Chaplain (Maj.) Jeffrey Botsford
Family Life Chaplain, 25th Infantry Division
As a division family life chaplain, I have the rare opportunity to deploy wherever the division goes, working with Soldiers and their spouses on their marriages.
Often, it takes a lot of courage for couples to come before the old chaplain and share details about marital problems.
What I tell them is this: True love was never meant to follow you around like a little puppy — cute and cuddly, and seemingly always there. More often, love is like the way motivational speaker, author and pastor Mark Gungor once described it: a greasy pig.
You may be able to catch the slippery swine for a second, but then it escapes your grasp and forces you to chase after it, again and again.
I know, I know. A greased pig isn’t all that romantic of an analogy to use, but it surely is more realistic and accurate when one talks of love.
Men and women who buy into all this romantic fantasy stuff will be sorely disappointed in life. Many, in fact, believe that love and marriage will always be easy — that it will always be a skip through the meadow with birds chirping, butterflies flitting about, and the orchestra playing in the background.
That’s why so many become disillusioned with marriage once the flames of passion begin to die down to a smoldering ember.
Research shows that the high people experience at the outset of marriage usually lasts from six months to two years. Once the buzz is gone, however, most people make the mistake of allowing their “feelings” to dictate their actions.
And, because they don’t feel that rush of emotion that they associated with love in the beginning, they wrongly assume they aren’t in love any more.
As a result, many cash in their marriages in a foolish attempt to find someone else they can fall in love with again. Sadly, there are people who jump from marriage to marriage, never realizing that a relationship with perpetual heat, magic and excitement is, quite simply, unrealistic.
In life, stuff happens — like kids, in-laws, exhaustion, dirty laundry, lack of sex, etc. Sometimes it’s huge stuff, like the loss of a job, a death in the family, or a serious illness or accident to a loved one.
But it’s in these “for worse” times that real love is fostered and developed. It’s easy to have all the happy feelings toward someone when everything is going great. But true love, the kind that Scripture talks about, is tested and tried in the most difficult times. It requires patience, perseverance, selflessness and forgiveness.
One of the reasons new love is so exciting is because of the exorbitant amount of time couples initially spend together. Sadly, after a few years and a child or two, the couple’s time together dwindles.
That can’t continue to happen. If you rarely see your husband or wife and are not investing time and energy into your relationship, you’re not giving your marriage the best chance for survival. Like caring for the family pet, your marriage needs constant attention and nourishment.
So, get after it. Wrestle that greased pig to the ground and, when it squirts out of your grasp, chase it down again. Above all, realize that it is work and commitment that allow you to hold on to love — no matter how slippery it often is.