Love and seeking first the Kingdom have become my focus this year and what the kids and I have been learning about. It has been both an eye opening and humbling experience. I have known for a long time that I am not the mom or wife that I had always hoped to be, as I have allowed resentment and bitterness to come in and rule my actions more often than they should. I am finding hope that I can turn all that around and begin to show my family "real love."
For this post I want to speak more to marital love. My first step in learning about love and loving my husband was reading Dr. Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages. WOW! It made me really look at myself and be honest with who I am and what my love language is (even though it's not what I expected or wanted). It also opened my eyes to what my hubby's love language is and how best to love him. Even with learning all that, I can say with 100% conviction that love is a choice. You have to choose to love your spouse in the way that he/she speaks love. It isn't always easy, but it works.
Whether your marriage is great or on the rocks, in the newlywed stage or going on 50 years; I truly believe that studying the five love languages can help your relationship. For anyone who has been in a long relationship knows that there are times when you just don't have that "loving feeling". Your spouse has done something or said something that hurt your feelings and you don't want to show him/her your love because your hurt and angry, but that may be one of the best times to show your love and open the lines of communication. So often marriages are ending because of bitterness and resentment due to a lack of communication and love. It's not really that the two people don't love each other, but that they didn't speak each others' love languages or they didn't take the time to "really love" each other.
Low self-esteem and self-image is prevalent in our society. It is super difficult to love someone who is negative and doesn't like him/herself, but that's when love is needed the most. It won't be easy, because you won't feel like doing it, but is sure will mean the world to your spouse! They will know that when they were at their ugliest and most unlovable, you loved them anyway. Loving each other in the appropriate love language will bring out the best in that person.
It can also be harmful to a marriage for one person to not allow his/her spouse to show them love. When your spouse asks you what they can do for you, and you say nothing or ignore the question, it doesn't help no matter your reasons. You may think that you are lightening the load by not putting something else on the to-do list, but in reality it puts a barrier between you and your spouse. In a way it's like saying, "Even if I told you how to love me, it wouldn't be good enough." Not really a marriage enhancing statement.
Another reason a spouse may do this is because he/she doesn't feel worthy to accept love. Keep trying and keep asking, the more you love your spouse, the more worthy they'll feel of that love. The more you accept your spouse's love, the more worthy your spouse will feel too. His/her love will be good enough for you, so maybe he/she is good enough for your love.
Marriage is work. I believe that marriages can be saved and can be great. No matter where you are in your marriage relationship or if your engaged and about to enter the marriage covenant, reading this book can be invaluable and make your marriage better than ever.
Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: hoe to express heartfelt commitment to your mate