“I don’t like you anymore!” As kids, many of us were stung by these words. We likely responded in kind. But adults rarely use this phrase. Friendships just drift apart, or are fractured by an offense or distance. But how does this affect marriage?
Like vs. love
First, it’s important to differentiate the two. Like is “to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in: Enjoy.”* “Likes” change like the wind. I like you today. I don’t like you tomorrow.
“Love” has many variants: he loves baseball, maternal love for a child, making love, she loves the beach, etc.
Confusing like with love in marriage
There are times in marriage when you don’t like your spouse. Shocking? Not if you’re married. None of us like our spouse’s “bad hair days,” but we all have them. Life is hard. Crankiness, selfishness, wounds, and offenses can make our spouse very unlikeable at times—and us too.
The problem comes when we mistake like for love. Because I don’t like you anymore, I don’t love you anymore. Not true! We don’t like when our dog does his thing on the carpet instead of outside…again! But we love our dog. We extend grace to our dog. A crass comparison, but how often do we extend grace to everyone and everything, but our spouse?
For adults with divorced parents, fears, insecurities, and not knowing any better due to poor parental templates, make us ripe for confusing the two.
Walking in love and not like
The apostle Paul wrote that love is patient, kind, doesn’t envy, boast, or dishonor others. It’s not proud, self-seeking, easily angered, a keeper of a list of wrongs done to us, or delights in evil. Love rejoices in the truth and always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
Does that type of love seem impossible? It is…without God’s help. With God’s help all things are possible. Also, marriage and divorce researcher, Paul Amato, found that, “when couples stick together through difficult times, remain faithful to one another, and actively work to resolve problems, positive long-term outcomes (while not guaranteed) are common.”*** Basically, when you commit to love, the like will usually come.
How to like the spouse you love
Fan the flames of like by:
Choosing to forgive offenses as we’re forgiven for ours by God
Choosing to apologize for your offenses. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
Choosing to share in their interest/hobby
Choosing to pray together regularly – not about each other, but for each other
Choosing to attend a marriage class, workshop, or seminar—ideally as a couple, but if not, by yourself or with a friend
Choosing is the key word. Marital covenant love is a matter of the will, not feelings. When we will to love, the “like” usually follows.
question by Peggy Marco, Pixabay
fingers by Pexels, Pixabay