1. “I don’t think I love them any more.”
*Mock gasp* Oh no! You know what this means, don’t you?
…It means you should start loving them again. Because the Bible says so. I know it might feel impossible, but God’s speciality is resurrection. Even if it’s from dry bones. Falling out of love is part of marriage. In fact it’s where loving often starts.
2. “Yes but I’ve lost that loving feeling.”
Well, now’s a good time to find that love is not just a feeling. What’s more, we’re not just slaves to our feelings either. When Jesus tells us how to restore ‘that loving feeling’ with Him, He tells us to “do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5). That’s good advice for human relationships too. What did you do together in the first flush of love? Do it again and those feelings will follow.
3. “They complete me.”
No they don’t. Jesus is your fullness and if you try to make your partner play that role, they’ll burn out and you’ll never be satisfied. Let Jesus be Jesus – and your spouse be your spouse.
4. “I think (/don’t think) this person is The One.”
There is no The One. There may be many. Up until you get married – when er – there’s One.
5. “I’m falling in love with someone else.”
“Falling in love” or “jumping into bed with?” At least mentally?
Unfaithfulness involves a thousand little choices. It doesn’t just grab us from behind and drop us in a Travel Lodge. On the other hand, those marriage vows demand some bold decisions – right now – before we “fall” any further.
Don’t beat yourself up for being tempted. But don’t mess with temptation either.
6. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Love means continually saying sorry. And continually forgiving. Again, impossible. But by God’s grace, essential. Especially since “those who have been forgiven much, love much,” (see Luke 7:47). The most loving relationship is not the one without problems, it’s the one where problems are covered over with forgiveness.
7. “What they did was unforgivable.*”
Inexcusable, yes. And I’m sorry – because they were wrong. But because there’s no excuse for it now we have the opportunity to actually forgive. Relationships (with Jesus, in church, in friendships and in marriage) are not founded on sinlessness, but on grace. It doesn’t make their actions ok. It doesn’t give them license to hurt you again. But it doesn’t trap you in hatred and resentment.
* This is not a way of condoning abuse. If you’re being abused, the way you love your partner is to withdraw from danger and get support from your church leaders and the police.
8. “They know I love them. I told them on our wedding day and I haven’t taken it back yet.”
HAHAHAHA. But seriously. Jesus told us He loved us at the cross but went on to write some 66 love letters (called the Bible). If letters aren’t your love language, He continues to tell us through Christian community, preaching, baptism, communion and a thousand daily encouragements and blessings. He tells us He loves us over and over again. This is true in our human relationships too. Love needs to be communicated.
9. “We’re not sexually compatible.”
This can be a sexualised version of myths 1-4 – but that’s not to say it’s not difficult. Problems in the bedroom are intense – they are like all your other issues, but naked. (Butt naked! Never mind…)
Marriage means you don’t have to “perform” in the bedroom. It’s a warm space with walls, where you are protected and where you can be naked; physically and emotionally. There’s no rush and there are no expectations. Time is on your side, not to mention a million couples who have gone before (many of whom have struggled in the same ways), a church community for support and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies every area of our lives. Do not accept the world’s view of “romance” and “good sex”, invest in God’s vision for it. It takes a lot longer, but it’s worth it in the end.
10. “We promised we wouldn’t try to change each other.”
Maybe check the small print on this. Truth is, we promised the very opposite. Wives are meant to change their husbands (1 Peter 3:1). Husbands are meant to change their wives (Ephesians 5:26). You are meant to change your spouse into greater Christlikeness (1 Peter 3:1-7; Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18-19). Not through botox or (my speciality), nagging. Through respect, love, mutual submission, gentleness, godly behaviour and Scripture. It’s hard to think of a higher goal for your marriage than this. And occasionally, it’s even fun.