Marriage Principle #1: Love Is a Choice, Not Just a Feeling


Recommended series: Marriage Basics


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In our culture, love is all about feelings. The story line is always about all consuming, overwhelming romance. But this is unrealistic in an authentic marriage, and the Bible has a different definition for love.

The problem with feelings

The problem with feelings is that they’re always changing. People are fickle. Feelings can be dangerous and can lead us astray, especially when it comes to relationships. A healthy marriage is not built on feelings or emotions.

Marital love in the Bible

Marital love in the Bible is based on a promise. When a man and woman come together in marriage, they’re making a covenant – a commitment. It’s not a contract, where failure to keep up your end of the bargain can easily result in divorce. God wants us to fight for our marriages, to stand for our spouse in thick and thin.

Proverbs 20:25 Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Marriage Principle #1

If you want a healthy marriage, it all starts with how you define love. Here’s the first principle of a healthy marriage: Love is a choice, not just a feeling. you have to get love right. Feelings aren’t bad – but they come and go. The valiant part of marital love is the choosing part.

The ultimate analogy

The greatest demonstration of love in history came at the cross. When Jesus died on the cross, he was demonstrating sacrificial love. He didn’t feel like dying that painful death, but he did it for love. God had made a covenant long before, and he proved faithful. The Bible uses marriage as an analogy for this incredible act of love. Marriage is a picture of Jesus and the church.

Ephesians 5:25-27 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish.



Discussion Questions

  1. What’s your favorite romantic comedy? What are the underlying messages about “love”? How has your marriage stacked up to that comparison?
  2. Make two lists: (1) how feelings can be good (2) how feelings can cause problems. How have feelings affected your marriage, both positively and negatively?
  3. Read Proverbs 20:25. Looking back, do you think you understood the commitment you were making on your wedding day? What promises have proven hardest to keep?
  4. List some choices or sacrifices you’ve  made for your marriage. How did you come to those decisions?
  5. Read Ephesians 5:25-27. What did Christ do to set his bride (the Church) apart? What does it mean for you to set your spouse apart in marriage?
  6. Talk about the 5 love languages. Which one is your love language? Which one is your spouse’s primary love language?
  7. What are you taking away from this conversation?


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