Fixer Upper Marriage
Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’?
God’s creation of love is one of the most amazing things in life. He created people with the urge to love and be loved by someone. People dream about love, read about love, and wish for love to find them. Love is the “big bang” of life. It’s when two people collide in a way that fundamentally alters the course of their lives. Love is a feeling, an emotion, a commitment, a longing, a desire, and a desperate need. Once you have fallen in love with someone, it doesn’t matter what happens, that person is always with you.
I remember the moment I let go of everything; my past, my fears, my hopes, and my dreams. I let myself fall. The only things there to catch me were an overwhelming force of love or a devastating mire of hurt and defeat. But love caught me and held me tight, now I never want to let it go. When I look into the eyes of my lover I see everything I ever want and everything I have in this life. If you have found love, believe in it, nurture it, and fight for it because if you let it slip away you may never find it again.
Ronald Reagan the 40th president of the United States wrote the following to his wife Nancy:
“I more than love you, I’m not whole without you. You are life itself to me. When you are gone I’m waiting for you to return so I can start living again.”
But love is not without its risks. There is a long trail of lost love, broken hearts, and deep regret. What do you do when you feel your love slipping away, or you wake up one day and realize you’ve lost it? How do you get it back? How do you put two broken hearts back together again?
What can you do when you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’?
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.Revelation 2:4-5
Table Of Contents
Remember What You Had
(Remember therefore from whence thou are fallen)
Memories Are Love’s Treasure Box
Memories are the things that you have that no one can take away from you. You build your love on those memories. It starts the day you first meet. That memory connects you to the next moment and those memories just keep building and connecting; until you fall in love and all those memories get electrified. Memories become the spark that ignites the passion of your love.
Sometimes, when you are right in the middle of hardship you can’t see anything except what is right in front of you. You can’t see any hope for the future or good memories from the past. You just get stuck. Memories are God’s gift to lovers.
The Romantic Moments
The moment I first met Amber seemed like such a fleeting thing at the time. But it became so much more meaningful as we feel in love. Her eyes looking at me and her radiant smile changed my life. I think it’s those first moments that could have gone either way that means the most to me now. Those moments when I was the most vulnerable to her. Embrace those moments with each other. Let those moments write the story of your love.
The Funny Moments
Relive those moments when you laughed together about something. I enjoy laughing with my wife. They say that laughter is the best medicine. The Bible even says as much in Proverbs 17:22a A merry heart doeth good [like] a medicine…
The Big Moments
One of the big moments for me is the moment we met. The first time we talked (which was awkward). Especially since I absolutely cannot carry a conversion. I brought my sister with me as a safety measure in case things didn’t go well. And one of the best days of my life was our wedding day. Sometimes we even look back at our wedding album. Although that is more of my wife’s thing. We have the most amazing wedding pictures. A friend had a photography business and he is amazing at it. If you ever want incredible photography that captures people in moments you can’t beat Spectrum Photography by Shannon Turner.
The Little Moments
I think these are the moments that make or break your marriage. Living together through the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s what really matters, By the way, I am the bad and the ugly in our marriage! When you go out to eat together, take a walk, or just watch a movie together, you are creatting little moments. Those little moments all add up to something much bigger and meaningful in your marriage.
You Make Memories
Be deliberate in spending time together.
The longer you are together, the harder this becomes. When you get more responsibilities and even start having kids, it gets harder to make time for each other. But you have to make it your mission to make time for each other. Even if it is in small moments. They will add up over time. We talked about this almost a couple of years ago in an episode entitled, How You Can Become Deliberate in Your Love. Being spontaneous is great, but most of the time you have to plan things in order to make them happen. So if you want a better marriage it doesn’t just happen, you have to work at it. When you are first falling in love just feels like it just happens, but staying in love takes work.
Celebrate your love every chance you get.
Be grateful that you have each other because that may not always be the case. Something could happen to one of you or one person could decide to leave. So it’s important to celebrate your time together while you have it because that time may be more limited than you realize.
Choose to see the good in your spouse.
You should NOT focus on everything wrong with your spouse. Although it is important to talk about things that bother you; it’s also important to not let those things define your spouse to you. Notice the good things that you like about your spouse and let those things define who they are to you. You don’t have to let your spouse’s faults destroy your relationship. Here’s the big reveal in all of this, YOU HAVE FAULTS TOO!
This reminds me of my relationship with the Lord. He treats me according to the tiny bit of good in me (for which He gets the credit for by the way). And not for all my faults, and trust me I have a lot of them.
Treat the Bad Memories as Important as the Good
I know it’s hard when bad things happen. When Amber and were newly married, she delivered our first baby stillborn, my dad suffered from a major stroke (He would never fully recover), both of our cars broke down, and my job situation became unstable. All at the same time! But our love for each other was galvanized during that time. So even though it was not good at the time, these are important parts of our lives together.
Repent for Your Wrong
Accept Responsibility for Your Part of the Relationship
Everybody Has an Excuse
I understand the sentiment of how past experiences lead you to make the choices that you make and how they shape who you are. But I think that anyone could probably justify the wrong they do in this way because everyone has scars. Maybe yours are a little deeper or more obvious than others. If you allow the hurts in your past to control you, then you are choosing to allow those events to dictate your future.
Today, there is the victim mentality that is pushed in our culture. Everybody is a victim of someone or something else whether real or perceived. There is no excuse for you doing wrong in your relationship. You have to learn how to accept responsibility for your part of the problems in your relationship.
When you start having problems in your marriage, the first inclination is to point to the problems that your spouse has or is causing. As if those problems have led you to do what you are doing wrong. There is probably some truth to that but you still are responsible for you. You can’t control what someone else does, but you can control how you let those things affect you.
After you have been married for a while you probably have enough negative baggage in your relationship to justify leaving your spouse. So you can use that negative baggage as an excuse or you can choose to let those things go. Falling out of love feels like something you can’t control but it’s tied to the little choices you make to hold onto the negative things.
Keep a Short Relationship Tab
Marriage is like housework. You can do a little bit of cleanup every day or you can let things pile up and all those little messes turn into a big mess! Marriage is the same way in that you have to keep the messes in your relationship cleaned up. If you don’t work on the little problems in your marriage as they come up, they will eventually turn into one BIG problem. Now you can clean the big mess in your relationship up but it will take a lot more time and work to fix.
Falling out of love is more about the little things you don’t do to maintain your relationship than the big thing that you end up blaming for its failure.
I have gone to church my entire life, so I have seen amazing things happen and crazy things happen. But there is this pattern that I have seen with people. They start out with all this excitement when everything is new. Then little negative things eventually start happening. Finally, something happens that becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back or the last straw. But the last straw is really just an excuse for a ruined relationship. It was really all the little “straws” that were not dealt with at the time and now they have become a huge problem.
The Marriage relationship can follow this same pattern. Consider the Love Timeline:
Make a Decision to Change Your Mind
The Importance of Decision for Eternity
When I first became a Christian it all started with a choice that I made to ask Jesus into my heart and life. This is how it worked…
- I Realized that I Was Wrong. The way I was living or wanted to live was not right.
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.Galatians 3:22
- I Regretted what I Had Been Doing– The realization of my wrong was not enough, I had to be sorry for those things I had done and understand that they were against God.
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. IICorinthians 7:10
- I Changed My Mind– I had to come to the place where I could make a decision. Would I rather have Him in my life or all the other things that I had been holding onto for years? I let go and never looked back.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.Revelation 3:20
The change in my life came as a result of me taking responsibility for the things I had done wrong, regretting those things, and changing my mind about trusting Christ. There are times as a Christian when I have to go through this same process to maintain my relationship with Christ.
The Importance of Decisions in Marriage
The marriage relationship follows this same pattern of repenting and restoration.
Realize the wrong that you have been doing in your relationship.
Instead of focusing on all the things your spouse has done wrong, notice the things that you have done wrong. It’s not a comparison of wrongs, but a realization of your own. So you shouldn’t say, “what I did is nothing compared to what my spouse did.” because you are not comparing but examining yourself.
Be genuinely sorry for the things you have done that are contributing to your relationship failing.
Maybe you have simply neglected your love for your spouse, or you have allowed things into your mind that are toxic to your love. Sometimes, being caught can cause sorrow for your wrong but being caught shouldn’t be your only motivation to change. Once you fully focus and realize your wrong, that sorrow for your wrong can create a desire to make things different. And that desire could be the start of a new beginning.
Make a decision to change.
Now you have to actually make a decision to change. It’s at this point in your love timeline that things can change for good. What if your spouse doesn’t want to make this decision? You can’t make someone repent from falling out of love, but you can repent for yourself. And that alone will change you and have a positive effect on your relationship overall. Sometimes it takes a little faith and initiative to influence change in the other person.
Put Your Decision into Action
Now that you have made the decision to make some changes in your relationship, it’s time to put that decision into action. Knowing what you should do is not enough, you have to actually follow through. Here are some tips to doing that:
You don’t have to wait until you have everything together to start doing things differently. Just start with the little things you can change and little by little, and bit by bit fix your end of the relationship. It’s a lot like faith, reading a few verses or a chapter of the Bible everyday may not seem like much of a big deal but over time it adds up to building your faith in Christ. Doing the little things that you can will, overtime, add up to something big in your marriage.
Tell your spouse how you intend to change.
They will probably notice the change without you saying a word. But telling them will add some accountability to what you are trying to do. It adds a higher level of commitment. “I have been struggling with ________ in our marriage lately, and I want you to know that I am working on that.” It helps you to follow through and it may influence your spouse to change. Maybe they have been wanting things to be different too and you making the choice to change is the one thing that pushes them to change.
Celebrate your progress.
It would be great if you could decide you are going to change, go to bed, and wake up the next day to a completely different relationship with each other. Unfortunately, it takes time for things to change. Most love stories are not instantaneous, it took time to fall in love and so it takes time to get back the love you may have lost.
Repeat What You Did at First
(Do the first works)
Don’t Miss all the Good in Your Relationship
Sometimes it’s easy to let the bad parts of your marriage overshadow everything good. In the Bible verses that we read in Revelation 2:1-5 God complimented the Church at Ephesus for the good things they were doing BEFORE He pointed out their problem. He even said something good about them afterward. So even though you may have some problems in your relationship right now, don’t let those problems define your relationship or your spouse. I bet if you tried, you can find some things that are great about each other.
Isolate the problems from your relationship.
Think of the things that are wrong as separate from all the good parts of your marriage. If your car needs new tires, you don’t drive your car to the junkyard and leave it. You think about how you can fix the problems with your tires. You save up and buy a new set of tires or you replace one tire at a time as you can. Just because a part of your marriage is suffering, you don’t throw out all hope for your love.
Write down the good parts of your love.
It may help you to list out all the things about your spouse that you like instead of the things that you don’t. (the don’t like lists are a lot easier) Maybe you could write them down in a notebook. Or better yet in a card to your spouse. It helps just to recognize that there are good things in your love. And there is something powerful about writing things down, even if you don’t show it to anyone.
Remember the good things that drew you together.
When you first met and started falling in love, you didn’t think about ANYTHING bad about each other. If there was something negative, you probably just ignored them because you were so enamored with the good. Some of that is because you can hide some of your negative traits for a limited time. But it’s mostly because you fell in love with your spouse because of those things that you liked about them.
I loved the fact that my spouse and I shared faith in Christ and that was a HUGE part of why we were both talking to each other to start with. But there were so many things about her personality and her looks that I liked too. I still love those same things about her. Those are the things that define your love for each other, not the negative things that you can get caught up in.
Do the first works. Go back to where it all began, in the simplicity of the things that you like about each other and what made you fall in love to begin with. You have to cut away all the baggage that you have built up in your relationship and just get back down to the things that made you fall in love in the first place. You have to get back to the basics of being in love with each other and block all the “stuff” that has built up around you.
Accept Each Other as You Are
One of the most amazing things about falling in love is someone loving YOU for who you are. Out of all the people in the world, my wife saw something in me that made her want to spend her life with me. That is incredible. That is the basic part of being in love that makes it so powerful. Doing the first works means getting back to that basic principle. Seeing through all the challenges and finding what made your love work to begin with.
I think that a lot of marriage help resources approach things from a flawed perspective. It’s a perfect married couple (or almost perfect) explaining how you can become perfect (or almost perfect) just like them. But I think that there is a deeper, more profound meaning to what happens in marriage than learning to be the perfect couple. Marriage is about learning to love each other despite your imperfections.
That is what makes the Gospel love story so life-changing. He loves me with all my imperfections and problems. Love in marriage should be all about learning to love each other with all your problems and challenges. You don’t always look like Barbie and Ken dolls. You won’t always be in prime health. You may even get under each other’s skin sometimes. And you may have to get through some problems together. But being in love is all about learning to love each other through all of those things.
Love is the vehicle that carries you through the journey of life together. And as that journey changes, gets longer, or harder it’s that vehicle of love that carries you through. You have to stay in that vehicle to make it though. Learn to love each other as you are with all your flaws. After all, that is how it all started as you blindly fell in love despite your flaws. Now that love is even more meaningful because you are choosing to love with your eyes wide open to the truth of your imperfections.
The Best Love Maintenance Is Preventive
In the Bible, the church that was in Ephesians could have prevented losing their first love by keeping up with it over time. This is a problem that they did not have to have because it was preventable.
Where I work safety is a BIG deal. When you have an accident it’s almost insulting. They analyze all the things you should and could have done to prevent it. You should have worn gloves, you should have worn thicker shoes, you should have turned your turn signal on sooner, or you should have been watching out for potential accidents. Then you have to watch old boring poorly produced safety VHS videos without music until you are ready to lose your mind!
The dirty truth about falling out of love is that you can prevent it from happening. When you see your love start to fade away, you can catch it before it is gone. I once watched a documentary about two teenagers in 2005 who were fishing in a sailboat a few yards off the coast of South Carolina. They slowly drifted farther out to sea and without realizing it were caught in riptide. Six days later they were rescued off the coast of North Carolina 100 miles away from where they started. That is what happens in marriage, you just slowly drift further away from each other and before you know it, you have lost what you had. The following are a few things you can do to keep that from happening:
- Keep an awareness of how you feel about each other.
- Communicate how you are feeling with your spouse.
- Honestly evaluate your relationship often.
- Be deliberate in taking care of your love for each other.
Music by Dan Lebowitz