The highlight of July 4th comes in the evening: fireworks! Those explosions of color and sound sizzling across the dark sky thrill everyone watching. They’re a bit like the first stages of a relationship – full of novelty and drama. But, like the fireworks this passion can’t last. When those first sparks start to fade, that’s when you have to ask yourself: is it love or infatuation? And which one is the ideal form of connection?
There’s a big difference between the exciting passion of new love (infatuation) and the love that endures after 20, 30 or even 50 years (companionate love) When you’re married for years, not everything will be so thrilling and exciting as the early days. But don’t be mistaken about the difference between thrilling and loving each other: when the fireworks end, it’s still not over.
Infatuation aka I Feel Good
So how do we know if it’s love or infatuation? It’s quite simple: one is a quick rush that makes us feel great, while the other is more about the slow-burn satisfaction of our partner and our partnership.
The feel-good chemicals released in our body when we’re in the throes of infatuation are exhilarating. There’s no doubt that we love to be in love. But science confirms that the rush of chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, and the accompanying heightened feelings of bliss, cannot last for more than two years. And thank God, because nobody would ever accomplish anything in this world if we were all walking around in that blissful, grin-on-our-face, drugged-like stupor that comes from falling in love. The fireworks can’t last forever, but that shouldn’t alarm us.
There’s something better than fireworks, better than explosions of passion and the euphoric state we feel when we are first in love. For one thing, that kind of state is really all about you; it’s all about how good you feel, how in love you feel. It’s like a high that we feel and it isn’t really centered on the truth of what love is all about. The essence of love is less about what we feel, and more about what we hope to make our partner feel: adored, secure and thoroughly loved.
Love Comes When The Party Is Over
True love shows up when the party is over and the fireworks display is done. Deep, lasting love is shown at the hospital bedside of your spouse, or in the bathroom when you’re holding back the hair of your wife as she becomes violently sick. Real love is truly listening to our loved one confess their fears or share their story of pain. In those less-than-glamorous moments of reality, wouldn’t it be selfish of us to complain, “This doesn’t feel good. I’m not getting to feel those euphoric highs of love”?
It’s time we stop pursuing and idolizing that blissful state of falling in love and start living out the love we claim we feel. That’s when we get to the part of enjoying lasting love, committed love, true love.
Love Or Infatuation: Which Should Be Your Priority?
I’d love to see a new trend begin in our culture, or at least in the body of Christ at large, where we champion the joy of being in a marriage where love grows richer, even as challenges and tests grow harder. I’d love to begin a trend where couples having been married for years cheerfully declare “We’re not in love—Love is in us.” 1 John 4:12 tells us that “if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.”
Today, whether you’re in love or infatuation, in the midst of falling in love or married for twenty years, you can decide that you’re ready to give it all for the sake of love. Decide to pursue the sacrificial nature of real love that Christ set for us as an example. Because when the fireworks of falling in love end, something better begins: deep, committed, eyes-wide-open love that goes the distance. God promises He will fill you up so that you can love to the very end.
You may also be interested in It Only Gets Better: Why Our Marriage Is Built To Last