Originally published Friday, 24 January 2014.
Night after night I sought him whom my soul loves... Song of Solomon 3:1
We live in a culture of crazy schedules, careers that demand superhuman abilities, death-defying traffic and just massive amounts of stress. Even our little kids have jam packed schedules. When I was a children’s director I remember one little girl telling me she wasn’t sure she could work on her memory verse that week because she had so many other things to do. At first I thought, “Wow! Someone’s picked up on Mommy or Daddy’s excuses for not doing things!” But when I saw the look on her face and listened as she recounted her already filled week, I could see this little one wore the strain of schedule stress. If even our children feel the tension of stress, how in the world are we as adults supposed to pull out of the schedule vortex enough to fight it in our own lives? How are we supposed to nurture romance and spontaneity in our marriages when we’re just so drained? I think this little verse from Song of Solomon holds part of our answer: Night after night I sought him whom my soul loves. She sought him night after night, but kept missing him.
These lovers didn’t always “find” each other. Yet their love was not damaged or dissuaded by their “hits and misses.” I think sometimes, in marriage we allow our “misses” to pile up disappointment between us. Sometimes we might feel embarrassed if we were all geared up for something and then find our spouse totally uninterested. When that kind of thing happens (and it happens to everyone), if we are able to swallow our pride a little, ask the Lord to insert some grace in the situation and simply flex to the needs of our spouse (or perhaps the demands of the moment that our spouse can’t control) and try again another time, our love will grow instead of diminish.
Every marriage experiences those “hit and miss” hiccups. In our relationship, I think the fact that one of us tried to be sweet or romantic to the other person sometimes “counts” all the more than the times when the plans went through seamlessly. I used to get deeply offended when my honeyman wasn’t available for my affection. At the moment, he was just really preoccupied, but I’d take it personally. Then I realized, what truly mattered was that he knew I was head-over-heels for him. It didn’t matter if I got to express my heart to him that very moment, or later that day or two days from then. I just needed him to know I loved him and was passionate about him. Over the course of many “hits and misses” from both of us, we kind of developed a system of “it’s the thought that counts.” And we really do let it “count.” We carry an attitude in our relationship that says, “Just so long as you feel my love for you, I can wait for the right moment to share it with you.”
The first quality of love in 1 Corinthians is “Love is patient.” Before we were married we waited a really long time for each other. I thought all our waiting was over! But the truth is that where love is, patience is always required. Waiting is part of marriage. And if we can wait together, keep trying together, instead of letting disappointment pull us apart, the love in our marriages will flourish.
So what’s the number one thing that comes in between you and your spouse “finding” each other? Schedules and stress? Disappointments and hurts? Health issues?
If you struggle to find each other amidst your schedules, consider refining your priorities and setting aside some sacred time for your marriage. I’ve never heard anyone regret making a weekly date night a priority, but I have known couples who regretted all the time and energy they spent elsewhere.
If it’s disappointments and hurts that have piled up between you, pray over those places in your heart and relationship. Commit them to the Lord’s grace and seek to replace the hurt with forgiveness. Consider going to a Christian marriage conference or getting some outside input to help you.
If health issues or “season of life” transitions (like a new baby or maybe an elderly parent who has moved in) have changed the way you and your spouse connect, pray for the Lord to show you ways to express your love in light of the new needs your marriage now carries. Over the course of this last year, I’ve personally had health issues that really zapped ability to be very giving. I hated feeling so needy. Eric carried more responsibility and concern while I wasn’t well. As I spent time recuperating, feeling a host of unwanted things, the one way I was still able to love on my man was praying for him. I prayed so much for him this year. Real love doesn’t just look one way. It runs deep enough so that when life comes and piles on top of it, those waters are still flowing strong beneath the surface.
I’m praying the Lord would grant you grace in your marriage to keep trying and seeking the other out, even if you have your “hits and misses.”