There’s a funny definition for love in my part of the world – “love is a feeling you feel when you feel you’re feeling a feeling you know you’ve never felt before”. Great definition, but it’s all about how you feel. This feeling is what I think of as intense attraction, and I believe that attraction is a necessary condition however, it is not sufficient.
Rarely would you tie the knot with someone you don’t love, for a lot of people, the wedding day is a day filled with so much joy. You are so in love with the person you’re getting married to that you know within you that the feeling will last forever.
Sorry to burst that bubble but that feeling will get to the other extreme at least once in the first two or three years. You might even get to a point where you don’t “feel” very loving towards that person you vowed to love forever.
I’ve been on both extremes; so in love that I couldn’t imagine life without my husband and on the flip side, I have felt intense dislike for this man that I just could not stand being around him; I would look at my husband and think to myself – this is not the man I married, this person I am looking at is crazy.
So how do we show love when we don’t feel love
You have a big fight about money; someone is spending too much or someone is feeling deprived. It might be about one of you not standing up for the other with the in-laws. Honestly, it can be anything but it gets so escalated that it becomes this gigantic issue that you both can’t move beyond.
You have to realise this – you have the power to choose. Riding on your emotions will most likely not bring about the right decisions; however, if you make the right decisions the right emotions will surface.
What decisions should be made?
- Divorce is not an option. Like most people I have spoken with, we generally assume as Christians that when we marry, divorce is not an option. Rarely do we actually sit down our spouse and agree that divorce will never be an option. Honestly, I never thought it was an option in my marriage until we both started throwing the word around. The Bible allows for divorce under certain conditions**; but just because something is lawful does not mean it is always profitable.
- Decide that you will rely on the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Showing love is easy when you are shown love but Jesus called us to something higher in Luke 6:32-36; where He basically tells us that loving only the people that love us means nothing. In my opinion, loving only those who love you is a transaction. I can tell you that it is hard to love someone that doesn’t show you love, this is why you need the help of the Holy Spirit.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to help you every morning when you wake up
- Craft a love confession and confess it morning, noon and night
- Change what you say to yourself about your spouse. There was a time in my life when I couldn’t stand the sight of my husband, I made myself very busy so that I would not have to relate with him in any way but it is really frustrating, I tell you when you are avoiding someone that stays under the same roof with you. One thing that caused a shift in our relationship was that I changed how I talked to myself about my husband; as it is said – you need to change the narrative.
- Actively pursue the heart of your spouse. A friend of mine said that marriage is an institution that can build the nature of God in you; of course that depends on you. Pursuing the heart of your spouse does not make you a desperate person but it makes you a person desperately in love. Here are some pointers (from the Bible) on how this can be done:
- 1 Cor 13:5 tells us that love does not seek its own. This means that you put the needs of your spouse before your own. Now I don’t know how that would apply to you but you know what is unique to your own marriage, look for ways to help your spouse with their needs.
- There is a parallel between marriage and the Christian life; in Jeremiah 29:13, God tells us that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart. Carve out time in your schedule for your spouse. Please don’t be vague about this, be really specific; whatever you do, see your spouse as your most important client. Decide the time, think of activities that you can do together – just make sure you spend quality time with your spouse. Just a thought here, seeing as you are putting the needs of your spouse before yours, please don’t fill this time with just the things that you like, do things that your spouse loves too.
- Have plenty of sex. Paul admonishes us in 1 Corinthians 7:5 that we should not deprive our spouses except by agreement. Sex is like a glue, it binds people together.
- Talk to your spouse about your needs. In marriage, you have two people with different backgrounds, people with different approaches to the same issues and most likely with different personalities. This is a recipe for division as there would always be a difference of opinion. But going with what God said in Isaiah 1:18, it is important to table your reasons; this is because marriage isn’t about just one person. When only one person is satisfied in marriage, there will be resentment from expectations that are unmet.
- Taking a cue from Jack Welch in bestselling book, Winning, where he spoke about Candor. He said most people don’t express themselves with frankness, that most of us hold back on our thoughts and ideas because we want other people to feel good , we want to avoid conflict and just maintain the status quo. A lack of candor is damaging in the long term. In marriage, candor builds intimacy; when partners communicate with candor, everything superfluous is peeled away and you are free to see each other as you truly are.
- Be careful how you speak. Your tone of voice will determine how the other person would process what you’re saying. Is your tone sarcastic, rude, condescending or downright mean? When you are speaking to someone you claim to love, be aware of the tone of your voice.
- Proverbs 25:11 (AMP) tells us that “a word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Talk to your spouse at the right time; it won’t probably be a smart idea to discuss family finances when someone just stole some money from your wife’s business or talk about a personal weakness after an extremely stressful day; I doubt if you will get the right response.
- Work on personal weaknesses. Sometimes in marriage it’s not the other person that has an issue, it’s you.
- Pray together.
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:18-20
While I will confess that I slack a lot in this area, there are some things I’ve observed and learnt about praying together. Praying with your spouse helps you communicate better; it also encourages openness because whoever you pray with the most is the person you would share your weaknesses and struggles with. When your spouse is your number one prayer partner, sharing about everything becomes easier. You know that when you share, they pray with you on it, they don’t turn it into a weapon.
The portrait of love is seen in 1 Corinthians 13. Whenever you want to act or respond to any situation in marriage, check it against the verses in this chapter and act accordingly. Your emotions should not dictate your actions, your actions must be dictated by the Word of God.
** If you are in an abusive marriage, seek help fast and understand that issues can only be resolved when you are alive. Please check this out to know what constitutes abuse.