As every bride walks down the aisle on her wedding day, she never imagines any moment of her life being anything except “happily ever after.” My husband tends to be more of the realist in the family, so I’m sure he assumed we’d have our fair share of not-so-happy moments here and there. However, I’m the Pollyanna of the relationship. I see everything through rose-colored glasses, which is why it hit me from left field when I first experienced days that were hard in my marriage.
I should have known better. My parents divorced when I was only four years old. My grandparents would engage in screaming matches most nights when I stayed with them. My dad and step-mom had a very dysfunctional marriage, which has since ended in divorce. I’d seen the not-so-pretty side of marriage. Yet, that didn’t deter me from believing my marriage would be different.
For the most part my marriage is very different. My husband and I love the Lord and are totally committed to making our marriage last until “death do us part.” However, most Christians could say this of their marriages. The truth of the matter is that marriage is hard work! It’s two sinners who have come together — and have become a vehicle through which the Lord uses to refine the other.
Yep. God uses your marriage to refine you. Then on the flip side, we have a very real enemy who would love nothing better than to tear your marriage apart. So, yes, it’s easy to lose that “lovin’ feeling” in the midst of married life.
The battle is real. Those “in love” feelings that we see in every romantic comedy should never be our goal for our marriage. Real love is a choice. Real love is a commitment.
This is probably when I should mention that Steve and I will be celebrating our 20th year of marriage this September. We have had our fair share of struggles in our marriage. The first half of our marriage felt like we had more valleys than peaks.
Yet, we persevered and have seen the amazing fruit that the Lord brought about through those hard years.
The real change came when I realize the heart of the battle for me was…ME! I had to change my mindset.
So, here are a few tips that helped me to refocus when I was feeling less than “loving” in my relationship. I address these as a wife. But, husbands, I know they will help you, too.
1. Remember that your husband is your MIL’s son!
This may sound strange at first, but hear me out. It was at the moment that I looked at my first born son with all the love in my heart and started praying for his future wife that all the mama bear instincts that were stored up somewhere deep inside began to creep up. I kept thinking that his wife better love him deeply and never hurt him. That’s when it hit me…my husband was a son. My mother-in-law probably had those same thoughts. How was I taking care of and loving her son? That was such a profound moment for me. My mama bear instincts kicked in for my husband. I suddenly wanted to do everything I could to love him in a way that would honor her and reflect the way I wanted another woman to love my son.
2. Be loving!
It’s amazing how our actions can turn our hearts. When I’m doing loving things for my husband and showing him love the best I can, I actually feel more love for him. I once heard a story (I can’t remember where) about a woman who called a divorce attorney and started the divorce proceedings secretly. Her attorney advised her to turn on the charm at home so that when she served him the papers it would really hit him from left field. So, she started playing the role of loving wife. However, when the papers were ready, the lawyer was in for a surprise. His advice had flipped on him. In the process of acting lovingly, this wife had found love for her husband again. No need for papers.
3. Change your focus to You!
When Steve and I were going through some of the harder times those first several years, I was so focused on what he was and was not doing. I was keeping a record of wrong. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love doesn’t keep a record of wrong. So, I really worked on letting go of my expectations and my “list.” Then I started focusing on the only thing I really could change…me! By focusing on my own character and allowing God to really get at the heart of what I was and was not doing to be a blessing in our marriage, my heart softened and real change happened.
4. Pray hard and be intimate!
Weird combination to put together for one tip. However, prayer is one of the most important things you can do for your marriage. Pray for your marriage! Prayer is a unifier of your hearts and spirit. However, in marriage, one of the key unifiers is sexual intimacy. As a wife and mom of five kids, I get it. I’m tired by the end of the day. However, being intimate regularly helps me to feel more connected to my husband. I could go all science-geek on you and talk about all the hormonal and chemical reasons sex helps marriages, but I’ll spare you. Just remember we live in a highly sexualized world. Christians can combat this by partaking in the gift that God has given to all marriage couples — sex.
There are so many jokes about husbands not understanding how their wives think. Well, I’m not going to assume I can give you insight into how to change your thinking from a man’s perspective. However, I’m pretty sure you can use the tips above to help you “feel” more loving. I also know enough about men after being married to one for going on 20 years to say that if you like my tip #4 and gave out a big “Amen!” when you read it…here’s a little tip for you. Women love to feel cherished and desired. So, get to know your wife’s love language — and speak it frequently throughout the day — and you’ll make tip #4 a little easier for her to follow.
I pray that the Lord will bless you and your marriage. May He unite your hearts as you draw closer to Him.
Blessings and joy,
P.S. I’d love to give you a free copy of my book Sanity Savers for Moms. You can get your copy HERE. Hope it’s a blessing to you.