Love is a Decision and Sometimes a Feeling

On 5th January, 1973 two starry eyed, barely 20 year olds, stood at an altar, before a God they barely knew, and promised to love each other forever. We were overflowing with the feelings of love and really had no idea how important deciding to love, deciding to be loving, would become if we were to fulfil those vows we spoke. However 46 years later we are still together and happy – most of the time.

I am forever grateful that in 1986 we really met Jesus and started letting Him help us with this thing called marriage. It breaks my heart to read that Christian marriages are failing at the same rate as non-Christian marriages. Jesus is meant to make a difference! He is our, ‘ever present help in times of trouble’ (Ps 46:1). He is our third strand so our cord is not quickly broken (Ecc 3:12). As couples we have access to the master redeemer, restorer, healer and lover.

So what has helped us run this race for 46years? A few quick tips so we enjoy and not just endure:

·       Prioritise your Marriage – what you water and feed grows. If we are purposeful and creative we can do this in our busy worlds, no matter what season. Eat together with no screens. Find a few uninterrupted, ‘tell me about your day’ minutes. Pursue things that are fun together. Take turns at organising dates. We had a season where breakfast worked well so the rule was, ‘take turns at sorting the venue and no repeat locations’ – too much of the same old becomes boring. Be prepared to allocate some money to building your marriage – it’s much cheaper than a divorce!

 

·       Get Knowledge. Get Understanding. A constant cry in Proverbs. ‘My people perish from lack of knowledge’ it says in Hosea. There have been so many ah-ha moments that have changed the course of our marriage. I still remember reading The 5 Love Languages and going, ‘Oh my goodness! That’s how we can stop going around the same mountain’. Similar shifts happened as we learnt about gender and personality differences and what love and respect really meant. As we both tend to be conflict avoiders, learning how to deal with hurt and disappointment in a healthy way and forgive is a game changer.

 

·       Pray. I once asked a woman I was helping if she prayed for her husband. She replied, ‘Yes. I pray that he will drop dead!’ It wasn’t what I had in mind or what I’d recommend. However I do recommend:

-      Pray that God will help you be the best wife who, ‘brings him good not harm all the days of his life.’ (Pr 31:12). It’s too easy to see all the change needing to come from our husband.

-      Pray for him – for wisdom, strength, favour, blessing as it keeps our hearts soft towards him.

-      Pray Together. God said of Adam, ‘It’s not good for man to be alone’ and ever since then the devil’s plan has been to divide and conquer! Try it and be amazed as God’s goodness and strength pours into your marriage and as a couple you reflect God’s heart to the world.

What a joy to know that wherever we are on our relationship journey, hopeful, broken, joyful, stuck or sailing happily along, we have a 24/7 available God to help and walk with us and He has good plans!

Maureen Southwell   Maureen and Barry Southwell met at Teacher’s College as teenagers and have been married 46 years. They have 3 married daughters and 5 grandchildren. They have been part of C3 since 1986 and have been facilitating marriage groups and encouraging couples for 20 years. They also work with engaged couples and have presented at marriage enrichment days. They are passionate to see marriages flourish.

Maureen Southwell

Maureen and Barry Southwell met at Teacher’s College as teenagers and have been married 46 years. They have 3 married daughters and 5 grandchildren. They have been part of C3 since 1986 and have been facilitating marriage groups and encouraging couples for 20 years. They also work with engaged couples and have presented at marriage enrichment days. They are passionate to see marriages flourish.