HUMANS CRAVE LOVE. No marriage, family, or friendship can thrive without it. It stands to reason, therefore, that love is essential to mental health and happiness. What, though, is meant by “love”?
The love referred to here is not romantic love, which, of course, has its place. Rather, it is a superior form of love that causes a person to show sincere concern for the welfare of others, even putting them before self. It is love that is guided by godly principles but is by no means devoid of warmth and feeling.
A beautiful description of love states: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, . . . hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”—1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
Such love “never fails” in that it will never cease to exist. Indeed, it can grow stronger over time. And because it is patient, kind, and forgiving, it is “a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) Hence, relationships bound by such love are both secure and happy despite the imperfections of the individuals. For example, consider the marriage union.
UNITED BY “A PERFECT BOND OF UNION”
Jesus Christ taught important principles on marriage. For instance, he said: “‘A man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’ . . . Therefore, what God has yoked together, let no man put apart.” (Matthew 19:5, 6) At least two important principles stand out.
“THE TWO WILL BE ONE FLESH.” Marriage is the most intimate union humans can have, and love can protect it against infidelity—that is, the husband or wife becoming “one body” with someone other than his or her spouse. (1 Corinthians 6:16; Hebrews 13:4) Unfaithfulness shatters trust and can wreck the marriage. If children are involved, they may be emotionally traumatized, feeling unloved, insecure, or even resentful.
“WHAT GOD HAS YOKED TOGETHER.” Marriage is also a sacred union. Couples who respect that fact strive to strengthen their marriage. They do not look for a way out when difficulties arise. Their love is strong and resilient. Such a love “bears all things,” working through difficulties in an effort to maintain marital harmony and peace.
When self-sacrificing love exists between parents, any children in the family benefit greatly. A young woman named Jessica observed: “My father and mother truly love and respect each other. When I see my mother respect my father, especially when dealing with us children, it makes me want to be just like her.”
Love is God’s foremost quality. In fact, the Bible says: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) It thus comes as no surprise that Jehovah is also called “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) We too will be happy when we strive to imitate our Creator’s qualities—especially his love. Says Ephesians 5:1, 2: “Become imitators of God, as beloved children, and go on walking in love.”