By Alex Anderson
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski tells the story of a man who happened upon a young man enjoying a dish of fish. And he said to the
young man, “Why are you eating that dish of fish?” The young man said, “Because I love fish.”
The older man said, “Oh, you love the fish. That’s why you took it out of the water, killed it and cooked it. Don’t tell me you love the fish; you love yourself. Because the fish tastes good to you, you took it out of the water and killed it and cooked it.”
Rabbi Twerski goes on to say that so much of what we call love today is fish love. When the majority of people ‘fall in love’ they are falling in love with what the other person does for them, or how that person makes them feel. This love is based upon what one person can get from the other. The need that the other person is meeting is the motivation for the love.
It’s not real love for the other person. The other person becomes a vehicle for the person to get their needs met. Most of the time neither of the two individuals who are in fish love even realizes the real motivations for what they are feeling.
In my opinion, that’s okay, relationships start that way anyhow, out of natural attraction. But over time they must transition into a different kind of love.
Rabbi Twerski goes on to say that many believe, “You give to those you love,” but real love is “You love those to whom you give.”
The Bible refers to this deeper kind of love as agape love. It’s a selfless love. And it’s expressed the best in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ when he said, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21 (NLT)
This type of love applies to many things. I like to put it this way. If you want to love God, a person, animal, object or activity then simple invest your time, money and focus on it and your feelings will follow.
I have friends who say they love golf. I believe them because they invest large amounts of time, money and focus into the game. Their investment in golf gives them the strong desire or love for golf.
Now obviously comparing a spouse, children or friends to golf is a bit demeaning, for nothing compares to the value of a human being. But real love, agape love, is outward. It’s the kind of love that requires an investment before feelings.
When I was a pastoral counselor, on occasion a couple who had been married for around the three, five and seven-year marks would say something like, “we just don’t feel in love with each other anymore.” Or “the spark is gone.”
I would ask, “When you did feel in love, what was life like at that time?” and their answer was, “We spent more time together, we did little special things for each other…” Then I would ask, “Do you still do those things for each other?” They would say, “No.” and I would ask, “Why not?”’
It’s simple; if you want the feeling or desire of love then do the things that cause it.
On a personal note…my wife Kim and I have been married for over 31 years. That’s pretty dang close to a third of a century. And we have ‘fallen in’ and ‘fallen out’ of fish love many times.
It’s probably not because we are saints. (Well…maybe Kim is. I can be a real knucklehead.) It’s because of two things.
First, we decided that marriage was for life…end of discussion. No returns or trade-ins allowed. You bought it; you keep it. Done deal.
The second is that we would do the things that gave us the fish love back, the feelings and desires.
We had been married around five years or so when Kim looked at me quietly at the dinner table one night for a very long and uncomfortable time, and then the most profound words came flowing from her beautiful lips.
“You know, I just realized something.” I said, “What’s that?” Then she said, “You’re all I’m getting so I’ll just have to make the best of it.”
We laughed hysterically…well she did.
It was one of those times when we had fallen out of fish love. But what great words, “…so I’ll have to make the best of it.” And she still does.
What about you? Are you in fish love? Does your love come with a hook in it? Are you just not feeling it? Then choose to focus on the things you did that gave you fish love when you first met…forever…no returns…no trade-ins.
To your spiritual health,
Alex E. Anderson
Senior Associate Pastor at
Bayside Community Church
P.S. HAPPY NEW!! If you want the complete copy of My Daily Agreement with God’s Will for My Life, I would be glad to email it to you.
Just go to alexanderson.org