"I have this complaint against you: You stopped doing what you once did to show your love." Revelation 2:4
When Jesus would speak to the churches, He often would speak in relational terms. This is reflected in the verse above when Jesus was speaking to the church of Ephesus. The same complaint voiced above can be directed at us when it comes to our marital relationships. When we were dating, we would do all sorts of acts to show our love for one another. We would talk for hours about nothing, send flowers and cards, go for walks, write love letters or poems, go places with each other--even if we didn’t care about the places we were going! The important thing was being with each other. We would do anything for each other! But then, we got married, and most or all of those loving acts we once did when we dated went the way of the dinosaur! We stopped doing what we once did to show our love to one another.
It was once said that the most difficult years of a marriage are those following the wedding. Dating can be a magical time! Getting married is relatively easy; however, having a healthy, vibrant marriage takes work! It doesn’t just happen. If you look at both a healthy and an unhealthy marriage, they each are a by-product of what we do or don’t do in our relationship. One of the most destructive forces that can take place in a marriage is a concept called entropy. I have seen so much of this in the years that I have been working with couples. Entropy is a physics term, and is the second law of thermodynamics. Simply stated, anything that is left to itself with no positive energy going into it will start to rust, decay or fall apart. An example would be that of a garden. If I were to plant a garden and I do nothing to hurt it, but I also do nothing to help it, it will decay and rot. Weeds will take over, and the garden will die out. The same thing happens in marriage. We can get so busy with life, with work, with children and their activities, with maintaining a household, with hobbies, etc., that we stop tending our relationship with our spouse. All of the activities listed above are wonderful and/or necessary, but if we are not purposefully nurturing our relationship with our spouse, it too, like the neglected garden, will start to decay and die on the vine. We can tell if entropy is occurring in the relationship because we start to feel more like roommates and less like husband and wife. We feel disconnected, frustrated, and resentment toward one another can occur. We need to put the same energy into our marriage as we do for the other things in life. J. Allen Peterson describes what marriage is in his writing “Marriage Box.” Most people get married believing a myth--that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, romance, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship, laughter, financial security, etc. The truth is that marriage, at the beginning, is an empty box. You must put some things into it before you can take things out of it. There is no love in marriage; love is in people. There is no romance in marriage; people have to put it into their relationship. A couple must discern what things work to improve their relationship and form the habits of communicating, giving, sacrificing, sharing, loving, touching, serving and praising. In other words, keep the box full! If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.
I heard it said that our children are a message that we send to a future we will never see. If that is the case, what message are we sending about how a husband treats a wife and how a wife treats a husband? I encourage you--start today! Make your marriage a priority and start doing what you once did to show your love!