Did you know that in the Philippines, there's a study that revealed an average of 1,799 marriages taking place every day of February? That makes this month a definite favorite for tying the knot.
What is love?
The latest statistics show that divorce rates are getting higher as time goes by. This only shows that the modern day perceptions of love are oftentimes faulty and unrealistic.
Wikipedia describes love as "a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection" and most people would agree that romantic love makes us high and colors our world. It goes on to say, "Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts. Love may be understood as a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species."
Even if scientists believe that love is a few chemical impulses here and there sparking in our brains, doesn't something tell you that love is more than that, not just a natural impulse to preserve the human race?
If love is only a feeling, than as fleeting as feelings go, in its fragility, it will die out as soon as the feeling goes.
Let's look at a different kind of love... one that isn't based on feelings.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Let's analyze this well worn passage on love and compare it with the statements we often hear when couples are having difficulties...
"She keeps nagging me."
"He doesn't listen to me."
"She thinks she's perfect."
"He never appreciates what I do around here."
If we take a look at the above statements, the speakers are all talking about their partners' faults and not anything about themselves.
The love that 1 Corinthians 13 was talking about was about how we act and not how our partners act towards us.
Impossible? How can we love back when we aren't loved first?
But we are, we are loved immensely by our heavenly Father! He who was wealthy in all things except 1 - He was the Creator of the universe and yet He was poor in sons. He only had 1. He gave us His only beloved Son to die on the cross for us - so that we could love Him back and be His adopted sons and daughters!
Wouldn't the unfathomable love of God (and of His Son Jesus) be enough for us to love others selflessly in return?
"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32
We've always heard it said that "God is love". We can love only with the love of God in us. Without this divine love, it is impossible to love others, in the true sense of the word.
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:8
If God is love and God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, then love is forever and not for the moment. Love is not a feeling but a decision and a commitment.
If we start with this basis, our relationship will be off to a good start.
Here are more practical advice that we have received through the years and have seen to be effective in all relationships.
- Put God at the center of your marriage. Marriage is a holy sacrament. It's not something you take lightly. Outside forces aren't always going to draw you together. If you're not careful, you may be overcome by misguided values on TV, the internet, magazines,etc. We need God's guidance and protection over marriages. Pray together regularly and with the whole family. "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:12
- Despite our many weaknesses, we are recipients of divine mercy every day. So in gratitude to the Lord for His goodness to us, let us look at your spouse through the eyes of God - with understanding, with forbearance, with forgiveness and with a lot of hope for who our spouses can become.
- Bring up serious conversations only after your spouse isn't hungry, mad or tired. This is going to make your discussion all the more easier and less stressful.
- When you and your spouse have differences, make sure not to make it a big deal unless it is a matter of wrongdoing. For example, you both have different preferences for the color for your drapes. You can both reason out why you like a certain color and it's good if you can win your spouse over but if not, it's not something worth stressing yourself and your marriage out.
- Have regular one on one dates with your spouse. Life gets busy and partners can drift apart. Always keep the communication lines open.
- Encouragement and thank each other. Make sure your spouse knows how much he/she is appreciated.
- Wives, remember to show respect to your husbands.
- Husbands, stop looking at phone or at the TV when talking to your wives. Listen attentively and respond thoughtfully to what she is saying.
- Expressing love increases love. When we don't have that "loving" feeling, all we have to do is do the "love dare challenge" and serve our spouse like make their coffee, cook their favorite, surprise them with sweet gifts, etc. Soon you'll feel that loving feeling all the more!
- Have a support system. Church and Christian communities help strengthen our relationships. Make sure that your support group will be a source of inspiration for you to grow closer to the Lord as a couple and to each other.