Series: Staying In Love - Part 1

Word Art I Love You More Than by Hop Skip Jump Paper
Staying in Love - Part 1

by Brooke Shambley

Our culture abounds with books, movies, television shows, and even people telling us how wonderful it is to fall in love.  However, notice the verb in the statement "fall in love" is to fall.  Think of your worst nightmare.  For most people we think of the dream where we are falling through the air without any hope of stopping.  I know I've had that dream at least once.  Why would we want to think of love in the same way?  As if we had no control, no self-awareness, and no ability to think rationally.  "Falling" in love can be fun, spontaneous, and even monumental, but staying in love is another story. 

If we fell in love, can we fall out of love?  Of course, because we have sold ourselves on this helpless, hopeless, and irrational noun called love.  I don't want to live out love as a noun.  In fact, love as a noun is boring!  We have to add verbs of excitement like "falling" and "making" to act like this noun love is any fun at all.  Instead . . . I want to love and be loved.  I want to live out love as a verb.  Not like we love our cat, love pizza, or love watching movies.  This verb love is way more intense, way more wild, and way more exciting than the cheapened verb that we use to express are ardent likings.
Each post of this series on "Staying In Love" I will post ideas for couples who want to learn to live out love as a verb.  This is for those who desperately need to love each other past their initial feelings of falling in love.  I include myself in this category.  We all need to be reminded of ways to act out love in our marriages.

Make a Sacrifice

Dude, I am not talking about chopping off a head or anything here.  I mean remind yourself that your spouse is worth taking a hit.  Acting out love, living love as a verb means putting aside ourselves and realizing that this other person deserves to be loved and is a precious child of God.

Word Art I Love You More Than by Hop Skip Jump Paper
For men:
  1. Leave the golf clubs in the closet and tell your wife you'll go shopping with her.
  2. Get up early, get the kids ready, and serve your wife breakfast in bed. 
  3. Take the money you were saving for a big screen television and make one of her dreams come true. 
For women:
  1. Tell the kids to entertain themselves and sit down with your spouse and watch his favorite show. 
  2. Make the world stop.  Put the kid's activities on hold, don't plan any appointments, clear the night and make it "All About Daddy" night. 
  3. Do the thing you hate to do that your husband loves, whether that's rubbing his feet or ironing his shirts.
John 13:34, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."
Jesus loved us so much that He lived in our world as a servant and died on a cross for our sins.  Our spouses are humans that certainly make mistakes, but just as Jesus was a servant to this messed up world so we are supposed to serve our spouses.  Love means serving no matter what . . . loving no matter what.
Let Go of the Excuses:
Sometimes I feel like saying, "I am woman, hear me roar!!!"  I think that being a woman gives me some divine excuse to act emotionally and express myself adamantly.  It doesn't.  I must let go of my excuses.  It doesn't matter how much I decide he deserves it or that he should have done something differently to be treated differently by me.  My excuses are null and void in the realm of the the verb love.  This applies to men as well.  Just because your wife acts "irrationally" or "emotionally" doesn't give you an excuse to walk around with a bad attitude.  Let go of the excuses.  Loving our spouses applies all of the time in all situations anywhere we are at physically or emotionally.
To men:
  1. Determine in your mind to demonstrate your love the next time your wife reacts poorly.  Decide in advance to not act out in response and instead ask her what you can do to show her love.  She may still be upset, but don't give up.  Earnestly show her that you want to know how to best show love to her in all situations.
  2. If you've had a bad day, remove that as an excuse in your mind.  Even on a bad day, the worst, you are called to love your wife.  Take one of your bad days and pick your wife up flowers on the way home.
  3. At a time when you are very tired, almost exhausted, offer to get your wife a drink from the kitchen, offer to rub her back, or offer to do something for her.  Recognize the need to demonstrate love even when you are most tired.
Valentine Word Art I Love You More Than
by Hop Skip Jump Paper
To women:
  1. Determine that during your next monthly "fun" time will not be an excuse for not loving your husband.  Tell him in advance that you may need time by yourself to cool down, but that you want to remove that week as an excuse.  You want to love him all of the time, not just three weeks a month.
  2. The kids have been terrible, the house is a wreck, company is coming, your husband is late, show him love.  On a day that normally is your excuse to be emotional, unraveled, and down right mean, resolve to greet your husband warmly and love him well.  Go out of your way to put aside the excuse of the bad day, and resolve to make him feel loved regardless.
  3. It's been a long day.  Everything took a long time, grocery shopping, appointments, etc., but that isn't going to be an excuse this day.  Ask your husband what you can help him with even though you are tired.  Find someway to love him well despite your having a tiring day.
Ephesians 4:1-3, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
2 Corinthians 13:11, "Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."
The Bible says to live in peace, humility, patience, and gentleness.  It says nothing about excuses.  There are no free passes in love.  There are no get out of jail free cards either.  Love doesn't just take a hiatus while we deal with our emotions, our days, our exhaustion, or other life issues.  Loving our spouse is not just a full time job, it's a full life job.
Continued in the next blog post . . .
Note: Some of the information in this blog came from a recent sermon at Gulf Coast Worship Center in Long Beach, MS. Call it inspiration, not a photo copy.