July 14, 2022

What To Do When Love Grows Cold

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.  I will build you up again, O Virgin Israel. Jeremiah 31:3-4

Can you relate to the following?  A husband and a wife come together in marriage and celebrate their love.  Nine months later a son is born. They name him Jezreel but call him Jesse for short.  Don’t think that children always bring you closer together.  In many cases children put stress on a marriage, and that’s what happened with this couple. The husband was preoccupied with his work and he and his wife began to drift.

Eventually a second child is born–a little girl with dark eyes and the features of her mother.  But things are no better.  The relationship is strained, communication is difficult, and intimacy is gone.

Then, what the husband had suspected in his darkest moments, becomes evident.  His wife is seeing another man.  He’s sure this time because she is pregnant and he is not the father of the child.  Now, he faces the most difficult decision of his life.  Should he tell her, “Get out; you have betrayed my trust, you have darkened my name, you are not fit to be my wife”?   He thought about it, that’s for sure; but instead, for whatever reason, he chose to stand by her.  And though it was not easy, he decided to be a father to the unborn child whom he called “Lo-Ammi,” which in Hebrew literally means, “Not mine!”

After the baby comes, the wife, Gomer, is gone more and more.  Some nights she doesn’t come home at all. Can you imagine how Hosea must have felt, answering the tough questions?   As the older children knelt to say their prayers at night they asked, “Daddy, where’s Mommy?  When is she coming home?”

The story which I have just related is as current as a recent movie release or online drama, but actually it took place 2600 years ago.  You can read about it in the Old Testament book of Hosea.

Broken homes, broken promises, and broken hearts are not new.  They are as old as human nature itself.  If Hosea and Gomer were alive today we might well describe their marriage as one suffering from burn-out, a new term to describe an old problem.

Marriage burnout is a condition which exists when a marriage suffers from stress, busyness, and wrong priorities.  In chess when you are confronted with a stalemate, you just can’t move, but in marriage when you have a stale-mate, you are in big trouble.  Burnout is a prelude to the devastating consequences of a broken home and a broken heart.

When the fire goes out of romance, can anything be done?  In the story which I relayed, Hosea kept his marriage together by a gargantuan effort on his part to reconcile and to bend in humility.

Long ago, God gave the Ephesians a formula to restore their love for him in the book of Revelation.  The same three words apply to a marriage which has grown cold and mechanical.  Those three words are 1.  REMEMBER.  2.  REPENT.  And 3.  RETURN.  Why not first repent, then remember and return?  When our love grows cold and our hearts grow hard, we need to remember to let our emotions remind us of what things used to be and what they can be again. Repenting means changing your mind, doing an about-face, overcoming the stubbornness which contributed to the problem, and what they can be again. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.

Have I described your marriage today?  Remembering, repenting, and returning is still the answer to marriage burnout.

Resource reading:  Jeremiah 31.