Editor’s note: “Living on Purpose” is a Kentucky-based religious column provided free to the Bartlett Express. We also welcome local columns with similarly universal messages; send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week, I was sitting in my office on a dreary afternoon, tapping on the keyboard and listening to the rain blowing against the window. The house is quiet during the day as my writing routine commonly includes both dogs sprawled out on the hardwood floor, snoring contently around my desk. Then it suddenly dawned on me; this will be the 40th Valentine my wife and I have shared together.
I sat back and pondered about our upcoming wedding anniversary and how very happy I am to share this milestone with the one I love. I am confident she feels the same way but might be a little self-conscious as I blow the trumpet about us being together four decades. Nevertheless, it has been amazing so far and, throughout the hard times and the good times, we are truly blessed.
Familiarity is a slow-growing deception that causes us to take people for granted, and in the realm of marriage this is one of the main reasons why couples become distant. Those of you that have been married for a while can relate when I say that holidays (especially Valentine’s Day) lose a little of their sparkle and excitement, and I guess it’s partly from a combination of getting older and becoming more familiar with your mate. For example, when we were newlyweds, the flowers, gifts, candy and going out to a restaurant seemed like a magical fairy tale. It was so exciting just to be together, gazing into each other’s eyes with hardly thinking of anything else. But as the years pass by, the newness seems to wear off and now, after a hard day’s work, its mutually agreed that a peanut butter sandwich, a candy bar and watching “Wheel of Fortune” is plenty of excitement to celebrate the occasion. Whatever happened to all the hugging and holding hands?
Have you noticed how the first years of marriage are filled with a series of three little words like, “I love you” and “you are beautiful,” and then after a few years they evolve into, “toilet seat down” and “need more Advil?”
When we were younger, we didn’t know the meaning of tired, and now we become giddy about taking a Sunday afternoon nap. Nonetheless, it’s a comfort to know that the person who shares our couch with us every night is there because they love us and enjoy being with us.
Since Valentine’s is a week dedicated to love, let us embrace the moment and think about the one who stole our heart. There is no need to wait for a certain day of the year to express our romantic feelings, as we can surprise them with our affection all through the year. The point is that it’s important to let our spouse know we are thinking about them and we appreciate them. We assume in our mind they already know we love them, and they do, but there’s nothing wrong with showing it more often. By the way, we are not guaranteed how many years we will have with our spouse, which is another reason to cherish the moments we have.
We can also turn to the Bible as a wonderful source of wisdom as it reminds us of our responsibility to honor our vows. We made a pledge as we lit the unity candle that having God at the center of our marriage would bond us together and should always be our highest priority.
We do not need to be a marriage counselor to come up with a few ideas that can improve the relationship with our spouse. It’s not the price or value of what is given at this time of year, but rather the genuine sincerity of why we are giving it. I would prefer to have someone give me a Reese cup while telling me how much they love me than to receive elaborate expensive gifts out of obligation.
Let us remember that God is love, and having constant communication with Him and our mate is not an option if we desire to maintain a close relationship with both of them.
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife, Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more, visit billyhollandministries.com.