The conscious decision to act in love toward another person gets replaced by passive neglect or active disregard. Instead of acting in loving ways we act in unloving ways. Instead of committing to the joy and comfort of that other person we commit to the joy and comfort of ourselves. Love doesn’t walk out the door–we hand love its coat and send it on its way.
“I just don’t love her anymore,” he said. Years had passed, circumstances had changed, affection had waned, love had diminished. He recounted a few memories of the early days—the blush of young love, the tentative first dates, the romance, the anticipation, the wedding. But that was then and this is now. “I fell in love with her back then. I’m not in love with her today.”
We like to speak of “falling in love” as if love is a state we suddenly find ourselves in. We speak of falling in love as if this love thing simply unfolds in us and through us without our assent, as if it all happens somewhere beyond the realm of reason. Love sweeps us away, takes us over, and holds us wondrously captive. And while there is a sense in which love almost seems to unfold in this way, there is so much more to it than that. It is far more complex. Or is it far simpler?
The reality is that love is a million little decisions. True love demands great acts of the will. Lasting love—even romantic love—is made up of countless day-to-day commitments to act in the best interests of another person.