Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…Corinthians 13:4-8
I am sure most of you have heard this Bible verse, in fact, you probably had it read at your own wedding. While listening to these words recently, I thought that perhaps this is why so many of us are divorced--we heard the words but didn’t listen. We smiled, shed a tear, nodded in agreement, but we didn’t live by them. Even if you aren’t religious, the words themselves make sense. It’s about putting someone else before you. It’s about sacrifice. I know this is a foreign concept to many of us, especially today, but I think it’s worth taking a closer look. Because, if we are being honest, much of what this passage says, often stopped either just before or right after the wedding.
1. Love is patient. Sure, love is patient while we “are in love”. When we are in pleasing mode and when we think and believe that the person we love is just right for us. We can be patient when watching our guy play four hours of videos without a word to us, even if we don’t get it and think it’s a waste of time. Or when your lady love can shop for six straight hours without taking a break. If we can be patient with this behavior before marriage, then why does it become a problem after marriage? Because we never really accepted it, we only pretended to.
2. Love is kind. It’s odd, but it seems as though something happens to many of us after marriage: we forget how to be kind. According to the husband and wife team of John and Julie Gottman, psychologists of The Gottman Institute: Kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in marriage. It makes each spouse feel loved, validated, understood and important. Were you kind in your marriage? Did you give your spouse the attention they deserved?
3. It does not envy. A good, solid marriage is based on “one for all and all for one”, meaning we always each have each other’s backs. When envy of any kind is in the picture, instead of being there for your spouse, you are against them. If you envy they’re more successful than you, your friends like him or her more, your children go to them first, and so on, than instead of rooting for them, you’re holding them back.
4. It does not boast, Of course we all toot our own horn on occasion, this is to be expected as we move up the ladder or had something wonderful happen. The boasting being referred to here, is when one of the spouses is more concerned with themselves and too occupied with their own accomplishments, that they do not notice their spouse’s successes and prefer to participate in one-upping. If you are married to a narcissist, this would be one of many, of your issues. True love is when love turns the perspective outward.
5. Love is not proud. I would think this has many meanings, one of which is similar to boasting. However, I believe that it has more to do with being humble. When we are in a marriage, or any relationship, we have to be open to forgiveness and able to admit when we are wrong. Many marriages fail because one or both are too proud to admit they have faults. There is nothing more frustrating than being the spouse who is “always at fault”. We all know, no one is always at fault.
6. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. Put simply—rude and self-seeking attitudes and behaviors have nothing to do with love! With a tone, nasty comment, or shaming our spouse, we dishonor them. When we only care about “What have you done for me lately?” we are stuck in self-seeking attitudes, which does not mesh with longevity of a marriage.
7. Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Wow! How many of us have lived this? Naturally, everyone gets angry, but in past marriage, anger was a constant presence. It should not be that way! In most dissolved marriages, anger was front and center. And, the participants were gatekeepers, tallying their spouses’ wrongs, while justifying their own wrongs.
8. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. I suppose evil can be many things and it means different things to each of us. Evil can simply be the absence of truth, or manipulation, infidelity, or a whole host of wrongdoings, But I think the focus here is about truth. Truth enables us to be truly known and when we are truly known, we feel loved and accepted for who we are.
9. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. This brings to mind when women are out with their friends and they partake in trashing their husbands. How does this protect them, build trust or hope? Or, when men are out with their buddies and they flirt with other women. How does this ensure the marriage will persevere? It doesn’t! If the marriage loses trust and hope for the future, it will surely end.
10. Love never fails. If love never fails, why is the divorce rate so high? After divorce, most divorced people feel as though their spouse failed them, or they failed each other. The truth is, none of us is perfect. Which means we can and do fail each other at times. And, failing each other at times can be okay and not be the end of a marriage, unless of course we are not adhering to the other qualities that show and honor our love. If we are not, then how can we expect love to last?
Whether you are divorced or never married, it can be challenging to determine if someone really loves you. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were as simple as plucking petals off of a flower declaring he loves me… he loves me not? Ahhh, yes, but life is not that simple.
Many of us have strong beliefs about what love is or what and how it should be. Oftentimes these are preconceived notions from our past relationships and our parents’ relationship. Also we get our beliefs from outside influences such as movies, books and television. Because of these beliefs, some of us may not realize the real thing when it comes our way. Or, we may not see it because we have been hurt too many times and have built up walls to protect ourselves.
When you are involved with a man (or woman) there is usually one question that often pops into your mind and that is: What does he really feel about me?
So how do you know if he (or she) is in love with you? If they show these 10 signs, then it is a safe bet. (Though I use the term man, most of these signs can also be used for women).
1. You are treated with respect. When a man loves you, he cares about the details of your life. He will value your opinions, celebrate your accomplishments and encourage you when you fall.
2. He wants to be with you, a lot. If your man wants to spend time with you, he will move mountains to see you. Also, if he often texts, calls or emails you throughout the day, he’s got you on his mind. This is clearly a sign that his feelings are strong.
3. He compromises. Love can soften the most stubborn of hearts. When your guy starts to meet you in the middle on topics he usually doesn’t budge on, it shows he’s leading more with his heart than his head. Signs of selflessness are huge indicators of love.
4. He touches you in public. This may seem like no big thing to women, but public displays of affection mean something to men. When he puts his arm around you in public or holds your hand, he is proudly announcing to the world that you are together.
5. He wants to take care of you. When a man wants to make things better for a woman, it’s a sign he cares deeply for you. It can be by pampering you, buying you nice gifts, making sure you have eaten dinner, this shows his concern for your well-being. In essence, he wants to see you happy and comfortable and by doing that he is saying I love you.
6. If he is excited for you to meet the people closest to him that is a good sign. If he wants you to meet his best friend, or his family, his kids, take that as a step in the right direction. Men typically don't just bring any girl home with them to meet the family.
7. He’s not afraid to fight or apologize. Most guys do not like to fight or talk things through when they are upset, but when the person is truly important to them, he will listen, fight fair, and want to resolve things well. Love is dropping the pride, and admitting when you’re wrong and apologizing.
8. Making love is more than sex. When you become intimate with each other there is a deep connection that you can feel in your soul. No words are necessary.
9. He talks about the future. If he talks about where he sees himself next year and includes you, or invites you to his friend’s wedding six months from now, or he “jokes” about having children together someday, these are clear-cut signs he’s very much into you and sees you in his future.
10. He tells you so. When he tells you he loves you, believe him. A man in love cannot keep it to himself.
Do you think I missed anything? Would love to hear from you?
Couples go through ups and downs as boyfriend and girlfriend and then as husband and wife. It’s the natural ebb and flow of relationships.
But before you say, “I do”, it’s a really good idea to examine how you and your partner get along.
Do you fight often? Are you always together and never have time apart? Do you enjoy being with each other or do you count the minutes until they leave?
Couples that can go the distance have to have a genuine like and respect for each other. They have to be compatible. Plus, they need to have outside interests other than each other. It helps keep the relationship fresh and exciting.
Sometimes long-term couples go through a rough patch. But the idea of breaking up is too painful to bear. Taking a break or separating for a short while can actually be good for some couples. When our families and friends hear about this, most people conclude that the couple are breaking up. But that is not necessarily the way it has to go.
Taking a break can be a catalyst for change. If the relationship is on a downward spiral, it can be a healthy option. It’s not meant to be a time to date others however. It should be a time to observe what it is that you’re missing when they aren’t with you.
After all, we do tend to lose ourselves in our relationships and we sometimes need to reign it back to be sure we are on the right path. However, do not let it drag on too long. You may find that while you were finding yourself, your love has found someone else.
While you are on your break, it’s a good idea to think long and hard at some of these red flags that may plague your relationship.
1. Your partner doesn’t take responsibility for their part in an argument.
2. Your partner depends on you too much for their own happiness.
3. You do not like their family and/or friends.
4. All their exes are “crazy”.
5. When every date must be about spending and going somewhere. Couples need time to just be and relax.
6. Keeps a scorecard about everything you have said or done that they don’t like.
7. They do not have any hobbies except YOU.
8. They are always making you a last priority or an afterthought and put you down often.
9. They have constant mood swings. (This is a biggie since it only gets worse after marriage).
10. Wants to control all aspects of your life.
11. Constantly jealous when you are talking to someone of the opposite sex.
12. If all your friends and family (whom you love and trust) truly dislike your partner, it’s beyond a red flag. It’s a clear sign.
Taking a trial separation is not synonymous with lack of love and/or lack of desire to be with your significant other down the line. You both may realize that you need counseling to work through your issues. On the other hand, if the end result does turn out to be a terminal break up as one or both of you decide to go your separate ways, bear in mind that it’s probably for the best.
The demise of a marriage is truly heartbreaking. So much effort, planning and emotions went into all of it. The courtship, the engagement, the wedding, honeymoon, and then life after. I always wonder if we all would put as much effort into the after as we do the before, would it make a difference?
I would say YES for most, but not all.
Some people do the old switcheroo immediately after marriage. They are sweet, agreeable, easygoing, only to find out that they truly possess none of those qualities, it was all just a hoax. Yes, there are those that want to be married so badly, and they are very good at manipulation. They will be all you want them to be until they have you. That’s why all the experts say you should be with the person a good two years before you marry. Let’s face it, it’s hard to be a fake for that length of time.
But aside from marrying the Loch Ness Monster, the majority of marriages fail because no one is paying attention to each other. They are too busy with the kids and work that they barely notice their spouse. They are two ships that pass in the night rarely connecting at port.
This is truly an epidemic! Couples stop paying attention to each other because so much is going on.
Our children need us, our work demands us. Johnny bit a kid on the playground and the parents want to sue us. Our parents are getting older and forgetful and need us. We’re late for karate or dance. The dog has to go to the vet. Dinner is burning on the stove.
Our lives are crazy!
And, let us not forget social media. The average time spent searching or posting daily, is nearly two hours. Do marriages with all this stuff going on, really have that kind of time?
Of course social media is a bit of escapism, much like television, which we all need. However, two plus hours on our devices and television is excessive when most couples barely have time to eat dinner with their families.
The thing about marriages is they don't demand our attention in quite the same way that all the other facets of our lives do. Our marriage is usually pushed to the back burner. We think, "It's fine. It can wait. I'll have time for it tomorrow."
Marriage is patient for quite a while. It waits its turn. Then we move it from the back burner to the pantry shelf.
It's starts looking paler, not nearly as colorful and animated as it used to be. It begins to feel a bit stifled and more fragile. Still, it doesn't demand, at least not on the surface.
Until it does. The cracks begin to show, and the façade is just that. We, the couple begin to become a memory.
And, it all began from lack of attention.
The true secret to maintaining love and closeness in relationships is ATTENTION. Simple attention.
If you didn’t give your children attention, wouldn’t you be a negligent parent? Then by not giving your spouse attention, aren’t you being negligent?
Attention is the food and water of a living and breathing relationship. It’s how we care for all living beings. Without attention, all relationships will simply fade away.
Think about how you feel when you go unnoticed or are not getting the attention you believe you should. You feel unappreciated and insignificant.
Perhaps it’s time to make time for your marriage. Give your spouse the attention that you want to receive. Be the giver and you will be surprised of what you will receive in return. And, just like the seeds of spring bloom beautiful summer flowers, watch your own marriage come into full bloom.
If you think you need more help or are on the brink of divorce, check out my book here.
Wishing you all a happy spring and a wonderful holiday! xoxo
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