Barely coped through yesterday? Not looking forward to another year of marital hurt and disappointment? For many people, annual day-type celebrations like Valentine’s, can be painful reminders of what is missing in their relationship.
During my preparation for a Valentine’s event I presented at last Saturday night, the words from an ancient epistle(1) struck me as me as a treatment plan to help rehydrate marital expectations. I am confident that if these three simple steps are followed for the next 364 days, Valentine’s Day 2013 will leave you with greater relational contentment ….. and not just another headache.
Step 1 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition. NOTHING??? Yes. No thing, ixna, noughta, nothing. No undisclosed plan or hidden agenda. In other words, question your motivation about everything. Ask yourself before you speak or act. Why does _________ have to be done like that? Is it simply because I want it like that? Is this request manipulative or underhanded? Or is it actually what’s best for our relationship? Selfishness repels but selfless acts have magnetic properties, capable of drawing others closer to yourself.
Step 2 – Esteem your partner higher than yourself. In other words, pretend that the other person is the most important person in the room.
When a VIP comes over for dinner, everyone is on their best behavior. The best china is used, the VIP gets the best seat in the house and all the best ingredients have been used in food preparations. What would happen in our marriages if we treated each other, everyday, like they ere the most important person in the room? Perhaps the daily dialogue would go something like this. ‘Honey,’ he said ‘let me get that for you, you’ve had a hard day.’ ‘No’, she replied, ‘you’ve had a hard day too, I’ll get it for you.’ ‘But Sweety’, he insists ‘you got it for me last time.’ ‘No, I’ll get it.’ ‘No, let me!’ ‘But sincerely, it’s my turn.’ Can you imagine outdoing one another with good works? Preferring the others needs above your own? What would our most significant, most invested earthly relationship be like under these circumstances? Marriage might actually become fun! (a nice change from hurtful and disappointing.)
Step 3 – Be interested in what the other is interested in. I often have couples complain to me that ‘we have nothing in common.’ Obviously, it’s easy to be interested in what interests you (there’s a profound statement). It’s much more difficult to be interested in the interests of others!
My husband has always loved hockey (good Canadian boy that he is). I often tease that he grew up worshiping at the altar of Hockey Night in Canada. My family was the polar opposite. I really cannot remember ever watching a hockey game before I met Greg at 18 years old! So, I’ve had to cultivate an interest in our national obsession. Not just force myself to be interested (begrudgingly), but actually give the game enough focus and attention until I was authentically engaged. Common interests can be acquired and become natural pathways into the heart of the other. And to be fair, my husband never really appreciated shopping before he met me….. you know where that’s going.
Developing selflessness and esteem for and interest in others, is a mindset. It’s a lifestyle choice. And we have the pure privilege of making choices for our lives everyday! So…..it’s the day after Valentine’s. You have one year. I truly hope next year’s celebrations bring happiness, contentment and new level of intimacy you’ve never experienced before. I think it’s possible.
(1) Biblical Reference Philippians 2:3,4