This is a tough question. It’s especially tough because many of us have been trained by our culture–romance novels, movies, songs–to think of “connection” as a mystical force. It’s unstoppable. It’s uncontainable. You either have it or you don’t.
I just wrote a piece for Boundless called “Irresistible Taste: The 5 Points of Attraction.” In this fun little essay I argue that yes, romantic connection can be instantaneous. If it is, great. But it can also develop, deepen, change, and grow. I want, therefore, to do my small part to reframe the Christian discussion of “connection”–especially for Millennials. Here’s a swatch:
The reality of marriage is this: Some of what connects you as a couple is physical attraction. As time goes on, though, every husband-and-wife team deepens in their mutual affection, which in turn strengthens “connection.” This is particularly true as a couple seeks maturity in Christ together. As a husband grows as a spiritual leader, and cares for his wife tenderly and biblically, she will naturally find her affection for him increasing. As a wife’s faith expands and she chooses to support and encourage his godly leadership rather than undermine it, his love for her will soar. As the couple navigates by the Spirit’s power the twists and turns of life, the heartaches and miscarriages and promotions and anniversaries, they will “connect” far more than they once did.
It would serve many of us well if we broadened our understanding not only of “connection”–however you define it, but love itself. Love is sometimes immediately present between a man and a woman. Sometimes, though, it is not. Sometimes it emerges over time. You see maturity take place, you observe a sacrificial temperament, you see a pleasant personality trait show itself over time. When this happens, “connection” is growing.
Many of us could stand to give it time to do so. This may well involve a period before marriage where you get to know one another in a non-pressured, unhurried, but resolutely chaste setting. There is a middle way between near-immediate engagement and near-endless, going-nowhere dating (I discuss this in Chapter 5, “Risky Family,” in my new book Risky Gospel).
That middle way is a marvelous and highly underrated incubator of lifelong love.
(Image: Dan Deveau/Suhail Abbas/Angie Choi/Eyekahfoto.com)