I’ll start this article with a question. Do you think love is an emotion or a decision? How you answer is a huge factor in how you approach the success or failure of your marriage.
It has always amazed me that in most careers you need a license or a college degree, but when it comes to entering what is meant to be a life long commitment in marriage there is no training required. Where did you learn how to be in a committed healthy relationship? Most people would say they learned from watching their parents or other couples as they were growing up.
Remember back to that day you and your spouse stood at the alter and pledged you love and affection to one another in front of God, family and friends. Remember those words you said to each other as you gazed into your spouses eyes, “I will love, honor and respect you ‘til death do us part.” Where does that come from and what does it really mean?
It might come as a shock to you that those are the instructions from God to have a healthy successful marriage. God tells the husband to love his wife as Christ loves the church and for wives to respect her husband. You can read God’s plan for marriage in Ephesians 5 and throughout the bible.
I know we all struggle in our marriages because even those who withstand the test of time will tell you, at times, it was hard work and took a lot of trials and errors to get where they are today – still married and in love with each other and committed until the end.
I have been married to my amazing wife Alma for 23 plus years and I am so in love with her to this day. She is my best friend and we are each other’s biggest fans, but it was not always this way. My wife and I both came from parents that were divorced and it was no surprise that we had to seek counseling to help us figure out why we were having so much difficulty in making our marriage work. Our counselor gave us each a copy of a book called Love and Respect.
This book opened our eyes to what we were doing wrong and changed our focus of doing marriage God’s way and not ours. The book explained how we as a couple could work through difficult times and still be there for one another. I have recommended this book to several couples over the years and have seen positive change in how those couples do marriage.
Here are some ideas that helped my marriage.
• Never go to bed angry – work it out before you go to sleep
• Have each other’s back when conflict hits
• Be quick to listen and slow to speak
• Take a break if conflict gets heated
• Agree to disagree
These are a few tips that helped my marriage and many others. The bottom line for me is that love is a decision and not an emotion. I choose to love my wife everyday I wake up and it is my goal each day to let her know that I do love her. I hope this helps or brings some light to those marriages that are in the dark. God wants your marriage to work. If that is your desire, then make it work. Choose to love.
By Roger Fowble, LAFD Chaplain