I think this is one of the most dangerous misconceptions about marriage – the thinking that marriage is about and is based on your feelings of love for your husband. It relies on the fact that you are desperately in love with your husband (and you probably are at the start!), that you will stay desperately in love with your husband for all time (maybe, maybe not!) and that you will never ever reach the point where you don’t feel the same way…
I don’t believe this happens for a second! That might sound strange, but let me explain. As I have pointed out in the previous points, our marriages are made up of two people who are only human and therefore are sinners. There will never be a partnership between two humans that doesn’t break down at some stage or have a bump or two. It doesn’t have to be a major bump, but there will be a bump.
But it’s NOT whether or not you have bumps that’s important. It’s how you handle the bumps when they come. If you are relying on your feelings to get you through, then you may be in for a nasty shock. Take the story I told you yesterday – I think if Cindy had relied on her feelings to get her through her husband’s betrayal the marriage might well have ended there and then. And I know of lots of couples that have hit a road block, realised that they’re life isn’t as rosy as they thought and given up because ‘I just don’t love him anymore’.
Love is not about feelings. Love is a choice. You may be getting a pattern here!! So many things in our marriage are choices that we need to consciously make to realise the dream of a marriage that is God-centred and that works.
As many people have found, one day in your marriage you may wake up and feel a little more disillusioned than usual. It may be that the normal routine and family life is wearing you down and making you feel extra weary, or it may be a traumatic incident between you and your spouse, or it may just be that you have stopped trying and given up.
I know, for us, that when I wake up and think ‘oh no’ to another day, or when I start to pick holes in everything my husband does its usually based on one of two things. It’s either because I have been reading too many romance novels or I have let my desires and my selfishness come to the front of my thinking.
Romance novels are great for a wee bit of escapism but I find, in my life, that when I spend more time focusing on them than I do on focusing on my marriage I begin to feel very discontented. I begin to wonder why my husband isn’t like the hero in the book, or why he isn’t showering me with diamond rings or romantic holidays to Bali! I wonder what it would be like to get someone new (who of course needs to be very rich!) who would truly treat me like a princess and not expect me to spend all day doing laundry or making dinner. I begin to dream about what my ‘other’ life would look like.
But ladies this is NOT right!! It may be ok to escape into the story of a book, but if you start imagining your life as that, and getting discontented with what you actually have, it’s a recipe for disaster. How many affairs and divorces start because it looks like the grass is greener somewhere else? You imagine your perfect man – like Ryan Reynolds in ‘The Proposal’ – but, as I read in a blog post somewhere, even Ryan Reynolds isn’t Ryan Reynolds!! The real Ryan isn’t like his character in ‘The Proposal’ – that is a made up fantasy man written by a very good writer… where the real Ryan has just the same problems as everyone else, including a failed marriage behind him.
But the other reason for my discontent is the one that has the potential to hurt more and do even more damage. That is the one where I have let my selfishness and my desires come to the front and am looking at everything in my life from a ‘ME FIRST’ attitude. And this will never work. Being selfish is the single biggest reason for divorce and separation… why? Because every other reason boils down to this – I want it.
You may not agree with that sweeping statement, but take a minute to think about it. If we let our selfishness out, then we start forgetting that we have been created as a helper for our husbands, and we start demanding that they treat us like princesses, and not in the good way. We expect them to meet our every need or desire, complain when they don’t and we can make life very uncomfortable for them if they aren’t on the same page as us. Let’s face it girls – as women we are very good at getting what we want… but is that actually what we should be doing?
My opinion is this. We need to take a moment, put God first and realise that we have started to do things wrong… again… We need to confess this, and for this I love to write it down, rotate it by 90 degrees and write 1 John 1:9 across it…
“But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
…and then burn it as a symbol that my sin is no more and that God has forgiven me. Then we need to go and have a wee chat with our husbands. It is always a lovely gift to them when we can go and say we’re sorry, that things got on top of us and that we want to help, follow, respect and love them as we should.
Love is a choice not a feeling. Even on the days when love seems very far away and you think you’ll never feel that way about your husband again, believe me when I say that I have seen marriages transformed, just by the women CHOOSING to love their husbands no matter what. When you decide this, and spend time each day asking and pleading that God will help you love him, that love will return and your marriage can work.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Keep shining… J