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How Romance Killed Marriage

July 23, 2014

You know the story.  A married couple falls out of love.  There used to be a spark, but it’s gone.  “We just fell out of love – it happens” is the mantra of this culturally-accepted narrative in which marriage supposedly kills romance.

This is backwards.  It isn’t marriage that is killing romance; it is romance that is killing marriage.  No other society in the history of the world has so inflated the importance of romance for the sake of life fulfillment like we have.  Having an explosive, chill-creating, heart-fluttering romance is now a civil right…no, it’s more than that – it’s a human right!  We need it like we need air to breathe. (I believe it was The Hollies who told us that “all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you;” and wasn’t it LeAnn Rimes who wondered “how can I breathe without you?”)

Romance, in and of itself, is a good thing given by God to create bonds.  However, like all things God has created, we turn it into an idol.  We are so intoxicated by romance that our joy and worth are based upon whether we currently have a thriving romance.  When we don’t, life doesn’t feel worth living.  What was meant to be a tool for us has become a toxin.  Toxins kill, and this one kills marriage in particular.

Here’s how the homicide takes place:

Step 1:  Romance idolatry creates inflated expectations that one’s spouse could never live up to.

Step 2:  Romance idolatry creates dissatisfaction in the marriage because those expectations were not met.

Step 3:  Romance idolatry creates the idea that the spark of romance is available outside of the marriage (affair or divorce).

What’s the answer?  We have to view marriage according to God’s design.  Marriage isn’t built upon emotional or romantic intensity.  It is built upon intimacy (“two become one flesh”) – the sharing of life together.  Intensity is not a bad thing, but it should be the result of intimacy not the cause.  Intensity is the joy of being known and knowing someone deeply (intimacy) and graciously.  It is the joy of true intimacy in which life is shared with your spouse uniquely because he or she is set apart from the other 7 billion people in the world.

When intimacy is the cause of intensity, then love grows because time affords more shared experiences to value.  When intensity if the cause for intimacy, then it will dwindle because it will value the relationship on fickle emotions.

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