I can hear the Beatles song in my head, can't you? Well, if you're a little older perhaps you can. Since February is the month of love I thought I’d tackle the age-old question of what is love? Is it a feeling, a decision, a commitment, a “liver quiver.” What is it? All of us want to love and be loved. Love is built into us. We are made in God’s image and God is love (1 John 4:8). Yet how will we know if it is love we’re experiencing? As I’ve researched the subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three essential ingredients of love (see diagram). This is called the “Triangular Theory of Love” and was developed by Robert Sternberg. I think he’s on target with his diagram.
Let's look at Sternberg’s theory and examine each of the three sides of the Triangle of Love. First there is Passion. Passion is the biological side of love. It’s the hormones that are released and get love going. Passion is triggered when we are physically attracted to someone and our senses become heightened and aroused. Secondly, there is intimacy. Intimacy is the emotional side of love. We are in synch with the one we love. We are on the same page. We feel connected and one with them. They “get” us. Finally, Commitment is the willful side of love. It is the reasoning, decision-making side of love. We choose to love this other person “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ‘til death us do part.” Sounds like the wedding vows, doesn’t it? That’s because it is part of the traditional wedding ceremony. In the wedding ceremony we verbalize our commitments to one another. All three sides of the Triangle of Love are necessary for true love to exist. Each side is dependent on the other two.
Love is very fluid in that love fluctuates over time. There are seasons of heightened and diminished love. For example couples often experience a drop in love satisfaction when there are teenagers in the home. The good news is that if you cultivate the three essentials of Sternberg’s Triangle of Love you never have to experience a loss in love satisfaction.
We love because He first loved us,