Of Love and Duty

Along with love, healthy marriages require commitment and faithfulness.

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Valentine’s Day is probably the most romantic day on the calendar. The celebration helps keep card shops and florists solvent between Christmas and Easter. After all, love is big business. And for some couples, it brings out romantic sentiments seldom otherwise expressed.

Many will celebrate with fancy dinners, candlelight, and flowers. In spite of all the reminders, however, a few spouses will forget. Woe to them!

We tend to have this romantic notion about love, and love does have — and need — romance. But far more is involved than candlelight, flowers, candy, soft music, and saying the loving words we should be saying all year.

“Of course she knows I love her,” one husband said when he and his wife celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. “I told her that when I married her.”

Attitudes like that don’t do much to keep love alive. But neither does the expectation that marriage is going to be all romance. As longtime Assemblies of God pastor Dan Betzer has stated, “A genuine valentine is one who is still at your side and in your heart when the rent is due, the baby is crying, and the sink is leaking.”

Someone observed that one of the most difficult parts about life is its dailiness. One day follows another, which follows another which follows another, often with a numbing sameness. Couples tend to take each other for granted, or get so engrossed in raising kids or paying bills that there is little time or energy for anything else.

Because of unrealistic expectations, many marriages — including Christian marriages — are failing. And that affects more than the couple. Each year, millions of children are impacted by their parents’ divorces.

What factors bring about divorce? Selfishness. Self-centeredness. The desire to do everything “my way.” Failure to forgive hurts, treasuring them to be used against the partner. Pride. Lack of commitment to stay with the marriage. Boredom. Finances. Lack of spiritual growth. Failing to fulfill the vow, “For better or worse.”

When two people wed, they take on a responsibility: a commitment to each other. Abandoning spouse or children is a dereliction of that duty — and duty isn’t a word we hear a lot about when we speak of marriage. But it must be there, along with love. Love takes the chains of duty. So, bring the hearts and flowers, but show your real love in the duties of the dailiness of life.

This article originally appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel.