My wife and I recently met a young couple from our church. In March of 2017, this husband and wife declared their commitment to God and to each other in front of family and friends here in Arkansas. But now, the high emotions and undying love they promised on their wedding day has somehow evaporated. One spouse shared that they didn't think their relationship was “fixable”.
And this young couple is not alone. We are seeing more and more couples married 3 years or less in serious marital distress. Adjusting to married life is just plain hard! And this “not fixable” feeling is not limited to young marrieds. Lots of couples who have survived the first five years now find themselves at a point where they have lost hope that things can be different, or in a place where one spouse wants out.
How can this happen? How does any couple, especially a committed Christian couple, get from saying “I Do” on the wedding day to “I'm Done” at the divorce lawyer? And, more importantly, when you find yourselves there as a couple, what do you do?
When a husband or wife has lost hope for their marriage, they need to do some real “heart-searching” in two areas. And both of these areas are critical to honestly evaluate.
A CRITICAL DEFINITION
We hear this phrase all the time in counseling circles: “I love my spouse but I'm just not in love with them any more.” Just like the young couple from our church, they find themselves in a place where their lack of feelings for their spouse has led them to the conclusion that their marriage is dead. And while I understand the feeling, I counsel those couples to re-think what love really is.
The world has done a terrific job of defining love. The problem is that the world's definition is wrong. Here is what author and counselor Rob Green says about worldly love: “Three things characterize love from a worldly perspective: 1) love is a warm, fuzzy feeling, 2) love is about physical attraction, and 3) love is about having fun together. But if your definition of love is little more than warm fuzzies, physical attraction, and the ability to have fun together, your relationship may demonstrate not how much you love the other person, but how much you each love yourself! What you have found is a person who helps you love you better than anyone else has!”
Ponder what Rob Green shared a second time. Coming to realize that I have embraced the world's definition of love may be hard to admit, but it is the first step to moving from the selfish love that the world sells to a “more excellent way” of love. If that is where you honestly are, take a moment to confess that to the Lord in true humility. Repentance is always God's first step toward real change.
So what does God have to say about this thing called “love”? God has a lot to say about love in the Bible. You may be familiar with passages like 1 Corinthians 13 or even Ephesians 5. Those verses give us a view of biblical love, but check out these verses from 1 John 4:
This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11
As you and I read those verses, we hear God showing us His view of biblical love. God's love is giving, other-centered, and self-sacrificing. Biblical love sees a need and gives, serves, and sacrifices to meet that need, with no thought of the personal cost involved.
Notice also that God's love is action-oriented. It does something! Biblical love moves beyond good intentions to action, even when it is hard. We must all remember that real, biblical love is not what I profess with my mouth – it is what I do in the small, seemingly insignificant moments of life. We all profess love for our spouse on Valentine's Day, but what about February 15th. Did my actions on February 15th back up my words from February 14th?
SEARCHING FOR HOPE
Understanding and embracing God's definition of love is vitally important. But beyond that, a second necessary step is honestly assessing where you are looking for your hope in this life and in your marriage. Keep reading by clicking here...