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This blog entry is the third follow up to our challenge to develop top 10 Reasons to Stay Married.
DR. MARGARET JAMAL WRITES…
Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway sang the questions, “Where is the love you said was mine all mine, till the end of time? Was it just a line? Where is the love?”
In reflecting upon those questions, I have wondered if when we promise to love someone, we actually have a good idea about what love is. For example, think about the last time that you said “I love you” to your spouse. Now try to think
about exactly what you meant by that statement. Then think about times that you did not feel the love. Where did it go? Before you really try to meditate on your answer to those questions, please continue reading.
After having an argument about love with my husband, I decided to do some research on love to be ready when we later continue our argument. That may seem strange or funny, but that’s what we do. Anyway, I tried to uncover a true meaning of love that agreed with how I feel about love. This was actually quite a challenge that was beginning to frustrate me. I was beginning to hate my search for the true meaning of love. There were so many opinions and insights about love that seemed to keep me bouncing around a virtual pin ball table of perspectives. Finally, I decided that I would settle upon the Scriptural foundation of love since this is what is used to develop widely accepted marriage vows. Although I do not consider myself very religious, I strongly believe that there are spiritual laws which influence and govern our existence. Whether or not you agree, I trust that you will find the results interesting enough to consider.
- LOVE AS A WORD
Basically, there are various language influences in Bible versions that include both Old and New Testaments. I tend to refer to the Hebrew and Aramaic texts because it makes sense to me that they are closer to authenticity. However, I respect that many others prefer King James and other translations. As a show of concession my statements will consider what I believe are points of agreement.
An area of agreement regarding love appears to reside within the Old Testament of the Scriptures. There is only one word for love in the Old Testament which is derived from the Hebrew term. The following is taken from an article that I believe sums this up best. “With respect to words for love, it resembles our languages like English or German: there is one and only one word for love (the verb ahav and the noun ahava) which covers the concept as broadly as our modern word “love”. God’s love (Jr.31:3), love of God (Dt.6:4), love of the fellow man (Lv.19:18), love of a friend (2Sam.1:26), love of a girl (Gen.29:20), mere sex (Prov.7:18), love of money (Eccl.5:9), and love of vanity (Ps.4:3) are all called by the same name.” http://www.lrz.de/~hr/bible/loves.html
- WHERE DOES LOVE ORIGINATE?
I find that when it comes to marriage, there is love and there is the idea of love. The idea of love can be superficial and can easily fluctuate according to how one may feel from moment to moment. However I believe that love comes from God and that it is a spiritual gift. I further believe that the acquired gift of love resides within a person’s spirit that transcends what is rational or able to be fully understood. This gift of love is developed according to how and how much it is used.
I believe that love itself does not fluctuate and does not come in varieties. This means that if you have this spirit of love that the love flows to everyone, because love does what love is. I am convinced that love is consistent and not contingent upon the whims of those who possess it. I believe that we choose how we use love and tend to combine it with other influences such as physical attraction, enjoyment, etc. I do not believe that there are different types of love, but only different ways that we apply and process love.
- MY PERSPECTIVE OF WHAT LOVE DOES
Now with so much discussion about the makeup of love there is still the question of what love does. I believe that love is the essence of what is good. It is the spiritual element of our existence that causes us to ultimately feel good about others and about life. When I say that I love someone, I am willing to see and feel the good in and about that person. I am also willing to overlook any bad or perceived faults when I am in the active state of love. In the state of love, I easily forgive because I want what is good.
However, I am also of the opinion that many people are engaged with the idea of love which can easily fluctuate according to how they feel. When people are able to stop loving someone, I believe that they actually quench the spirit of love. I believe that love can be managed or even channeled. But the choice not to love is controlled by the beholder more than the influence of the receiver. My love for my husband is not contingent upon how he feels about me because my love is a gift from God that flows from my being a loving person.
- IN CONCLUSION
I believe that God is the originator of love and that God is Love. I further believe that the state of love is defined by the originator of love and is described and defined in the spiritual reference of the Holy Scriptures. I have this scripturally based love for my husband and believe that this is the love that he has for me. With this love, I am able to overcome the times that I might feel hurt by his words or actions. This love compels me to forgive him and even want what is best for him. It so happens that I believe that being married to me is included in what I believe is best and good for my husband. Since I also believe that my husband loves me, I am confident that he realizes how much he is included in what is best and good for me. We are able to make it through the tough challenges that we face in marriage because our love compels us to want what is best and good for each other.
DR. AARON JAMAL WRITES…
If a couple has to count reasons for them to stay married, then love’s ability to motivate and inspire has probably been severely challenged. However, one of the most powerful attributes about love is its resilience. Rekindling love is almost always a strategy to stimulate the memory; to reignite that “reckless, nobody but you will do” type of feeling you once had about your mate.
Some may say they have fallen out of love of their spouse. I believe that there are seasons that are less romantic in a relationship. I also believe that your relationship may require a defibrillator and some resuscitation but most relationships are worthy of another vigilant try. This marriage was probably initiated and founded on love and the promise to love through good and bad times…. Remember?
- DEALING WITH TEMPTATIONS
On the other hand, there are a multitude of lures out there that target those seeking “action packed passion on steroid” type of experiences. There should be warning labels stamped on the front of every date (outside of your spouse) that is promising to give you what you’ve been missing. However, they also know you probably wouldn’t read the label. This area of lust only responds to scent (not sense) and picturesque thrills of short encounters.
Meanwhile, back at the normal home front, the adventure and mystique that accompanies your early dating process is often tossed aside for more practical and less romantic activities. Many couples are stressed just trying to navigate through finance (including consequences from impulse spending), health, children, and life in general. In the midst of some of the darkest and most difficult times of a marriage, those lures look especially distracting and attractive. However, they usually offer only short term satisfaction and often under represent the “fatal attraction” drama that accompanies their advances.
I still love my very stunningly beautiful wife and I am still aroused by her sensual and earthy scent that lingers after her warm embrace that assures me that I am still the only man for her. However, I am also guilty of not demonstrating and expressing the different dimensions of that love with enough regularity to off-set bouts of insecurity that surface. Most women will respond positively to spontaneous and romantic encounters that cast them in a starring role. On the other hand, that script has to be put in action more than once a year, or decade… Amen? (She will probably use this as leverage against me in the future…. )
On the other hand, stressful relationships can make even great plans appear unlikely and there is often an argument waiting to happen. Typically, in the midst of those stressful times, communication suffers and becomes stressful. Repeated episodes of those arguments and stress will erode the trust in a relationship.
- HAVING THE BEST OF INTENTIONS
We must also address the need for your spouse to trust that you will be there for her/him, protect her, respect him and demonstrate trustworthiness. Finally, I have learned that most want to feel that s/he will always rank among the most important things that are getting your attention.
Outlined in verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 we find what may be among the most important action things for a man to do. In this biblical listing of character traits of love, we find a very appealing plea for love being the catalyst for staying in a marriage. Paul declares:
(4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.)
Now, if a couple has reached the point in their marriage where they are seeking reasons to justify staying or leaving; “What’s love go to do with it?” Remember love always perseveres, always, hopes, and always trusts.
There will be problems in most marriages. Remember, there were even challenges in marriages during biblical times as there are now. The selfless attitudes that are illustrated through the true attributes of love is not like the noise in the head of a person considering divorce. It appears that people become far more self-centered and focused on personal needs when considering divorce.
I believe that is the justified motive behind framing covenant vows with promises to love in good times and bad. Contrasting times of bliss and struggle are inevitable in a marriage. However, the resilience of love can not only make that marriage bearable, but truly satisfying. It may require more than a “couples retreat” to reignite those flames of love. However, the reward of reigniting those flames should prove worthy of the effort.
When given an exercise to meditate and journal all the reasons that you love your spouse, many are able to push aside imperfections and focus on the most attractive aspects of their marriage. Even if poisonous arguments have tarnished the glow of those aspects; with a lot of prayer, professional help and the desire to make it work, love can once again place your relationship into that “reckless, nobody but you will do” spot. Because of the resilience of love, you can enjoy this relationship you promised to stay with in front of God and witnesses.
- ADDRESSING THE SPIRIT OF “I TRIED EVERYTHING!” CONSIDER TRYING THIS…
(What’s the weather like?) For example; if you have been planning this special time to get away but your spouse does not trust you or is even suspicious of your intentions, you may find it impossible to be spontaneous because you need to be trusted to do what you are doing. However, if you confide in a trusted sibling, or friend that could back up your intentions to your spouse without giving away the plan, you can overcome some of the suspicion through a surrogate trustee.
Taking your wife to a sporting event might not be the best choice to make her feel like she is the star of the night. However, taking her to a dance club where you are constantly turning your head to look at other women is even worse. A medley of things that may begin at the Museum (as an example) and end up somewhere cozy and very private could be just the thing that frames a time of intimacy and sharing that reassures your spouse of the fact that she is still the star of your dreams. Aim for a win-win situation where you can both enjoy the night.
Essential to this date is to somehow capture this event with a photograph. Even a cell phone can capture this very special time and allow you to save and frame this memory/event for further review at the appropriate time.
If you are not very good at communicating your feelings, then search for that special song with those great lyrics that expresses what you are trying to say as clearly as possible. You should also plan on the follow up after playing the song. Dead silence could give room to questions like “What does that mean?” Be prepared to point to the specific line that captures what you are trying to say. No need to play the whole song unless relevant.
Remember and re-state plans you can still accomplish. Remember the goal is to rekindle. Rekindling amplifies what is still there while acknowledging the promise of what could still happen. If you try all of this and it still meets a wall of resistance, then stay hopeful and get ready to stand and persevere. Remember: in the end “Love never fails!”