There they were on a warm and lovely Saturday afternoon. She in her beautiful, white gown. He in his tux. They swayed on the dance floor to the Eagles’ Love Will Keep Us Alive. As an older teenager, I longed to have what I was witnessing. A husband and the promise of a forever love. It was literally my biggest desire in the whole wide world, dominating my thoughts constantly. Yet, even in my naive mind, the lyrics to the song did not ring true. Somehow, I knew love (i.e., loving feelings) was not enough to keep a couple together. Such “love” is fickle – a lesson I had learned multiple times in years past. Still, I wanted to believe it. I wanted to feel the romance radiating from this song.
At that point in my life, I thought of marriage as a lot of fun, affection, and warmth. I envisioned kissing almost constantly (in addition to other recreations). My mind had not fully grasped the work of marriage; though, I knew at an intellectual level some work might be involved. ~smile~
I can remember seeing married couples argue or hearing about relationship drama and thinking, rather arrogantly, “That is not going to happen to me. Why can’t they just love each other and enjoy each other? They are lucky enough to have found each other! They get to kiss and have sex whenever they want, and they are fighting? So stupid. What a waste.” I can only smile and shake my head at such memories. Clearly, I had no idea what it was like living day in and day out with another sinful human being whom I cannot control (as well as my own sin affecting us).
Now that I have doubled in age, and experienced the happy, sad, angry, and bewildered days of marriage, I can say with confidence that love does not keep a couple alive. The couple must keep the love alive and this can only happen when both people are committed and willing to put the other person first.
Days are coming when the person you adore right now will say or do something which enrages you. That innocent face which can do no wrong will, undoubtedly, do much wrong – take it to the bank. Your future spouse will occasionally sport subtle devil horns and a tail (and you will also). We are all sinful, selfish creatures whose only goodness comes from Christ. (cf. Romans 3:10-12; I John 4:10) You can sing the lyrics, “I would die for you,” and even mean them; but, it is just as true that you will occasionally watch your spouse sleeping and think, “I just want to beat the snot out of you!”
Love will not keep you and your partner alive. You and your partner must keep your love alive. This takes work and a dying to self. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30, ESV)
Take Out Your Creed Notebooks!
In our last post, we talked about constructing your Couple’s Creed; and, perhaps, you have already finished. That is okay! Continue to take notes and add to your notebook. As the years go by, you will likely wish to update your Couple’s Creed.
- Which traits do I see in the marriages that I admire and wish to emulate?
- Which tips and tricks have older married friends given me for developing and maintaining:
- A contented marriage?
- A thriving marriage?
- A joyous marriage? (Joy is different than happiness. As one of my former pastors said, “Happiness is based on happenings.” Sometimes your marriage will not be happy because you will not be happy. If you hold on and choose joy, the happy will return.)
- A romantic marriage?
- Do I believe there comes a point when couples should seek outside help for their marriages?
- If so, when do I believe seeking help is necessary? (e.g., working through trust issues, loss of a child, sexual problems, etc.?)
- How does my partner answer this question?
- Optimally, what does romance in marriage look like?
- Is romance important to my boyfriend or girlfriend?
- How similar are our expectations (so far as we are currently aware of them)?
- List ten specific steps you will do to keep romance, playfulness, and communication healthy in your marriage. Are you willing to post these declarations where you and your future spouse can see them daily? (Think through these carefully. Before making commitments to yourself or each other, count the cost of doing each item, and talk to seasoned married couples you respect before solidifying them.)
- Compare and discuss your lists once they are completed.
- You could both agree to add this to your Couple’s Creed; or, you can make this list a separate document.
- In addition to what I will do to develop and maintain the health of our relationship, what will I choose to avoid? (e.g., saying always and never during arguments, slamming doors, leaving without explanation, etc.)
What Does the Bible Say?
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised. (Song of Solomon 8:6-7, ESV)
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, ESV)
It is one action to simply live with your spouse, but another entirely to hold fast to him or her. I wonder how many divorces would be avoided if couples would simply hold on tightly to each other.
What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mark 10:9, ESV)
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (I Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV)
This familiar passage is often read at weddings. Because we hear it so much, it is easy to ignore it or treat it as tradition or cliché. However, we would encourage all couples to set these words to memory and to meditate on them thoroughly. This passage highlights when we are being loving and when we are not. Since love is an action word, we can actively love someone even when we are not feeling it. When we are angry or ready to speak harshly to our loved one, we should review this passage, repent, and seek to lovingly repair the relationship. It is not easy to show love in those moments of hurt and anger, but thankfully God gave us a clear map to follow. Love stays alive when we keep loving regardless of our fleeting emotions.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:8, ESV)
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12, ESV)
Your spouse will fail you and you will fail your spouse. Period. We will always be able to find excuses to withhold love in our marriages, but Jesus has never and will never fail us. When we love sacrificially, we love as unto Him. We love because He first loved us.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14, ESV)
Let all that you do be done in love. (I Corinthians 16:14, ESV)
If your Couple’s Creed is done and beautiful, you can leave it as is until you wish to revise it – no problem. However, if you want to keep the document fluid for a while, adding and tweaking along the way, that is fine too. Maybe you can give yourselves a deadline for the final product so you know it will be completed.
If reading your listed commitments mentioned above on a regular basis will serve as a helpful reminder, consider printing them out and posting them in a prominent (yet private – unless you want the accountability of others) place in your home.
Have a blessed and loving week!
Romance is never the cause of a good marriage; romance is always the result of a good marriage. – Paul David Tripp
Maybe you don’t need the whole world to love you. You know? Maybe you just need one person. – Kermit the Frog
Relationships are stronger when you’re best friends first, and a couple second. – Unknown
What I tell young couples that are getting married is: you’re going to have quarrels, and on some things, you’re just going to have to agree to disagree. And when you go to bed at night, kiss each other and tell each other that you love each other. Don’t go to bed mad. Life is too short. Keep it simple. – Si Robertson
How will you nourish your love before it ever starts to fade?