Man Caves And She Sheds : Staying in love.
It is not that difficult to fall in love. It basically takes a pulse. But while falling in love is easy, staying in love is another matter entirely. Staying in love seems to get more difficult every day. So is it possible for two people to fall in love and actually stay there? The answer is yes. But staying in love requires more than finding the right person. It’s about making love a verb.
Something To Talk About:
Ever wonder if people can stay together for good like people in love? Is it even possible for two people to stay happy together forever? It is if you are willing to do these three things:
- Choose Mutual Submission: The word “submission” has negative connotations today. Over the years it’s been so twisted and misused that many Christian married couples do their best to avoid the subject. Wives often find submission especially negative because they view it as a means for their husbands to hold them down and control them. But the Bible depicts submission as first and foremost a mutual condition of the heart. Before Paul officially addresses wives, he tells the Ephesians to live “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21 ESV). This is a beautiful picture of a husband and wife both coming together on equal ground, choosing to serve one another and sacrifice their own personal independence, preferences, and pasts for the sake of the unity they can have with one another in Christ. Therefore, healthy marital submission is birthed out of a couple who first submits their hearts and lives to Christ and then chooses to mutually submit to one another.
- Guard Your Heart: Guarding your heart – whether you’re in a new relationship or a mature marriage – will not only protect your emotional health, it’ll help you build a strong, healthy bond with your spouse. Guarding your heart means protecting yourself from negative influences, toxic people, and evil behavior. It means shielding your mind and body from anything that isn’t life-giving or affirming. When you guard your heart in daily life, you choose not to listen to conversations that are critical or wrong. You avoid sinking into bouts of complaining or criticizing, and you don’t allow depression, anger, bitterness, self-pity, or self-hatred to overwhelm you. The best way to guard your heart in a relationship is to stop and listen. Be still. Hear what God is telling you. Ultimately, guarding our hearts in marriage is more of a mental exercise than an emotional one. In dually leaning in on Christ and committing to the marital vows, we are freed to trust that our spouse will be in it forever even though our likes and dislikes and circumstances and dreams may change along the way. A chord of three strands is strong. And this is good news for those of us living an imperfectly perfect life.
- Believe The Best: Without knowing every couple, I do know one thing about them…you are married to an imperfect mate. Imperfect or not, the Bible calls you to respect and appreciate your imperfect spouse. This is true whether you’re a husband (1 Peter 3:7) or a wife (Ephesians 5:33). How do we do this in a practical sense? One way is to believe the best rather than the worst. It is too easy to get into the habit of believing the worst of the spouse: we believe the “evil” and not the “good.” Proverbs 11:27 tells us that we get what we look for: “If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!” So as followers of Christ, we need to ask ourselves: Are we searching for evil or searching for good? As Christians, we need to work hard to look for the good and not the evil in the words and actions of our spouses. And once you see, over and over again, that the “good” explanation is usually the real one, you become fully convinced that our spouse is “for” you and not against you and we will believe the best rather than the worst.
- Whose marriage do you admire the most? Why?
- When you were younger, how did you view marriage? How has this changed? What kind of marriage do you want to have? What will it take to make that happen?
- What unwritten rules of love (both healthy and unhealthy) did you learn from your family of origin? How have those rules surfaced in your current relationships?
- We discussed the need to have mutual submission out of reverence for Jesus Christ. What does mutual submission look like in the context of a romantic relationship? What are some challenges towards living this out?
- In John 13:34, Jesus identifies love as a verb, not a noun. What are some concrete differences between feeling love and doing love?
- What steps can you take this week to proactively love someone rather than reacting to what someone else does or does not do for you?
- Some believe that respect is something we must earn, but just like love, respect for our spouses must be unconditional. What does Peter 2:17-18 tells us about that?
- When we expect fairytale endings, when we want to compensate for past hurts, and when we are legalistic, we can hurt our spouses with unrealistic expectations. For a marriage to succeed, we will have to look to God, draw from Him, and keep growing in our relationship with Him as the most important in our lives. Agree or disagree and why?
- What are some unrealistic expectations a spouse can have? How can we not have unrealistic expectations?
- Ask God to help you guard your heart and your spouse’s heart. Commit to seek God every day. Ask Him to help you see the little foxes that might try to nibble away at your marriage.
Take one thing home with you:
So what criteria does God use to measure a successful marriage? The primary (spiritual) purpose for which God designed marriage is found in Ephesians 5:22-26.
“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”
God meant for a husband and wife to model the relationship between God and His people. In the New Testament, this represented the relationship between Christ and His Church. God cares about how we build our marriages and He cares how we model the relationship between Christ and His Church.