I told myself we would never lose this. But as we sat down for coffee with this newly-wed couple who were cuddled up on the couch, the love seat no less, constantly touching, I realized that something had changed with us. There arms around each other with not a single amount of space between them. They stared lovingly at each other when they were talking. They were memorizing each other’s faces, as if there wasn’t a flaw to be found. I took a breath, I remembered it all too well.
And yet, there we were, almost seven years into marriage, sitting on the bigger couch, you know… the one that could fit four to five people on it. We each had our own cushion, comfortably sitting near each other, but not touching, not holding hands. We weren’t looking at each other, we were looking at our friends, and to be honest, I was looking at how I had started biting my nails again and I just can’t seem to break this awful habit. And then it hit me. I looked up and I thought to myself, “Oh no, we had lost it!” That spark, the fire, the passion, the honeymoon phase, the googly eyes, the childish laughter. My biggest fear was coming true. Life. The reality of responsibilities and adult decisions, parenting, and sleepless nights has hit us too hard. We have lost ourselves, we have lost our love, and we have lost our passion for each other.
But had we really lost something, or have we gained so much more?
We all can remember being a newly-wed, or maybe you are in the season right now, or you are about to be. Well it is bliss, and it is vital to the start of your forever. Cherish it, embrace it, but don’t be afraid when it starts to fade.
Because the honeymoon phase is going to end. Yep, there, I said it. Spoiler Alert. The “newness”, the excitement, the attention you get from being newlyweds, the butterflies, all of it…this season will come and it will go and I want to talk to you about what to do when it does. I am not here to talk about roses, and valentine’s day sweetness, but I am here to tell you about real, deep, vulnerable love. It’s the love you have been searching for your whole life, it’s the marriage you long to have and dream to have, and it doesn’t live in the honeymoon phase.
You see…the fading away of the honeymoon phase is the real test. The love of your life’s perfect shell starts to crack. The laziness, the selfishness, the harsh word spoken, the look that is given that says more than words can, you know…the one that cuts you to your core, it comes out, it shows itself and you are caught off guard. You think, where did the person I married go? When and how did it ever get like this?
But what a picture of love, of Christ’s love marriage is. How when our ugly, our brokenness, our selfishness, our pride, when our flesh covers us, Christ’s perfect love pursues us more. More relentlessly, tirelessly, and constantly. And how do we model that in marriage? That is the real test of your love’s depth. When the ugly comes out do we respond in flesh or in grace?
We have all heard 1 Corinthians 13. It’s a popular one, especially for weddings. But what Paul, the writer, is sharing here is that love is an action not an emotion. This love is seen, experienced, and demonstrated. In a culture that honors personal feelings above logic and reason, this is vital for us to understand. In your marriage, you cannot base your love on how you feel. You cannot base your love on what your spouse deserves or what they have earned. All of these verses list what love is, and my favorite one is that “love bears all things.” That word bear comes from the Greek word meaning roof. Which to me means love is a protection, a shield, and a safe place. It is not something that will be moved with the ups and downs of emotions, circumstances won’t break it, and trials and struggles won’t destroy it. Now don’t you want to have a marriage based on that kind of love?
I see now how our love has grown, it has been tested. Our love has felt loss, complete and utter brokenness from life. Our love has come face to face with death, and our love has learned to say, “It is well”. Our love has been pulled, pushed, and tossed by storms that different seasons of life can bring. But through it all we have come out stronger. Rooted. Tighter. And more in Love. Our love has been a roof, and our love stands.
Now as I sit by him, I am filled up simply with his presence. To be near him is enough. His profile, the way his eyelashes move when he blinks. His legs stretched out on the coffee table as we sit in silence resting at the end of a long day. His voice, his thoughts on the Bible, on Jesus, on life, on our children. I breathe him in and learn, I am led by him and I can rest and simply just enjoy him.
There will be seasons to your love, but strive to have your love be able to withstand, to bear all things, and to be a safe place, the roof. And to model Christ from the moment you say, “I Do til death do us part”, now that’s everything.
Read more of Heathers writing on her personal blog http://www.heatherlynngilstrap.com
Photo by: Brittany Lee Photography