“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
We need that same passion of a soldier in our marriages. We must fight because we love. We must fight for who we love. We must make war to make love last in marriage. Make war against those things that could divide our union. Fight for those things that will protect and preserve our union. Make love our highest priority as we pursue a selfless, sacrificial, and more perfect union.
At some point, every couple will engage in battle. The attacks may come from outside or from within the relationship itself. It may be a small squabble or a big battle. All good marriages have challenges. Is it worth the fight? Is it worth the sacrifice? Absolutely. The battles may be ugly, but the victory—the forever love—the peace that comes from the knowledge that you have loved well and stayed the course is so, so sweet. We know because we have fought the fight for love for 26 years in our marriage and continue to press on.
State of Our Union
Throughout our years of marriage, Susan and I must confess that we have engaged in battles against each other that have not always been civil. Fortunately, through our years together, we’ve identified some enemies and are fighting together against them. We’re gaining ground and have the confidence and hope that we can win even more battles as we strive to love one another well.
Make War to Make Love
Here are just a few of the things we’d encourage you to make war on as you make love your highest priority in your relationship.
Make War on Selfishness.
The opposite of love is not hate, it is selfishness. This is arguably our greatest enemy. We have found that many of the enemies we fight in our marriage are rooted in selfishness. Selfishness is all about getting, love is all about giving. Selfishness is based on the performance of a spouse, love is based on the person your spouse is. To make war on selfishness, we must start by remembering that it is our duty to give of ourselves selflessly and sacrificially to our spouses, no matter what. That’s what love is all about.
Make War on Discontentment.
“If I just had _________, then I’d really be happy.” How would you fill in that blank? A better marriage? More obedient children? A healthier life? A higher paying job? We can dream all day long about how much better things would be if we just had one more thing. But the truth is, even if we had it, it probably would not make us happy for very long. We’d want something more. So combat discontentment by developing an attitude of gratitude. But how can we develop an attitude of gratitude in the midst of the daily grind? Spending time dwelling on everything you are grateful for may sound elementary, but I think there’s something to it, especially since you can do this almost anytime and anywhere. Maybe it’s spending an extra few minutes reflecting before you get out of bed in the morning or turning off the radio on the drive to work to think about your blessings.
In our marriage, gratitude surfaces naturally every time Susan must have another heart surgery. We are forced to thankfulness for the life we have had together when she goes into surgery and for the gift of time we will continue to have when she comes out of surgery successfully. Whenever it may be for you, make pondering things you’re thankful for a priority on a regular basis. And remember, attitudes are contagious. Who knows, maybe your spouse will catch your attitude of gratitude too.
Make War on Busyness.
He says, “I’m so slammed at the office this week. I’m going to be working late every night to get things done so I won’t be home for dinner!” She says,“This is a crazy week for me and the kids. Between work, basketball playoffs, piano recitals, and soccer tournaments, I just don’t have time to go on our date.” Sound familiar?
Not many days go by without someone I know saying how busy they are. And often they say these things with a hint of pride…as if being busy is something they are proud of. They wear their busyness as a badge of honor. And we’re no exception. There have been many busy seasons in our lives when we’ve been quick to tell people all about how we’re running from one thing to the next and being pulled in so many directions. But over time, we’ve come to learn that busyness is not something to be proud of. Somehow, we’ve equated busyness with value. We’ve equated busyness with importance. We’ve equated busyness with honor. And yet, being busy can be harmful in so many ways.
When spouses find themselves on different schedules, they often become like two rudderless ships passing in the night…and day. One is getting home from work while the other is taking their daughter to soccer practice. One is sleeping in after a long night of work while the other is up early and out the door to get things done. Whatever the situation may be, a disconnection arises in marriage when you’ve given the best of your time and energy somewhere else and only have your leftovers for your spouse. So, the first step is to acknowledge that you are too busy and that busyness is not a badge of honor. Second, remember that you choose what you put on your calendar. So control your calendar or it will control you.
Make War on Words.
Toxic words poison and sometimes even kill relationships. Words like, I hate you or I wish I never met you can cause irreparable damage. I confess. There have been too many times when harsh, harmful words have come out of my mouth toward others. It grieves me. I’m continually working hard to choose my words wisely.
There are five toxins of the tongue that we must avoid: sarcastic words, unsupportive words, disrespectful words, comparing words, selfish words. Words can also be used for good. Just as we know words can tear down, powerful words can also build up. Here are five types of powerful words to breathe life into your marriage: respectful words, affirming words, caring words, encouraging words, appreciative words.
When we make war on selfishness, discontentment, busyness, and words, we will start to advance love in our relationships. And when love is front and center, we’ll stay on the long and good road to our lifelong marriage.
What do you do to make love and not war in your marriage? Please share with me.