I’m not a particularly sporty kind of person. But I have learned over the years that if I want to eat cookies and keep my clothes fitting, I’ve got to do something. So, I run. I lace my shoes up a few times a week; I plug my headphones into my ears, and I set out to get my legs moving and my heart pumping.
If you were my neighbour you might think I love running. I mean, you’d see me out there a number of times in a week. You’d see me stretching pre and post run on my deck. You’d see me in rain and sun and wind and hail. But the truth is, I sincerely dislike running. It’s by no means how I want to spend my early mornings when I could still be curled up under the blankets. But am I committed? Yes – definitely.
The same can be said of my marriage.
If you were to peer in my windows (please don’t!) you’d see my husband and I sitting on Saturday morning having coffee together, talking through our week, and think we must be so happy. On a weeknight evening you’d see me chopping and sautéing foods that I don’t even like, but I know my husband does. You may conclude that I’m exceedingly selfless. You might see love and encouragement and endless support; but, the truth is, that’s not always the case. The thing that you can’t see is inside my heart and I hate to admit it, but sometimes I just don’t want to do these things. But am I committed? Yes – definitely.
1) I know that my body works better when I’m active, challenging it, making it stronger: these happen when I run.
I know that my marriage works better when I show love, am giving and committed: these happen when I’m loving, even if I don’t feel like it.
2) I know that once I’ve actually left the house and am down the street, I won’t mind running quite so much. It’s that first step – getting the shoes on the feet – that’s always the hardest. The decision.
Same thing in our marriage.
Once I start the process of showing love, my heart quickly steps into line and begins to feel loving. Often, it’s that first step (especially when I’m tired or feeling selfish) – that’s always the hardest. The decision.
3) The sweat is worth it. It feels good to come back tired with muscles that have worked hard.
Showing love is worth it too, because it feels good to see a smile on my husband’s face or the joy he feels from being well loved.
4) Working on building muscle mass contributes to a longer, healthy life with less aches and pains.
Ditto with a relationship. When we show love daily, hourly, and repeatedly, it contributes to a longer, healthy marriage without the aches and pains of feeling ignored or lonely or unloved.
The truth is . . . in a relationship we don’t always going to feel like loving our spouses. We won’t always want to listen about their day when our own has been particularly difficult. We’re not going to want to kiss before falling asleep if they’ve annoyed us at dinner. And since we don’t always agree, there are times when we just feel outright mad. But staying in the “mad and annoyed” only creates division, bitterness and breaks down the relationship.
Instead, if we choose to give that kiss when we don’t feel like it or ask about their day even though we’re dying to rant about our own, it’s choosing the greater good. It’s actively seeking to grow your relationship instead of tearing it down. It’s purposely seeking the joy in our spouse instead of selfishly wanting our own way. It’s making marriage something we’re committed to all the time – instead of just when we feel like it.
I think what we’ll find is that when we don’t feel like giving love and yet we do it anyway, we quickly remember why we love, and the feelings will follow. What if they don’t right away? That’s okay too. These feelings are normal and like every other feeling, they will come and go. What doesn’t have to change is the love we show, the care we take and the decisions we make in our marriages.
Those can stay exactly the same, regardless of our feelings!
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