I remember the day these engagement pictures were taken like it was yesterday. Luke and I were passionately in love – you know, the sort of love that scares the heck out of you and sets your whole world on fire! The feelings are intensely intoxicating; we were addicts, desperately drinking each other in. We had a notebook sort-of-love – brilliantly immature, but beautiful and beyond inspiring.
The photographer didn’t have to try too hard to capture our passion – we were inseparable and our hearts were no doubt forever intertwined. For three hours we hung all over each other, kissed each non-stop, giggled, and whispered sweet nothings into each other’s ears. I am sure it was quite nauseating to watch, but we were in our own little world of bliss and totally entranced with one another.
There was no doubt in my mind that I was a loved woman. Luke struggled to keep his hands, lips, and eyes off of me. He spent all of his extra time and money on me. He bought me thoughtful and extravagant gifts. He wrote me love letters and even included Bible verses to encourage me.
He planned creative, unique, and sometimes even extravagant dates night after night. He surprised me with my favorite Starbucks drink on the regular and even bought me groceries when I was low on cash. Oh yes ladies, I knew I was adored.
Since I was so completely secure that I was loved, I pretty much worshiped the ground Luke walked on. I truly thought he was perfect; at least perfect for me. I thought he was the smartest, funniest, most adorable man in the world. I would sit in class as a 23-year-old, trying to be a serious graduate student, fighting the urge to write, “I love Luke” all over my notepad. I was loved. I was safe. I was wanted.
After Luke and I got married, things started to slowly change. We got use to each other, a little bit of mystery wore off, and the honeymoon stage began to dissolve. As a dreamer and an idealist, I panicked. My greatest fear began to fester and I began to wonder if Luke still loved me.
Within that time, I had also been very sick a lot of the time and Luke had to become somewhat of a caretaker. I was on and off serious medications that made me a bit cray cray at times and this was wearing on both of us. I gained weight. I was miserable a lot. I didn’t feel as pretty. I wondered if Luke was still attracted to me.
All of our extra money went to medical bills and all our time went to working to pay for medical bills. Luke no longer had the money to buy me special gifts or take me on extravagant dates. Creative dates and love letters became far less important in the face of serious illness, overwhelming medical expenses, and constant trips to every doctor under the sun. My heart began to sink and I no longer felt adored, wanted, or loved.
Since I did not feel loved, I began to lose respect for Luke. I became resentful towards him in a lot of ways and felt as though he tricked me. This was the beginning of some serious marriage difficulties for Luke and I. We were both chronically disappointed at the cards we had been dealt and blamed each other.
The more I grew convinced that I was not being loved well, the more disrespectful I became, which convinced Luke he was not being loved well. We got caught up in “the crazy cycle” as the author of “Love and Respect” puts it.
When women are not pursued, romanced, and adored they began to feel unloved and when men are not respected, honored, and appreciated, they begin to feel unloved. The problem with marriage is that men often try and love women by “respecting them” and women often try and love men by “romancing them.”
What we must do is learn a new language, which is difficult, but not impossible. God calls married people to unconditionally love and respect one another. I believe that the Bible teaches us the ideal, which is “husband-headship,” but I do not think “husband-headship” has anything to do with a hierarchy of authority.
Rather, I believe that “husband-headship” simply means that husbands should be the first to “learn a new language” – his wife’s “language of love.” If he does this, a wife will almost always respect him naturally and quickly. But, even though this is God’s ideal in marital function; things often do not work out this way.
You my sister may have a mule of a man who you know is not going to do things God’s way even if he does consider himself a Christian. So, you will have to learn his language of “unconditional respect” first and take “headship” in love. It is my opinion that this way does not work as well and as quickly, as women are natural responders and men are not, but it usually will work over time.
If you take “headship” and lead in love by respecting your man even if he does not deserve it, there is a good chance he will begin to love you in the way you so desperately want him to again. This is for champion women and you will need a whole lot of Jesus’ grace to do this.
“The crazy cycle” is normal and chances are that your husband does still love you, but is not sure how to speak your language or is maybe too pissed at you to even try. I know girl, it hurts like hell not to feel loved by the one person in the world you want to love you.
Do you know that when you google the words “Does my husband,” the top search that pops up is, “Does my husband love me?” This shows that our struggle is common and we are not alone. So will we throw our marriage away that we know can be beautiful if we work? Will we toss our man to the wind because he sucks at taking “headship” in love? Or will we do what ladies do best and fight for the ones we love?
The truth is that many of us get so frustrated with this vicious cycle that we decide divorce is the best option, but we soon find ourselves in a new relationship with the same exact problem. This is because this is a male/female issue; not just your personal issue. God saw it fit to torture us with marriage. Just kidding, but he did see it fit to throw us on an island with one person who doesn’t speak our native tongue.
As usual, God wants us to die to our selfishness so that he can raise up extraordinary character in His children. There is not one person in this world who can bring out my inner demons like my husband can! God knows this. My love for Luke is so powerful that only He can draw out my “ugly.” When my “ugly” is exposed, I am forced to deal with it.
Sometimes I want to gag when I see Facebook posts that say, “Two people who love each other will only bring out the best in each other.” This is not even close to being true! Two people who love each other will bring out the best and the worst in each other because true love is a beautiful mess.
Marriage is not for the easily moved as it is a beast that takes an extraordinary amount of effort. We must not assume that couples who have been married 50 years just naturally worked out; these folks worked hard for their life-long love affair and I can guarantee spiraled in and out of “the crazy cycle” many times.
Elderly married couples holding hands in the nursing home are sweet, but they are more than sweet; they are marriage warriors with scarred-up souls, who have learned the secret to having a happy marriage – mutual and unconditional love and respect.
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