Why do marriages fall apart a few years in? Why does the intensity and emotion of following Jesus become mundane and struggle after a couple years? Where did the boredom of the “dream job” come from before the first quarter is done?
The honeymoon is over.
When you get married the honeymoon is a time of tremendous intensity, love, and infatuation. You are wholly focused on another human destined to spend the rest of life with, “till death do you part.” At least that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
But, the feelings, emotions, and newness of marriage wear off and you are stuck with a fellow homo-sapien filled with faults, quirks, and inconsistencies. This is when people begin to bail on the marriage, often commit adultery, or become angry. Why?
The honeymoon is over.
In Love with Love
The problem with honeymoons is they are a false read on reality. You get the sense that everything is perfect and this relationships, job, and church, will be intensely wonderful for the next fifty years. But, it does not turn out that way. Intensity wanes, emotions run low, and the mundane becomes the new normal. Why?
A Catholic spiritual writer Ronald Rolheiser believes, the honeymoon phase in different seasons of life, is a vital part of discipleship in Christ. The mature disciple must learn to navigate the mundane, boredom, and regular-ness of life, when the honeymoon is over.
The problem with honeymoons is “we fall in love with love.” In the beginning of a marriage it’s the feeling of intense love we enjoy. The nearness and closeness. It is the newness and intensity and experience that is intoxicating.
At the beginning of a marriage no one thinks these feelings will ever subside. The next fifty years will be the equivalent of long walks on the beach and all the bacon you can eat (that is how I envision it).
During the honeymoon phase, it is not the person you love, it is not the work that is enjoyable, it is not the community of faith that is spiritually nourishing. In the beginning, it is the newness and intoxicating emotional high’s we love. In reality, “we are in love with love.”
Honeymoons Are NOT Reality
Sadly, honeymoons create a pseudo-reality. We know deep down nothing lasts forever and we know these feelings will rise and fall. But, we crave it, we want it back, we need to rekindle what was lost. We need another hit of honeymoon bliss.
For the maturing disciple of Christ, we must get beyond the honeymoon phase to find true joy and depth.
Rolheiser comments on the dangers of trying to recapture honeymoons:
“Their first warning concerns the danger of reverting to immaturity because of the longing for another honeymoon. Our route to maturity generally involves a honeymoon or two. Honeymoons are real, are powerful, and afford us this side of eternity, with one of the better foretastes of heaven. Because of that, they are not easy to let go of permanently. Inside of everyone of us there is the lingering itch to experience the kind of intensity yet one more time, and that itch is made stronger by the fact that our commitments, including our marriage, can often feel bland and flat when measured against the intensity of the honeymoon. One of the demons we must wrestle with after we have made a lifelong commitment is the powerful temptation to experience yet another honeymoon. Infidelity in marriage is often triggered by this temptation” Sacred Fire (pp. 69-70).
The Honeymoon Demon
The “demon” of honeymoons can apply to most of life. Marriages fail and adultery happens because of trying to recapture the honeymoon. Job hopping, church hopping, and relationship hopping happens, because we are trying to recapture the intensity and high of the honeymoon.
We know honeymoon’s are wonderful… but don’t last. All is not lost.
Deep intimacy with a spouse happens when you no longer are in “love with love.” You begin to love the person with all their sin, warts, and faults. You begin to navigate true intimacy when feelings are not as heightened. Feelings are not unimportant, but don’t become the barometer, for which everything hinges. You serve, cherish, and encourage your spouse, for the sake of Christ, and a genuine love for the person, not the sake of feelings or lack thereof.
When you see the underbelly of the local church and realize it’s not perfect because you are there. You stick it out. You find greater intimacy and fellowship with Christ when you cling to him and walk humbly with others. Knowing relationships are hard, doubt is real, but the honeymoon is a liar.
In the marketplace the work takes on new meaning when we stop clinging to the honeymoon. We realize bosses can be jerks, people are people, and not all work is creative, enjoyable, and satisfying. The honeymoon is a demon that can tempt us to cut corners, give half effort, live for the weekend, and look for the next thing. Which is just looking for another honeymoon.
If we allow the honeymoon-demon to creep in we can’t be present with God, people, work, and the ones we love. Honeymoons are great. Honeymoons are a gift from God. But honeymoons don’t last.
Acknowledge It... Don't Live There
Acknowledge the honeymoon. Acknowledge the waning intensity. And, ask God to give faith, strength, and maturity, to live in the midst of the mundane, ordinary, and regular-ness of life.
Where have you seen the honeymoon demon in your life?