Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Part 4; What marriage has taught me: The myth of "Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have."

"Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have."

Sounds like a pretty good liner to make us feel secure, huh? I don't think so and I have never liked this quote. I think it's a cop out. A way of saying, "You know, I can see that you don't feel loved and that our relationship isn't secure, but you're not important enough to me to make an effort."  Pretty shallow and selfish.

Maybe we marry the wrong person. "After all, if they really loved me they would just know. Right?" If that's true we all marry the wrong person. No one ever automatically knows what it takes to make the other person feel loved. We all marry a person who is apparently incompatible with us on all kinds of levels.

To give you another quote: "The husband is neat, the wife is messy. The wife is talkative, the husband is quiet. The husband is always on time, the wife lives more in the moment. The wife is social, the husband is a homebody" - Stephen Altrogge The fact that we are different sexes is enough to complicate things.

The differences go much farther than that. What makes me feel loved and secure does not make my wife feel loved and secure.

What good is love if it is withheld? Even Christ knew and clarified this truth. "He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." (Jhn 14:24 NIV) Christ clearly clarifies how love is exhibited. He never says the Father will accept love on our terms. He Himself tells us what He needs and wants to be loved. He clearly states what He recognizes it as.

Ironically, the titled famous quote is often stated as a comfort when someone is let down and hurting from a disappointing relationship. I've never seen it actually bring comfort or reassurance to someone. It's also often used as an excuse not to completely love someone. Sometimes we just don't know how to love. But even that is no excuse. If we truly love someone we would want to know how to love them.

Paul give his instructions; "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph 5:25 NIV) Christ never said, "Just because I'm not giving you what you want, doesn't mean I don't love you with all I have." We know Christ sacrificed for us.

If I was to ask you, "What makes you feel loved?" would you be able to answer? Meaning do you really know? Most often we don't know until we are not receiving it. Better yet, could you answer what makes your spouse feel loved? If you don't, have you asked?

There tends to be a confusion when it comes to love. It is that just because we "feel" love towards another then that is enough. We tend to accept the idea that "feeling" will sustain a relationship. That the other person, just knowing, will also be accepting and feel secure. Unfortunately, it is not real love. It is loving what we receive from another and what they have to offer us. How would my wife feel if I said to her, "I feel love for you." No doubt she would have lots of questions at least.

Marriage has taught me if I truly love my wife then I will love her how "she" needs and feels loved. That I should do what makes her feel secure. Even when it's hard to do and don't receive it back. Something I mostly learned by failing

It has taken my wife and I the majority of our marriage to come to this reality. Maybe not the reality of this myth, but the reality that we haven't loved the other as each needed. Maybe we thought we were loving each other right. We had walls. We both have pasts. We were both divorced. We both have expectations. And our needs and wants are completely different.

Something that she does that I find one of the most ways she shows me love is when she brings me something, no matter how cheap it is just because it caught her eye and thought of me. Even if it's just a Coke out of the blue. It's no secret that everyone has their own personal ways of feeling loved. The problem is that everyone has their own way of showing love.

What I need from my wife that makes me feel secure in our relationship she tends to see as unimportant and practical. And honestly, that's ok. I don't need her to see them as important. The fact that she does them in spite of how she sees them is proof of her love. And I don't need to see hers as important or big. Just doing them for her is loving her. The mistake we both had made for quite a while; Love each other the way we wanted.

"What a man desires is unfailing love." Proverbs 19:22

My wife loves Valentine's. It is her favorite holiday. Don't call me unromantic or chauvinistic but I hate Valentine's. Maybe "hate" is too strong of a word. I think it is too commercialized. But in any case I would prefer to do without it. However, I love the "holidays" and Christmas. It is my favorite time of year. A time I anticipate. My wife on the other hand couldn't care less about putting a tree up, while if I had my way, I'd have it up the day after Halloween.

Both holidays consists of presents. As children, our ideas of and feelings of love are often wrapped up in the give-and-take of gifts. "If I give enough, people will love me. If I receive a lot, then people really care." Ironically this childish belief can encourage and push us as adults in our marriage. "If I am giving towards my wife with what she needs and she feels loved and secure, she will love me. When she shows me love, I know she really cares."

Obviously it is not black-and-white and there are exceptions with no guaranties.

I can devote hours and hours, money after money, and so on towards my wife, but if it is not what makes her feel loved it is wasted effort. If I give her what I think she wants or needs I'm actually doing damage. Resentment grows. Distance gets wider.

The differences of our spouse are the great influences on us. The "wrongness" and the apparent incompatibilities are the very things God uses to mold and shape us. My wife's constant lateness teaches me patience. My accepting this "flaw" is an act of love.

My wife is not to complete me. To see her that way would be with a goal of experiencing pleasure--a sense of "fulfillment." A way of using her. A means to my end. And using is the opposite of loving her. An attitude of, "What can you do for me?"

Loving our spouse isn't only by action. A sense of humility because we realize we are not easy to love. The gratitude that they even love us in the first place. The conviction of our own behavior which happens when we see our spouse being selfless. The overlooking of those things they do that irritate us. The giving unconditional grace that never runs out. Loving even when they are not being so lovable.

How can our spouse not be encouraged, inspired and motivated when we show and demonstrate to them, the kind of love that sacrifices itself for their benefit? Show them the kind of love they need that says, "Not my will, but yours. Not my happiness, but yours. Not my preferences, but yours. Not my fulfillment, but yours."?

Part 5 next: "The importance of interceding for my spouse"

1 comment:

  1. Comforting that we are not supposed to automatically know what our spouse needs and that most spouses are opposites in many aspect. I have read it is the way it is supposed to be in marriage--your spouse is the one that stretches (pushes) the buttons the most.

    But spouses are compatible in how opposites compliment each other, but are two individuals--not needing the other for completeness.




Where my inspiration comes from

A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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