This blog is not written for women in abusive marriages. The advice offered in these posts will challenge both husbands and wives, but the advice could be counter-productive if it is applied in an abusive relationship.
If you want to make this Valentine’s Day special, in addition to shopping for the lingerie and chocolate, spend some extra time worshipping God.
It’s not that I have anything against chocolate or lingerie (especially lingerie), but three decades of marriage have taught me that personal worship is an absolute must to sustain a strong marriage. It comes down to this: if I stop receiving from God, I start demanding from others—especially my wife. Instead of appreciating and serving others, I become disappointed in them.
But when my heart is filled with God’s love and acceptance, I’m set free to love instead of worrying about being loved. I’m motivated to serve instead of becoming obsessed about whether I’m being served. I’m moved to cherish instead of feeling unappreciated.
Daily receiving from God gives me a special kind of joy in being used by Him. I look at life so differently. Being filled up, I want to be poured out. If I’m not filled up in the morning, I want others to affirm me throughout the day, and I resent being poured out.
There’s something about Valentine’s Day that, if the relationship is strong, makes romance feel wonderfully intense. But if the marriage is going through a tough patch, Valentine’s Day, with all the expectations, can make the relationship feel even worse. That’s why we need to be spiritually prepared. Whenever we place our happiness in the hands of another human being, we virtually guarantee some degree of disappointment.
That’s why worship sets us free; it meets our most basic needs—to rest in the fact that we are known, loved, and have a purpose—so that lesser needs serve the role of an occasional dessert rather than our main meal.
My wife can still practically make my heart stop with romance—and I’m grateful for when she does—but she can never move me the way God does day after day, because I’m wired to need God, love God and depend on God more than anyone or anything else. That never makes my wife feel less important to me—it just makes me more thankful for whatever I get. “God is so good to me, and I have a kind wife too? This is amazing!”
Marital romance becomes the whipped cream—always a nice addition. But worship is the ice cream—the ultimate source of our delight. Long-term, no marriage can make up for a lack of spiritual intimacy and connectedness with God.
Some of you, particularly those in difficult or disappointing marriages, may need to spend some extra time with God to prepare yourself for Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found a constant formula at work in my life: the less I receive from God, the more I demand from my spouse. The more I receive from God, the more I am set free to give to my wife. And since so many people have so many high expectations for this romantic holiday, it’s wise to get spiritually prepared.
Revel in God’s love for you, and then watch your earthly relationship take on a new delight. Intense romance is an especially wondrous thing when it’s received by a soul that already feels loved and affirmed by God.
[If you have difficulty connecting with God in your quiet times, check out Sacred Pathways. http://www.garythomas.com/books/sacred-pathways/ It discusses nine different ‘spiritual temperaments’ that can help you identify how you best connect with God and how you can plan your devotional times accordingly.]