Dr Gary Chapman writes: Being sincere is not enough. We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love. Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself. Most of us do many things each day that do not come “naturally” for us. For some of us, that is getting out of bed in the morning. We go against our feelings and get out of bed because we believe there is something worthwhile to do that day. And normally, before the day is over, we feel good about having gotten up. Our actions preceded our emotions. The same is true with love. We discover the primary love language of our spouse, and we choose to speak it whether or not it is natural for us. You might not love the language itself, but speaking it will clearly communicate love to your spouse. Love is a choice. And either partner can start the process today. Forget about your feelings. You do not have to feel anything to love your spouse. Feelings may change because of your actions, but feelings should not dictate your actions. Choose to love your mate, no matter how you feel. Express love to your mate by word or action once each day for the next month. Perhaps you could begin with a compliment each day for the next week. Do not allow your mate’s reaction to stifle your love. Nothing your mate does can stop your love as long as you choose to love. Why stop when love is your greatest weapon for good and growth? Consider the possibility of accepting in your mate some imperfection that has irritated you for years. If you decide to accept it, be sure to tell your mate. Such acceptance can be a positive step in your own emotional growth.
Emerson writes: "You may remember how the Beatles sang, 'All you need is love.' I absolutely disagree with that conclusion. Five out of ten marriages today are ending in divorce because love alone is not enough. Yes, love is vital, especially for the wife, but what we have missed is the husband's need for respect. This Love and Respect message is about how the wife can fulfill her need to be loved by giving her husband what he needs -- respect. And the husband can fulfill his need to be respected by giving his wife what she needs -- love. Does this always work? No. But if one is married to a person of good will, I would bet the farm that it would work!"
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Gary Thomas writes: The young woman calling the radio program admitted that the man she was dating was — for lack of a better word — a "jerk." He had cheated on her with her best friend; he had no aspirations, and any objective person could see that the guy she had fallen for was not suitable marriage material. Still, she persisted: "I know I can't trust him, I know he doesn't treat me very well, I know he's not going anywhere, but I think he may be the one."
Our culture has embraced a rather absurd notion that there is just one person who can, in the words immortalized by Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, "complete us." This is a disastrous mindset with which to approach a lifelong marital decision.
The real danger in this line of thinking is that many people mistake a storm of emotion as the identifying mark of their soul mate. How else can you identify "destiny"? Such individuals marry on an infatuation binge without seriously considering character, compatibility, life goals, family desires, spiritual health, and other important concerns. Then when the music fades and the relationship requires work, one or both partners suddenly discover that they were "mistaken": this person must not be their soul mate after all! Otherwise, it wouldn't be so much work. Next they panic. Their soul mate must still be out there! Such people can't get to divorce court fast enough, lest someone steal their "one true soul mate" meant only for them. When we get married for trivial reasons, we tend to seek divorce for trivial reasons.
Good and Bad Choices
In a biblical view, there is not "one right choice" for marriage, but rather good and bad choices. We are encouraged to use wisdom, not destiny, as our guide when choosing a marital partner. There is no indication that God creates "one" person for us to marry. This is because Christians believe that God brings the primary meaning into our lives. Marriage — though wonderful — is still secondary.
The search for "the one" is often an idolatrous pursuit. As Christians, we must believe that our primary meaning comes from our relationship with God: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness…" (Matthew 6:33, NKJV, emphasis added). Thus, a Christian should not consider any marital union that would not feed this primary relationship with God. You'll bring great misery into your life if you ignore this command.
But also — just as importantly — we mustn't enter into a marriage expecting more than another human can give. If my wife looks to me to be God for her — to love her like only God can love her — I'll fail every time and on every count. I'm trying, but I fall short every day. Tragically, I see too many young people wanting to get married in order to find this God-acceptance and God-love. Infatuation can initially feel like it approaches this God-love, but eventually it fades, disillusionment sets in, and the once "fabulous" relationship soon becomes an excruciating prison.