God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God, and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house…. -1 John 4:17-18 (MSG)
Experience is the Best Teacher
After more than a half-century of marriage, the most important thing I have learned is “each day is a new day!” I have had people from the outside say, “you have the perfect marriage.” I’m so thankful it appears that way from the outside because one thing is obvious to me – without the Presence of the Holy Spirit and our willingness to commit, we would not still be married!
Although when my husband proposed, he stated we would more than likely be living in Mississippi, I was not prepared for the reality of what that meant. We moved to Mississippi as the Civil Rights Movement began, and Greenwood was one of the epicenters. During our time there, citizens boycotted businesses in town for three years! Imagine no grocery store, no banks; the Greenwood Movement started a credit union and a co-op grocery store. I could not be employed because the only type of employment available to me was cleaning peoples’ houses. Yes, I know the Presence of the Holy Spirit.
So, I share from the lessons I learned as we have made this journey, and I am confident the Lord has been with us throughout this marriage journey. In fact, a song by Franklin E. Belden expresses 1 John 4: 17 -18 musically.
’Tis love that makes us happy,
’Tis love that smoothes the way;
It helps us mind, it makes us kind To others every day.
And when this life is over,
And we are called above,
Our song shall be, eternally,
Of Jesus and His love.
Let’s look at a word used so readily in our society – LOVE. Let me break it down:
L = Listen
O = Observe
V = Value
E = Embrace
Can You Handle the Truth About Love?
What does it mean to Listen – to pay attention to someone or something to hear what is being said; to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true. Listening is the first language skill to be acquired. Listening strengthens relationships and demonstrates attentiveness, caring, and respect. Listening is more than just hearing. To truly listen, one must give undivided attention and put one’s agenda and needs aside.
Today, most people have some type of screen – it’s important in a healthy marriage to make sure the screen never replaces your spouse. If you think memes and 140 characters are sufficient, your relationship is already challenged.
How observant are you? Observe means to watch carefully, especially with attention to details or behavior. If you are not being observant while listening, you might miss something important. Research tells us effective communication consists of 7% words, 38% tone of voice, and 55% non-verbals (eye contact, proximity, gestures). In a thriving relationship, one of the important needs is to be “seen.” In fact, Genesis 2:25 (AMP) states, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.” Being naked means both people are aware of the flaws in each other as well as the best, and they can still cherish, protect and care for each other.
Both listening and observation provide value to the relationship. Value means relative worth, utility, or importance. Remember the courtship days. You couldn’t get enough of each other! You didn’t enjoy being apart, and no one was allowed to make any disparaging remarks. After a few years of marriage, if there isn’t the intention, one’s spouse becomes appreciated for what they do, not who they are! A marriage that will last means the spouse is always appreciated for WHO they are today!
Embrace means to clasp in the arms, to take up especially, readily, or gladly. Scientists have determined that embraces (hugs) make us healthier and happier. We need at least eight hugs a day for maintenance. However, if we wish to grow, we need twelve hugs a day! Think about what your hug meter is registering.
Counting the Cost
The cost of everything seems to be on the minds of people everywhere during this pandemic. Yes, prices have increased – just check how much a gallon of gas currently costs! Yet, there is something readily available and FREE, yet is given so sparingly. Embraces (hugs) given with no hidden agenda are worth so much to the giver and the receiver, and the after-effects are long-lasting.
Commitment means a promise to do or give something, an act of committing to a charge or trust. The words of the wedding ceremony come to mind: “… for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, till death do us part.” These words imply that this is not a one-time occurrence; this is a work of a lifetime. Yet, the work is delightful, joyous, and invigorating as you walk the path moving from two completely independent persons into one unified whole. Don’t get me wrong; neither person loses their identity. Still, they become stronger because the wisest man who ever lived gave this instruction: “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT).
Each marriage will look different because the couples are all different. It is so exciting to know we were all created in the image of God, and He is great enough that we can all be uniquely individual and still reflect HIS glory! The Scriptures remind us: The marriage relationship is doubtless a great mystery, but I am speaking of something deeper still—the marriage of Christ and his Church. Ephesians 5: 33 (Phillips).
Try it! You Might Like it!
I was always told anything of value required work – so it is with marriage. Yet, it’s such a delightful work as you and your spouse work together with the Lord to create joy and delight. I challenge you to try it – you’ll enjoy the journey so much more.