I saw men at the store picking out flowers, balloons, and cards for their sweethearts this past week. I also saw women in the card aisle, then they made a beeline to the candy or baking aisle to have Valentine's Day sweets for their honeys. I have to say that quite a bit of the Valentine's fare at the Christian bookstores is a bit hokey. Sorry. The only valuable gift items I saw were devotionals and the cards. Hobby Lobby had some better gifts like coupon books and calendars with love messages of appreciation.I can imagine the the $$$ pouring into the accounts of stores that sell "romantic" lingerie and novelties. So, what makes showing our love to our spouses special? Does it only happen on Valentine's Day and Sweetest Day or the whole year long?
Romantic people need to be committed-- to a marriage built on a strong foundation.
You are probably wondering, "Char, why didn't you do this LAST week? Aren't you a bit late?" Nope. I'm not. Here is why: It's not about the stuff we give or get from our loved ones. It's the strong, committed love shown all year long. We are not able to love other people fully until we learn to love God, then love ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40). When we love others, we are to love them as Christ showed His love for us, including our spouse. Most romantic "love" is based on lust or infatuation. Those actions diminish because they are contingent on how we feel. Barbara Streisand sang a "love" song which demonstrates the shallowness of this kind of love called "You Don't Bring Me Flowers". There is a reason the divorce rate is so high, not just in America, but also in the Christian church.The foundation of these marriages is like the house built on the sand. When the storms blow, the house comes crashing down! (Matthew 7:26-27)
Marriage takes deliberate actions to have a marriage built on Christ-like love.
I did not a good example about marriage shown to me growing up. My parents divorced when I was 5, then my stepdad and mom divorced when I was a freshman in high school. These marriages were violent, with harsh character-shredding words. I determined I would not live in that kind of environment as an adult. Too many children grow up in homes like that. Their hearts are torn through their parents' divorce. Children get played many times as pawns to manipulate the other parent. What kind of example of marriage is that? I can certainly tell you, not a very good one.
It takes a tremendous amount of determination, after coming out of such an environment, to build up a marriage of Christ-like love. God rewards us when we seek His heart in this matter. It also takes re-educating one's self in what Christian marriage is. I read a lot of books, watched a lot of healthy Christian couples, and changed the messages that played in my head to ones of hope. I share this with you as a testimony of what God has done in response to faithfully living out His words in my own marriage. Broken hearts must heal to be able to offer a whole heart to another person. We must love each other as Jesus has loved us. That is the only way it truly works.
Love in marriage is a daily commitment to each other.
Love needs to be shown daily, not with flowers or cards or candy, but through intentional actions every day. My first husband was great about showing his love to me daily. One time, he thought he would do something special for me while I was teaching water classes at work. He took my car from the parking lot, got the oil changed, then returned my car to the lot with a love note on the rear view mirror. I wasn't upset at all. I felt loved! It may not seem romantic, but it melted my heart.
My hubby now knows I was struggling with a bit of depression this year. You see, I noticed on Facebook in the history for the day that I had signed the contract for my first husband's headstone on Valentine's Day 4 years ago. What a very odd last Valentine's gift to him. Valentine's Day is a bittersweet day for me still, but it gets better every year. My Sweetie who is still hobbling around with back pain (see Down and Out- On a Mat) went out to the store to pick out a card and flowers. Krogers is a busy place and it is quite a walk from the floral department to the cards then to the checkout. He made a big sacrifice to make me feel loved. It wasn't the flowers, although I love flowers. It wasn't the card, although there were beautiful, personal sentiments in it. It was the sacrificial love he showed to help me know how much he loves me.
Romance helps ignite love, but it takes deliberate actions to show each other how valuable that love is.
My late husband knew I loved him through the things I did for him every day. I knew he loved me every day by his words, actions, and just simply by always coming home to me. He never took his love anywhere else. My hubby now knows I love him every day. Whether I hug him when he comes in the door, by making sure he has what he needs, or by sending him texts at different times through the day. My love doesn't go anywhere else. It never has. He shows his love for me daily through his actions, his words, and always coming home to me. Committed love isn't always easy, but it's important for the health and strength of the marriage. Love for God, a healthy personal value, and a determined love make all the difference in marriage. It has to go both ways.One person can make a marriage last longer, but the two with Christ at the center make the marriage go well the entire distance. Chris August has this captured beautifully in "Restored". The ink on the marriage certificate and the rings on our fingers are symbols of our commitment to each other. Christian marriages must be firmly built on the Rock-a common faith in Jesus Christ. Although storms may crash upon the rock, the house still stands. (Matthew 7:24-25)
How do you show your Sweetheart you love them? What makes the love in your marriage special? We would love to hear how God is working in your marriage! Feel free to share in the comment section below.
May God bless you!
5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
The Spark by Jay and Laura Laffoon
The Power of a Praying Wife (also a version for husbands) by Stormy O' Martian
You and Me Forever by Francis Chan
His Needs, Her Needs by by Willard Harley Jr.
Saving Your Marriage before It Starts (also one for remarriage) by Les Parrott