Romeo and Juliet, were they great lovers? It seems that there was something immature in their love. It was not the love of Heathcliff and Cathy. Though Heathcliff and Cathy were more enduring, they were still deficient.
I remember reading in Wuthering Heights that Cathy’s love for her husband was like the birds and the sky, but that her love for Heathcliff was like the rocks and the soil. Whether that is accurate or not, I have grown to prefer the love of the rocks and the soil. The passion that burns so brightly is frequently the infatuation of narcissism. The lover sees that he is not alone in the world, a beautiful woman values him or cherishes him. He exalts in her presence because he feels a sense of worth. His love sweeps him into folly and ruin. The steady love of marriage is not the soar and crash of the romance movie.
Someone once said that after a few years of marriage love begins. It is after the flame and the fury that the real substance becomes apparent. Most couples get married because of what they receive, but that needs to change with the years. Marriage is a sanctifying experience where the lover is changed by loving the lovely and the unlovely with dependence on God. Often such unconditional love has its earthly reward, but sometimes it does not. As an avenue of God’s grace, marriage transforms us as we love not necessarily because we are loved.
It is the man who trembles with fear at the prospect of marriage who is ready for it. When a man sees a woman as a gift from God to love and to hold, to cherish and worship in sickness and in health, he is ready to marry. But what does that mean? He must imagine her ugly and commit to love her. He must imagine her insane and commit to care for her. He must imagine her as a shadow or the antithesis of who he knows, and he must be faithful. This is a reflection of the love that Christ shows the church.
Many men claim to love but balk at some flaw or insufficiency. That is not love which alters when it alteration finds. Love is a constant presence, though human frailty leads to its ebb and flow, the underlying commitment to sacrifice is constant. Love is sacrifice.
Christians should have the greater capacity to love the unlovable because they are nearer the source. If we do drink deep from the fount of love, we drink deep of the Holy Spirit. He transforms us from those who have a check list that everyone is measured against to those who have a check list about their own readiness.
Are you ready to put aside your own desires, wants, and pleasures? Are you ready to lay yourself at the altar and let marriage transform you by the renewing of your mind? If it is an emotional flood that you call love, don’t cheapen the enduring rock. If God has led you to care for a woman and consider her before your very self, then propose.