When Victor and I fell in love, it was profound. We have been married almost eight years now, and he still gives me butterflies in my stomach. But you can bet that over the years, we have not always felt like love birds. There have been those times when we don’t even like each other. We have both done things that let the other down. We have said things that hurt. And we have gone to bed angry.
So how do we make it work, you might ask? Well, there’s this book. One of the most helpful books I have ever read, in fact. It gives a step-by-step guide for maintaining a loving relationship. The book is entitled Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andolin.
You’re laughing—I can hear you. I laughed too. The title is just a bit much. In fact, my sister first found the book because she spotted the title in a bookstore and thought it sounded hilarious. She thumbed through its pages to mock it, and then couldn’t put it down. She passed it on to me, and I can honestly say that Victor and I wouldn’t be together today if I hadn’t read it.
The earth-shattering instructions in this book are encapsulated in one main theme—love your spouse more than yourself. I don’t care how much you despise that man or woman you once loved, the key to getting the feeling back is “acting” in love. Deciding to love, even when you don’t feel like loving.
Whenever my husband and I don’t see eye to eye, the easiest and seemingly most logical thing to do is to separate, emotionally and physically. Or better yet, retaliate. For example, I recently made an abrupt decision to quit my job. It was a decision I made based on morals and convictions, and I made it without talking to my husband about it. He was extremely hurt that I didn’t talk to him about such an important move. And I was upset that he didn’t seem to see the need for what I felt was an emergency action.
We didn’t feel any huge emotions of love for each other at that moment. But I know for sure that we were still in love through that episode. How do I know?
Victor and I showed each other love even though we were extremely angry with each other during this situation. I made a point to try and fix his favorite meals. He worked on a project that he knew was important to me. We didn’t have a lot of meaningful conversations, but the promise of committed love was still there. We were in essence saying to each other, “You are not my favorite person right now, but I still love you enough to live and die for you.”
The funny thing about it all is that when I started trying to find ways to show Victor kindness, I began to see his point of view. I didn’t regret my decision to quit that job—I knew it was the right thing to do. But I began to admit that I should have talked about my plans with my husband first. If we are indeed a team, then he certainly deserves to know what my game plan is.
When I’m angry with my husband, I would love nothing better than to give him a piece of my mind. But this only builds a wall. The simplest act of kindness breaks the first brick from that wall. Chances are, he will break the next brick. You keep acting until, once again, there is no anger or resentment between you, until you’re ready to talk about your disagreement. Our marriage vow included a little segment that goes like this: “…for better or WORSE …’till death parts us.” This is the amazingly, unexplainably beautiful thing about love. Love forgives. Love serves others better than self. And love heals.