Do you remember the first time you laid eyes on your spouse? Maybe you met at church or on a blind date, perhaps you grew up together and were high school sweethearts; maybe you met through friends or at camp. But do you remember that moment when you just "knew" that he was "it?" The one you wanted to spend your life with, the one you knew God designed just for you; the one you couldn't live without? We all have our own unique stories and one of my favorite things is listening to women talk about how they met their husbands. Their eyes usually light up as they recall those sweet moments. In fact, I get that way too when I tell my story! I met my husband on August 22, 2004 and we were engaged on September 22, 2004. No, that wasn't a typo! Exactly one month after we met, we knew that we were going to get married. Now, I would recommend to any young person to take a lot more time to get to know someone, but that is our story and it worked for us. It hasn't always been easy, nor has it always been fun.
We, like most couples, started out with excitement, big dreams, and high hopes. I bet you can relate. But then life happens and couples realize they are getting dealt more than what they signed up for. The bills come in, we have jobs and housework, our kids walk through struggles; sometimes there are unexpected health issues or financial trouble and then all of a sudden we forget why we fell in love in the first place. We get frustrated and disappointed with the realities of life and we forget how he made those butterflies go crazy in our stomachs; we forget what it felt like before all the stress and real life issues arose. But those times of frustration and walking through valleys can be the best growth your relationship will ever know. Instead of fighting and growing apart, let those times allow you to draw strength from each other. The times I have fallen deeper in love with my husband have usually been when we were walking through a trial. When our daughter passed away, I fell deeper in love with him. I watched him journey that tragedy with integrity, authenticity and steadfastness. He was there for me through every tear, every moment of asking God why and every day when I didn't want to get out of bed. Trials can bond you or they can tear you apart. Most often than not, you play a major role in that.
You see, love isn't a feeling. When we treat it as such, we are up and down. One minute we are happy and certain of our marriage choice when all is going well, but the minute a stressor arises....we let it dictate our emotions and we can't comprehend what we were thinking by saying "I do." Love is a choice. It is choosing every single day when you wake up to love your spouse no matter what. Remembering that you said, "till death do us part", remembering that you vowed to honor and respect him; that you agreed to submit to his leadership because you trust Him as He serves God. Have I always followed my own advice? No way. But should I do my best everyday to live this out? Absolutely.
Find ways to let your husband know how much you appreciate and value him. If you know he needs quality time to feel loved, be intentional about that; even if it isn't how you feel loved most. If he feels your love by encouraging words; make sure you are speaking those to him on a daily basis. Be self-less instead of selfish. I believe that we can all experience amazing marriages when we do our best to love our spouse how they deserve to be loved and when we make God the center of our lives. Don't let your love for your spouse be dependent on what he does or doesn't do, make the choice every single day to love him; not based on circumstances or emotions. Choose to honor. Choose to respect. Choose to be devoted. Choose to value. I love this quote, "A strong marriage isn't magically created when you say "I do." It is built on a lifetime of "I do's": I do love you, I do cherish you, and I do choose you." We honor God when we honor our marriages. Till death do us part!