One of the greatest sources of relationship (mis)information comes from the media, especially movies and TV shows. Many programs we watch create the impression that love comes easy. Couples seem to work out difficult problems in 30 minutes. And some people even meet “the one” by a simple act such as walking their dog down the street. Television can make building a marriage seem much easier than it is. Although falling in love may seem natural, building a marriage where love lasts is hard… it takes work.
Love is probably the most amazing, fulfilling, life-altering feeling in the world. But sustaining it is definitely a challenge. Why? Well, we are human beings (imperfect), and we marry another human being (also imperfect). We all have a lot of faults, weaknesses and relationship dysfunctions from our past. We have to deal with these and learn to overcome them in any relationship we want to last and enjoy. Regardless of how well-intentioned or “in love” we may be with our spouse, we need help to succeed in this life-long relationship called marriage.
Resurgence of Love
If there is any one need every marriage will have at some point, it is the need for a resurgence of love. Not love as it is loosely defined by pop culture and the media, but the type of love that God meant for us to have and give:
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Cor 13:4-7 (NLT)
Who couldn’t use more love in their marriage? For most of us we have yet to discover a marriage where love doesn’t take a back seat to “urgent matters” – finances, schedules, raising children, work, health issues, in-laws, maintaining a home… and the list continues. We could all use more love, and we could all use some help getting there. For that to happen, the first thing we must understand is the source of love. Love comes from God.
9 But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another.
1 Thessalonians 4:9
God created love; consequently, He knows the most about it. He is the Author and Teacher of love. Thus, it is a powerful truth that the closer we are to God, the more loving we will be. I have seen this borne out in my life over and over again. When I am striving to be close to God, I am more patient, humble, kind and gentle. When I am distant from God, I am left to my own devices and nobody would mistake me for a really loving person.
Secondly, we need to understand that there are essential qualities to a loving marriage. Every marriage is unique in practice, but there are some universal laws that definitely apply to every life-long relationship. You could call them “qualities every marriage needs” – hope, faith, compassion and trust. Develop these and everything changes. The good news is that anyone can develop and grow these qualities. They are not natural talents, but spiritual characteristics that blossom as we let God, the Bible, and spiritual friends train and influence us.
Beating the Strain
CNN reported that the current economy is the biggest stress on married couples in the past 60 years. Yet, a Wake Forest University study also concluded that marriage does more to promote life satisfaction than money, sex and children. There are more strains in our marriages than ever before, but there are also more compelling reasons to work on our marriages. If we open our hearts to God’s plan for us, we can make love grow and keep “dreaming on” about how incredible marriage can be!
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)