Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
During my recent difficult season I asked God to give me something when He needed me to write, and He did yesterday at church through our preacher! I love it when we can apply general Biblical truths to marriage relationships.
The church at Ephesus had some good things going for it– hard work, perseverance, intolerance of evil, discernment of teachers– but they were going through the motions of church. They’d left their first love, and I take this to mean that they were following the rules but not serving Christ out of love for Him. Marriages– especially ones in the busy child-rearing season or long-term ones– can easily fall into this. You are fond of each other; you have the same interests, activities, and friends; life is pleasant; but there is very little one-on-one intimate interaction. No meeting of the minds or spiritual oneness, nothing that couldn’t occur between you and any other friend. I’ve been there. When children, pets, and jobs are clamoring for your attention, undemanding spouses are easy to neglect. But neglect them too long and you have a dead marriage.
Brother Chuck used the words “remember, repent, and resume” from this Scripture, to apply to any relationship that needs repair. If you are in the difficult position of having an unsatisfying marriage but believe that marriage is for life and divorce is not an option, this can help.
Remember the height from which you have fallen.
Why did you fall in love? What attracted you? Reminisce about fun or funny (or even sad) times that you experienced together. We have a digital picture frame with many of our vacation pictures, and we love watching and remembering. When our kids get together we laugh our heads off over the same funny stories. Share what you remember about happy times. Many times in dead marriages, both partners have withdrawn, and both are afraid to take the first step toward reconciliation. Reminiscing about positive shared experiences will soften hearts.
Remind yourself and your spouse of times when they were wonderful for you. When my mother was in the hospital, comatose for a week before she died, I dropped everything. I knew I could count on my husband to handle everything and everyone at home; I didn’t even consciously think about it. He’s buried dead pets, dug in the sewer, called principals when I couldn’t, opened jar lids, and bought me really nice jewelry! Don’t just think about those nice things, thank him out loud!
God ordained marriage to represent the union between Christ and his church. He said we were to be one flesh. When we neglect or abuse our marriages, we are being disobedient to Him, and we need to repent. Ask God to reveal what you have done to add to the problem, and ask His forgiveness. You might not be to the point where you feel safe enough to ask your spouse for forgiveness. That’s okay for now.
Do the things you did at first
“Any old dog likes a pat on the head.” Chances are that when you were newlyweds there were lots of sweet words and helpful actions, not to mention sexual intimacy, happening at your house. Both of you were filling up the other’s love tanks without even thinking about it. In tired marriages, many times the love tanks are running on fumes because you have both been too busy doing other things, and taking for granted that your spouse will always be there. It’s easy to do. Don’t beat yourself up about it, but STOP! (Take a minute and imagine that you don’t have them anymore. Nothing like a motorcycle accident to make you appreciate your spouse! As humans, we have a tendency to not “miss the water til the well runs dry.” That leads to so much regret. Don’t wait that long!)
What did you do for your spouse in those early days? Speak sweet words? Cook his favorite meal? Dress yourself nicely? Take better care of yourself? (ouch) Hide notes in his pockets? Do some of those things, even if you don’t feel like it. Brother Chuck reminded us of Philippians 4:8 (Whatever…) but reminded us that 4:9 says DO THOSE THINGS!
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.
You might ask– am I expected to do things I don’t really feel like doing? (YES) Isn’t that hypocritical? (NO) It’s called discipline. Or good manners. But shouldn’t my spouse do the same thing? Yes, but don’t wait for them to act first. You’re the one who knows what to do now, so YOU start. Chances are, your spouse will reciprocate. But even if he doesn’t, you are doing these things because God said to, and if you are being obedient, He will take care of everything else.
Read up on restoring and nurturing marriages, even if yours is in a good season right now. Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint, and it needs constant care! There is a ton of good information online. Click on my Christian Marriage Bloggers button to see many good blogs. I highly recommend Sheila Gregoire’s To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. I have a “Revive your marriage” series with some practical ideas. (Three Little Changes is the last one, with links to the 4 others.)
Remember that your spouse is not your enemy. The devil hates marriage and especially hates a happy Christian marriage. You are fighting a spiritual battle when you are fighting for your marriage. Use all the resources and “armor” at your disposal. If you are new to Auntie Em’s, click on my “marriage” category and find many posts. I pray for success in your battle! Please let me know how to pray for you, and share with my readers things you have done to build up your marriage. We have a wonderful community of brothers and sisters who are here to help and support one another.