.

Dr. James E Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, LIVING WITHOUT LIMITS, was published in late 2019 and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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