Love and marriage are masterpieces of God's creative plan. Two people with different personalities, backgrounds and gifts enter into a love relationship that makes them one.
It's as old as the Garden of Eden, where the first wedding contained words that have been part of marriage ceremonies ever since: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
Some marriages are enjoyable; others are contests of quiet -- or very loud -- desperation where husband and wife are trying to somehow endure to the end; sometimes to bitter end.
Today, too many marriages are going down in flames, leaving broken hearts and shattered lives that make miserable memories for those who started out with such great hopes and especially for their children.
If your marriage is less than you hoped it would be, here are four questions to brighten your walk down Lover's Lane:
1. Why not really fall in love?
Our misunderstanding of true love is understandable. Hollywood has misled us. Books about romance have muddied the waters. Couples therefore come to the altar with false expectations, thinking their husband or wife will provide all they need to be happy, but true love is more about giving than receiving.
This closest of all earthly bonds is to be a tender one and much of the responsibility for this tender touch falls to the husband.
A familiar quote, often heard at weddings, says it well: "Woman was made from the rib of Adam; not from his foot to be under him, nor from his hand to be ruled by him, but from his side to be next to him, from under his arm to be protected by him, from near to his heart to be loved by him."
2. Why not build on each other's strong points?
Love isn't about putting each other down but about lifting each other up; not about criticism but about encouragement.
What do you like about your wife? What caused you to marry her? How long has it been since you told her how much you appreciate her for who she is and what she does?
What is there about your husband that moved you to want him to be your man? Is he strong, gentle, faithful, honest, a good provider? Make a list of his strengths and go over it often. See what accentuating the positive does to your marriage.
3. Why not express your affection often?
How long has it been since you found a special way to express your love? If you're stingy with your affection, you're not living as God intends.
The late Oswald Smith, former pastor of Toronto's great People's Church, wrote: "You say you are too busy, too weary and too old? Too busy for love? Too weary to express your affection? Too cold to appreciate the touch of a lover's hand. Surely not!"
4. Why not forgive each other?
Some can't enjoy life together because they are unwilling to forgive old wrongs. How unlike the love of Christ their love has become. He forgives us again and again. Following his example will help cold couples understand what love is all about.
Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.
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