created at: 2011-06-03The image to the left comes from the web page for Jewish Marriage Encounter in Israel.

Ed. Note: This post, by Daniel Barkowitz, continues our series on the Ten Commandments. Credit is due to About.com’s post for quotes about the Jewish Marriage Encounter philosophy of “Love is a Decision”. For information on Jewish Marriage Encounter visit their web page.

Just as Faith is a decision, I believe that Love is a decision.

I remember sitting next to my wife, Rebekah, in (what was then) the Newton Sheraton Tara hotel, hanging over the Mass Pike. We were there for a Jewish Marriage Encounter Weekend, an event which promised to teach us how to better communicate with each other as a couple. We were still young in our marriage, what we referred to then as @#$% (Dual Income, No Kids) and we were excited to see what we could gain from a weekend focused on just our relationship with each other.

One of the more controversial statements made that weekend by one of the presenters is that “Love is a Decision.” It was a statement that reminds couples to love the person, not the behavior.

Many people do not see why a person would have to make the decision to love since they made that decision many years ago when they said yes to one another on their wedding day. We were taught on the weekend that it is normal in married life to have periods of romance and disillusionment. This cycle is often repeated – sometimes over days, weeks, even months.

One way to break out of disillusionment is by deciding to love. Feelings change and aren’t not easily controlled. Love is not only a feeling, it is more than a feeling. Love is a decision.

By saying that “Love is a decision”, I mean that I am committing myself to be open and to share when I don’t feel like it. By saying that “Love is a decision”, I am promising to make the decision to love even when I don’t think my spouse deserves my love.

Saying that “Love is a decision” means that you are open to honest communication with your spouse. That’s not only talking, but also listening. It is also a decision to be loved.

Making the decision to love includes the everyday, little things that you often do for one another, especially when you’re not feeling loving. From the action of deciding to love, often the feeling of love will follow.

This resonates in our Jewish tradition as well. Often the decision to do a good deed and the commitment to the mitzvot only happens after the mitzvah itself is completed. We are taught to pray with intention, but that the act of prayer itself will lead to the development of the intentionality of prayer.

–Daniel T. Barkowitz