Love is never easy. Love involves the ability to see clearly and keep on loving. It is loving, the verb, not love, the noun, that provides the staying power of any relationship. Loving must be practiced everyday.
Why? Sooner or later, you will “fall out of love” with your spouse. That’s when you have three choices: Continue in denial or self-pity, saying this is the “cross” you must bear; go to an attorney to get the best divorce settlement you can while trying to minimize its effect on the children; or act in obedience to God, loving your spouse.
Perhaps, we should consider how we can be a more loving spouse. Here are six ways to communicate love to our spouses.
You can’t really love anyone until you listen. Most of our difficulties are because we do not listen. We are like the old couple rocking on the porch. She turned to him and said, “I’m proud of you.” He responded, “I’m tired of you, too.”
A difference exists between hearing people and listening to them. Listening is wanting to hear. We demonstrate love by listening gladly for the duration of the conversation. We demonstrate our lack of love by failing to hear what the other is saying. A deaf ear is the first indication of a closed mind and a deteriorating relationship.
Ultimately, hearing what one is saying boils down to: Stop long enough to find out the details. Look beneath the surface. Real listeners don’t just listen with their ears; they listen with their eyes. Listen to the heart. In other words, listen not just to the facts, but the feeling behind the facts.
The trouble in most relationships are caused by little things. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff states that rule number one is don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is: Everything is small staff. The small stuff that tends to irritate needs to be overlooked.
Change what can be altered, explain what can be understood, teach what can be learned, revise what can be improved, resolve what can be settled, and negotiate what is open to compromise. And for all the small stuff, with all the rough edges that can never be smoothed, overlook it.
To value means to give your spouse their true worth. When you consider the incredible worth of your spouse you are extolling love to them. Like a diamond or a painting, the value comes from the one giving, not the object itself.
Dr. W. A. Criswell, pastor of the historic First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, officiated a lot of weddings. The nervous groom would always say, “Dr. Criswell, how much do I own you for this?” And he’d smile and look at the groom and say, “Awe, just pay me what she’s worth.” Dr. Criswell made a lot of money on weddings, because at that point in time, to that man, this lady was of unbelievable value.
It has been said that love is spelled T-I-M-E. When we invest time—quality and quantity—in a person’s life, we give that person a portion of our life. The investment of time creates the common denominators of marriage. These common denominators are expressions of love.
All marriages are happy—it’s living together afterward that poses the problem. The living together is made more enjoyable when common ground is found. When two people learn to cooperate, not compete. When two people concentrate on what brings them together, not what tears them apart. When two people maximize areas of agreement, and minimize areas of disagreement. When two people celebrate diversity and cherish unity.
Alan Loy McGinnis, co-director of the Valley Counseling Center in Glendale, CA, says, “Just as a gardener enriches the soil with minerals and nutrients, so a spouse should nourish the emotional ground in which a marriage is rooted. I’ve seen too many marriages wither, simply because the partners did not provide enough loving enrichment to keep it alive.”
Nourishment comes from a variety of actions: Talking together, playing together, going out on dates, weekends away, adapting to change, and giving each other room.
Research indicates couples who are committed to a strong religious faith have a much greater chance of staying together. It’s still true, the family that prays together is much more likely to stay together. Marriage was instituted by God. He has a divine order for it. We can’t improve on his plan. We just need to believe and to practice it.
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