As a guy who is 28 and single, first of all, I realize that I know nothing about marriage, but I do know a lot of people who do. This post represents an analysis of over 100 interviews, comments, emails and messages. From newlyweds to couples of 60 years, from widows to taxi drivers, from rockstar couples to divorcees…I asked the same question: “How do/did you know you love(d) your spouse?”
Over the last year, I began to see a pattern that surprised me.
All of the answers boiled down to one word:
Work was the answer.
After the butterflies flew away and there was nothing left but barren cocoons of a passionate memory, many people wondered where the love went. Almost every single interview mentioned this moment of feeling like they “lost” the love. Many of these people worked to find it and discovered that love hadn’t flown away, but it moved. (Some who got divorced realized it wasn’t what they wanted after they found it, but that is an entirely new post..or blog.)
It moved from getting love to giving love. It evolved and matured from a fleeting fluttering feeling to a candid concrete commitment. It took work to find it and it took work to keep it.
Those people who still loved their spouse said they knew it because they still worked at it, even though, at times, they didn’t want to.
But what is “work” in marriage?
A little child said, “I know that daddy loves mommy because when she broke her arms, he wiped her butt.”
Gordon B Hinckley shared a (somewhat) similar sentiment, “A happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion” (“What God Hath Joined Together,” Ensign, May 1991).
One of the greatest guys I know who has one of the best marriages I’ve seen told me his secret, “As a married couple, we need to keep doing those little special things we did when we were dating…compliments, spontaneous dates, wild make-out sessions, etc.” And while I’m pretty excited for the “etc” part of all that, I can see the “work” aspect takes time, thought and energy.
Those who know they love their spouse still work at it.
If you are wondering if love is there, work to find it.
If you have it, work to keep it.
If you don’t, work on being ready for it.
Do you have a dream to make a wonderful marriage your reality? I am starting to discover, that once the butterflies fly away and realize that the cocoons remain, it comes down to another one of Gordon B Hinckley’s beautiful thoughts:
“Work is the miracle by which…dreams become reality.”
So if you will indulge me to give myself a dose of advice, ‘Don’t worry…things will work out.’