“I don’t love you like that anymore. I’ve fallen out of love with you.” A short time later, papers to dissolve the marriage are served. Divorce. No. This is too convenient! What are we really saying when we declare we’ve “fallen out of love”?
Euphemisms are a mild or indirect word or expression for one too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing. I was downsized sounds more pleasant than I was forcibly severed from my employment. A white elephant gift is really a gift for which we have no use or of which we’re not terribly fond. Euphemisms.
But if we’re being told a marriage is over, do we really want indirect language. Divorce severs. It rends. It is an act of severe emotional, mental and spiritual violence. Should we really be indirect?
We have longed maintained in our one-on-ones with married couples, in premarital counselling and in our Choices Marriage Events that love must be an intentional act to be abiding. “Accidental” or unintentional love, romantic though it may be, is something less than what is required for healthy lifelong marriages. The stakes are too high, the deck against such marriages is too stacked and the demands on an individual become to great to rely solely on the affectionate feelings and/or emotional bond we so often identify as “love”.
The issue with falling out of love is that we should have never married solely on the basis of “falling in love.” While the early part of any relationship is most often an awkward progression toward something deeper, mature adults must make weighty decisions to unite in matrimony. We must decide to abide.
Here is the problem with “falling out of love”: falling doesn’t have to be permanent!
If I fall off a chair, the wagon, the grid…I can always get back on them. If I fall off of something because it’s broken, I fix it so that it can be of use again. Unfortunately, we have become to comfortable in our culture (Romans 12:2) and see too many important things as disposable, including marriage.
We grant that “falling out of love” is a felt-experience. And, in many ways, it promotes observable behavior. But these are piss-poor excuses for putting asunder what God has joined together (Mark 10:9). And for those who argue that not every marriage is “joined together” by God, we have but one rebuttal. When we vow to love, honor and cherish one another for a lifetime, God honors that vow and we must do the same (Hebrews 13:4).
We are not saying there aren’t good reasons to divorce. We’re saying this particular one isn’t a particularly valid (or clear) reason. Falling in love is only as substantial as our devotion to standing for love. And standing clearly requires more of us than falling. Maybe falling out of love is a euphemism for “I don’t really feel incentive to work at this anymore.”