This Decemeber, Deidra and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. For me, that means in 2 more years, more of my life will have been spent married to Deidra than my childhood, teenage, and early adult life combined. We both can’t believe that it’s been 20 years. TWENTY. Wow…
In that time I’ve learned a few things about relationship and what it takes to make it to the 20 year mark (as well as the next 20).
1. Love is a decision that is demonstrated by every day actions.
Let me be clear that I am not the perfect husband…just ask Deidra…but I do know that fairytale romances where husband and wife have butterflies in their stomachs every time they see each other is a facade. They don’t exist. Those that say they do exist are either in an unhealthy co-dependant relationship or they are so scared of not having the perfect marriage that they “pretend” everything is just perfect. But it’s not.
Instead, long lasting marriages are built on choosing to be committed to one another and choosing to show love. It’s not enough to “feel” it…you have to show it. When I infuriate Deidra, or vice versa, we have to CHOOSE to forgive. When I know I’ve messed up, I have to CHOOSE to ask forgiveness and modify my attitude or behavior. When I am certain about what I want to do, I have to CHOOSE to put Deidra’s desires first. Those are decisions, not feelings.
2. Feelings are misleading.
Our bodies are incredibly complex. They are stimulated by smells, sights, sounds, sensations, and chemical processes. How I “feel” when things are going perfectly and how I “feel” when I am stressed are completely different things. Let me eat something full of fat and grease, and I feel very different. If I’ve had a good day, I will feel different about life in general than if I’ve had a bad day. If I determined my love for Deidra by how I FELT about her, a bad hamburger or a stressful day at work could convince me that we shouldn’t be together anymore.
This is honestly where so many affairs begin. I don’t “feel” in love like when we first dated and then I have a positive experience around someone else that “feels” more exciting, so I pursue it. Love is not about feelings, it’s about a decision.
3. We can learn alot by the way Jesus CHOSE to love us.
Jesus had a choice to give His life for us. It was not determined by His FEELINGS but by His convictions.
39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:39–44 (ESV)
4. The more we DECIDE to ACT in love, the closer we become.
After 20 years, I can honestly say that one of the greatest joys of being married is knowing that Deidra is there, no matter what boneheaded thing I have done. She is my friend, she will stand beside me, and she will sacrifice her wants and needs for mine. She also knows that I will do the same for her.
What decision do you need to make, today, to act in love?