How to love your spouse…

Last week, Elisa and I had a fight. I’m not going to go into the details of the dispute. Needless to say, I was the cause (as usual) and required grace on her part as I learn how to be more the person that she needs me to be. This is an annual thing. About once a year, we get into a spat over something (thankfully, it is never the same thing… progress there.) and it typically takes us about three or four days of not talking to discover that we really don’t like to fight with each other before we reconcile. 

I say this today not to air my wife and I’s problems, but to create a thought. I know that I am not the only guy out there that, at times, fails miserably at loving my spouse. And, I know that it’s not just the guys that screw this up from time to time either. We all struggle to make marriage perfect (or even something that resembles it) and could take a moment (daily) to reflect on what we are doing.

How do we best love our spouse? What is the correct approach to take to make sure that their needs are always being met? Interestingly enough, the answer to that question probably comes from a place that we would least expect.

Gary Smalley reminds us that “the first step toward achieving the deep satisfaction of a lifelong love with your spouse is learning to love life itself – every part of it, good and bad, harsh and rewarding.”

What Smalley suggests is that we must love ALL of life in order to be of any use to our spouse. What does that mean? Do I love every aspect of my life? No, not really. Yet, Smalley states that, until we learn to love the life that we have been given, we cannot truly love our spouse the way that they deserve. I think the best way that I can make sense of this is how I handle depression.

When life starts to weigh me down, I can become pretty depressed. I am not suicidal or anything but there are definitely times when I feel far less than functional. It is during these times that I am also less of a husband than what my wife deserves because I become very self-absorbed. The world turns inward very quickly. When I feel good about life, I am much more selfless. However, when I have no love for life, my motives become selfish in a hurry. And, I think that is what Smalley is getting at.

In order to love our spouses perfectly, we have to be content with who we are and the life that we are living. Does that mean that we should not attempt to improve that life if given the chance? No, not at all. We should always look for ways to improve. What this means is that we should not hide away from life when it becomes difficult. During those times, embrace life for what it is and fight.

Because that’s really what marriage is.

It’s a fight.

Not against your spouse, but alongside them.

Life is Strange. Live it Well.

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