Love is a Decision Not a Feeling

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I’m in the mood for love. It’s June, traditionally known as the wedding month because it used to be the most popular month to get married. Statistics from theknot.com, now show that October and September have the most weddings with June coming in third. But my husband and I were married in June almost 33 years ago and according to my Facebook feed which is blowing up with anniversaries, many of my friends were also married in June. So I’m declaring June the month of LOVE. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing about love and its many wonders.

My main purpose today is to define love and to dispel a common fallacy about love. You see, I believe love is a decision, not a feeling. I’m talking about true love, not merely infatuation. In America, we have received most of our training about love from Disney movies which tell us that our prince will come someday. We have also learned from Hollywood that our prince will only want us if we are a size 2. While this is hardly the reality for most of us, we are affected by or should I say infected by this thinking. We bring it with us into our relationships and it can cause many problems.

I believe love is a decision, not a feeling

Our society tells us to follow our heart. How many times have you heard someone say this? Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. In our decision making, in our relationships, in our jobs, in our families — we are encouraged to follow our heart as if it somehow knows best.

As a Christian, I base my beliefs on what the Bible, the Word of God, says. The Bible has quite a lot to say regarding the heart. Here are just a few examples:

In Genesis 6:5 it says, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”

Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

In Proverbs 4:23 we read these words, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

My take on this is that our hearts cannot be trusted. An unchecked heart will lead us astray. And if our heart is connected to our feelings, then our feelings cannot always be trusted. Our feelings come and go. There is a constant ebb and flow taking us up or down, happy or sad, content or angry, and in love or not.

I don’t know about you but I do not want to be ruled by my feelings. If I allow myself to be ruled by my feelings, I am susceptible to the deceitfulness of my heart and being led astray. When I think of allowing my feelings to be in control, I get a mental picture of being led around by the nose, much like a cow or pig on a farm.

When we allow our love to be determined by our feelings, we are choosing to give up stability. In the same way we choose to be led by our feelings, we can choose to not be. 

According to Psychology Today, behavior leads to emotion. Many people think that emotions create actions. I love him so I kiss him or I hate her so I ignore her. However, science says the opposite is true — actions create emotions. I kiss him so I love him or I spend time with her so I like her.

John Mayer wrote a song called Love is a Verb in which he describes love as an action, not words. Check out these lyrics…

Love is a verb
It ain’t a thing
It’s not something you hold
It’s not something you scream
When you show me love
I don’t need your words
Yeah, love ain’t a thing
Love is a verb

Now, I’m not saying there are no feelings associated with love. Of course, we have feelings and when we are feeling in love, it feels wonderful. What I am trying to distinguish is that we can choose to love despite our feelings at the time. As we make a decision to love in spite of how we are treated, in spite of the words or actions of another, we can still experience the feeling of love, but after the action or decision to love.

One of my favorite scriptures about love has helped me many times over the years to choose love–the action, the decision–over my feelings at the time. It’s a famous passage in the Bible often quoted at weddings. Read it carefully, even if you are familiar with it.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”   ~I Corinthians 13:4-8

My challenge to you today…choose to love despite your feelings at the time. Make a decision to love in action first, then the love feelings will follow.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Just as the Decision to Love is the decision to remain committed and keep vows, the decision to love also requires actions to do the things that communicate love to your spouse, even if it’s not your chosen language. Too often when your partner voices the words, actions, or acts of service that they enjoy (or even miss), the inner tendency of the hearer is to resist and get defensive to the inner feelings of expectation/demands rather than seeing the information as an opportunity. Here is one of the places we make another one of those decisions to love, taking action that has been clarified rather than held inside. We can either take our partner’s requests as opportunities to lovingly and sacrificially meet a need or we can resist and starve them, intentionally, devaluing their request, resisting any action and giving them less evidence of love and more evidence that they are a lower priority than yourself. Simple actions taken yield positive results. Simple actions resisted do cumulative damage.

    1. Pam, you have touched on a very important point and articulated it very well. I totally agree with what you said. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

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