Love Requires Sacrifice

Serving one another is the cornerstone of a thriving relationship. For many of us, lovingly serving our spouse is joyful. We do or say things that are kind and giving. We aren’t required to, but we give out of a heart that is loving. We open the door for our wife, we compliment a wonderful dinner, or we leave a thoughtful note that expresses our appreciation. There is an ease to expressing our love in a way that serves our spouse.

But what about the times when it’s not so easy? What happens when the acts of kindness are getting few and far between? We may feel ignored by our spouse. Days or weeks go by with no thoughtful acts of love. What do we do then? How should we respond to a vacuum of the simplest acts of kindness? How do we give when we feel so empty, unloved, and unappreciated?

Sacrifice is defined this way —

To surrender or give up

To permit injury or disadvantage to for the sake of

something else.

To yield, surrender, offer

To resign oneself to endure, forbear

Self-denial

At times in our relationship the very act of selflessly serving will reach the level of sacrifice. Our own emotional bucket may be low or empty, but love still finds a way to give. We can love sacrificially if we understand that truly loving is not dependent on us being full. We can give even in our emptiness. It is yielding our needs to the needs of our spouse. It is self-denial. This is selfless love.

A recent film portrayed this kind of love when a young couple was engaged to be married. She shared her dream of a large family with many happy children. WWII broke out; he was drafted and came back three years later with an injury that left him unable to sire children. They stayed married for years but the intense desire to have children of her own never went away. She tearfully decided to leave him. Before she left, he told her that he loved her so much that he didn’t want to stand in the way of her dream. He loved her so much, he let her go.

He was depressed and despondent. The one he loved so much left him because he couldn’t give her what she so desperately wanted. Time passed and his despair deepened.

And then, there was a knock on the door. His wife had made the difficult choice to return to him. They grew old together and found their joy in each other. He was willing to give up what he wanted so she could have what she desired. And in the end, she gave up what she desired to have what she really needed, the love of her husband.

Sacrifice – giving up something for the sake of something better. At times, your love may require sacrifice. It may require all that you have to give.

Ideas For a Fun Time, Out or In

Go for a walk at the local mall and get an ice cream cone together.  The exercise will be great if you take two to three laps around the mall, alternating between upstairs and downstairs.  Walk at a fast pace, just enough to get the ‘ol heart beating.  Take note of the specialty shops and after your laps, stop by a few and just window shop.  No need to go crazy and spend next month’s budget, but it’s ok to dream a little.  Remember to chat along the way.  Tell her why you love her so much.

 Look up historical sites in your town and go visit at least three.  Hey, this can really be fun.  Most cities have a chamber of commerce or a visitor’s bureau or you can search online for the local sites and look up the history.  When Darleen and I visited Oysterville on the Washington coast, we found a little church built in the early 1800’s.  On the same street were several original homes.  Historical markers out front told a brief history.  As Spock would say, “Fascinating!”  Tell each other your favorite time in history and who you would like to meet if you could go back in time.

 Look up the largest and smallest park within a fifteen mile radius and visit each.  Take along  some muffins, juice and fruit.  Enjoy the first park with a walk and find a nice place for your mid-morning snack.  Then, off to park number two.  Take a walk around the park, stopping to take a few pictures here and there.  Note the flowers, trees, and any birds you spot.  After your walk, bring out the special lunch you packed earlier.  Find a nice picnic table in the shade, or sun if you prefer, and relax.  Share your most favorite place to spend time together.

 Shop for all the necessary ingredients for an unusual dinner and make it together.  This could be really fun.  Make a homemade pizza with your favorite toppings. Or a special hot and spicy south of the boarder dish. Maybe try something stir fried.  Or, if you like adventure, get a cook book with various ethnic dishes, and each of you pick out three that you would really like.  Then number all your choices and put the numbers in a box.  Pick one out, get to the store, and shop for the stuff. Come home, open a bottle of your favorite wine, and get cooking.  After a fine dinner, you can get other things cooking.

 Take the time to laugh, play, and make special memories together.

More on Daily Doses of Selfless Serving

Everyone wants to have a great marriage. When dating, couples will often think “How can our relationship be anything but perfect? We are so in love and we have no problems.” So what happens? Why is the illusion of uninterrupted bliss destroyed?

There is a component in most dating relationships that is unique. While dating, we tend to be other centered. We are generally more thoughtful, kind, and considerate. We go out of our way to do special things for each other. We are less inclined to make a big problem and have a long discussion over minor disagreements. We tend to see the best in each other. We are more forgiving and less apt to hold a grudge. There is a high degree of serving and loving each other selflessly.

What happens to relationships over time? Why does the euphoria of dating disappear to be replaced by the doldrums of daily life? Quite simply, for many couples, making their spouse a priority is replaced with other priorities.

Here’s how to keep the love alive and growing. Get in the habit; yes make it a habit, of doing kind selfless acts of service for your spouse. This can be accomplished in word and deed.

Praise and compliments should be the ordinary.

“Thank you, honey. That was a wonderful dinner. You’re such a good cook.”   or…

“Thanks so much for fixing that. It really helps me.”

The daily things we do for each other are often taken for granted. Verbalize your appreciation. Express your thankfulness with a hug and a kiss. Look for opportunities to verbalize your awareness that your spouse has done something for which you are thankful.

Selfless acts of service can take many forms. Never underestimate the power of a neck or foot rub. After a long day at work, if your spouse has to bring home some of that day’s work and is hunched over the computer long after dinner, sneak up behind him/her and begin a five or ten minute neck and shoulder message. Whisper something endearing about how his/her efforts every day are really appreciated.

And since I am a firm believer in reciprocity, the thoughtful selfless spouse can offer a relaxing foot massage to the wife who has been on her feet all day at work or taking care of the kids and shopping and cleaning. These simple deeds profoundly nourish the relationship. They offer daily doses of love.

You need to be the expert on your spouse. What acts of service or words of affirmation are most meaningful to them? ASK them and make a habit of making these a priority in your day.  Each day, find ways to serve your spouse. Nurture your love daily and before long it will seem like your still dating.

A Time For Everything

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYou will find quite a list concerning time in Ecclesiastes 3. Take a few minutes to read it.

Consider these:

A time to Heal
A time to Build up
A time to Laugh
A time to Dance
A time to Plant
A time to Embrace
A time to Keep
A time to Mend
A time to be Silent
A time to Speak
A time to Love

 

How have you been using your time in relationship to your marriage? For many of us our relationship with our spouse gets the left overs.

We get it that we have to go to work and pay the bills and do the laundry and take care of the kids and fix the broken things around the house and mow the lawn and… and… and… The list has no end. There is always another item to add to the over-filled list.

Somehow, we accomplish so much but we are exhausted. Our spouse is exhausted. And when we find a few minutes here and there to give, we are emotionally empty and have little left for the most important person in our life. Leftovers!

How does this happen?

In Ephesians 3 :15-16 we are admonished to

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.

Sometimes we let others set our priorities for how we spend our time. Begin to make the most of your time by setting your own priorities and limits. If you are pulled in many directions by your boss, or friends, ex, children, and extended family, then take time to consider your priorities and honestly assess how much quality time you are spending together with your spouse. Maybe you could set some limits so that your spouse gets more than just the leftovers. Be intentional with your use of time.

So, what about it? Want a better relationship? Look at the next three or four weeks and plan what days and times you will set aside for each other. Then, and this can be a little tough, especially for the hyper busy among us, set aside a weekend away together. No kids, no phones, no laptops, no leftovers. A full meal deal, so to speak!

Yes, a real getaway!  And here’s your   To Do List:

♥  a time to laugh

Photo by John Nyberg♥  a time to build up

♥  a time to dance

♥  a time to embrace

♥  a time to love

Frustration Fatigue

What about it? Have you ever been frustrated with your spouse about a particular issue that just keeps coming up over and over? Have you had prolonged periods of dialogue (arguing) that end with you telling yourself,

“That’s it! I’ve had it. I am so done talking about this. I’ll not say another word. It’s no use. Nothing’s going to change. Just forget about it.”

You vow that’s the last time you’ll bring it up because it’s futile. You resolve to yourself that you just don’t care.

“That’s it! I just don’t care.”

An apathetic spirit becomes your “safe place”. You tell yourself you don’t care and at least for a while, your feelings are dulled. If you don’t care, there is nothing to be anxious about, nothing to work through. Nothing to frustrate you again…..

The “apathy coping mechanism” is a strategy employed by many faced with relational impasses. We use it to shield ourselves from the hurt of dealing with a nagging problem with our spouse. It’s similar to putting medication on an open wound to numb the pain, but ignoring the cause of the wound. We self-medicate with apathy to avoid the underlying issues that are causing the pain.

So how do we deal with a nagging issue that just seems impossible to resolve?

Here are several steps you can take to begin the journey to resolution:

  1. Pray – Understand that an ongoing problem decreases the closeness you experience as a couple. Separation is a spiritual issue. You need to take the matter to God in prayer. Ask for wisdom and understanding. Ask for His direction.
  2. Commit – Renew your commitment to your relationship. Confirm in your heart there is no issue so big that it should divide you as a couple. Commit to work on restoring your relationship. Commit daily to not let an issue be divisive and destroy closeness with your spouse.
  3. Examine – In your time of prayer, ask God to open your heart to introspection. Ask Him to show you if there is something in you that needs to be revealed. Are you the one that needs to change?
  4. Ask – Ask for uninterrupted time to communicate with your spouse. Confirm your love for your spouse. Share your desire to restore your relationship to wholeness and to work though the issue so that there is nothing between you. Pray together, asking God to bless your efforts. Then work together to find a selfless resolution. Be open to compromise, creative alternatives, and to confessing your own culpability. Allow a generous amount of time to work through to a mutually acceptable solution, which may take weeks, months, or longer. Be patient with each other. It takes time to resolve a complex issue.

Set your mind to not let frustration fatigue divide your relationship. Earnestly work at issues that keep you from closeness….         So that your joy may be complete.

That Really Bugs Me!

Do some of the things your spouse does really bug you?  You know those little habits that are so annoying.  For the most part, you have probably developed a coping mechanism that keeps things on an even keel.  Well, most of the time things stay on an even keel.  But in reality, you are just coping.  You are burying it.  You keep yourself from saying anything because you just don’t want to have another argument over a simple little thing.  Why bring it up again and make a mess out of things.  It’s easier to ignore it and forget it.

It certainly can be handled by using the “ignore it” method.  Is that really the best way to deal with it though?  Remember, when you “bury” things, even little things, it creates an unspoken barrier between you and your spouse.  It may even be a little barrier, but nevertheless a barrier.  These small unspoken issues can dampen the spark in your relationship.  You need to be on guard and not allow the little things to grow into big things.

Let’s look at an example like the classic clothes on the floor.  To be sure, he’s gotten better over the years but for some reason he still can’t seem to remember where the clothes hamper is.  Home from work, he goes in to change and sure enough, he leaves his clothes strewn on the floor again.  So, what do you do?  If you pick them up  —  again  —  and say nothing, what will change?  If you bring it up, you feel like you’re just nagging, again.

How about a new strategy?  Remember, many of life’s issues need to be lovingly negotiated.  You need to collaborate together to come to a positive resolution.  Try to be optimistic without being overly expectant.  In other words, be hopeful that things can change, but be realistic.  Some habits take years to change.  Be willing to work together without a harsh or negative attitude.  Try opening a discussion with “Can we talk about something later when you have a little time?”  Set aside uninterrupted time to have a talk together.  Bring the subject up with a spirit of wanting to work things out so that you can enjoy a closer relationship. The goal should be that you are closer and have a better relationship, not just that he remembers to pick up his clothes.

When you have time, try to work out some possible solutions to the issue.  Let him know how you feel and why it is important to you.  Be willing to work toward a solution over time.  Usually there is no need for an immediate fix.  Things truly can get better over time.

Also, always apply the rule of loving each other, even when daily annoyances bug you.  Work at resolving your issues, but work more at committing to love and forgive one another.

Housecleaning 101

Every now and then we need to do some house cleaning.  Usually, due to life’s ever expanding busy schedule and just because things pile up, we need to stop for a few minutes and clean up.  We need to put things back where they belong, wash the dishes, mop the floor, clean off the clutter from the kitchen counters, put the gardens tool back where they go in the garage, and throw away all the mess that has been accumulating around the house.  Ah, doesn’t it feel good?!  Just cleaning up a little here and there can make the heaviness go away!  It even feels good just writing about it. 

How do we apply the House Cleaning 101 lesson to our relationships?  Do we build up messy issues that tend to clutter things up?  Do we leave unresolved sticky problems that, well, we just don’t want to get in to?  Clutter in your relationship is worse than clutter in the house.  In the house, you can just step over it.  No harm no foul, right?  OK!  OK!  Some of you ladies are not agreeing with that one.  But my point is that clutter in your relationship is way worse because it robs us of the ability to be close and intimate with someone special that you really love.  Clutter keeps you at a distance, alone and lonely. 

So what clutter do you have in your relationship?  This takes courage.  Take some time and do some self-assessment of issues that you may have buried and need to discuss.  What are some hurtful things that have happened in the past that aren’t fully resolved? 

One simple exercise is to ask your spouse to honestly let you know the three or four things that you do, maybe out of habit, laziness, insensitivity, or whatever, that really bothers her or him.  The person asking has to be vulnerable and open to hearing about themselves and they must have a willingness to try to understand the other person’s perspective.  This is not a time for self-defense, but rather a time for self-appraisal:  how do the things I do irritate you?  How do they bother you or make you upset?  I really want to understand how my actions make you feel.  Then, ask your spouse what you can do to help improve the situation.  What can you do to change?  This is a very important part of a maturing relationship, when you can exercise personal growth and work at changing those things in your life that are having a negative impact on your spouse.  By beginning to change these things, you can remove some of the relationship clutter and allow your relationship to become closer and more intimate. 

House Cleaning 101.  Try it!  You’ll like the results.