Keeping love alive and well

Tips for Life

by Alan Bailey

As I stood admiring a lovely home the other day I was told that the previous owners, in their seventies, had split up and were going their separate ways. How often do we hear of it? Couples who have lived together for most of their lives, having brought up a family and been through thick and thin together, deciding that they can’t stand each other any more.

Not only is the change of heart hard to understand but the aftermath of the break-up must be so painful as to threaten any future happiness. Property splitting, new family relationships and other changes would hardly be all sweetness and light.

Sad old Eros
Without a doubt, love, steadfast and faithful, is a central ingredient in a happy marriage. For all who’ve ‘been there, done that’, being in love is a joy that defies description. The real thing seems more heavenly than earthly. But look at the same pair, once starry-eyed, now bleary-eyed, 10, 20, 30 years on. Their love, which once seemed like a healthy fruit on a growing vine, is now a shrivelled up dead thing that is hardly worth talking about.

Break-ups occur most often because couples feel that the joy of being together has gone. All too often, living under the same roof spells war or boredom or both. There is little or no expression of affection. They annoy each other for the most trivial reasons. He is too busy to take an interest in her. As one writer put it, ‘He works like a horse and she nags.’ When they think about each other they think in negatives.

More talking
Though it sounds difficult, before it’s too late, couples like this must begin talking about it to each other. If only an honest sharing of feelings and inner needs can take place, there is hope. When each knows clearly where the other person is, a choice must be made. To build the other person up or to tear them down. Some choose to run away.

By building up, I mean endeavouring to meet the emotional needs of the partner, to accentuate positive things about them. This will mean a complete change of tone. Compliments instead of insults, appreciation instead of criticism and sympathy instead of bitterness. This kind of soil encourages love to grow once more. The old days of courting, wooing and winning must begin again for the husband. The days of responding, admiring and accepting must return for the wife.

A choice
Yes, it is a choice. Some use ‘I no longer love Jim’ as an excuse to back away, as if loving was just a feeling you had like feeling sick or feeling well. More accurately, we choose to concern ourselves about another’s welfare or we choose not to.

In the Bible, we read that Jesus commanded His followers to love, not with natural love alone but with the divine love, agape. This is the love that brought Jesus here to die for us. This did not happen because of our lovable-ness but despite our lack of it. His is a love that never lets go, that aims to bless. By knowing and trusting in Him, our love can be like His.

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