“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing…
Whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after” is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,” then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love.
Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. Being in love first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.” C. S. LEWIS
Why do we get married? Isn’t it because we desperately want to be with the other person—because we can’t live without him? What happens when the feelings change?
Have you ever been in a dimly lit restaurant and you notice that couple. A woman and man each bent over their phones, the glow of the screen casting a soft light on their faces as they scroll through images. You say to yourself, “Yep they’re married!” Or conversely, you spot a couple playfully touching, chatting easily and demonstrably, and in your head you think, “Definitely NOT married!”
What’s wrong with this picture?
If that’s what the marriage relationship looks like in public, what about your behavior towards each other at home? Not the Instagram shots; but the real life you share behind closed doors. I don’t know about you, but I want a long happy vibrant fun marriage. I want people to wonder if we’re married when they see us. Sometimes when we’re walking, holding hands and laughing, I imagine folks looking at us and saying, “Look at that cute old couple; they must have found each other on Silver Singles.
This week I read about a 100 year old woman who’s shared 82 years of marriage with her husband who is 103. When asked their secret she offered, “Just be nice to each other.”
Wow, how simple but profound! What is your “nice barometer” registering? What people are you typically nicest to? Which ones garner your complaints and your bad attitude?
I think it’s pretty common for us all to let our guard down among those who make us feel safe. And what a good thing to have safe people in our lives!
But, I’ve noticed over the years, that it’s not expedient for me to share every feeling or gripe with my dear husband, especially if he’s the focus of my wrath.
Honestly, it’s pretty embarrassing to think that I had to log a lot of married years before I figured this all out. I once thought I needed to tell him everything! I learned to start asking myself, “Is this offense important enough for me to even mention?” It’s helpful to think of intentions. Overwhelmingly, I can attest that Tom has good intentions toward me. Maybe there was a slight oversight in judgement or he was in a hurry and didn’t make the same decision I would have made. I imagine that most spouses aren’t intentionally malicious.
And that brings up another important point! Who creates the standards for what’s right and wrong in the thousands of tiny choices we make daily in our married life together. I now realize (finally) that I thought I was the expert on all standards! Subconsciously I assumed I was always right.
I heard a podcast the other day when the woman being interviewed said this: “I thought our becoming one meant that my husband and I would become like me!” I laughed because that’s precisely what I thought without even realizing it!
Where is improvement needed in your marriage? Are you able to take the virtual log out of your own eye (Matthew 7:3) so you can see the sawdust in your husband’s eye? I know it’s obvious here that I’m preaching to myself. Why does another’s irritant come into such clear view when my bigger offenses go unnoticed (by me)?
Is your marriage worth fighting for? We fight for and sacrifice for our friends and our children.
We champion the causes of needy groups of people we don’t even know. We may even virtually get in peoples’ faces on Facebook and argue for specific causes. Do we ever put up our dukes and fight for our marriages?
We throw elaborate parties to celebrate our friends. How can we celebrate our number one person? Marriage is about choosing the ONE. There is only space for ONE top priority.
Have we thoughtfully paused long enough to put our phones down; to listen with a smile? Are we willing to set aside whatever matter has our immediate attention and cheerfully greet hubby each day?
Do we spontaneously offer a loving touch or words of appreciation? Do we “speak” to him in his love language even if we’re not naturally fluent?
If I’m honest, I’ve oftentimes acted more kindly to strangers than I have my husband. All along it’s my husband; my number one person, that deserves my utmost care and attention.
Long ago I learned that I’m completely lost and inadequate without Jesus. As a Christ-follower I depend on Him for every single thing in my life. When Jesus left the earth, He sent His Holy Spirit— the Helper— in order for us to know how to live. He reminds us of Truth and guides us. Just like in all the other areas, we need Him in this marriage venture. I’m convinced, with Him, marriage can be the most glorious companionship on earth.