Posted by curlyq on March 4, 2013 in Marriage
During our engagement, my husband and I had several marriage preparation sessions with another couple who had been married 30+ years and who had also been involved in marriage preparation programs for close to as long. At the time I was not looking for such a time commitment to marriage preparation – there were 6 or 7 meetings, one every two weeks for two hours and then homework in between! My knowledgeable mom nagged me into it saying, “I’ll focus on the wedding; you focus on the marriage.” And so reluctantly, I went.
Each topic this couple covered could be its own article. For now, I want to focus on one that seems to be a recurring issue in so many marriages today (including of course my own) – “Choosing to Love.”
This is not a foreign topic to most of us, the idea being that love is a decision and not just a feeling. Feelings, as we all know, are fleeting. There are very few people out there who are married to the first guy they ever had a crush on or even their very first boyfriend. For most of us, there were guys before our current spouses whom we really thought we could fall in love with (or perhaps we even did fall in love with). And for one reason or another, those relationships ended. Maybe it was some annoying habit they had, maybe it was issues with their families, maybe we disagreed over friends or finances, maybe other guys or gals got in the way, or maybe we don’t even know why it ended and we just got our hearts broken.
Whatever the reason those previous relationships ended, here we are now having entered into life-long commitments with our husbands. So what happens when some of those same issues from previous relationships (and even many new ones) arise in our marriages? How do we stop these from pulling us apart from our spouses like they did from previous boyfriends?
The answer is simple – we choose to love. Does that means we choose to feel light-headed and giddy around our spouses all of the time? Of course not – those are feelings and we cannot control our feelings. But, as I previously mentioned, love is not a feeling. Love is putting another person before yourself – being patient, compassionate, even sacrificial – for the good of the other person.
The good news is, once we make this choice to love, our feelings will follow! Once we choose to sacrifice our own wishes and desires for the sake of our spouses’ (even when you are really, really, really mad at him), we will start to feel love for him again. It doesn’t happen immediately, but it will happen.
Practically speaking, what does this look like? Well, it does not look like “giving in” or “letting him win” every time. Whatever you’re fighting over, you may in fact be right and have a really good point. For me, when I’m angriest, choosing to love my husband looks like me ironing his shirts or buying him Blue Bell ice cream (Cookies ‘N Cream is his favorite).
I don’t always remember to do this, and sometimes I choose not to because I just feel too angry. But when I can overcome my own anger and I start focusing on him instead of on myself and my frustrations, I fall in love again (and he falls in love with me too). And once you remember that you do love each other again, it becomes a lot easier to work out whatever struggles you’re having.
Of course, your husbands have their own Blue Bell Cookies ‘N Cream ice cream. For some it might be cleaning up around the house before he gets home, for others it might be getting the oil changed in his car, or for some it might be saying things to build up his ego.
Before you can choose to love, you have to know who it is you are loving and how he wants to be loved. Who is your husband? What does he like and dislike? What means the most to him? If you’ve never read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, I highly recommend it. Until then, find what it is that makes your husband feel loved, and make it your first priority. You vowed “till death do us part” so do your part to give yourselves a happy life together.
-Mommy Mentor Cafe du Mom
If you liked this article, you may also like “4 Tips for a Happier Marriage.”
If you ever see any egregious typos in any of our articles, please let us know! We’re probably typing with our toes because we’re nursing babies, wrestling a wild toddler, and having a cup of coffee. Thanks for your understanding and help!
As always, here is my have-mercy-on-me disclaimer. Thank you!