You Can Keep Love Alive

Seldom does a husband and wife have the same primary love language. We tend to speak our own language and wonder why they don’t respond. The reason is, they did not get the message, on an emotional level. You express your love by doing things for your spouse, but what they want is physical touch. Your spouse gives you a gift, but what you really want is quality time. You are both sincere, but you are not connecting. Once you discover and speak your spouse’s primary love language, I believe you will have discovered the key to a long-lasting, loving marriage. Love need not evaporate after the marriage, but in order to keep it alive, most of us will have to learn a second language. We cannot simply do what comes naturally for us. We must learn to speak their language, and that takes thought and effort. The good news is that you can do it. You can keep love alive in your marriage.

The Five Love Languages Defined

Do you know the 5 Love Languages? Here they are:

l. Words of affirmation – using words to build up the other person. “Thanks for
taking out the garbage.” Not – “It’s about time you took the garbage out. The
flies were going to carry it out for you.”

2. Gifts – a gift says, “He was thinking about me. Look what he got for me.”

3. Acts of Service – Doing something for your spouse that you know they would
like. Cooking a meal, washing dishes, vacuuming floors, are all acts of service.

4. Quality time – by which I mean, giving your spouse your undivided attention.
Taking a walk together or sitting on the couch with the TV off – talking and
listening.

5. Physical touch – holding hands, hugging, kissing, sexual intercourse, are all
expressions of love.

Out of these five, each of you has a primary love language which speaks more
deeply to you than all the others. Discovering each other’s language and speaking
it regularly is the best way to keep love alive in a marriage.

People Speak Different Love Languages

With all the books, magazines, and practical help available, why is it that so few couples seem to have found the secret to keeping love alive after the wedding? I believe the problem is: we have overlooked one fundamental truth – people speak different love languages. One husband said: “I tell her how beautiful she is. I tell her I love her. I tell her what a good mother she is. None of that seems to matter. She says she doesn’t feel my love. I don’t know what else to do.” His wife’s response: “If he loved me, he would help me around the house. All he does is watch TV. The problem?  He is using words. She is crying for actions. If he wants her to feel loved, he must learn to speak her language. It’s as simple as that.

The ‘In-Love’ Illusion isTemporary”

The “in love” experience, which leads most of us to get married, is an emotional obsession that leads us to the conclusion that we have married the most wonderful person in the world. It’s an illusion, but it seems real, and it is one of life’s greatest emotional highs. But why doesn’t it continue after marriage? Because it is an illusion. That is why, before marriage, your mother could see their flaws, but you could not. Your mother said: “Darling have you considered that he’s always late? You reply, “Oh Mom, it doesn’t matter. He is so much fun when he does get here.” But when the illusion is gone, It does matter, and you start saying: “Why are you always late?” He is blown out of the water. He hasn’t changed. It is just that the illusion is gone. The in-love illusion is temporary. It’s average life-span is two years. This doesn’t mean that love is destined to die. It does mean that we must now work at keeping it alive.

We Must Seek Reconciliation

Where do we turn for help when we are separated? In the Bible we find not only what we ought to do, but also the encouragement and power to do it. The words of Paul become our own: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When we turn to the Bible for guidance, we discover that the Bible calls us to seek reconciliation. Divorce is not God’s desire. It is true that ultimately you cannot keep your spouse from divorcing you. Even God had to grant Israel a divorce because she refused to turn from her sinful ways. But that was after years of seeking reconciliation. (And even yet, God has not given up on Israel – there will be future reconciliation.) So we must seek reconciliation. Even if our spouse ultimately refuses our efforts, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we were faithful to the biblical ideal.

WILL You Work On Your Marriage?

Perhaps you are saying: “I’m not sure that I want to work on my marriage. I’ve tried. I’ve given and given. It won’t work, and I may as well get out now!” I am deeply sympathetic with your feelings. I know that when we have tried again and again without success, we may lose our desire to try again. We see no hope, so we conclude that we have no alternative but to give up. Our emotions no longer encourage us to work on the marriage. That is why I never ask people, “Do you want to work on your marriage?” I always ask, “WILL you work on your marriage?” At the point of separation, we have lost much of our “want to”. But we must remember our values, our commitments, and our dreams. We must make wise choices in spite of our feelings of depression or hopelessness. When we chose to work on our marriages, we have all the help of God. God will not force your spouse to deal with issues and return to the marriage, but He will give you wisdom and strength as you seek to follow His will.

Desperate Straits

Separation means that a marriage is in desperate straits. Healing will require listening, understanding, discipline, change. But hard work can result in the joy of a restored marriage. I know that some of you are saying: “It sounds good, but it won’t work. We’ve tried before. Besides, I don’t think my spouse will even try again. I’m not even sure I want to try.” I understand your feelings, but don’t assume that the hostile attitude of your spouse will last forever, or that your own feelings are permanent. One of God’s gifts to all of us is the gift of choice. We can change. Your spouse may be saying: “I’m through. It is finished. I don’t want to talk about it.” But three week or three months from now your spouse may be willing to talk. Much depends on what you do in the meantime, and much depends on your spouse’s response to the Spirit of God. You pray. You work. You leave the results to God.

Separation Calls for Intensive Care

Separation is not death, although it may seem like “the valley of the shadow of death”. But the shadow of death is not to be equated with death. Separation may be the valley of restoration, and the pain you feel may be labor pains which will give rebirth to your marriage. Separation calls for intensive care, just like that given to those in grave physical danger. The condition of the marriage is “critical”. Proper mediation is essential. Surgery may be required. That will call for the services of a counselor or pastor. What you do in the next few weeks will determine the quality of your life for years to come. Separation is not the time to capitulate. The battle for marital unity may just be beginning. Be assured, God is concerned about the outcome. You can count on Him for supernatural help. He will not abandon you in this time of pain.

Biblical Love Is A Choice

A man said to me recently: “We have a problem. My wife’s sister told us that her husband just left her and is asking for a divorce. She is turning to us for advice. I’m not sure what to tell her. Should she contest the divorce? How do we help her? We have never faced this in our family before!” Many family members can identify with this man. They want to help, but don’t know how. Thousands of people experience marital separation every year. Many of them sincerely want to
know, “What should I do, as a Christian?” First, let me say this, Don’t assume that separation equals divorce. Separation may lead to a restored, enriched, growing marriage. The individuals involved will determine the outcome of separation. Separation is not permanent. It either leads to resurrection or death. The Christian must always seek resurrection.

Do You Need An Evacuation Plan?

If you are living with a verbally abusive spouse, you need an evacuation plan and you need to share the plan with your spouse. Try this: “I want to share with you a decision I have made. As you know, I have talked with you in the past about how deeply I am hurt when you lash out at me with critical remarks. It takes me days and sometimes weeks to get over the pain. I have decided that the next time you lose your temper, I will take some time away from you in order to recover. I think my healing will be faster if we are apart. I will not be abandoning you, but I will be taking a step to correct what has become a very destructive pattern in our relationship. I can’t survive the verbal attacks indefinitely. I don’t believe that is the kind of person you want to be. I’m sharing this with you because I believe in you and want to see you become the person you want to be.” He may get mad, or start crying. She simply follows the plan the next time he explodes. She is clearly communicating: Things are not going to continue the way they are.