Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Dating' your spouse

Almost every advice column on “marriage strengthening” or “rekindling romance” or “spicing up your love life” gives the same advice – schedule date night – as if just having it penciled in on the calendar will unlock all the passion of the early stages of a relationship. In light of how hectic life can be, it is important to make time for each other, but without an attitude adjustment in both partners, no lasting change is likely to occur.

In Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love, Richard and Kristine Carlson point to “in love” teenagers as role models in two very specific areas. Adults often dismiss the love felt by teens as shallow, immature and somehow not real, but it often has two hallmarks that are invaluable to lasting, committed relationships:

* The first is attentiveness. Young lovers tend to focus all their attention on their significant other, and are always actively seeking ways they can express their affection, through words and actions.
* The second hallmark is enthusiasm. There is an energy about these relationships that makes everything seem exciting, that makes the smallest gesture seem like a gift. In marriage, does the familiarity that comes with being together for an extended length of time have to kill that joy? No… but it certainly can if one or both spouses stop actively investing themselves in the relationship.

Both partners must maintain the mindset that they need to win the other's heart, and continue to date each other holding back no effort in that quest. Pull out all the stops! Act as if nothing is more important than making your spouse feel loved – because nothing is more important!
If you’re wondering whether the effort will be worthwhile, consider Proverbs 11:24-25

Some give freely, yet grow all the richer
Others withhold what is due, and only suffer want
A generous person will be enriched
And one who gives water will get water

Guys, when was the last time you went all out to really sweep your wife off her feet?
Ladies, when did you last let your husband know - in no uncertain terms - that you wanted him?
If you have not been fully present in your marriage, or have been withholding part of yourself, your effort, attentiveness or enthusiasm, read the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:5

Do not deprive one another except by mutual agreement for a time
to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again

We are called to give ourselves fully and completely to our spouses. Marriage is not a “50-50” situation, but “100-100” – each gives all to the other. What does that look like? How can that transform a relationship? Are you willing to try it and see?

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