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Is Falling In Love Enough?
Andy Bustanoby
(C) September 17, 2005

     I'm not an expert on safety issues, but I will hazard a guess that
     more people are hurt in falls than in any other kind of injury.  And
     the type of fall that I have seen produce the most injuries is
     falling in love!  I offer this as a result of my observations over
     twenty-five years as a marriage and family therapist.

     When I ask, Is falling in love enough, I'm asking if it's enough to
     keep a marriage going?  According to the duet Nat King Cole and his
     daughter sing, "If I fall in love, it will be forever."  Don't kid
     yourself.  It won't be.  Unless there is more to your relationship
     than falling in love, it won't last long.

     Psychologist Everett Shostrom, years ago, made an extensive study of
     male/female love, and as a result of his findings, he developed an
     excellent test called The Caring Relationship Inventory.  He
     examines five types of love essential to a lasting marriage and
     developed a questionaire and evaluation scales to see what kind and
     how much of these loves exist in any given marriage.  The loves he
     examines are eros, agape, friendship, empathy and self-love.


     I mention eros first because this is the primary emotion that
     precipitates falling in love.  It isn't just the sexy look of the
     significant other.  An attractive personality plays a large part.
     But we fantasize things about that personality that may not be true
     at all, or, we might not see that the traits we admire are really
     excessive and maladaptive when you really get to know this person.
     A strong, competent man may turn out to be so controlling he
     smothers you.  A modest, demure woman may assure a man that she
     would never try to control him, but she may actually be
     maladaptively self-effacing, always punishing herself for real or
     imagined failures.  Wounding herself, she may not be a fully
     functional mate.

     These two types are often attracted to each other.  But after
     marriage, they are shocked by extreme behavior.  Someone put it well
     when he said, Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener.


     Agape love is essential to the marriage if it is to survive.  While
     eros survives on finding your mate attractive, agape love does not
     require it.  Agape chooses to love.  It does not require the other
     person to be attractive.

     This is the love wherewith God loved us.  God so loved (agape) the
     world that He sent His only begotten son to die for us.  While we
     were yet sinners, Christ died for us!  This is the love the
     Corinthians were told would help them deal with the problem of
     division in the church (1 Cor. 13).

     The need for agape is essential to marriage.  All marriages suffer
     in some degree to a loss of eros, and there is a degree of falling
     out of love.  In our relationship with God we love Him because He
     first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).  I have found that when a husband or
     wife shows agape love, the mate is very likely to love in return.

     It is for this reason that the current practice of couples living
     together to see if it works, or to see if they are really in love,
     is foolish.  It is foolish because it lacks the committment to each
     other that is found in agape, the choice, the decision to love and
     make it work.


     Friendship in marriage is essential because it occupies us about
     something besides each other.  But at the same time, it promotes a
     togetherness.  Eros is a face to face relationship; friendship is a
     shoulder to shoulder relationship.

     I often think of this as my wife, Fay and I, sit side by side in our
     recliner chairs, looking out of the picture windows at the beautiful
     bay in front of us.  As we enjoy the scenery together, we talk about
     what is currently going on in our lives and reminisce about the
     events of almost fifty-five years of marriage.  We remember how
     together we invested our lives in getting an education, our time in
     the pastorate, in establishing a business, in raising four wonderful
     sons and now are enjoying the benefits of ten grandchildren and four

     And we also recognize the differentness in our personalities that
     made essentially different contributions to our marriage and the
     rearing of our children.  We see the wisdom of God in creating male
     and female and counterparts (Gen. 2:20).  And that differentness is
     respected because we see it as a God-ordained differentness.

     Friendship is about something besides each other.  Friendship is a
     respect of differentness where each brings something essentially
     different to the relationship.


     Empathy is the ability to enter into what other people are feeling
     and feel it with them.  It's extremely important for husbands to
     understand this.

     Men tend to be creatures of the head; women tend to be creatures of
     the heart.  Because of this, men tend to be problem solvers.  They
     are ready to take out the calculator and explore solutions.  Women,
     on the other hand, touched by feelings, need to talk about the
     problem.  Talking to someone who is empathetic enables her to get in
     touch with her feelings in ways that she can't do just by thinking
     about the problem.  Talking with an empathetic person often brings
     to light feelings that she didn't realize she had.  She is able to
     understand her feelings better.  And often, because she understands
     her feelings better, she is less troubled by the problem.  Many
     times I have found that women will conclude that there is not a
     problem that needs solving.

     This phenomenon is not a liability to the marriage but a definite
     asset.  Women are able to explore dimensions of a problem in ways
     that man does not naturally do--the feeling or
     human dimensions of the problem.  As counterparts, they bring
     together the best in problem solving--the objective and the


     It may seem strange to speak of self-love in a husband/wife
     relationship.  Aren't we supposed to love others instead of

     The answer is this.  We can't begin to love others unless we are
     fully functional persons ourselves.  We must understand that unless
     we have a healthy view of our own wants, wishes and needs, we're not
     going to have a healthy view of the wants, wishes and needs of our

     The Bible speaks of self-love when it speaks of the creation of male
     and female (Gen. 2:24) and the husband/wife relationship being a
     picture of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:22-33).  They are one
     flesh; the husband loves his wife as his own body.  A healthy
     self-love promotes a healthy understanding of the needs of our mate.


     The absence of any of these five loves, eros, agape, friendship,
     empathy and self-love, can create a dangerous void in a marriage and
     may hasten the process of falling out of love.  Competent counseling
     can go a long way to developing these qualities in a relationship.

     Is falling in love enough?  No, it isn't!

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