“I love you.” These three words are so frequently used to express affection towards a person of intimate proximity. Much of the time it isn’t as it appears.
My ethics professor (SBTS) put it this way: many are really saying “I love myself” and because you fulfill me, I want / need you. Many marriages are created this way and they end because of this; because, at some future time, you no longer fulfill me, and therefore I no longer love you, and therefore this present marriage is no longer beneficial or satisfactory to me. Because, in the end, its all about me.
Marriage is about service; serving one another and serving together in everyday life. Much like Church; we serve together in love and unity: fellowship. Thinking “that’s the man’s job; this is the woman’s job” is damaging. I’m not talking about gender roles in regards to Scriptural roles and matters like headship (complimentarianism v. egalitarianism; it seems that Scripture supports complimentarianism as the biblical model). I’m talking about ordinary, everyday activities. Men can help in the kitchen. Women can help with the lawn. Do (serve) together.
Marriage, as seen in Scripture, is not selfish. it is selfless (Eph. 5.22-33). The same goes for love (1 Cor. 13). Love gives, not takes. Because God loved the world, He gave His Son (Jn. 3.16) to be the Savior of repentant sinners. Love gives. It says, “I will give my all, my everything to you.”
Our extremely individualistic, self-serving culture (as primarily seen in the entertainment world) and our sinful nature compel us to have a twisted shallow view of what love is, and what marriage is.
The divorce rate is hovering around 50%. Perhaps, 50% of marriages split because one or both people involved are no longer satisfied like they were when they said, “I do.” What about those who date? I would imagine the number one cause for breakups is this same notion of being dissatisfied.
If any of this describes you or myself, we should repent for taking something so beautiful as marriage, and love, and turning it into just another means by which we can satisfy ourselves.
“I love you” is not the password for intimacy and self-gratification. You don’t marry someone to get what you want. Neither of these should be manipulated, though most people, if not all have. When used in such a way, hearts are broken. Marriages will be torn apart. Lives may be ruined. When used in self-serving way, it is deceitful, and it can be devastating.