One of the big lies in relationship is that you can make progress without effort. It seems obvious but it’s easy to believe if you find the right person that a great relationship will be turn-key.
I have sat down with a lot of couples who said, “My marriage isn’t working.” And there may be some legit reasons it isn’t working, and, in fact, you may need to reconsider the relationship if it is serious enough. But sometimes it isn’t working because you are not working. Quick gut punch question: What if you approached your job like your marriage? Would you have a job? This isn’t to say that every good relationship is just grueling work which is often the picture we get from culture, but it does require work. Sometimes we have a low threshold for pain coming into a relationship because we believe this myth that since I’m with the right person, it will just work. Chemistry will just work but chemistry isn’t the basis for any relationship long term and the “right person” always has baggage no matter how right they seem.
Its why Jesus’ statement is so transformational in understanding relationships and love: “A new command I give you: Love one another…” To which we respond, that’s not transformational at all, it’s obvious. How many relationships started out loving one another only to drift into some pattern of barely liking one another? What Jesus says here is game changing, but we miss it. Jesus takes a word that we normally use as a noun and makes it a verb. In essence, he is saying “Go, love one another”. We respond by saying, “I get that is what I’m supposed to do but we fell out of love”. I think Jesus would answer by saying, “No, you fell out of a feeling but the love I’m talking about isn’t based on a feeling. The question isn’t ‘are you in love’ but ‘are you loving them.’ Basically, you used to ‘noun them’ based on a feeling but long-term relationships require that you ‘verb’ them. If you want to feel something, you must do something.
In any relationship, it is easy to start out leaning on chemistry, attraction, feelings of being in love, and the energy of them being right person. But great relationships are fueled by self-sacrificial love based on Jesus’ love for us. It’s a love that says, “I will even if you don’t” and “I will even if I don’t feel it”. It doesn’t mean that attraction and feeling aren’t apart of it anymore, but it means it is fueled by something deeper and less volatile.
It may not be that you need a new marriage. You just need a new you.
If you are in a difficult place relationally right now, there are obviously no promises that everything will work out or it will all get better. But sometimes healing in a relationship is right on the other side of someone willingness to go first, initiate, and love when they don’t feel like it and the other person doesn’t deserve it.
I’ll leave you with one question: What is one thing you can do to make your spouse feel like you’ll put their needs ahead of your needs? I’m not asking you if they deserve it but I’m challenging you to go first anyway. Begin to consider how they feel above what you feel as it relates to communication, the calendar, your money, and your time. When you begin to do what is loving, even when you don’t feel loving, it can become the catalyst for recapturing something you haven’t felt in a long time.