Cover of Love Is A Decision
We have good manners (or at least we should) we have possessions and things and we have potential to be the best we can be.
But we are living in a society with failed marriages all around us. They fail – even when people have all the above things in spade.
We get married because we’re in love.
We are well-mannered, and well-meaning – even bringing material things and all kinds of potential with us.
And still – many marriages fail.
So I ask the question: WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?
Love – check
Good manners – check
Well meaning – check
Some material possessions – check
WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?
You see – every marriage that fails – started out with these things too. Yours is no different. Or is it?
I have learned a few things being married almost 30 years. It takes much more than just love, good manners, material possessions and well-meaning to make a good strong lasting relationship – that can go the distance.
WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?
When the bottom drops out – life goes sideways and things aren’t fun anymore?
When crisis touches your family – financial security goes out the window and illness comes to stay?
When you have nothing else to give and the emotion of love is gone?
Here are some practical things to think about when contemplating marriage or in trying to better yours.
1. Love – ah the very word just makes us all warm and tingly, right? It is something that great songs and Hallmark movies are made of. “Love is all you need” and “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” blah blah blah. Nice sentiments – they sound so good and sing well – but they are NOT true! I wish it was. And there was a time not so long ago that I really thought love would be enough – but it was not. Love is great but it can only take you so far. Love is the great leveler – but it can also mess with your emotions and blind you. It is not enough when emotions can be fickle – and that feeling of romance and newness wears off eventually with anyone – especially in a long-term marriage. This can be a problem for people – if they don’t feel it anymore. Love – is a decision, therefore – not just an emotion. It is an act of our will.
2. Friendship is wonderful and much more solid. And friendship in marriage is a must. How many times have I heard that a couple was “in love” but as time wore on – they discovered that they did not even really know each other well – and they were startled to find out that they were not even friends. When the emotion of love and romance wears thin – you must have something left to fall into – something safe and comfortable. A friendship of heart and soul can save you when your marriage goes through a rocky patch – as all marriages do.
3. Respect in a marriage is also a must. Many partners lose respect for each other when times are not exciting anymore – they withhold love – aren’t friends and don’t like each other anymore. This leads to so many problems – the first and foremost is a sabotage of their own relationship. Respect is given – as well as taken. You must respect your spouse – but they must also respect you. And it is hard to hold that line – if you yourself are not respecting them. How many times over the years have I seen couples talking badly to each other – even in public. That is not good. But you must be the first to respect. If you show kindness and proper respect for them – they will not be able to help but return it. But you cannot have it only one way. And respecting means supporting your partner through good and bad times. Finding a way to encourage the hopes and dreams of him or her and being that safe person that they can trust when life goes sideways.
4. Lead with your head and your heart will follow. If you always allow your heart to lead you – you will be in trouble – as the heart is fickle and changeable – like the emotion of love. We can feel love for many different people we have chemistry with. That doesn’t mean it is real. This is a hard one for many to deal with. A long-term relationship isn’t always going to give you “tingles” – and if you get bored easily or need excitement 24/7 – then long-term marriage isn’t for you. But normally something needs to happen in you first. You can’t always change things for the better – but that is the place to start.
5. Be the person of integrity and character that you expect your partner to be. Living a life of character is hard. We are not perfect and slip and fall in so many ways. It is a daily choice – and sadly I have not always lived up to this – and maybe you have not either. Don’t give up. If you blow it – Jesus forgives – get up and try again. He has promised to be with us on our daily journey and He will be there to help and guide us – giving us words of encouragement through His word and speaking softly to us through prayer. He understands that it is hard to go through life without temptations – in fact we need to know that THEY ARE COMING. No one is immune. Brush yourself off – and begin again – each new day is another chance to get it right.
5. Don’t play the “blame game”. That’s way too easy – and such a cop-out! “They don’t respect me” or “They’re withholding” or “They don’t understand me” or “They don’t meet my needs” – are very common things that are said when going through a serious problem. Instead of blaming – try finding out what is happening inside of you. Have you stopped respecting them? Have you withheld to punish or teach a lesson? Have you failed to understand because they don’t understand you? Do you meet their needs?
6. Be the best person, lover, friend and confidant that you can be. It starts with you. Marriages still fail – but not usually when couples are sensitive to each others needs – putting their feelings and needs ahead of your own agenda and even your own happiness. What you sow into them – in love, compassion, understanding, respect and friendship it WILL COME BACK TO YOU. And you CAN turn even a bad marriage around. You can rekindle a dying relationship – bring a spark of life because of attention and determination – disciplining your heart and your mind to honor and love first – and let the feeling comes later. Wait for it – it will come.
When couples wants to get married because “they’re in love” – this needs to be our question for them:
WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?