But flowers die and candy gives me a belly ache.
So what’s a woman to do when the man she pledged her heart to feels distant?
Stomp her feet and cry out to God, asking Him to intervene, that’s what! You may be familiar with the verse:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8 NIV)
The longer I’ve been doing this Christianity thing, the more I realize how true those words are.
My ways focus on temporary comfort and pleasure. God longs for something immensely deeper and more lasting: wholeness, oneness, an intimacy that takes two different, sinful, selfish creatures and makes them one.
Isn’t that what we desire as well? Not just that first, tummy-fluttering date or that kiss at the wedding altar, but a love that penetrates to our core and remains vibrant long after we’ve turned old and gray?
How do we find that kind of love?
One morning, about fourteen years ago, my spouse and I slipped into a pit of marital tension and isolation. As I dutifully mopped the floor, I rehashed the lonely night before. My radio played in the background, but I barely listened. Until one speaker came on who spoke of a love so deep, it stirred a yearning within.
The man spoke about his wife, of her gentle nature, of her patience and love, of her godliness. His affection and admiration for “his bride” of over four decades was so evident, it brought tears to my eyes. I wondered, would my husband speak of me like that, or would his words be laced with anger and regret?
Oh, how I wanted to be that kind of woman! As I listened to this man of God describe this woman that had completely captivated him and kept him captivated decades later, I began to see how far I fell short.
I realized I, not my husband, was the greatest barrier to lasting intimacy.
If I wanted our marriage to change, that change had to begin with me. That morning I confessed all the ugliness in my heart, all the times I’d chosen selfishness over love and complaints over affection and gratitude. Then, I asked God, my Creator and Redeemer, to change my heart.
To help me see the best, not the worst, in my husband.
To find ways to serve him rather than reasons why he should serve me.
To speak words of encouragement, support, and affection rather than judgment and condemnation.
Funny thing, my husband reciprocated, and in 2002, he pledged his life to Christ. Soon after, we renewed our vows, promising to love one another as Christ loves His church. It hasn’t been easy, nor have we loved perfectly, but we’re learning. Growing. And still loving, 18 years later.
This Valentine’s Day, how can you encourage emotional intimacy in your marriage? What’s one thing you can do, each day, to show your spouse unconditional, sacrificial, initiating love?
Will you, starting today?
To love sacrificially, we’ll have to let go of a few things like pride and selfishness, but what we gain, a deep, lasting, and growing love, will make every humble apology and act of service well worth it.