At my wedding just over a month ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to have a fantastic pastor who led us through a beautiful ceremony. He added many nice touches that I’d never heard of before he told us about them, such as a piece called “these hands” where we looked at each other’s hands and reflected on how we would spend all of our good, in-between, and bad moments with them for the rest of our lives. He also added a piece about love that I’ve found to be so important in our marriage already. What he said was that the acronym L.O.V.E. is important to remember as we go through life together. It stands for Laughter, Others-centered, Value, and Encourage.
Laughter may not sound like it’s that important for a healthy marriage. But actually, being able to laugh with your spouse and find joy in each other is extremely important. Marriage isn’t a business contract; it’s a promise to love each other for the rest of your lives, and doing that is so much easier if you actually enjoy each other’s company. Having a relationship with a healthy amount of playfulness and lighthearted laughter is vital to maintaining the friendship that you and your spouse share, or hopefully shared at some point. Essentially, this all boils down to being happy together. Relationships can quickly grow stagnant if you’re always wearing your grumpy pants around your spouse. Yes, it can be very difficult to feel happy when you are overwhelmed with stress. But maybe if you let yourself relax a little and give your worries to God, you can start enjoying laughter more with your husband or wife. And when you do that, your marriage will prosper!
Others-centered. This sounds great, but what does it mean, exactly? In a marriage, it means putting your spouse first. Now, this can be hard to do when your spouse doesn’t return the favor. When you are being selfless all of the time and constantly doing things to make your spouse happy, you’re probably expecting him or her to do the same for you, right? Bad idea! Acting selfless in an effort to receive something back is not really selfless at all. The whole idea of being selfless is that you don’t expect anything in return. As I said before, though, this can be very hard to do. After all, we are sinful beings and we can’t really help being selfish, at least to some degree. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive for it! And God can help you. The best part about being others-centered in a marriage is that though you shouldn’t expect to receive anything in return, you will probably get something anyway. After all, if both partners in a relationship are focused on the happiness and holiness of the other, both partners will be treated well. Even if your spouse isn’t exactly on the same page as you right yet, you can be the first one to act. Be honest and tell him or her that you are going to strive to put him or her first in the relationship from now on. Then, do it. Soon enough, your spouse will be more than happy to strive to do the same thing f0r you.
Valuing your spouse seems like a given. I mean, the scenario is just so cliché; one spouse doesn’t appreciate the other enough which results in feelings of neglect, and the marriage falls apart. We’ve seen it again and again in movies, books, television, etc. So, if it’s so obvious that we need to value our spouses, then why do we still have trouble with it? I think the problem is that we get so caught up in the struggles of day-to-day life that often, we end up just being cohabitants with our spouses. She does the dishes, he mows the lawn, they both go to work to support the family, and over all they both take care of their responsibilities for a harmonious household. But this kind of marriage is missing one big part of love! They don’t value each other. Each partner does what they are supposed to and expects the other to do their part as well. But while it may seem to work for a while, failing to express appreciation for each other can create feelings of monotony, purposelessness, resentment, and boredom in a marriage. So make it a priority to recognize all of the wonderful things that your spouse is and does for you. Then, make sure that your spouse know how much you value him or her. On top of that, value your spouse with your thoughts by focusing on the positive in the relationship and remembering all of the reasons that you married this person.
Encouragement. We all need it, and many of us give it to others. In a marriage, encouragement is a huge emotional need on both the part of the husband and the wife. Typically, men need encouragement that they are doing a good job, both at work and as husbands, while women need encouragement related to their relationships and their feelings. Of course, both partners in a relationship desire encouragement in all areas of their lives, and not all men and women follow this exact pattern. Either way, though, both men and women need encouragement from their spouses. I often encourage my husband by telling him that he is doing a great job at work and that I am proud of his success. He often encourages me when I feel sad about a friendship or something difficult that happened to me. We both encourage each other by offering unconditional support and keeping each other motivated spiritually. This aspect of our marriage cements our relationship as life partners, because we both know that we can always find comfort and encouragement in each other’s arms. I advise anybody who is married or thinking about getting married one day to remember this; genuinely care about your spouse’s individual successes and struggles, and don’t forget to encourage them at all times.
Keeping L.O.V.E. in a marriage is one of the keys to success and happiness. In the end, it all comes down to this; in a marriage, our goal should be to love our spouse the way that Jesus loves us. He finds delight in us, was selfless to the point of dying for us, sees us as precious and priceless treasure, and gave us his Holy Spirit to offer us encouragement anytime we need it. He is the definition of love. As a wife, I know that I will never love my husband as much as Jesus loves me, and my husband will never be able to fulfill me completely the way that God can. But I also know that God gave me a husband and vice versa so that we can grow to become more like Him. I am committed to following Christ’s example of love, and because of that, I know that my marriage can’t fail. Personally, I think that’s pretty awesome.