The Art of Staying in Love Part III
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."1
As we have been discussing this week true love has many characteristics, another of which is as follows:
Love is romance. I read about one woman who had been married for 25 years. She was in her front yard when the newlywed man from across the street arrived home from work. His wife rushed out the door to greet him and they stood embracing for a long time.
The observing woman got the message. When her husband came home that evening she did likewise. The rewards of all such romantic gestures are well worth the effort. And men, don't forget that our ladies love a rose from time to time and other "little things" that make them feel loved and important. A good tip for keeping romance alive, as one person suggested, is to have an affair—with your wife!
Love is also a commitment. Love that lasts is a commitment of one imperfect person to another imperfect person. It means that no matter what, I am committed to you and to your growth. I will be what you need me to be—not necessarily what you want me to be. If you need me to be loving and affectionate, I will be loving and affectionate. Or, if for your growth you need me to be lovingly tough and firm, I will be lovingly tough and firm. Within the bounds of my own imperfections I will always strive to do and be what is best for your growth.
This kind of commitment means that one will not try to manipulate or control the other person to get his or her own way, but will at all times maintain gut-level, open and honest communication. It isn't easy, but it is the way of love.
Love is spiritual. Love is not only physical and emotional, it is also spiritual. For instance, sociologist Steven Nock of the University of Virginia, studied the link between religion (the spiritual) and the family. He concluded that couples who attend church regularly are 42 percent more likely to be still married for the first time than couples who don't go to church.
However, it's more than just going to church that makes a marriage happy. It's commitment that makes the difference. Those truly committed to their spiritual faith are 23 percent more likely to have a "very happy" marriage than couples who don't go to church.
The point is when we respond to God's love, He gives us "a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline"—all essential for cultivating loving relationships. So, if you don't attend church regularly, why not start this week. Find a church where love, friendship, and affection are expressed. This, too, can help to greatly enrich your love life.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to realize that among the many requirements for lasting loving relationships is a commitment, not only to my partner, but also a deep commitment to You. Help me always to live in harmony with Your will and keep you in the center of my life and relationships. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. 2 Timothy1:7 (NIV).