The Bible begins with a marriage (Genesis 2). It ends with a marriage (Revelations). Marriage is scattered throughout (Hosea, Isaiah, Matthew, Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 Peter). Jesus' first miracle was performed at a marriage. God constantly compares His relationship with us using the metaphor as marriage. Marriage is how Christians model for the world Christ's love for the Church and the Church's submission to Christ.
If our lives are reflections of the Gospel, how clear is the mirror of your marriage?
We can't have a good marriage without God. But marriage is hard. This is because Satan attacks it. He has attacked it since the first marriage had just barely gotten underway, and he has continued attacking it since. Just think of the existence of things such as divorce, adultery, internet affairs, separation, masturbation, men leaving their wives for the mistress of Work, wives critizing and nagging their husbands, or pornography.
If Satan succeeds at ruining marriage, children and the family will follow. So will Christianity as a whole, as nonbelievers see Christians engaged in bitter divorces, unhappy marriages, and broken families where children's souls are lost forever. If you were a nonbeliever, would you want to follow that kind of life?
Because we understand how important marriage is to God and to the health of our society and world, we should be more interested in maintaining our marriages than we are in anything else. More invested in our marriages than we are in our kids. In our jobs. In saving money. In working. In our friends. In our hobbies. In ourselves.
Yes, we should even be more into our marriage than into ourselves.
That's perhaps the hardest one to do.
Your spouse is probably a completely different person than you. Sometimes are you just baffled by the things he or she wants, thinks, feels, does? Yep? That's because he or she is a completely different person from you. And that's okay. But how can you show love to someone if you can't even fathom how or why they want something?
My advice is to see what your spouse does for you when they are trying to be romantic. Does he bring you flowers or candy? Then he probably would like a thoughtful gift. Does she write you letters? Compliment you? Give you a back rub? Does he make you a romantic dinner to surprise you?
If you look into the little gifts of self others do to make you feel loved, you get a good indication what kinds of things must seem "loving" to your partner.
For example, when I want to show my love to my husband, I do many things. I might:
- compliment him at his job at work or tell him he's a good boss. This is because I value verbal praise and I, in turn, would feel loved if he noticed things I do around the house or in my job and complimented me on them.
- stay up late to talk to him on the phone or see him home from work. This is because my gift of staying up late shows him I'm willing to dedicate time and sacrifice my sleep for him. I'd appreciate it if he did something similar for me.
- cook him a romantic dinner. Several times I've surprised him by shopping for, preparing, and serving what was (for me) an elaborate meal to cook and prepare. I will take care to try something new for the meal, prepare several sides, and cook a new dessert I've never tried before. I'll dress up and do my hair and makeup. Taking the time and effort to do this shows him that I think he is worth the time and effort. I'd love it if he surprised me with something like this someday.
- Leave him notes. I will usually write him a little note with a Bible verse when I pack his lunch. When I leave for a weekend, I leave a note on the pillow or mirror. This way he has something to make him smile when he's home alone. If he packed my lunch with a note or left a note on my car or mirror, it would make me feel cherished.
- Always tell him, "I understand it's not your fault you're busy" when I'm complaining about something. This is me going out of my way to vent to him, without making him feel like I de-value his job. I want him to feel understood and appreciated for the work he does, even though I am unhappy. I would appreciate if he would be this careful not to make me feel hurt or defensive during fights as well.
- Fix him lunch or breakfast. I sometimes get up when I don't have to in order to fix him eggs or pack him a lunch. This is just a small gesture to say "I care," and of course I'd think it was very sweet if he returned the favor.
On the other hand, my husband doesn't really do any of these things for me, but he shows me he loves me in other ways. He calls me a lot to check in with me throughout the day. He makes a point to listen to my day, even when I re-tell stories, because he knows being heard is important to me. He used to give me a lot of backrubs, before he got so busy with work. Sometimes he'll pick me up a candy bar or my favorite popcorn on his way home from work. These are the ways he shows love and affection, and by seeing how he demonstrates love I can learn how he'd probably like to receive love.
Try to keep the romance and love alive in your marriage, not the way you'd like to receive it, but the way your spouse would.