"Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church." (Ephesians 5:28-29, ESV)
The best way to understand how you can nourish your marriage is to ask your spouse to finish this statement: "I feel loved when . . ." The answers are a gold mine of information.
Steve: I feel loved when she shows her commitment to me.
I'll always remember the Maui marathon as a picture of Leslie's commitment. The first half of the race went well. The second half was a labor of love. My knee was done at mile 14. But every time I tried to give up, Leslie would come alongside me to keep my spirits up. I really wanted her to run the race of her life, but she kept telling me that the race was about finishing as a couple. We crossed the finish line later than planned — together.
Leslie: I feel loved when he reassures me.
One time, Steve was giving me honest criticism. He wasn't trying to be hurtful, but that's how I perceived it. And when I feel attacked, I retaliate. Shocked, Steve said, "I'm not attacking you. I love you! Do you honestly believe that I would try to hurt you?" I realized how much it hurt him that I'd twisted his words. Now I temper my thoughts with the truth in mind: My husband loves me and would never intentionally hurt me. That safe starting point is helpful.
Creating a marriage that feels safe involves an attitude and an action: cherish and nourish.
Cherishing your spouse is a decision to value him or her as a priceless gift. It isn't purchased by your spouse's actions or contingent on your emotions. When you see your spouse as a treasure, your heart will open. Back that attitude with action. Focus on loving the other person rather than measuring how much you are being loved.
— Dr. Greg Smalley, taken from The Best Advice I Ever Got on Marriage
This article appeared in the October/November 2012 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2012 by Greg Smalley and Focus on the Family. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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