After the Love is Gone

Spending your life with another fallen human being will require more than emotional love.

The love that God demands of husbands and wives is a love that goes far beyond mere emotions and feelings. It is a love that willingly takes up its cross and carries it—as Jesus did—even unto death (Philippians 2:8). That kind of selfless and sacrificial love is beyond the capability of any man or woman to express in and of himself or herself.

 

I have a thing for sad love songs.

There, I said it.

Sad love songs tend to provide insight into the human condition in ways nothing else does.

One of the saddest love songs ever written, in my opinion, is When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You by Marvin Gaye (1939-1984). The song is included on Gaye’s 1979 album Here, My Dear. Gaye recorded the album to comply with the financial conditions of a divorce settlement with his first wife Anna Gordy Gaye (1922-2014), in which she demanded one million dollars from the financially-strapped singer. 

Astonishingly transparent in its lyricism, When Did You is a brutally honest, no-holds-barred account—from Gaye’s perspective—of the death of a passionate yet caustic and vitriolic marriage in which love was not enough. 

When Did You opens with the voice of a pensive and ruminative Gaye speaking these words (presumably to Anna): 

“You know, when you say your marriage vows, they’re supposed to be for real. I mean, if you think back about what you really said about honor, loving, and obeying till death do us part and all. But it shouldn’t be that way, it should, it should, it shouldn’t be lies because if it turns out to be lies, if you don’t honor what you said, you lie to God and the words should be changed.”

In a November 2013 article for Psychology Today entitled 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Marry for Love Alone, author and therapist Susan Pease Gadoua says,

“Love is a changeable emotion. As quickly as you fall in love, you can fall out of love. Then what? Either the relationship ends or it becomes toxic. If love is your primary connection, the glue is gone.”

For what it’s worth, I concur with Gadoua.

If emotional love is your primary motive or impetus for getting or staying married, eventually you will learn that it is insufficient in and of itself to hold your marriage together. That is because, as fallen human beings (Romans 3:23), the love we have for our spouse—regardless of how deep or genuine it may be—is inherently deficient, imperfect, and mutable. 

Conventional wisdom would argue that marrying for love is one of the highest of all human virtues. Perhaps the highest. For example, an All Women’s Talk article from 2011 lists seven reasons why people should marry for love alone.

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