I have decided that it is equally disturbing for a man to feel that he is disappointing his wife as it is for a wife to feel like her husband doesn't want to be around her. And, thus begins a cyclical downward spiral of a marriage. And, every marriage has downward spirals. You are lying if you say you haven't. Some people catch theirs sooner than others and keep them from crash landing in the dirt. Some people build them back up, some people walk away. But EVERY marriage has it's moments.
We've all read and heard 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. "Love is patient, love is kind...." I think we've been exposed to it so much so that we are a little desensitized to the real meaning of it all. We aren't really acting it out in our daily lives. After all, they are words. And, words are easily spoken. Actions to back up the words that you say are much harder. Especially in a marriage situation where you are required to act on the words you've promised for a lifetime.
There is one component of those verses that has been on my mind a lot lately: "[Love]does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." Isn't it just human nature to look at a situation, at a relationship, or at a marriage, and take note of the way the other people involved are handling things "wrong?" To see how if they changed their behavior in this way or that way then things would just go so much smoother? It is easier to do that than to look at yourself and see the things YOU could change in order to make things better. Because, in the end, we can really control no one's actions but our own. And what the above passage is asking of us, is to put other's before our own needs. This is especially vital in a marriage.
It is a tough notion in the society we've been raised in which values self promotion above almost all things. But, if we are Christians, we know that we just cannot conform to that. Your spouse is not always deserving of selflessness towards them, but neither are you. None of us are deserving of God's perfect love towards us, and after all, isn't the main goal of a marriage to be a living picture of Christ's love for his people? We just cannot put tally marks on the wall of the things that our spouse has done "wrong." And, how do you tell someone how they should love you? You just can't! Love is a gift given. You would never tell someone who handed you a present that their presentation or timing was all wrong or that you wish they'd have spent a little more or gotten you something different. Even if you felt that they didn't put much effort in to it, you'd take what they gave and be appreciative and polite. A marriage is the same way. We're going through life together, which isn't always easy. Sometimes you won't get your spouse's best of first efforts. Sometimes you'll feel like your seat on the "back burner" is undeserved and unfair. But, you can't force someone to gift you with their love the way you think they should. More often than not, if you try, you'll end up even more unsatisfied than you started.
What we should be doing is loving our husband or wife without putting them in a proverbial box. Without looking for what I can get out of the situation. Without thinking they are doing things wrong. Without trying to manipulate them in to treating us how we'd like. (Of course, a situation of abuse is a whole different topic that I won't venture in to here but that should never be tolerated!) We should be trying to love our spouse the best way we can. And sometimes we'll be overwhelmed with that initial in love feeling of when we were dating. But, as time wanes on there will be more and more times when we have to seek God's counsel and divinity to love the person in our life and to see them through God's eyes.
The words in 1 Corinthians 13 are easily said, easily printed on wedding programs and wall hangings, but if you really read them you'll see they aren't as easily lived out. It's actually hard to "always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere." The key word there, I think is: ALWAYS. We are not allowed to take breaks from that. Not even when someone else is not doing it. We are still required to live this out... ALWAYS. Yes,it is sometimes very difficult, but it is what we, as Christians, are called to do and with God's help, we can. The relationship with our husband or wife is the very most important relationship in our lives, aside from our relationship with Christ. And, it is worth it to put the work in. (Much of which should be done on our knees before God!)