Lessons I’ve learned—sometimes the hard way!

Those of us who are married recognize the tendency we have to become complacent, selfish, and even unloving in our relationships. Columnist and author Dave Barry once put it this way:

Marriage is very much like a birthday candle, in that the flames of passion burn brightest when the wick of intimacy is first ignited by the disposal butane lighter of physical attraction, but sooner or later the heat of familiarity causes the wax of boredom to drip all over the vanilla frosting of novelty and the shredded coconut of romance.

The truth is that over time we often stop working on our marriages. We neglect the practical things that demonstrate love to our spouses. We quit pursuing intimacy and settle for blah coexistence. But it doesn’t have to be that way; wise couples work at keeping love alive. After all, that’s what God wants for us (Ephesians 5:15; Titus 2:4). I’m not the answer man on this topic, but I try to keep in mind the following actions for demonstrating love:

  • Say it in words. It’s basic, but simply saying, “I love you” goes a long way.
  • Say it with touch. The physical expression of love takes many forms: holding hands, hugging, kissing, and more.
  • Help each other. Find a way to lighten your spouse’s load of responsibility and work.
  • Listen. Genuine listening demonstrates that what your spouse says is important and that you truly care about hearing it.
  • Be on the same side. Loving couples hang together, de-emphasizing their differences. Competitiveness in marriage is a huge hindrance to love.
  • Spend time together. Emphasize common interests and hobbies. Pursue doing things together that both of you enjoy.
  • Forgive. Admit when you’re wrong and apologize. Say “I forgive you” regularly and mean it. “Love will cover a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Remember, your own happiness is at stake! If you could do simple things to put sizzle back into your marriage, doesn’t it make sense to do them?

Jim Vogel, Pastor

South Baptist Church

Flint, Michigan

Adapted by permission from February 2007 South Sampler newsletter.