“One does not fall “in” or “out” of love.
One grows in love.”
— Leo Buscaglia
“We can only learn to love by loving.”
— Iris Murdoch
This year my husband and I will be married 35 years and I gotta tell you—never once in that first rocky year did I think we would end up where we are today.
Head over heels in love.
I mean, yes, that’s supposed to happen in the beginning, right? The honeymoon stage where he holds your hand in the car and he always has that glazed look in his eye before he kisses you? But 35 years down the road? Who would have thunk?
Well, certainly not me. Not with the number of times I had to pick his clothes up off the floor that somehow always ended up at the base of the hamper rather than in it. Or definitely not when he was snoring like a freight train, robbing me of sleep.
Let’s face it—things like fatigue and finances and kids have a way of sucking all the romance from a marriage faster than a baby can soil a freshly changed diaper. Life more often than not takes the shine off of that diamond on your finger along with the marriage itself. So, what’s a girl to do? And what one major piece of advice do I give when asked how to keep my marriage the best it can be??
Yeah, yeah, I know—many of us “prayed” for the right spouse and for the perfect wedding and for kids, but how many of us think about praying on an ongoing basis? Not to ask God to bless our spouse or our finances or our kids, although those things are certainly important. But to pray to LOVE our spouses the way that God wants us to. PRAY to be attracted to them on a daily basis. PRAY to be able to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.
My husband is three years, three months younger than me, so when I got married at 28, he was only 25 and moved straight from his sister’s house to my apartment after we got married. Mind you, I had been supporting myself for five years while his total financial obligation had been a car payment. During that first year, he suddenly went from this handsome hunk that every girl ogled to a man who had no financial history and one I wasn’t sure could even support me. My respect began to erode and with it, my attraction for him. I still remember the shock waves that rippled through me when I realized what was happening. As a very strong Christian at the time, I knew I only had one recourse:
So I did. I prayed that God would help me to love my husband the way God wanted me to. I prayed that God would help me be attracted to him more and more rather than less and less. I prayed that my respect for him would grow rather than diminish.
And guess what? God answered those prayers … not only in that first year, but every year after that because praying for one’s marriage is not only a life-long commitment, but an absolute necessity. Because the truth is as Leo Buscaglia said in today’s quote—”one does not fall “in” or “out” of love. One grows in love.” As Iris Murdoch also said, “We can only learn to love by loving.” And as Christians, the truth is we can only learn to love with God’s help. By asking Him on a daily basis to help us be the wife He wants us to be.
Last weekend we helped my daughter move into her new apartment and after we had carried box after box up two flights of stairs and a steep hill to boot, my husband took a breather on the couch while the cable guy was installing Internet. On my way through the living room to the bathroom, I stopped in front of my hubby, knees butted to his and leaned over to give him a nice long, tender kiss that went on for several seconds. It wasn’t a drive-by kiss, no peck on the cheek for me. It was a soul-deep, “I love you more than anything in this world” kiss that had more passion and love in it than any teenager or movie could depict. He kissed me back and I gave a smile before I headed to the bathroom.
Keith told me later that after I left, the cable guy looked up and said, “Are you two married?” And Keith laughed and said, “yeah, almost 35 years.” “And you two still kiss like that?” he asked, almost flabbergasted. “Yeah—we have a fabulous marriage. The guy responded with something like, “Wow, I sure hope my marriage ends up like.”
And you know what? I believe in most cases—through prayer and application of God’s precepts—it can. I’m not talking about marriages with abuse or adultery or seriously bad problems, although I truly believe God is capable of transforming any marriage. But I’m talking about a good, solid marriage that just doesn’t seem as exciting as it did in that honeymoon stage. I am living proof that good marriages can become great marriages with all the bells and whistles that those young whippersnapper heroes and heroines experience in romance novels. That’s why I wrote Marcy and Patrick O’Connor into my series as a secondary love story because it is possible to have that kind of marriage. Marcy and Patrick’s marriage is based on Keith’s and mine, and quite frankly, I don’t think I lucked out and fell in to a good thing (well, yes I do!), but the bulk of blessing I have experienced in my marriage is through prayer and application of God’s precepts. It takes time, yes, and lots and lots of effort and prayer. But trust me—it is OH, SO worth it!!
(NOTE: Don’t miss the P.S. at the bottom of this post!!)
So … don’t forget … #1 advice for marriages or romance: Pray and Follow God’s precepts best you can.
AND … DON’T FORGET — FREE DOWNLOAD!!! As some of you know, A Hope Undaunted, book 1 in the “Winds of Change” series is now available for free download on Amazon, B&N, and CBD, so I am asking all my reader friends to spread the word via e-mail or FB or Twitter or Pinterest or whatever means possible. ALSO … ALL of my O’Connor saga books (except the last one, A Love Surrendered) are ON SALE for $5.38 or $5.79, so TAKE ADVANTAGE!!
HALF-PRICE SALE!!! And in honor of Valentine’s month, my Irish love story, A Light in the Window, has been reduced by almost half, now available for $3.99 for a limited time only, so if you haven’t had the chance to read Marcy and Patrick’s prequel love story, this is a great opportunity!! Here are the links: Amazon and B&N.
AMAZING P.S. Okay, I am crying right now because not 20 minutes after I wrote this blog, I received an e-mail from a reader friend who had not read this blog, mind you, but essentially confirmed it with her beautiful e-mail. She has graciously allowed me to share that e-mail with you, so here it is:
“Julie, I want to share with you that I LOVE your books. I feel I have been divinely impacted by what I have read. I will try to describe as briefly as possible how your books have changed me. In the past several months I have struggled with depression, but reading has been my escape. I picked up your 4th book in the O’Connor series. Really enjoyed it, so decided to start at the beginning. It was the 3rd book, A Passion Denied that “hit me between the eyes” so to speak. I felt God speaking to me from John Brady’s side. That may sound strange. But I have had a past that I was so ashamed of, poor choices, etc. Many years ago I came back to Christ, and knew I was forgiven, and felt that blessing. But when I married my husband somehow I began to feel I couldn’t enjoy our private life, that if I did it was somehow wrong, dirty. Again I know that sounds crazy, but now I realize that is was from the devil. It has gone on for 15 years, but I am convicted to pray! Pray to release that guilt, begin to love my husband, and work to enjoy our relationship. I just say thank you. Thank you for being an instrument of God. I hope this makes some sense… Thank you and Bless you!
WOW!! In the face of 1-star reviews and lackluster sales at times, THIS is the reason I write, to share the lessons I’ve learned the hard way and to convince women just how very much God loves them and wants the best for them in their lives and in their marriages. Thank you to this precious reader friend for making my day.