I’m a bit of a sucker for Disney movies. I’ve always been. While I see them through a much different light now and understand the drivel that they teach, the music, the singing, the handsome man and he beautiful girl, it all can still pull me in (for moments at least. The girl power will forever ruin them for me). In all of these films, there is always a theme of love. Love conquers all. If you just love enough, you can get through and do anything. It comes to a climax, to prove this point of true love, with a moment of enormous sacrifice. Then this true love is proven and they live happily ever after. In that moment of sacrifice, the audience *feels* this love and goes away from the movie confusing love for what they feel rather than what was done. Those good feelings we experience are not the love; the sacrifice is.
For us, in our lives, we’re very likely not ever going to have that moment of ultimate sacrifice to show our love. And we soon discover that those feelings we began with, that ache in our heart, that excitement of seeing our husband walk in the room, it will wane. By it’s very nature, it cannot be constant. That does not mean that love is gone. It only is if we let it be. Something that those Disney movies do get right (in a very dramatic and impossible way) is that it is sacrifice that is love. It is doing for our other what is best for them regardless of what it means for us. It often means sacrificing not only our time and our effort, but often times what we mistake as ourselves (I was taught to look after me! What about me?!?!).
And this love takes work:
20 years in, the depth of emotion I feel for my husband can still catch me by surprise. This man can make my knees weak. Still. And still, I have to work to consistently maintain a right attitude. No matter how perfect things seem to those on the outside looking in or how committed you are to the vows you took, marriage requires effort.
This is not a bad thing. It’s just reality. Anything worth having in life is worth working for. We often expend far more energy on things of far less value. The fantasy that you can live with another human being and never have an off day, a disagreement, or disappointment is exactly the reason why so many marriages crash and burn; that fantastical notion that love is something we feel rather than something we do.
We all want those intense feelings to stay with us and to believe that they can get us through any storm. We want to believe if we feel strongly enough that love will unthaw a frozen heart or that our kiss is somehow magical. But, at the end of the day, those are just feelings. They can’t do or create anything. They can’t soften your heart towards your husband whom you might not see properly. But what you do for him can. If you’re willing to sacrifice your pride and let yourself see, if you’re willing to sacrifice your time and do for him what he needs, and if you’re willing to sacrifice your fear and give your marriage your life then you will love. In every sense of the word. And this love, it can conquer.
The very beautiful thing, is that through this love, this willing of their good, we often start to see things differently. We see things that we hadn’t before and our hearts change. And while, again, it will never be constant, the feeling, the ache and the excitement, it comes back. Different and better than before.**
**As always, this is a just a consequence of loving, not the reason to work so hard at it. We work hard at it for our men, for their sake. Not to make the feeling return. As if you grasp for it in that manner, it will likely never come.