How Do I Love You Well?

I’m constantly seeing my sin creep out in my marriage, and it seems like relationships are failing all around me. It’s an unfortunate truth about the world we live in; brokenness is in every corner of our lives, and especially in our relationships. Through my sin and selfishness though, I desperately want to love my husband well. And I know the first step of that is recognizing that I can’t do it on my own, but need the Lord’s help.

As I thought about what this post would look like, I quickly realized that my own words were HARDLY adequate. Who am I to write about loving someone well? I fail at it 9 times out of 10! Lucky for me, I’m blessed to have some incredibly wise and loving people in my life. So I took to Facebook to ask them for their best piece of marriage or relationship advice. My heart was filled just reading all of their responses and seeing them affirm and encourage one another!

These people were both men and women, all different ages, some single, some dating, and some married. Here’s some of what they had to share:

We always say that it’s not so much marriage that is hard, life is hard and we’re married. It helps us stay more as a team mindset: us against our hardships instead of me against him.

When arguing, never say the word never, and never say the word always.

Say your vows often (especially if you wrote them), and frequently ask how your marriage is going and have honest conversations about it.

Eat a lot of ice cream!

Besides Jesus Take the Wheel! …
Save your emotional energy for things that really matter; not on how someone squeezes the toothpaste, etc. Stay engaged in relationships and community; isolation, for couples or individuals, is toxic. And invest in/plan purposeful alone time together. It won’t naturally be there because you live together.

Constant forgiveness, even if the other person doesn’t think he/she needs it.

Healthy communication is key! It’s okay to take a minute to collect your thoughts, but never ever let something thicken under your skin… and knowing that it all takes work. None of us are perfect, but we can always strive to be better.

Realizing you’re always on the same team, even when you’re disagreeing with one another. Argue as friends. When he loses, you also lose.

Invest in a king-size bed!

Be resolved to proclaim the gospel to one another and to the world through your relationship by ‘doing marriage’ distinctly different from the world. Marriage was created to be a display of God’s covenantal faithfulness; you will proclaim this faithfulness as you strive to proclaim gospel truth to one another through obedience/sacrifice/integrity/etc.

Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. – James 1:19

Pray for your spouse alone, without his/her knowledge of it. Pray for God’s forgiveness of their sins. Prayer changes things. Most often it changes our hearts and perspective.

Being unified in your decisions, and loving each other fiercely!

Put your spouse first in everything. Auto forgive.

It’s okay to do things ‘separately together’ sometimes. I have things that fill my bucket and he has things that fill his.

Your love for your spouse is never to be dependent on feeling loved by them, but on God’s love for you. (We love because He first loved us – 1 John 4:19). As Paul David Tripp puts it, ‘a good marriage doesn’t grow out of the soil of romance. No, the soil in which a good marriage grows is the soil of worship, and the fruit that a good marriage produces is sweet, long-term, mutually satisfying romance.’

1) Never stop learning about each other.
2) Be kind. (So simple but so important!)
3) Pray for your spouse intentionally and DAILY!

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth – Ephesians 4:29. Make a pact to never demean, mock or dishonor your spouse in public.

Have a sense of humor, pray together, and make sacrifices for your spouse!

To remember that I am going to fail in my relationships, but God never will.

Choose to love each other even in those moments when you struggle to like each other. Love is a commitment, not a feeling.
Love always. Forgive always. Amen.
Remember that marriage (like life) is not about you. It’s about Christ first, and then about your spouse. If you’re both thinking that way, you’ll both be fulfilled. And yes, give grace often, because you see them at their worst and they see you at yours! Comes with the territory of being the closest roommates imaginable.
1) Live off of one income from the very beginning.
2) Put your spouse ahead of your kids.
3) Know that some couples have more conflict than others.

Pray together every day. Hug each other every day. Keep short accounts. Forgive quickly.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself – Luke 10:27. Memorize and practice the Scripture together!

I was most surprised by the constant need to compromise on EVERYTHING – restaurants, holiday plans, baby names, etc. Once I laid my own agenda down and started viewing our marriage as something to be done together and decisions to be made together, we were much happier.

Communicate. A lot. Keep learning new ways to do it. 

Use the acronym H.A.L.T. in deciding when is a good time to get into a discussion. If you’re hungry, angry, late, or tired, put a pin in it and discuss it when that’s not the case. 

Marriage is not a 50/50 partnership, it’s about both people giving 110% every day. If you couldn’t manage 110%, wake up to a new day and hit reset!

Know how your spouse unwinds, relaxes, rejuvenates, etc. and give them opportunities often to do so even if that isn’t with you. Remember daily that you first submit to the Lord and then to one another!

Love Jesus more than you love each other. Be prepared to be blessed.

The saving grace of the gospel is key to loving your spouse the way God intended.

Resolve to work out a win-win resolution!

 Focus on the victories instead of counting the failures.

I hope these words encourage you as much as they did me. A thousand thank-you’s to the ones who shared them! What a blessing you are.

We all have struggles in our relationships, we all can learn to love each other better, and every relationship is different and unique, so the ways in which we go about that might vary. But one thing is true for ALL of us: we need the Lord’s help.

So dear friends, may we all continue to love sacrificially and joyfully, forgive much, give grace often, and always look to Christ.

Jessie Sue

                                                                                                          photo credit: Neal Dieker

 

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