“He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” (Proverbs 17:27)
It’s Valentine’s Day week! How will you tell your sweetheart, “I love you”?
On our first Valentine’s Day together 34 years ago, I hinted at those words to my beloved—I gave him a mug with “I LOVE YOU” emblazoned on the side in a crossword puzzle. Exactly one month later, he pronounced the same words to me, for the first time, as he proposed.
Most giddy-in-love couples have their own love language, carrying secret messages of bliss or laughter known only to each other. As the routine of life settles in, those little love signals tend to grow fainter—unless you keep the communication lines open.
Boatloads of marriage books have been written about the importance of good communication, love languages, dealing with conflicts, and so forth. Go to those experts for the best tips…we certainly aren’t among the saints who have it all figured out. But here are a few concepts we’ve practiced over the years:
- Wait for the right timing for an important discussion. Don’t launch into a litany of problems or complaints right away in the evening after work. I learned that my husband’s “compassion gas tank” is completely empty at that time of day—he has used it all up by then. Plus, it’s never profitable to deal with issues when you’re hungry or weary. Let your words at that hour be kind, positive, and welcoming. Problems can wait until after dinner or at a scheduled time. Enjoying a piece of hot homemade pie while you talk makes your conversation sweeter, too!
- Work on your listening skills. We’ve found we don’t listen as well as we should when cellphones are in our hands. When you want to have an important conversation, turn your cellphones off or flip them over, face down, away from your grip. Keep eye contact with your partner as much as possible, and turn off all distractions. Practice listening with respect for what your partner is saying.
- In any discussion, mention points where you fully agree with your spouse. You don’t have to agree with everything, but one of the worst things you can say to your beloved is “Yes, but….” That’s not agreement at all. You’ve qualified your response in a way that is critical. According to James 5:12, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment.” The context is a warning not to swear by anything, but the admonition applies to marital discussion as well. You don’t have to agree on everything, but where you do, agree wholeheartedly to validate your spouse’s point of view.
- Take time to be silent with each other. An abundance of words isn’t always profitable. Learn what makes your spouse content, and sometimes that’s merely your presence in a supporting way. Waiting in silence for the right words to say is far better than jumping into a heated debate or filling the airwaves with meaningless prattle.
- Finally, look for opportunities to praise your mate in front of others. This is huge. Public admiration for one of your spouse’s attributes is one of the nicest gifts you can give—one that reaps rewards as your mate recognizes your respect. Likewise, never criticize your spouse in front of someone else—it’s terribly damaging to a relationship.
I once heard a memorable bit of advice from a pastor at a wedding: Drive the cheapest, oldest car you can stand…and move into the nicest house you can afford. The idea is that your transportation doesn’t matter, but your home does. It needs to be a wholesome refuge from the world, a place where harmony exists and where you want to live at the end of your day.
As the apostle John declared, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11). John reminds us that He is our perfect example of how to express real love to our spouses, sacrificially, because He loved us enough to send His Son Jesus to take away our sins.
This week, declare your love to your beloved with words, reassurance of your commitment, and praise. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Lord, You are the God of love. Your love for us is so incredibly powerful that You have written our names on Your hands and declared it through Your Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Help us to love each other more deeply, more unselfishly, that we may honor You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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© Copyright 2023 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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2 responses to “The Privileged Life: Practical Tips for Marriage that Lasts (Part 4)”
Lovely, as always!
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Thank you…we certainly don’t have all this down perfectly, but God has been gracious to help us learn as we go!