By: Rebekah Leavell

  February is the season of being in love. Valentine’s Day was just this past weekend. Everywhere you turned in the stores there seemed to be items geared towards hearts, flowers, chocolates, and cards in varying hues of red and pink.  The restaurants are full of couples, and all those visuals remind us of romance. Women tend to sigh blissfully at the thought of overtures of sappy love and men tend to sigh in consternation in the face of expectations. Universally though, we love the feeling of being in love, especially when the relationship is starting out! Who does not enjoy those strong emotional highs in their relationship when it still has that “new car smell” about it?

   We try to remember and capture those sweeping feelings on Valentine’s Day every year. Yet, what do we do in our marriages after Valentine’s Day is over, when the chocolates have been eaten, the cards read, the roses have wilted, and life goes back to routine? As time progresses, and the years roll by, that new car smell wears off. It can begin to feel dependable, comfortable, and the seat cushion has your unique imprint in it. That can feel nice on some days and frustrating on others. It does not feel new and exciting anymore. We reminisce about the days of getting engaged or being a newlywed, and how much we miss
those feelings. Sadly, some people crave that new car smell so much that they try to sneak rides in other cars in an attempt to capture those feelings again. Eventually and predictably, the high price tag of stealing a car off the lot that they didn’t invest in catches up with them and it all implodes.

   We all want to be loved. We all want to feel loved. We all want to share love in return. We soak up articles or videos with couples that have been married fifty plus years sharing their tips for a long lasting relationship. We all want that for ourselves someday, but then we look into the mirror of our own relationships in the present and just feel overwhelmed. The prospect of how much relationship diet and exercise must be needed to get a relationship that in shape and healthy seems insurmountable. Isn’t there a short cut somewhere? Is there a relationship diet pill that we can take so we don’t have to shove metaphorical broccoli in our mouths or don a pair of running shoes? The great news is that a mature love that has weathered the storms of life and seen the start and end of decades is well worth the time and effort given to it. Aged, seasoned beef makes a much more enjoyable steak! A love that has been through the rocky waves without breaking apart does not have to end up as a boring, stale relationship that leaves us wishing to go back to the way love felt at the beginning.

What is real love?

   Is the feeling itself the love we truly long for?  What kind of love can stand the test of time while becoming deeper, richer, and more meaningful with each year? The template for love as defined by God to reflect His own character, is laid out in I Corinthians 13. It’s the passage that everyone knows so well that they roll their eyes at hearing it for the millionth
time at Christian weddings goes,

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”  

These verse are not trite and they are not a formula. Not just these verses, but the entire surrounding passage has so much depth when stepping away from the placards and diving into the text in its entirety. God’s word shares the foundation of love that applies to every relationship whether a mother, sister, friend, or spouse. The verses that everyone holds up as the idea for romantic love are in the flow of addressing the way we are supposed to serve and interact with everyone else in our local church environment.

Another passage of Scripture that speaks directly to marriages is Ephesians 5:22-33, which flows out of a context of engaging with those around us.

 Ephesians 5 starts with,

 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

   For believers, one of the many valuable lessons we can take away from these passages is to remember that our spouse is first and foremost a brother or sister in Christ! This indicates that we are to treat them with at least the same level of courtesy and respect offered to another person at church.

Kindness between believers is a good place to start! 

   What about you and your spouse? Are the highs of Valentine’s Day long over? Is the new car smell long gone and you are not sure what is left? If you are having a hard time knowing what steps to take in your marriage to experience the growth of healthy relationship muscles, reach out to our counselors at Biblical Counseling of Arizona! They are here to help give you the kind of customized personal relationship fitness coaching that you are looking for in order to give the strong physique in your relationship mirror that we long for and brings God glory!