Monday, February 06, 2012

How Do You Stay in Love Forever?

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.
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

Philippians 2:4-5
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.

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.


Constance said...

I really like your use of the word, ENGAGED. I think that really is a one word summation! Being engaged in each others lives is an intentional decision. We have to resolve to make time for one another, inquire about each other, take an interest as well as perform acts of kindnesses and thoughtfulness for each other. One thing that happens in our house is that I love to cook and Dave loves to eat my cooking. Whenever he travels I ALWAYS have one of his favorite meals prepared for him the night he returns home. Some nights pizza delivery would be so much easier but I know how much he appreciates it and so I do it. It's funny how even though I might be tired, God will give me the strength to go the extra mile whenever it comes to serving Dave (and in turn God).
Thanks for your insights today!

Alicia The Snowflake said...

Amen! It really is about all the little things that go into a marriage. You have to work to make it work. But really when it's for the one you love, it doesn't seem like work. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

Beth said...

Such great words of wisdom here. I totally agree, staying in love means staying engaged. Easier said than done, but you've proven that it can be done with especially as we partner with Christ! Great post, Tami!

Lisa Maria said...

How I loved this post Tami! I learned most of this the hard way...but I thank God that I learned it! I had lots of unrealistic expectations in the past. I know all about the pressure to perform thing! Now that I'm more realistic I'm actually being pleasantly surprised. Thank you for sharing inspiring.

Denise said...

Amen, amen.

e-Mom said...

Wonderful. Love all the little things you do for each other. e-Dad noticed two new bottles of ketchup in the fridge today. His eyes really lit up...

Thanks for joining us for Marriage Monday today, Tami.

e-Mom @ Chrysalis

Miriam Pauline said...

Great list my friend. I especially appreciate letting him love Christ more than me---even when that means changes to our life or time away when I'd rather him be home.

Thanks so much for your example.

Faith said...

Oh I LOVED This post.....this is one of the best MM posts i have ever read!! I love how you used the word engaged in your post! :)

You sound very realistic in your expectations and that is sooooo appreciated by me!!

eph2810 said...

What a powerful post, Tami. I agree, it is being attentive and focused all the time.
I surely have not married a man that has romantic tendencies, but he shows his love for me in different ways.