A room full of young, expectant eyes rested on me for an answer.
How do you stay in love with the same person your whole life?
Oooh. Good question. How do you explain a lifelong process to 15-year-olds? How do you sum up years of moments, choices, resolutions? My mind quickly scanned twenty-five years with the same man. What have we learned? What is critical? What cultivates lasting love?
Keep realistic expectations.
Romantic nights in front of the fireplace are not the norm. It can happen. It might happen, but expecting them will not only leave me disappointed, but put too much pressure on him to perform. Doesn't unconditional love mean no strings attached?
Be more concerned about serving him than being served.
This was not my favorite marriage lesson. Aren't I supposed to be his queen? Should I have to do all the work? I can't expect anything out of him? But love is not self-seeking (God said so in 1 Corinthians 13:5). I have noticed when I work hard to please him, he remembers the kindness and one day may return it. Even if he doesn't, I have done the right thing.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus
Let him love Christ more than me.
This one can be especially tough because often it takes him away from me, feeling called by God to serve outside our home. But if he seeks to honor God, I can be sure he'll know how to love me best.
Make each other a priority.
We have a standing lunch date every Tuesday and often go out for coffee on his day off. We try to schedule an evening date at least once a month. We go away for a night or two a few times a year. As our kids have gotten older they complain about us going without them, but we tell them we're doing them a favor when we purpose to strengthen our union. If he and I are good, our family is good, secure, lasting.
Don't forget the little things.
We keep loving feelings alive in small ways, like picking up a Pepsi for him before rehearsal or him bringing home flowers or me making his favorite meal for dinner. On an ordinary Tuesday. It's him ordering the perfect drink for me while I'm in the bathroom and me not getting in a snit about his clothes which don't make it to the laundry basket.
It means consistently asking, "You okay?" It's my hand on his chest at night and his hand patting my hip as he walks by in the day. It's saying, "I'm sorry" and starting fresh and believing the best. It's sitting close and listening and laughing and remembering. It's appreciating quiet car rides and offering to dish out the ice cream and talking past midnight. It's "I miss you"s and "I love you"s. Often.
Staying in love forever means staying engaged forever--attentive, thoughtful, focused--both on each other and a brilliant God who binds man and woman together perfectly.
What would you tell a bunch of teenagers about staying in love forever?
See what others think by reading more Marriage Monday posts at Chrysalis.