Mike considered himself a good lover. That is until his wife, Tina, asked him to move out after nine years of marriage. "It has become painfully clear that I don't know much about what it means to love," he admitted. "I mean really love."
Why is love so difficult? Why do so many couples like Mike and Tina start out with good intentions and then stumble? The answer is that many don't really understand love. Over the years, I've counseled couples whose functional definition of love could be summed up as "a feeling that you feel when you feel that you're going to feel a feeling that you've never felt before." Add to this confusion the expectation many couples have that love will never change—and disappointment is guaranteed.
But just as each year has different seasons, there are also seasons to a relationship. God designed each season to produce a different kind of love.
The First Season Face-to-Face
Falling in love is the first, and sadly for some couples the only, season of love. Often couples confuse infatuation with love. A husband might see his wife as he would like her to be—a warm, caring person who always keeps his needs foremost in her mind. Who she truly is—a woman who can be angry and upset with him at times—is irrelevant.
Judith Voist, in her book Love & Guilt (Simon and Schuster), provides a humorous, and yet truthful, distinction between love and infatuation. "Infatuation is when you think he's as gorgeous as Robert Redford, as pure as Solzhenitsyn, as funny as Woody Allen, as athletic as Jimmy Connors and as smart as Albert Einstein. Love is when you realize that he's as gorgeous as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Solzhenitsyn, as athletic as Albert Einstein and nothing like Robert Redford in any category—but you'll take him anyway."1