Marriage, Relationship, Valentine's Day

Love: 14 Ways to Keep Your Love Strong

couple-sunset-beach-walk

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

From the time I became aware of what Valentine’s Day represented, I struggled with it. Who could struggle with true love, right?

Except, I wasn’t one of the girls who received Candy-grams in junior high. I wasn’t one of the girls who ever—ever—had a date to the Valentine’s dance. In my mind, I wasn’t pretty enough, or popular enough, or anything enough.

Solitary at sunset

 

I came into adulthood with mixed-up ideas about Valentine’s Day. Yes, it was for celebrating true love. But not everybody got to be a part of the celebration.

It seems like the world tries to define for us what love looks like, what Valentine’s Day stands for.

valentines-balloons

 

The world touts this Valentine’s Effect. It sends the message that—only if we spend money, especially on certain gifts—is love understood.

roses

 

Valentine’s Day has been twisted to glorify romantic love. 

In focusing on this, the actual meaning of the day is neglected. That of celebrating enduring, in-it-forever love. This kind of love doesn’t necessarily require chocolate, or flowers, or fancy dinners as proof positive of love.

This kind of love is lived out 24/7/365, offering gifts that are meaningful to that person.

I asked a few friends what they’ve done so their love stands the test of time. Many of them have been married for decades. Here is what they shared:

Heart in Pages

 

MINDSET:
1. Determine that if the relationship is broken you fix it, not throw it away (Christy S).

2. Deciding beforehand that whatever comes you are going to work through it. We recently came through a rough time, but after I decided I was committed to work through it…not so bad. And yes, after 25 years there are still rough patches (Alena T)

3. Staying off the “Love and Respect Crazy Cycle” One of us must be more mature to help the other get off this merry-go-round (Amy P)

4. We decided early in our marriage we would never use the D (divorce) word, even in jest. There is no back door in our relationship

5. The love of Jesus Christ demonstrated at Calvary is the only way we stay in love and the only way that can stand the trials and the test of time (Leah S)

Holding Hands 2

 

ACTIONS:

  1. Every day, attempt to out-love your spouse (Bev R)
  2. Keep dating your spouse, even after you’re married. This keeps the relationship exciting and strengthens the bond you share (Shirley G)
  3. Grace. Give it. Receive it (Susan S)
  4. Be intentional in your relationship with your spouse (Shauna W)
  5. Keep doing the thoughtful little things, like making each other coffee or cooking what the other person prefers, even when we prefer not to. (Wendy M)
  6. Knowing my husband’s love language has been huge in helping me find meaningful ways to love him. One thing he’s thanked me for? Making his lunch each day.

Couple on the dock

 

COMMUNICATE:

  1. Never hold in hurt or anger. It will only fester into a larger wound. Sometimes this requires tabling the issue until both are calmer. But sooner, rather than later, talk, apologize with true feelings and accept the other’s apology. Our history forms our relationship and respect for each other, strengthening our deep devotion and love . . . Never wish that you hadn’t gone through a storm because once you’re through it prayerfully, you each come out holding one another tighter and closer! (Maribeth H)
  2. After our first fight in our dating relationship, I realized sarcasm devastated my heart. When we talked it out, we decided we wouldn’t fight with sarcasm. Being intentional about our words has helped us to “fight fair.”
  3. Speak kind words about our spouses when we talk with others. When I talk down about my husband to friends, those are the impressions people remember.

man-helping-wife

 

Though honoring Valentine’s Day is a good way to remember the person we love most in this world, it should not be the only day we do something loving. Let’s be intentional about loving well the other 364 days of the year, as well.

What about you? What would you add to this list of what’s needed to make a love an “in-it-forever” kind of love? What has someone done for you that showed genuine love?

Click to Tweet: The world tries to define for us what love looks like

Today, I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and the #RaRaLinkup over at Jami Amerine’s place

Advertisements

23 thoughts on “Love: 14 Ways to Keep Your Love Strong”

  1. What a wonderful post, Jeanne. I always loathed Valentine’s Day because it emphasized the loneliness of those who wanted to be in a relationship – and weren’t.

    I wouldn’t always agree with never holding in hurt or anger, though. Sometimes we need to damp down a quick response to a perceived injury to find out why that injury was inflicted in the first place.

    There have been many times when I realized that a cutting remark had as its genesis a difficult conversation with family, or something similar…and I was simply available as a convenient outlet for frustration.

    And I’ve done the same.

    Sometimes we need to just let it go.

    Like

    1. Andrew, I think you’re right about us not holding in hurt. I’ve found with my hubs that sometimes, we need a little distance between an argument and when we talk things out. But, we always talk thing through. )P And you’re right too about not being too quick to respond to a comment. That’s something I have had to work on. Wise words, my friend.

      Like

  2. Yes, I remember feeling as if Valentine’s Day was someone else’s holiday but not mine, for sure! Thanks for reminding all of us, no matter what our “policy” on February 14 that the love of God is unchanging and it is embodied on this planet in the love that lives and abides between two believers who have promised their hearts to each other forever.

    Like

    1. Beautiful words, Michele. Remembering that God’s love is unchanging is foundational, isn’t it? I still am in awe that He uses the relationship between a husband and wife to reflect His love for His kids. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great truths about love and relationships. I’m glad you asked others for their perspectives and shared your own too. My pastor described Valentine’s Day as a made-up holiday, which it is, so people spend money and one that usually recognizes the wife more than the husband. Love should be lived out everyday and should be a beautiful work in progress as you continue to learn from each other.

    Like

    1. Mary, I always learn when others share what they’ve learned. It’s true, isn’t it? The woman or wife is usually the one who is singled out as special. You’re right, love should be lived out every day. And, in our case, it’s sometimes a bit of a messy work in progress. But I think that’s where grace comes in, yes? Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Mary!

      Like

  4. Great post. I loved reading this and all the comments shared on Facebook.

    I think the Valentine fallacy can extend into marriage. I remember feeling “cheated” because when I finally had that adorable husband, he didn’t shower me with gifts and mushy sentiment on Feb. 14. To him it was another day. He liked bringing flowers and gifts when he wanted to, not when the calendar told him to. Over the years he’s become more sentimental and learned it was important to me, but my early expectations put a lot of pressure on him to perform in the way I thought a husband should.

    Like

    1. Mindy, I had that same sense of feeling “cheated” early in our marriage. I had never really gotten to celebrate Valentine’s Day before marriage. When I was married, I expected that to change. Yes, I admit, I’m still working through some selfish tendencies. Couple these expectations with a man who wasn’t raised to celebrate holidays beyond the Big Three, and it was a recipe for frustration. My guy brings flowers and gifts when he wants to as well. I’m glad there’s freedom in our relationship for him to do this. 🙂 I so appreciate your sharing here!

      Like

  5. So many great tips here, Jeanne. We’re in it for the long haul, even during the tough times, not just when things are all rosy and warm. 24/7/365. Ummm… I still do love those Russell Stover chocolates though… 😉 Love and hugs to you!

    Like

  6. I love these “collective wisdom” kind of posts, Jeanne. Your friends have shared some great thoughts. One thing I’ve gradually realized over the last several years is how internal factors like tiredness, stress, hormones, physical pain and even the side effects of medication can influence how people who truly love each other respond to each other. Grace is so important, and yet so hard to extend when I’m busy getting my feelings hurt and forgetting to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Loving the 1 Corinthians 13 way really is the best way, isn’t it?

    Like

    1. Lois, I always learn from others’ words and wisdom too. This was a fun post to put together. I completely agree with you. How tired, hungry, sick, in pain I am are definitely going to filter into my interactions with those I love most. Grace is essential in our relationships—with spouses and with children, isn’t it? 1 Corinthians 13 definitely has it right. 🙂

      Like

  7. Jeanne,
    Loved this post and all the different ideas. I’m kind of tired of the world giving us these souped up versions of Hallmark holidays. For me, I find it just sets unrealistic expectations. I’d rather get flowers on a random day just because…rather than expecting something on a certain day. But I guess I’ve always gone against the grain…
    Blessings,
    Bev xo

    Like

    1. Bev, you’re right. Hallmark holidays. Love that. We come away with the mistaken idea that everything should be sentimental, perfect, meaningful. Real life has us living messy sometimes, doesn’t it? I’ve definitely had to adjust my perception of Valentine’s Day. Having a husband who loves well every day of the year has made it easy for me to relax my expectations of how Valentine’s Day should run. Loved your thoughts here. Thanks, Bev!

      Like

  8. Pingback: bgkskalata1org
  9. Beautiful and so encouraging, Jeanne. Like you’ve mentioned, I think that so often we underestimate the power of prayer. If I can’t fix things, God can. If I can’t … God can. xoxo

    Like

Comments are closed.