I didn’t know there was a difference in saying you “love” someone or you are “in love” with someone. When we get to a certain point in a relationship we begin to develop that feeling; you know the one – where we get all giddy when we see that special person in our life. At some point we utter those three powerful words; “I love you”; sometimes in a moment of passion. But how do you know whether you’re “in love” with someone or “love” someone?. Maybe we don’t know until months or even years later. I just interviewed a recently engaged woman who set me straight. She quoted some C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity:
- “‘Being in love' is glorious and helps to make us generous and courageous, opening our eyes to all beauty, not just the object of our affections. It subordinates our merely animal sexuality--in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust. ‘Being in love’ is a good thing, but not the best thing. It is a noble feeling, but still a feeling. No feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all...Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be 'in love' need not mean ceasing to love.
- Love in this second sense---love as distinct from 'being in love'--is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be 'in love' with someone else.
- 'Being in love' first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run; being in love was the explosion that started it.”
A friend of mine is a Christian counselor and he suggests that it takes a good 18 months to get past the ‘being in love’ stage of a new romance. At that point the question usually arises if the two people ‘love’ each other as one, deliberately strengthening their love through habit, and recognizing the grace that each receives from God. Then their “love” will get them through the dark times when they really don’t like each other much, or at all.
I don’t know if I agree that it takes 18 months to get past the “being in love” stage, but if I’m going to spend the rest of my life with someone, we need to be on the same page and figure out if we “love” each other.
“Being in love” is easy in today’s world; I want to learn how to “love.”
What has been your experience? Is ‘being in love’ an obligatory 18-month phase in a relationship? How can you tell when you both have gone from “being in love” to “love”?