What Is The Key To Love?
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:13-14
The key to real love is accepting another person “as is” without trying to remake that person into the image of your dream; however, the key to staying in love is learning to live with some of the irreconcilable differences which just won’t go away. Like what? Well, why don’t you answer that question?
If I were to give you a list compiled from the messages that come to our office, it would include things like snoring, the refusal to communicate, leaving dirty socks and underwear on the floor, opening mail addressed to your mate, insisting on including her mother on vacations, chewing with your mouth open, and so forth.
Complaints? There are plenty of them in relationships! At first, we tend to live with situations because young love is tender and romantic. But then when reality sets in like a cold wind out of the north and the temperature of a relationship cools a bit, being problem solvers that we are by nature, we strive to get the other person to change. This, of course, is accomplished in a variety of ways which usually boil down to the old carrot-and-stick routine. Remember the village boy who put a carrot on a stick, holding it just a bit beyond the reach of the belligerent mule who refused to budge, and when that didn’t work, he gave up on the carrot and began to whack the mule with the stick on the south end, headed north? It’s the old reward-and-punishment routine, and it may work with a mule, but not with your mate.
When we finally decide we can’t change them, we tend to give up–something which vast numbers of people are doing today. They can relate to the old gentleman, some 85 years of age, who had been married for more than 60 years. When he filed for divorce, the judge said, “If you have lived together for 60 years, why can’t you make it for just a few more?” “Judge,” replied the old man, “enough is enough!”
How do you keep from that point of despair? How do you learn to live with the differences?
The following seven guidelines can make a difference.
Guideline #1: Practice respect for each other. The one you describe as being so loathsome and difficult is the one you flipped over, the same one who was the personification of your dreams and hopes.
Guideline #2: Practice restraint. Most of the time we say too much. Learning to pray more and preach less does more to change behavior than about anything you can do. Self-discipline is not only important; it is a must.
Guideline #3: Discover middle ground which is a “safe area” for both of you. A marriage can be a good one when two people are vastly different and have different interests and likes, provided there is a neutral area, a comfort zone where your lives share values and interests together. This is a “safe haven” which you must zealously guard and protect. Your faith in God can be part of that.
Guideline #4: Don’t insist on winning every round. “I thought I was marrying Mr. Right,” said a young woman, “but now, two years later, he’s Mr. Always Right.”
Guideline #5: Pray together every day. Prayer doesn’t change things; it changes people. Clasping hands and praying together in short, simple sentences is marriage insurance which pays rich dividends.
Guideline #6: Compliment more than you complain. Look for something positive to say. Say, “thank you” for a change.
Guideline #7: Honor your commitment. Love is a decision, a commitment to care. Never forget it!
Resource reading: Colossians 3:1-17