Taking Love for Granted
Every once in a while, a couple will come by and talk to me about their marriage. Things aren’t the same, they’ll tell me and they’ll wonder if they’re “falling out of love”.
What seems to be the problem?
Nothing, they’ll say. Everything, they’ll tell me.
Give me an example.
They’re fighting more, they’ll say.
Nothing, they’ll say. Everything, they’ll tell me. They fight about who helps the kids with homework, and who’ll take them to soccer practice, music lessons and church functions.
They’ll fight about who’s the messiest, and why the garbage doesn’t get taken to the street on the right day.
Like they said…nothing and everything.
Then, I’ll ask a question that takes them both off guard. “When was the last time the two of you went on a date?”
Date? They will both look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language.
Date? Like just the two of us? Without the kids?
Yeah, I’ll say, a date. You know. You call and ask her out to her favorite restaurant. Send her flowers and the whole nine yards…when was the last time you did that?
They’ll look at each other, and try to remember. It was before the kids, before the last promotion, before, well, there’s always something that was “before”.
You know how it is, Mike, by the time I get home on Friday, I’m too tired to do anything.
And after a week of keeping the kids or working AND keeping the kids, I don’t want to talk to anyone or take care of anyone. I just want to be left alone.
Besides, Mike, baby-sitters are expensive…
They’re not as expensive as attorneys…
I’ll then ask another question. “How did the two of you meet?” Usually, I’ll hear a great story of two people conniving and planning to “happen” to be at the same place at the same time so he could ask her out, and she, oh my, caught off guard could accept.
There, you see, I’ll say, love doesn’t happen by accident. Nothing in life worth having does. There’s always a choice, intention and action.
The untended fire goes out. So does untended love.
I’ll start with the husband. Tell me her favorite restaurant. He won’t know. What’s her love language? Again, he won’t know.
Why don’t you know, I’ll ask. According to the Bible, husbands are to be stewards of their wives. This is means a couple of things. The first thing it means is husbands should be the “experts” when it comes to their wives. No one should know a wife better than her husband. Period.He should know her story. He should understand her failures and fears, celebrate and support her dreams. He should know what color she looks best in. He should know her favorite music, her favorite vacation place. In short, he should know everything about her.
How do I find that stuff out, the husband will protest.
The same you find out anything else that’s important…ask.
And once you know…act. Love not shown in action isn’t love at all.
I’ll go through the same drill with the wife. I’ll ask her the same questions. She won’t know the answers about her husband either.
How can you not know? Seems to me, if you were just paying attention, you’d overhear some of this. But neither of them are paying attention. They’re busy with life and assuming the other will be always be there.
And that assumption is deadly. Most marriages don’t end dramatically. Most are lost in the most mundane of ways. One of the spouses stops rowing. For whatever reason, they become unwilling to do what’s necessary to make the marriage thrive. They just give up.
And I don’t care how hard you row, if you only have one oar in the water all you do is go around in circles.
How do you break out of that death spiral? A little thought. A little effort. Honestly, you’ll be surprised at how small gestures will make huge impacts. For instance, in my family it works out for me to do the grocery shopping. When I pick up the groceries, I buy Jeannie flowers. Don’t tell Jeannie, but the flowers only costs about $15. She thinks they are beautiful, wonderful, etc…etc… You won’t believe the mileage I get from that $15!
And get this, she’d rather me cook for her than take her out for dinner. Who knew? I do! How do I know? I ask.
And for me? I’m easy…pop some popcorn, sit on the couch with me, and watch my favorite football team on Saturday (Roll Tide!).
Do something that tells her she’s always on your mind.
Tell him something that shows him he’s never second in your thoughts.
Ask her out. Call her on Tuesday night and tell her you’ve got tickets to her favorite band. Line up the baby sitter…and yes, dress up. I know you love your old football jersey, but to her it looks like you’ve just given up.
And yes, dress up for him. Wear the perfume he likes. He’s worth it. After all, he’s the most important man in your life.
Yes, it’s a lot of effort, but living things always require a lot of intentional care. Dead things don’t. You just dig a hole and bury it.
The cashiers in the grocery store always want to know what I’ve done this time to be in so much trouble that I have to bring home roses. Nothing, I tell them.
I’m just a guy who loves his wife.
I’m just a guy who took the time to find out his wife’s love language, and speaks to her in the language she understands.
Besides, don’t you know? Roses are a lot cheaper than attorneys.