People get married because they love each other. But they stay married because they like each other. Partners who like each other have a relationship founded on respect. When respect, and the "liking" it fosters, flourishes in a marriage, you can bet the relationship rests on solid ground. Here are five ways to put more like in your marriage.
First, don't try to be everything to each other.My husband is my closest friend, but he isn't my only friend. While God intended that our relationship take priority over others, he never intended that we exclaim, "Us two will do!" Relationships with others enhance our liking for each other. They add a dimension to us we couldn't get if our circle of two never expanded to include anyone else.
Second, be likable.When you choose a friend, don't you look for someone who's pleasant, attractive, and enjoyable to be with? I don't tend to stay in long-term friendships with people who are always negative, boring, or unhappy, and I shouldn't expect my mate to either. Since he and I are committed to each other, we want that "staying" to be as fun as possible. I don't want just to be his wife; I want to be someone he'd choose as a good friend, even if we weren't married.
Third, grow in respect for yourself.I've found that my self-respect grows most quickly when I'm stretching and venturing into new challenges. Take up a sport you've never tried or install the garage-door opener yourself. As we grow individually, our life together grows, too, because we have more to bring to our marriage.
Fourth, respect readjustments your spouse must make.Any time either marriage partner makes a change (even a change for the better), it brings about a change in the balance of the marriage. And change can be threatening, or at least uncomfortable, just because it's different. As we take on new challenges, we need to surround our mate with the reassurance he or she needs to see that we're growing together.
Fifth, share your feelings and thoughts.How easy it is to get so busy just keeping life going that we fail to share our deepest thoughts with each other. It doesn't always have to be serious. Sometimes it's good just to laugh or simply be together. Sometimes the quietness of being together can feed the soul with the knowledge of your oneness.
Real love lives in the heart-openness the two of you share. True love starts with a "kiss of hearts," and falling in like is the way to make that kiss happen.
Adapted fromMarried Lovers, Married Friends (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group). Used by permission.
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.