The Ingredients of a Loving, Lasting Marriage
Marriage is a lifelong commitment, and the need to show your spouse love doesn’t stop as the years go by. We often enter marriage with our own interpretations of love, which could come from our fairy tale fantasy or from a past relationship. Having a preconceived idea of love can bring pressure to the marriage, because it builds an expectation a person may not be able to live up to. If we tear away all of the layers that represent our ideas of love and replace them with God’s definition of love, we will find the true ingredients of how to have a lasting, loving marriage.
To maintain a healthy relationship, we have to understand that real love requires sacrifice. If we are unable to make sacrifices in our relationships for our spouses, at times we will be playing a tug of war when we hit rough patches. Love says, “I will love you even through your faults.” We all have imperfections, but because marriage is like a big mirror we often see the faults of our spouses before we see our own. God’s love is unconditional—no matter what moods we are in, we can always know and trust that God’s love is unchangeable. This is called agape love. If we can demonstrate agape love toward our partners in our relationships, our marriages will be unbreakable.
This does not mean we should not communicate when we are unhappy, but it is how we communicate our concerns that makes the difference. When we think about how we communicate with our best friends, we generally speak in love when we disagree with them. The Greek word philia describes this type of love as being in the fellowship of those you really enjoy. We can translate this love into our marriages and speak to our spouses with that same love. It is so important to build up a friendship with your spouse and not limit your relationship solely to being lovers or husband and wife. It’s important to spend time with each other as friends.
In the event of having an argument, make sure you never sleep on an angry heart. We must try hard to reconcile any disagreement with a kiss and an “I love you.” It does not matter who is wrong or who is right—marriage is for a lifetime. If we allow petty arguments to fester in our hearts, those disagreements will bring bitterness and unforgiveness into beautiful, loving relationships. As God has forgiven us, let us also extend that forgiving spirit into our marriages. (However, if you are in an abusive relationship seek wise counsel and immediate help.)
Many married couples find it hard to keep the passion in their marriages, especially after having children, or sometimes the busyness of life can push couples into routines that do not include “couples time.” The Greek word eros translates to demonstrating the passionate, butterflies-in-your-stomach type of love. One of the things you can do to revive the eros into your marriage is to ask your husband to go lingerie shopping with you, either in a shop or online, and wear what he chooses for you. In return, you can ask your husband to do something you like.
When we offer to serve each other and walk in forgiveness, our marriages will blossom, because we are following the true design of what God intended. We need a little dash of philia and eros to keep the fire burning; however, it is the constant dose of agape that will keep our marriages lasting for a lifetime.