What is love in a marriage?
A marriage is a purposeful decision to create something new for two individuals. This new creation requires three integral components to cherish and grow: intimacy, passion, and commitment.
From the Christian point of view, love is first and foremost based on God's love - a decision to love God and be loved by Him.
"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Romans 8:35)
Accordingly, the purpose of a Christian marriage is to imitate Christ to love one another, as well as to know God through the knowledge and the love for each other.
Self-love (not the narcissistic love of self to the exclusion of loving others) is the foundation of love, including the love of God. The reason is that self-love is an expression of moral obligation to the Creator - a belief that we are created in His image, and therefore we should love ourselves, as well as others. Self-love, surprisingly, is a prerequisite for loving others, including God. This belief makes us extend our love of self to love of God, as well as to others, who are all created by the same God and in the same image.
Love in a marriage is made up intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy is connectedness to your marriage partner through sharing values and feelings of closeness. Passion is a result of the intimacy, leading to romance, physical attraction, and sexual consummation. Essentially, passion is purposeful involvement, requiring a decision. Commitment, too, is a decision to sustain the relationship in spite of the odds and obstacles encountered. Life is full of choices and decisions, and marriage is no exception.
Jesus' life is a model for love in a marriage. He lived with the purpose of doing the will of His Father - acceptance for all, including Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, young and old; He demonstrated His commitment to preach God's message of unconditional love and forgiveness.
A successful marriage is one in which two individuals have made a decision to love each other. However, a decision to love does not necessarily imply a commitment to love. Commitment to love often grows or increases over time, provided the marriage partners can survive the ups and downs of a marriage - and this is where commitment to love plays a pivotal part. Remember, commitment to love is a decision in life, just as our decision to love God. It is more than words or mere talk: it is action in faith: "let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth." (1 John 3:18)
Love is the foundation of a good marriage, and that love is cherished and enhanced by the love of God.