When my DrH and I got married almost 7 years ago, we were madly in love. The newlywed stage was pure bliss. We wanted to be around each other constantly – constantly talking, constantly touching, constantly kissing – you get the idea. He was almost perfect in my eyes.

Yes when we got married there were a few hardships in the beginning. One was that because he was a night owl and I was morning person I was always begging him to come to bed with me while he wanted to stay up another hour or two. Or sometimes we disagreed on how to spend our money or how to split time between family.

But those were the extents of our hardships, really. Life was fairly easy and simple. It was easy to love each other and put our marriage first.

But as all of my fellow married friends know, the newlywed, passionate, I’m-crazy-about-you-and-nothing-else kind of love fades. Life gets more complicated. Hardships come up that test you and try you. And the love between you and your spouse changes.

And when that passionate, crazy love fades, some people think that means they aren’t in love anymore. They are tempted to throw away their marriage as something that is faded or worn out.

But here’s the deal. The love between you and your spouse changes to something more real, more substantial, more enduring. Real, enduring love isn’t a blissful feeling that just happens. Love is a choice. A choice you have to make every single day.

choose love

Love is when you choose to stand by your medical school husband and support his hours upon hours of studying (and not get angry).  Love is when you choose to comfort and encourage him when a test score isn’t at all what he wanted. Love is when you choose to never give up on him, even when he is tempted to give up on himself.

Love is when you choose to put your dreams on hold so your DrH can fulfill his. Love is when you choose to forgive your DrH when he has a hard shift and he takes it out on you in stressed out, grumpy fashion. Love is when you are willing to move all over the country – for medical school, residency, fellowship, and a job – so he can become a doctor.

Love is when you choose to take care of almost everything in your life – budgeting, paying bills, taking care of the kids, laundry, cooking, making appointments, doing car maintenance and repairs, etc etc – all because you know your DrH doesn’t have the time to do it and he is working hard too. Love is when you go the extra mile to show love to your husband, even if it isn’t always reciprocated.

Love is when you forgive and forget. Love is when you are the first one to say, “I’m sorry.” Love is when you choose to love your spouse when they are at their most unloveable.

Real, enduring love is not the heart-stopping, cuddly, kissy-kissy, write romantic songs and take long walks along the beach kind of love. Real love is hard work, sometimes complete with tears, sweat, sickness, sleepless nights and heart-wrenching worries. It’s nothing like the wedding day or newlywed kind of love, but it is much more enduring and full of meaning.

Marriage is hard work, but it is the most rewarding kind of work we can ever do. A strong marriage doesn’t just happen. It requires a lot of hard, deliberate work. Every single day.

Love is a choice. It’s not just something that happens, it’s something WE choose. And if it gets hard to make that choice, pray. Pray for the ability to choose love in the middle of your hardest times, especially when it seems impossible.  It’s just like this quote that I love from one of my church leaders:

“Choose your love; love your choice.” – President Thomas S. Monson

You chose who your love was when you married him – now love him. Choose love. Choose it every single day.

**Image from Stocksnap.io