Editor’s note: The following is a report on the practical application of Joe Beam's book, The Art of Falling in Love (Howard Books, 2012).
You don’t have to fall into love haphazardly; you can find love intentionally. That’s because falling in love isn’t a mysterious event that’s beyond your control. It’s a process that you can reliably understand and apply to your life. When you follow the steps to falling in love, you can find a romantic partner if you’re single, keep love fresh if you’re married, or bring back love you’ve lost for your spouse.
Here’s how you can fall in love, on purpose:
Recognize the three components of love. The three basic aspects of love are: intimacy (openness and vulnerability to the person you love), passion (a desire for oneness with the person you love), and commitment (doing what it takes to make your love relationship last).
Learn the four basic steps of falling in love. Those steps are: attraction (drawing closer to a person you find attractive), acceptance (growing to care for a person whom you accept as he or she is, and who accepts you as you really are), attachment (coming to care enough for a person that you commit yourself to a relationship with that person), and aspiration (reaching the deepest level of love, in which you cooperate with the person you love so that you encourage each other to pursue desires and dreams).
Ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you. In order to begin the process of falling in love, you must first believe that you’re attractive. You’re attractive to God, and when you pray for help viewing yourself from His perspective, you can gain the confidence you need to be attractive to other people.
Understand the dynamics of what attracts people to each other in romantic relationships. Romantic attraction results from one or more of these areas: physical (someone whose body you find attractive), intellectual (someone who stimulates and interests your mind), emotional (someone who generates positive emotions within you), and spiritual (someone who inspires you or who shares your beliefs and values). If you take good care of all four areas in your life, you’ll be romantically attractive to others.
Be honest about who you are, and accept others as they are. Let your romantic partner or spouse see who you truly are; openly share your real thoughts and feelings with him or her. When the person you love does the same, give him or her full acceptance, love and respect. Love each other for who you both really are. Refrain from trying to control or manipulate one another to be a different way. Instead, ask God to help you love the person as God loves you: with grace.
Follow God, not your feelings. You may easily develop intense romantic feelings for various people you encounter throughout your life. Too often, when that happens, people think that they must be falling in love with the person for whom they feel that way, and they have affairs and leave their marriages in order to indulge their feelings, only to find those feelings fade away (typically, intense romantic feelings last between six months and three years before dissipating). Decide to place your trust in God – who never changes – rather than in your changing feelings. Follow God’s plan for love: marriage, in which a deeper, lasting love can replace the initial romantic attraction after it fades.
Commit to the person you love. You can continue to experience passionate love for someone, no matter how long you’ve known each other, if you intentionally and habitually pursue attitudes and actions that bond you together in love. You can bond through: respect (accepting the person you love as he or she truly is, rather than the image you’ve fantasized about him or her becoming), fulfillment (meeting each other’s needs – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), spirituality (sharing beliefs, values, purpose, and meaning with each other), and passion (building unity with each other by sharing life with enthusiasm).
Use your differences to complement each other. Get to know each other’s different temperaments so that you can learn how best to communicate with each other. Then the differences between you will be less likely to divide you, and you’ll be able to use those differences to complement each other so that you’ll be stronger together than apart.
Bring back lost love. It’s not unusual for couples who have been together a long time to fall out of love, and it can happen to people in any marriage. You and your spouse may lose the love you once had for each other if either you or your spouse neglects maintaining one or more of the factors that cause attraction (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) and which remain important throughout your lifetimes. It’s vital to do the best you can at your age and in your situation to take good care of yourself physically (such as through exercise and good nutrition and hygiene), mentally (learning new things every day), emotionally (expressing love to others consistently through your attitudes and actions), and spiritually (becoming more like Jesus and serving in God’s kingdom). It’s also important to make sure that the way you and your spouse communicate is marked by both love and respect. When you and your spouse are both doing your best in those areas, you can fulfill each other and keep love alive or resurrect it after it has died.
Deal with conflict wisely. Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, and especially in a close relationship like marriage. But when you manage conflict wisely, it won’t damage your relationship, and can actually strengthen it. Understand that anger comes from either loss or a violation of expectations or trust. When arguing, stay focused on the facts, avoid unhealthy behaviors (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling), and forgive each other.
Help each other fulfill God-given dreams for your lives. Keep your love for each other growing by sharing your dreams with each other, praying for God’s guidance about them, and working together to help each other pursue the dreams that you each sense God calling you to pursue.
Adapted from The Art of Falling in Love, copyright 2012 by Joe Beam. Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Shuster, Inc., Brentwood, Tn.
Joe Beam is a nationally best-selling author who has been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Montel Williams Show, The James Dobson Show and other appearances on TV and radio. He is a marriage educator who writes about relationships and life. Joe founded Love Path International (now Beam Research Center), an organization that provides marriage help to hurting couples. Visit Beam Research Center at www.joebeam.com.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles. Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.