One of William Blake’s “Songs of Experience” shows in the most striking way that there are two ways to conduct a romantic relationship.
Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell’s despair.
Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven’s despite.
(from “The Clod and the Pebble”)
It is possible to feel you are “madly in love” with someone when it is really just an attraction to someone who can meet your needs and address the insecurities and doubts you have about yourself. In that kind of relationship, you will demand and control rather than serve and give.
Turn to the Ultimate Lover of Your Soul
The only way to avoid sacrificing your partner’s joy and freedom on the altar of your need is to turn to the ultimate lover of your soul. He voluntarily sacrificed himself on the cross, taking what you deserved for your sins against God and others. On the cross, he was forsaken and experienced the lostness of hell, but he did it all for us. Because of the loving sacrifice of the Son, you can know the heaven of the Father’s love through the work of the Spirit. Jesus truly “built a heaven in hell’s despair.” And fortified with the love of God in your soul, you likewise can now give yourself in loving service to your spouse.
Question for Reflection
- How are you conducting a romantic relationship? Are you seeking the other’s good or your own?
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 75-76