No one ever told you that the promise to love, honor, and cherish would be so much work. The adrenaline rush of new love makes love seem easy. Over time, though, paying the bills, negotiating the household, and general life stresses wear you down and leave you impatient with the one you promised to stay committed to until one of you dies. I know you promised for better or worse. But on that happiest of days, deep down you didn’t actually think there would be a worse.
But there is.
This world is not exactly rooting for you either. For people who call themselves Christian, Satan works extra hard to tear your marriages apart because he loves wreckage and wants to see you miserable. The people who live around you will minimize the damage that divorce can do to you: physically, emotionally, and financially. But the aftermath is real.
Yet there is hope. Jesus comes with grace and patience and kindness and understanding and says, “It is hard, but you can do anything. Not because you’re strong; I know you’re exhausted. Use my strength. We can do this.”
So today, using the strength that Jesus gives, here are seven ways to love your spouse, even if you don’t—or don’t want to.
- As you look at your spouse, remind yourself “I chose you.” Sometimes you might not have the feelings of love, but the reminder of your conscious decision and promise to love might bring to mind the reasons you did choose that one person.
- Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Remember, we judge ourselves by what we meant to do but judge others by what they actually do. You see, “I meant to <fill in the blank>, but I just ran out of time. But, you, when you didn’t <fill in the blank>, that was done intentionally to hurt me.” That isn’t really fair, is it? You are on the same team. If every day at the office your boss pointed out every teeny flaw, you’d quickly be looking for a new job. Pick three things to just let go.
- Ask for what you want. A slammed dishwasher doesn’t actually tell your spouse, “I’m tired. I’ve had a rough day. I’d love it if we worked together on this.”
- Pray for your relationship. Your God has worked big miracles before. He has turned actual dead people back into actual living people. He can bring new life to your relationship too.
- Make an effort. Ask, “What is one small thing I could do that would make your life easier?” Go on a date, even if it’s on the front porch just to sit and talk. Promise yourself for one whole day to only think positive things. Have sex—don’t treat one of the best blessings of marriage as one of its biggest chores. Once a day, thank your spouse for something specific.
- Ask someone else for prayer. Frankly, it’s hard to be objective. A trusted friend or mentor may be in a better spot to pray for what you need, not just what you want.
- Get professional advice and wisdom. You go to the doctor when you aren’t feeling well: the ER in an emergency. There are pastors and counselors who are trained to help. Let them do their job.
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. She has some other ideas to keep your marriage strong in “8 Conversation Starters for Your Marriage.”