Why is love a choice and not an emotion? The emotional component of love that we associate with feeling "loving" isn't consistent. For a relationship to be solid, there has to be consistency. Choosing to love means one will choose actions that demonstrate love regardless of the emotion that is felt (1 Corinthians 13). Here are five things that you choose to do when you love someone whether you are feeling angry, disappointed, distant, hurt, upset, loving, irritated, happy, unhappy or anything else:
1. You act in a way that is in the person's best interest. When you love someone, you have goodwill toward that person and act in a way that supports and cares. You do not purposefully bring harm or ill will toward them. You want to see the person happy, successful, secure, and fulfilled. Loving someone means you are invested fully in the person's well being. This is part of the commitment you make to the person when you enter the relationship. Romans 13:10 says, "Love does no harm to its neighbor" (NIV).
2. You take the person's needs into consideration. It doesn't mean you always have to do what the person wants or that it is wrong to put your own needs first. It just means you will consider what the other person wants and needs as much as you take your own needs into consideration. It is a balancing act that means you will sometimes sacrifice your own needs and wants for the other person and other times decide that you need to put yourself first. Philippians 2:4 says, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (NIV).
3. You work toward understanding the person's viewpoint. Your own viewpoint makes sense to you, because it is yours. However when you love someone, it is important that you work toward understanding how he/she thinks and sees things. That person's opinions and emotions, albeit often different than yours, are equally important and you need to put energy into getting what is going on with the person. Part of feeling loved is to be understood for who you are. Proverbs 20:5 says, "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out" (NIV).
4. You treat the person respectively. No matter how you feel, you can control how you act. You don't have the right to mistreat someone just because you are emotionally upset. One of the worst things you can do in a relationship is to treat your partner with contempt and disrespect. When you respect your partner, you speak and act in a way that conveys that the person is valuable to you. God wants respect in relationships. He tells husbands to respect their wives (1 Peter 3:7) and wives to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33).
5. You are committed to the relationship. If love were demonstrated only when one had loving feelings, then relationships would be roller coasters. Commitment is the additive that makes the road smooth and flat. Commitment means the relationship is bigger than either one of the partners. The good of the relationship becomes the goal. The marriage, relationship, or partnership is more important than either of the people in it. This helps both people rise above each person's sometimes competing views and needs. God views marriage and a committed sexual relationship as an entity. Two become one (Genesis 2:24) and the one is a union that is to be cherished and not broken, if at all possible.
Why is a love a choice and not an emotion? Because, it wouldn't be love if it depended on the ups and downs of the emotional feeling we associate with feeling "loving."
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Karla Downing is an author, speaker, licensed marriage and family therapist, and Bible study teacher. Karla's passion is to help people find freedom in Christ in the midst of their difficult relationships and circumstances through Biblical truths and practical tools.