Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David will address questions from Crosswalk readers in each weekly column. Submit your question to him at TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.We all want the fairy tale. Women want Prince Charming to come to their rescue. Men want Cinderella to appear, gorgeous and radiant, seeing them as their Prince Charming.
Can you remember the rush of feelings you had when you first met your mate? Do you remember feeling like a high school kid on her first date, wondering if he’ll really like you? Or, asking her out and discovering she wanted to see you again? It was magical.
You made time for one another. You listened to her/ him, and showed your understanding and support. You reveled in discovering this person.
Over time, however, the magic dissipated. Busyness and obligations crept in and stole some of your joy. The shine wore off, the titillating feelings disappeared, and you wondered what happened to Prince Charming or Cinderella.
One of primary challenges, in growing up, is to realize that Prince Charming and Cinderella are fairy tales. No one is perfect, and if you’ve been in a relationship for longer than a few months you quickly realize this. You discover that everyone—including you—has their warts.
A recent email illustrates this problem.
Dear Dr. David. I have been married to my husband for only three years, and already it seems like we take one another for granted. He no longer treats me special, and more and more I don’t feel like treating him special either. Every day seems as dreary as the one before. My husband has a full time job as well as a part-time job as a Youth Pastor at our local church. He works the other job because he can’t manage his money and won’t listen or let me assist. He does things without my input and because “he’s doing what’s best for the family.”
I also work full-time. We both commute at least fifty miles a day, seven days a week and have been for twenty years. The commute to church weekly is more than I can handle. Of course, as a Pastor’s wife, I’m expected to be at church every time the doors are opened (Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday). To add to our marital problems, he has an anger problem when he doesn’t get his way or we don’t agree. What can we do to renew our marriage?
Dear Reader: It is quite obvious, from these few words, that you have both let other obligations and responsibilities get in the way of keeping your marriage alive and fresh. While we wish, and sometimes believe, that our marriages will take care of themselves, this is not true. They require constant attention to keep them alive.
There are several Biblical principles that can help us keep our marriage flourishing.
First, we must cling to our spouse, and in doing so must always keep the importance of marriage before us. You and your husband have many distractions, and seem to have forgotten the importance of clinging to one another. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:31, 32)
Second, we are commanded to love our mate. Again, the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians tells us how love is to be lived out. “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13: 4-7) Love seeks to meet the needs of our mate.
Third, we can choose to be loving toward our mate. There are problems in your marriage which need attention; in the midst of these problems, you can still choose to be loving. You can encourage him to create time and space to renew your passion for one another. You can remember the joys you had when you first dated one another. You can re-create that environment so your love for one another flourishes again.
Fourth, we don’t ignore problems. While there is a challenge to love your husband, you need not ignore the problems in your marriage. You have noted busyness, self-centeredness and anger as a few of your problems. You are becoming exhausted with obligations which may no longer be appropriate for you. Love doesn’t mean ignoring problems—you will need to sit down with him and fully address these issues. Your marriage needs a major tune-up.
Finally, our love for one another is built upon God’s love for us. “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19) God showed His compassionate love for us, and we are able to show compassionate love for others. Our very ability to love is rooted in our acceptance of God’s love and compassion for us. Filled with God’s love, sit down with your husband and tackle these problems, restoring the magic you once had for one another.
What have others done to revitalize their marriage? What have been barriers to creating magic in your marriage? We’d love to hear from you.
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David Hawkins, Ph.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, Saying It So He'll Listen, and When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest books are titled The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.