Marriage relationship, like a tree, grows stronger when it is planted in good soil, nurtured with clean water, fertilized often, and pruned. Many times a new tree must have support stakes to keep it from being destroyed by fierce winds and adverse weather while it comes to maturity. You must become a lover, a skilled communicator in the language of the heart. Love must be cultivated, or it will die.
Last week, I gave you some love secrets. What you are willing to walk away from will determine what God can bring you to. Love is not a license to change or to control your partner. Stop playing the blame game.
And today, I have more love secrets.
When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and apologize
Every person in every married relationship makes major mistakes despite the best intentions and all the wisdom in the world. Minor shortcomings add humor to affection. Perfection is not necessary. Love allows room for disagreements, mistakes, and sadness. However, love does mean that you have to learn to say, “I’m sorry.”
You must learn to apologize when you make a mistake. It is a love secret you may not enjoy, but you must do it to maintain honesty and integrity in the relationship.
Learn to laugh
I believe that people who learn to laugh live long and joyous lives. I know many people who, when they think of love, usually think of passion and romance rather than the joy of laughter. Yet a shared joke, a knowing wink, and a sense of joyous living can make your life delightful.
It’s important to learn to laugh together, not at each other, but with each other. This kind of laughter does not signal mocking or contempt, but it expresses understanding and love. Laughter is not only a great connector; it’s also a great healer. Sophisticated studies are being made in medical science to verify that when you laugh, the brain releases powerful endorphin that heal sickness. The Bible says it this way, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh 8:10). The Bible also says, “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Prov 17:22).
How much laughter is there in your relationship? When you see your wife and loved ones at the end of your day, do you find ways to share joy and laughter? Or have you become so obsessed with work and toil that your have forgotten to develop the sound of laughter in your home? Do it. The rewards are better than streams in the desert.
A marriage built upon sexual excitement alone is doomed to failure
I have been the pastor for nearly 38 years. I have never seen a marriage built on sexual excitement that was successful. There are three phases of marriage: “lust, rust, and dust.” If you are building a dating relationship on sexual excitement, you are violating the laws of God as a fornicator, and your relationship in the future is doomed without total repentance and reformation. When you become romantically involved, you experience an intense adrenaline and endorphin high. Romantic love can be very exciting. Sex ups the ante even more. However, the body can keep the flow of adrenaline and endorphin going for just so long. Soon you become exhausted, depressed, and bored. The relationship is dumped, and you go on to someone else who will give you that same excitement. But soon that new relationship dies also because it has a faulty foundation.
Almost everyone has experienced the physical sensations of romance-the pounding of the heart, butterflies in the stomach, goose bumps, chills, tingling, trembling, and sexual excitement. This is not love; it is romance. Many people become addicted to romance. As a result of such an addiction, there are many disappointments in love, and many marriages fault. Relationships built on the excitement of sex alone are doomed to failure. Are you addicted to the excitement and rush of romance? The consequences will be a perpetual merry-go-round of relationships that never develop into marriage because of the faulty foundations upon which you build.
Jealousy is the way to drive your wife off without trying
As I look back over thirty-eight years of ministry, I see a graveyard filled with marriages that were murdered by jealousy. Jealousy destroys the very love it seeks to develop. Jealousy turns conversations into inquisitions: “Where were you?” “What did he look like?” “How do I know you are not lying?” It is ironic that the more possessive you become, and the more love you demand, the less love you will receive. But the more freedom you give, and the less love you demand, the more love you will receive. The Bible says, “Jealousy is as cruel as the grave” (Song of Sol 8:6).
Let me share with you the story of a man who discovered love letters in his wife’s dresser drawer. This particular man was a man driven compulsively by the spirit of jealousy. Everything his wife did created intense suspicion in his mind. Telephone conversations that lasted more than just a few moments became the basis for interrogation. When his wife went somewhere without him, upon her return he drilled her with: “Where were you? Whom did you see? What did they say?” And so on. When he found the letters in the drawer, he went into a rage, knowing for certain that his wife was having an affair with another man. He was sure that he had lost her. Enraged, he beat her brutally with his fists. When he was put in jail and the lawyers started going through the letters they made a shocking discovery. They were letters he had written her in his youth that she had saved for thirty years to remember a love that had been lost, a marriage that was killed by jealousy.
Learn to forgive yourself for not being perfect
There is no perfect man. There is no perfect woman. At the present time I know several young men who are looking for a woman who is the combination of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Betty crocker, and Mother Teresa. That woman does not exist on the face of the earth. They read Proverbs 31 and declare, “That’s the kind of woman I am looking for.” Let me assure you that Proverbs 31 does not speak of one particular woman. It is God’s composite of the characteristics of good women. No one woman possesses all those characteristics. Proverbs 31 is a goal, it’s not a god.
Many people feel they are not “made of the right stuff” because they were rejected by their parents or peers, because they failed at their first marriages or had a series of business failures. As a result, they feel they are fatally flawed. Unnecessary guilt may be the result of having been told inappropriately that you are flawed. As a result of internationalizing a harsh criticism, people wind up treating themselves worse than their parents ever did.
There was a young man sitting on the back pew at a church. His hair was white as snow. Although his face was young, his eyes and __EXPRESSION__s were haggard and old. His pastor was preaching about The Peace of God. Suddenly tears flowing down the young man's face. After the service, he came forward to the pastor for prayer. Here is his story. He was a soldier serving our country in the Korean War. He was a demolition expert whose responsibility it was to go into a given area, search for any buried bombs or demolition devices, and then pronounce the area to be clear. One day he and his team went into a particular area, performed their search, and then announced to their comrades, “This area is clean of land mines and explosives.”
Within minutes, his dearest friend stepped on a land mine and was killed. It was a moment in time that changed his life, and his black, wavy hair became white as snow in a matter of weeks. Emotionally, he was a living dead man. He blamed himself for the death of his friend to the point that he preferred death to the life he lived. His pastor encouraged him that God had forgiven him, and he should forgive himself. There are many people who have a dark page in their lives. Perhaps you may have an area in your life that required you to accept the forgiveness. God has already given. Rom 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The sooner you recognize your imperfection and the fact that you are, on your best day, a fatally flawed mortal, living day to day by the grace of God, the sooner you will be happy.