“Now, everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to stick to his (or her) partner til death… As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises… And of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love." –C. S. Lewis, “Christian Marriage” in his book Mere Christianity.
In the wedding vow, we promise to be true to our beloved “so long as we both shall live.”
But what we do not promise and probably could not keep even if we did is to always be “in love” with the other.
Say what? How’s that?
C. S. Lewis says, “A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions; no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.”
But shouldn’t we always be in love? Isn’t that the goal?
And what does that mean? How do we define that blissful state?
And how do we nurture the feelings of romantic love so that our honeymoon never ends?
These are questions worthy of hours of discussion between us and our beloved.
Lewis asks, facetiously, “What is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love?” That question lies in back of our culture’s addiction to divorces and devotion to relationships-that-look-like-marriage-but-without-the-formalities. If we are no longer “in love,” the thinking goes, then we can put the relationship out of its misery.
Millions of people “put the relationship out of its misery” every year. And then, far too many find the misery continues, even after the relationship was aborted.
The ways of a husband and wife are mysterious, I give you that.
Lewis says “being in love is a good thing, but it’s not the best thing.” He says “it is a good feeling, but it’s still just a feeling.” And no feeling can ever be the equivalent of a higher reality.
Feelings come and go. Knowledge may last, achievements may endure, and principles may be eternal. But emotions are temporary and short-lived.