People change. This is just a fact. A person enters a new job and the pressures of that job may change them; a person enters into a new relationship and that changes them. We, as people, are in a constant state of flux. This is the way God has made us.
So we should expect that if we get married, the person we marry will change because they are human. Your spouse will be changed by the fact that they marry you, your spouse will change if they change jobs, your spouse will change if and when you have children.
But here is the issue. So many people tell us that the secret to a happy marriage is to keep falling in love with the person we married. But the person we married might be a very different person to the person we are married to five years after our wedding.
So what are we to do?
Our job is not to keep falling in love with the person we married but to keep falling in love with who they become. That is, if they put on a heap of weight and don’t look like the thin person you married, you are called to love them. If they develop a mental illness and their personality changes, you are called to love them. If they lose their job and don’t have the drive they once had, you are called to love them. If they lose their faith and walk away from Jesus, you are called to love them.
The model for this is God and his dealings with Israel. God loved Israel no matter who she was, no matter what she did. We are called to love in the same way.
How do you do this? Kate and I have only been married for two years but there are a few things we do to make sure we keep falling in love with the person the other becomes.
- We have a weekly date night. Sometimes it is just a movie or a cheap dinner but we always have a weekly date night. This helps us unwind, catch up, reconnect and keep falling more and more in love with each other.
- We share about our day and pray at the end of each night. Kate seems to remember all the things she wanted to tell me right when we go to bed. This can be annoying when I just want to sleep but it has actually done wonders for our marriage. At the end of every night we make time to share about what God did today in our lives and share three great things about the day. These three great things can be little things like “I had an encouraging conversation with Fred today” or big like “Jemima who is a non-Christian agreed to read through a gospel with me today”. After sharing three things that were good about today we then pray. This ends the day on a high note.
- We work hard at saying positive things to each other about each other. This helps us remind ourselves about what we love in the other person but it also encourages the other person.
My prayer is that I would be more in love with Kate in five, ten, twenty years time than I am now, no matter the person she becomes.
Because my job is to keep falling in love with who she becomes.