As I was reading this account, it struck me that this feeling is exactly what we are trying to avoid or push past.
- We *know* that we shouldn't eat any ice cream, but we really *feel* like an ice cream cone, so we eat one anyway.
- We don't *feel* like exercising, so we don't.
- We *feel* like going out to eat, even though we *know* we don't have any money left in the "eating out" budget.
- We don't *feel* anything for our spouse anymore, but that other guy makes me *feel* alive.
We've all heard this quote from 1 Corinthians 13:
"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 wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (ESV)
But, in the book "The Marriage You've Always Wanted" by Gary Chapman, he makes an interesting observation:
He later makes the point "Any man can love a woman who loves him. That is the kind of love we knew before we got married. I was lovely to her because she was lovely to me, but how am I to respond now that my partner is not lovely? If I respond with kindness, understanding, patience, and courtesy, I am making it as easy as possible for her to respond in a like manner. Now this does not mean that she must respond with love. She has the freedom not to love. That is why the ultimate success of marriage cannot be achieved by the acts of one partner only. It takes two loving individuals to attain ultimate satisfaction in a relationship. But if I, as one individual, choose to love, things will improve. I can always improve my marriage, and love is my greatest weapon."
You can prevent yourself from having no positive feelings toward your spouse, not only by choosing to love him and following through with your actions, but by committing to do this daily.
What can you do daily to work on your part of the marriage? Can you improve yourself in a way that will cause your spouse joy? What can you do to reignite that spark and keep it burning?
I watched a short video called Nooma Flame by Rob Bell. His point was that we use the word "love" too freely, which makes it hard to distinguish what kind of love we're talking about. He states that "I say I love my wife and in the same breath say I love tacos?" He goes on to show us how there are three different words for love in Hebrew that help us to figure out what the love word we use towards our spouse should encompass. The three words mean friend, commitment, and sex. He believes that relationships cannot work when only one thing is being met. He shows how when only commitment is being met, marriages fail because there is no friendship or intimate connection. Similarly, an affair usually won't last because there's no commitment. But when all three "flames" are being met they combine to make a huge wonderful fire.
I just liked the idea behind this. I thought it was a really simple way to evaluate the state of your marriage.
It's important to be open with your spouse, and tell them how you feel, so that they are aware and have the opportunity to work on any problems, but don't let the declaration of your feelings also be a declaration of giving up on your marriage.
For those of you that don't feel emotionally dead, don't forget to keep up the good work! Be aware of what you're doing (and your spouse is doing) that keeps your relationship thriving! Always be intentional in your actions. After all, it's easier to wash the dishes immediately after they've been dirtied, than it is to wash the dishes days later when the food is all stuck on (you following the analogy here?) Until next time,