As the song begins, it seems that a man is admitting he does not love his wife as much as he used to:
Girl I’ve always loved you, but something’s changed
Blame it on time, the road or the ride It ain’t the same
It’s a different kind of feeling, not the one I knew
From the sweet of your lips, to how your hand in mine fits
Girl I’ve always loved you but
I don’t love you like I used to
The lyrics then provide a twist:
This gets better every time you kiss me like this
It’s stronger the longer I’m with you
More than every single day before
Didn’t know I could ever love you more
Than I did, but baby I do I don’t love you like I used to
This song is really about a man who loves his wife more and differently as time goes by. The video shows a man who remains faithful to his wife and children, even after being pursued by another woman while he is away on a business trip. This is extremely refreshing, in a time when relationships are seen as fleeting and people are cheered for leaving their spouses to “follow their hearts” and “be true to themselves.” We need more positive examples of marriage and family such as this.
Happily Ever After?
But, like most love songs, this song is more about the feelings of love than the work involved in making a relationship last:
What we got ain’t got no ending, like a band of gold
It’s sweeter with time like strawberry wine It gets as good as it gets old
Oh we thought we knew what it meant back then
But I keep fallin all in higher than I’ve ever been
This is the ideal of marriage and what we all hope for as the years pass. But this, unfortunately, is not the norm. We are constantly told dire divorce statistics, even within the church, and one may wonder if unrealistic expectations are partly responsible. Falling in love is easy; maintaining a healthy relationship is hard. Dating and getting to know a person is fun and exciting. Living with someone, compromising, learning to deal with each other’s faults and weaknesses are all work. None of this is present in the song’s lyrics or seen in the video. Marriage is presented almost like a fairy tale, and “happily ever after” does not simply happen.
While the video does not show the challenges involved in maintaining a marriage (beyond a man rejecting the advances of another woman), it does show what may be the greatest challenge of marriage: children.
Children are absolutely a gift from God, but raising and taking care of them is hard work. Kids are messy. They’re tiresome. We see this in the scene when the man calls home and his wife is struggling with the crying children. This scene is more realistic than the lyrics of the song, as we see the challenges of having a family. And it is even harder when one parent is absent, as the wife is home alone with three young children while her husband is on a business trip.
But near the end of the video, we witness something perhaps more surprising (in our culture) than a man remaining faithful to his wife: a man engaging with his children. For decades, tradition has been that the wife stays home and cares for the children while the man has a career. Her role is at home, his is away from it. Raising the kids is mom’s job, while dad is completely hands-off. Thankfully, this video does not play into that harmful stereotype. Upon returning home, the man kisses his wife and is then greeted by his children, and he is seen helping them brush their teeth and get ready for bed.
Fathers matter. They aren’t just parent number two. Statistics show that the lack of a father has many negative effects on young people, such as increased drug and alcohol use and a greater risk of committing crime and becoming incarcerated. In a culture which increasingly sees fathers as optional, reality shows the opposite. Kids need their dads, and the lack of a father is shown to have a long-term negative effect on children.
The lyrics of “Love You Like I Used To” are simple and emotion-driven, not highlighting any of the work that marriage requires. But the song and video are commendable, in that they portray marriage and fatherhood positively. Our society needs more pop culture examples of men who are faithful husbands and fathers, and thankfully, Russel Dickerson has provided one.
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