I apologize if this has been asked before, but this is just the one thing I’m curious about right now.
It means you need to make the choice to love someone even when you’d probably rather not.
Like marriage…being married isn’t always rosey. The honeymoon ends eventually and the real world hits. Love isn’t just the lovey-dovey feelings you get during the good times of your marriage. Love is also the choosing to stay by your spouse through the difficult times when those blissful feelings are not there.
You can still choose to love your spouse even when you don’t particularly like him/him at the moment.
You choose to love when you stay in a relationship even when you’re hurt by the other person in ways that you did not see coming.
Emotional love is that feeling in your stomach when you enter the room and the object of your affections is sitting there. Emotional love is looking into her eyes and forgetting just what you were coming into the room for; emotional love is thinking about her all day long and not being disappointed when you get home. Emotional love is trembling at her touch, losing yourself in the slightest kiss, being in bliss holding hands. Emotional love is all “high”, it cannot handle disappointment, disillusionment or anything that gets in the way of the feeling. In short, it cannot handle a real person.
Decisional love - also referred to as mature love - is the conscious choice to remain with someone even when they no longer supply the emotional love component. So some that is quick - a year or two. For others, it can be twenty years; for a few, it never ends.
Mature love is also a serving love. You do for her (or him as it may be) regardless of what you get out of it. It is a love that gets people through cancer, heartbreak and pain. It is a love that survives bankrupty, old age, pot-bellies and baldness. It looks past droopy parts, failed dreams and youthful expectations. Mature love does not need the emotional feelings, but it certainly welcomes them. These are not two disparate ideas. We don’t all get emotional love for our whole lives. People change, situations change - life happens.
Mature love is a decision. We’re all adults and any one of us could just call it quits the next time our spouse does something we dislike. The pain that we would leave behind, however, is not something we’re willing to be the cause of for our own silly feelings.
Mature love is balancing the needs of others and finding ourselves much lower on the list than we thought we’d be able to do. It is a gift from God.
Emotional love hits you over the head with a pile of bricks; you can’t ignore it. Mature love sneaks up on you when you’re not looking for it. You don’t see it coming and only look back after a while and smile at your discovery.
"But what precisely is love? We have a tendency, especially in our rather romantic culture, to identify it with a feeling or a sentiment. But authentic love, in the biblical sense, is only marginally related to emotions. To love is to will the good of the other as other (Aquinas), really to want what is advantageous to another person and to act concretely on that desire.”
An essay that touches on your questions, the difference between modern ideas of love and the love in the Bible continues here:
You’ve gotten good answers.
But in some ways the statement, “Love is a decision,” is only partially complete. The point the statement is trying to make is that love is not passive. In English, the word “love” can be used as either a noun or a verb. The saying is trying to emphasize that the highest form of love is the sacrifice of giving of oneself to and for the benefit of another, even though this action will cause some loss to the giver.
True love takes a conscious decision on the part of the lover. While someone who is merely “in love” may undertake some sacrificial actions, these are done because emotion impels him to do so, someone who truly loves will do so even if there is no emotion pushing him to do so. Love is a decision but like faith, it is rather empty without the follow-through.
If the love you’re talking about is the kind of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8,
Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (DRV)
then you can see that none of the above are feelings, but decisions.
One thing I want to add to the already wonderful responses is that perhaps the quote should be “Love Isn’t JUST a Feeling, it’s a decision.” Please do not think that authentic love is somehow not emotional at least in part. God has given us wonderful emotions along with our reason. I agree 100% that love is a choice, in fact, it is the one piece of advise I give to every couple I know that is about to be married. But do not think we are saying that after the honeymoon and into real day-to-day life that we do not ever have that ‘in-love’ emotional feeling again. In fact, the more mature the love for my husband becomes, the stronger that feeling is at times. I feel the same way about my love for Christ. The more I learn and choose to love and grow in my faith intellectually, the more that I feel emotionally connected to him. Just my 2 cents.
*Feelings come and go, but love, if you choose to love someone–it is not a mere feeling, it is a choice that you make, even when times get rough. By rough, I don’t mean you stay with an abusive person, etc. But, in our modern day society, many people flee their relationships the minute the other person shows signs of um …being plain ole human. As humans, we often make mistakes…and if you truly love your mate, you will help that person to become better–the love will withstand the test of time. Love is a sacrifice, not a feeling, therefore.
In our society too, we hear ‘falling in and out of love,’ but again…those are feelings. If we run our lives by feelings only, we will be disappointed. Feelings don’t make good compasses. :o Just my two cents. *
*This is such an insightful post…thanks for this. *
I was blessed to see Fr Corapi live a couple of days ago, and he said this same thing.
A loose quote according to my notes - What is love? love is wanting the best and highest thing for another person. What is the highest thing? Heaven. To Love someone is to want Heaven for them. And doing whatever you can to gove that to them, even if it means sacrifice on your part.
It was a GREAT conference, and you can actually order it on his website, it’s a pre-order right now, but shoud ship in about a week.
Just don’t take the phrase to mean that having no feelings is superior to having feelings, that feelings are somehow bad or unimportant, or that the “emotional component” can be given up on, or that love should be a cool-headed process of reason, let alone a calculation. Feelings aren’t emotions anyway, they’re a bit more personal.
If you take a look at Corinthians, you’ll notice the love described there (“is patient, is kind…”) is not really something that fickle emotions could bring and sustain. At the same time, it has little to do with a cold heart.
I also believe in the decision part (and rather firmly so, if in a different way than might be the majority), but I don’t see it as just sticking. I see it as a decision to act with love, listen to love, even kindle the feelings, working on a relationship and building it up instead of, “as long as I don’t meet a better one.” Definitely no cold heart, but the heart needs reason to know where it should go or not.
If love were only a feeling, how could one possibly ever vow to love another for life?
Wow I really thought there were more people that knew. I know what we have is something
special, really something special but I thought that maybe more people were aware of it.
Total, complete, and unconditional love, to know that your partner makes every decision,
every action is made with your best intrest in your partners mind, is nerver even a question
in your mind. Sure we have our arguments but with never a hint of a doubt that one of us
may leave the other. As far as one giving there life for the other we have desided it’s the
one who is left behind is the one who will truly suffer more because of having to live your
life without the other, is truly the greatest pain. I would be glad to suffer out a life time
of pain rather then have my wife suffer like that and she would happly do the same for me.
Never is there a decision to be made about one disliking or not loving the other. our love is
and always will be. The most beautiful feeling I believe there is and it gets better every.
When we went to our Engaged Encounter weekend 20 something years ago, the one thing that was mentioned over and over was that “Love is a decision.”
And though it made sense at the time, it makes all the more sense after you have children. It is all well and good that some people have wonderful spouses that they never have to “choose” or decide to love. But once you have children this decision will come upon you for the rest of your life. Again, when you love your children, yes, you have those wonderful cozy feelings, but sometimes we have to DECIDE to love our children when it is very hard to do, especially in the teenage years when they may reject everything we are about.
We have to decide to love our children during those times when they are disrespectful, annoying, disobedient, selfish or deceitful. And sometimes we must love our children with the decision to say no to things because of our love for them. That is real Love, love that you decide to give them even when it is very difficult or they don’t “deserve it.”
…Just as our Father in Heaven loves us even when we do not deserve it.
IrishMom, you used exactly the comparison I was going to make.
Nothing separates feelings from decisions quicker than a toddler with a tantrum or a teenager doing same.
I think people say love is a decision not a feeling to distinguish LOVE from its evil imposter INFATUATION.
Evil imposter FEELS great. For a while. Scientists have used MRI imaging on the brains of people who are in the throes of a new love affair and the same areas that light up for insane people light up for the lovebirds.
Those are FEELINGS. Feelings come and go. It’s how we ACT on those feelings that makes us good or bad. I can be angry, but if I choose to act on that and strike someone, it changes the equation. Look at it linguistically. Do we say “Anger is a decision?” “Rage is a decision?” “Sadness is a decision?” No, those are real emotions. Someone who made a decision to be sad or angry 24/7 has a problem. Same with someone who is unable to be anything but sad or angry 24/7. Do we imitate emotions? Someone who did that is not in tune with reality. (Hint: Go out today and imitate a joyful person. You will annoy some people and may make others wonder what you’re drinking. Now, go out and imitate a loving person. You will make people happy.)
Emotions come and go. Being loving shouldn’t come and go. Someone who does that is unfair and unstable.
A wonderful 2 cents, raise you ten bucks for that. Except for the one line: “Love is a sacrifice…” How is any of that a sacrifice? There are no victims in any of this, no sacrifices. That sacrifice, that victim happened long ago. We have the joy that flows from it.