I believe we are put on this earth to reach out to other people - to show them the love of Jesus through our actions. In order to do so, it takes lots of practice at letting go of our selfish desires, much like our relationship with God. What greater place for us to practice this then in our own marriage?
It can be difficult to always “feel” love for the people we live with, especially our spouses. After all, we are human and can easily annoy each other. Showing love, though, is a simple task to do, even when you don’t “feel” like it. It is a task that will reap great benefits, especially when partnered with sincerity and the desire to do so. Besides, the more you practice loving, even when you don’t “feel” like it, the more authentic it will become to you and the quicker it will be returned to you.
We each feel love in different ways. Gary Chapman narrowed it down to five in “The Five Love Languages”. You don’t want to make the mistake of treating your spouse as if their love language is the same as yours. If you assume they receive love as you do, they won’t feel the love from you they desire. It would truly benefit your marriage to know your spouse’s love language.
What makes you feel the most loved ? 1.Words of affirmation 2.Acts of service 3.Receiving gifts 4.Quality time or 5.Physical touch? You and your spouse need to find out what love languages make you both feel loved. If you don’t know your love languages, go to http://www.brendonwilsoncreative.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2_11LoveLanguageTest.pdf and take the test.
When we work daily to keep the love alive with our spouse, the complexities of worldly living can’t get in the way of our marriage relationship. Circumstances should not overpower love; love should diminish the circumstances.
Below is a list of “Love Builders” I put together a number of years ago. If you practice loving, you will eventually feel love again – and so will your spouse.
1. Say “I love you!” to your spouse at least three times a day. Get into the habit of saying it when you leave, when you return and whenever you talk on the phone.
2. Touch often – a pat on the arm or back can be very healing. Hugs and kisses are even better! Practice hugging and kissing whenever you leave and return, like you did when you dated.
3. Keep your comments positive. Learn to think before you speak. Ask yourself if you would relay that thought to your spouse if Jesus was standing in the room with you. *Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
4. Practice forgiveness - *Matthew 6:14,15 – “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting it to kill the person you won’t forgive.
5. Practice humility, learn to say “I’m sorry.” *Proverbs 11:2 – “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. *Proverbs 13:10 – “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”
6. Practice selflessness – put your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. In Galatians 5, selfish ambition is considered an act of the sinful nature. Verse 22 says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Practice being “fruitful” with your spouse.
7. Plan at least 10-15 minutes per day (more would be even better!) of uninterrupted quality time with your spouse each day. Sit in a quiet area of the house and give each other undivided attention. Look each other in the eyes. If you have nothing to talk about, start with affirmations – positive things you like about each other and words of encouragement.
8. DON’T always put your children ahead of your spouse. Although your time with them is short, they will be much more successful in their adult relationships with healthy parental role models.
9. Plan a real date with each other at least once a month where you go out somewhere and are not allowed to talk about children, plumbing or finances. Talk about memories of your dating life with each other before you married or before you had children. What was it that attracted you to one another? What was it that made you fall in love? A weekend away from your home and children can do wonders in “rekindling” the romance.
10. Ask your spouse if they’d like your help doing a chore. OR do a chore on your own that is not usually your responsibility (your spouse’s least favorite would be impressive). Women especially don’t like to have to ask for help, but they love when help is sincerely offered. (EX: Men, cook dinner for the family, vacuum, clean the bathroom, bathe the kids; Women, have the oil changed in your husband’s car, mow the lawn, wash the car, put the tools back after you used them.)
11. Do something special for your spouse every day. (Flowers, a card, a love note, go to the mall with her, watch a football game with him, give them some quiet time alone, a phone call in the middle of the day, rendezvous for lunch…)
12. NEVER go to bed angry at one another – talk it out, pray about it.
13. PRAY TOGETHER EVERY DAY! The couple that prays together stays together.
If you and your spouse haven’t felt love for each other in quite some time, this list may seem overwhelming. Start with one task and add more as you can but stay with it! You WILL see a difference in your relationship.
It really doesn’t take a lot to keep love alive in marriage. Make it a habit and a priority, and you will enjoy the kind of marriage relationship God intended for you to have!