Sometimes it's just a choice. I know that's not what you want to hear, but it is the truth. Sometimes you do feel it, and that's the wonderful icing on the cake of your relationships. But most of the time, it takes your focused engagement to cultivate and grow true, beautiful, lasting love.
It's not surprising that we see it this way because the society we live in has made it out to be emotional thing, and quite frankly to be a self centered thing. If you don't get what you want out of the relationship, then it's fine to leave. This pattern of thinking will only isolate you, and keep you from the potential of a flourishing, life giving relationship.
This is what the Bible says love is... And it's more than a feeling.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
Many people will have this scripture read at their wedding, and then once they step into the actual marriage, it's like they got a labodame, specifically when it comes to the true meaning of this passage.
I think many times people hesitate from even taking the next step in a relationship into a lifelong commitment and covenant because "they aren't feeling it". It's so sad. In society, Christians are meant to be the antithesis to the way the world thinks and lives. A more attractive version... And this does not mean an easier version. Many times, it means just more work, with greater, lasting fruit and benefits. Fruit that no one can dispute because it's just there. And the longer you stay at it, the more fruit there is, and the more enjoyable it is to cultivate the fruit because you get into a flow that just works.
We've got to remember, things that bear fruit come in seed form. Most people want the fruit, but don't want to do what it takes to get it. People don't want a seed, people (for the most part) just want the fruit. When something comes in seed form, it has the potential grow into something beautiful. And to be honest, it just takes time. The potential part is entirely up to you.
So what do you do with a seed? First you put it under dirt. Dirt is not sexy, but it covers the seed so that it can germinate and grow. There is great revelation in that alone. Then you add water consistently (the washing with the water of The Word), and usually some fertilizer in the form of manure, yes, poop. This is the part of a relationship that everyone loves. The messy, stinky, gross, seemingly unfruitful parts. But really, this part of the process is what brings life and health. This is usually when people abort mission because it stinks, and God is actually germinating something strong in your relationship. Let it happen, and learn in the process. Otherwise you just smell like poop with no fruit. When it finally sprouts up, it must be taken cultivated with great delicacy and care.... And to be honest, usually it takes years of 'seed time and harvest' before true fruit comes. It takes time. All good things take time.
The dirt, the water, the manure, the time, the watching over of the "seed" that will turn into a small plant, that will eventually turn into a beautiful strong tree that bears much great and lasting fruit usually looks like this:
Patience: "The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset."
Kindness:"The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate."
Confidence: (The opposite of envy... Confidence in what you've been given): "The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust."
Humility: (The opposite of boasting and pride) "Is variously seen as the act or posture of lowering one self in relation to others, or conversely, having a clear perspective, and therefore respect, for one's place in context."
Honor: (The opposite of dishonor and self-seeking) " To have high respect; esteem for another."
Joy: (The opposite of anger) "A feeling of great pleasure and happiness"
Truth: (lining up with The Truth of The Word of God) "That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality" (The bible is the highest form of fact or reality to those who believe.)
Protection:"The action of protecting someone or something, or the state of being protected."
Trust: "Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something."
Hope: I've heard it said that biblical hope is "The joyful expectation of good."
Perseverance: "steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success."
Basically, love requires you to stop thinking about yourself so much and start to think about someone else. Actually, to think and care about them everyday for the rest of your life. And to really make it flourish, it's going to take mutual engagement and sacrifice by both parties.
To engage all of the above is what true love is. It takes a passionate warrior spirit on our behalf, and a revelation that it's more than a feeling.
Don't get me wrong, love is fueled by passion (we all like that word), but with passion comes sacrifice. Just look at Jesus life, we were His passion, "the joy that was set before him" (Hebrews 12:2), and he sacrificed his life and endured the cross for our sake. That's love.
I heard Kris Vallotton say: "You cannot separate sacrifice from passion and have a marriage."
Although many will take the latter and ignore the former... I know I have, and still would like to on occasion.
I am fueled with passion to build Christ's church because it is the hope of the world... "Christ purchased the church with His blood" (Acts 20:28) and in turn, I will sacrifice my life to build it. It is my reasonable service completly born out of love. No brainer.
I am fueled with passion for my marriage because I believe in the power of covenant, and the in power of love. So I will sacrifice when it's required from me even if I don't feel like it... Once again, no brainer.
Cue Music from the Wedding Singer... "I wanna grow old with you..."
I can "smile at the future" (Prov 31:25) because I have engaged true love with this man, and can honestly say, he is the love of my life. Some may say it's cheesy and I don't really care... Because I know it's true.