We’re all familiar with the popular depiction of marriage as a place where love goes to die, and this portrayal is not baseless. It is all too common to see couples who were happy in their relationship get married and then grow cold towards each other after the honeymoon. With each divorce filed for, you wonder, what happened to all the love?
The love that was once so vibrant and beautiful to behold is suddenly a shadow of itself, or even non-existent, and before you know it the marriage is either headed for divorce court, or you find one or both partners running into the arms of someone else.
So, what do you do when the love you entered marriage with is nowhere to be found, and divorce is looking more and more likely every day?
80’s musician Millie Jackson recorded a hit song titled “If You’re Not Back in Love By Monday” and I loved it from the first time I heard it, even before I got married. In this song, she recommends the practical solution to love gone cold; do the things you used to do!
If it sounds simplistic, then you’ve probably never tried it. Anybody who has tried this “simple” remedy knows that it requires time and effort, but it is totally rewarding. You see, love is one needy potted plant, especially married love. Neglect it long enough and it starts to die. You must water it every day, and make sure it gets adequate sunlight. If you don’t nurture your love, it WILL die. The oxygen on which love thrives is pretty much like air humans need to survive; you cannot inhale once for all. You cannot take a deep breath and expect the supply to last you for some time. You must continue to breathe in and out.
The challenge is that this breathing that keeps love alive comes easy when love is new and exciting. Both partners are so into each other (initial gra gra) that they don’t even notice the activity of breathing that sustains and nourishes their love.
After marriage, however, people simply tend to stop breathing and expect the love to keep itself alive. To make things worse, their love suffers injuries brought on by harsh words, insensitive actions, unmet needs and shattered expectations which are not uncommon especially in young marriages. And yet in this state, where their love needs oxygen more than ever, breathing is neglected. Then suddenly one day, a look at the lifeless body of love leaves them wondering, what happened??!
You stopped doing the things love needs to stay alive. You stopped breathing. That’s what happened.
Even as Jesus challenges His followers in Revelation to return to their first love and do the things they did at first, so Millie Jackson dares the married couple considering divorce to return to the actions and activities that marked their first love and see if love does not return, blazing bright.
Make time for yourselves; keep the children somewhere even if only for a day or two. Go somewhere you used to enjoy visiting in the days of first love. Get away from the traffic and stress that characterize your daily life and get much needed rest. Have room service bring food to your room. Make love all day and just relish being alone together. Talk, talk, talk to each other as you used to in the early days when you couldn’t get enough of phone calls and chats. Open up about the things that really matter. Go to your favourite restaurants, listen to your favourite music, and review the plans and dreams for the future that you had in those early days. Ms. Jackson is pretty sure you’ll be back in love by the time you return. “If you’re not back in love by Monday, you can’t say you didn’t try, but before you bury your love, just make sure you let it die.”
Everything gets more attention than marriage, from cars to natural hair. We service and care for these things daily, but how many things do we do deliberately to nurture our marriage each day? Even the pot of soup in a rural village is warmed twice a day, for goodness’ sake.
We eat every day. We invest in our careers and businesses every day. We pay attention to skincare every day. Do we breathe fresh love into our marriages every day, or we just expect the marriage to run itself, on auto-pilot?
Return to your first acts of love and watch love come alive again in your marriage.