Remembering Your Love Story
I’m reading the book of Deuteronomy at the moment, and have come to chapters five, six, and seven, where God gives Israel the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (I kind of adore that God’s number one command is to love him dearly, as he loves us. It’s beautiful and kingly and demanding and sweet all at the same time.) And of course we all wonder how we can order our hearts to love something so greatly…isn’t a love that passionate something that happens to you? Isn’t a love that great something that you feel, not do? How can we force it? Would God even want a forced love?
But then he tells us how we can love to that level. “…be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (6.12) “… If you pay attention…” (7.12) “…remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” (7.18) “Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words…’” (4.10) “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you…” (4.23) “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” (5.15) “…Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years…” (8.12) “But remember the Lord your God…” (8.18) “Remember this and never forget…” (9.7)
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.” (4.9)
Put simply, God is telling Israel that in order to love him, they need to remember how much he loves them. And to let his love overflow in their hearts into a passionate, life-altering love for God. But he’s not going to remind them on a daily basis. Instead, he’s made a few massive, dynamic displays of affection (rescuing them from slavery and giving them the law) to prove how very much he loves them. Cling to this forever, he says.
This is a really important concept for a Christian, but I’d like to use this as an example in marriage. I think that one way to learn to love our spouses with an intense, vivid, and vibrant love is to remember their love for us. And I think the best way to do this is by developing our own love story.
We each have one, a story of how we met, learned to love each other, and decided to pledge ourselves to each other for all eternity. These stories are important, mysterious, and full of meaning. But once we’re pledged and married to one another, after the thrill of the dopamine has died down, we are left with brushing teeth, fighting over the next computer purchase, deciding which restaurant to sit at in order to provoke conversation. And we don’t feel in love anymore.
So what do we do? We remember…
I remember the first time we talked, the way Logan looked over the edge of his glasses, as though he wanted to peer right into my soul. I remember when we were dating, how his voice grew low and quiet in the middle of the cafeteria when he said, “Your laugh is the most beautiful sound in the universe.” I remember how he said, “Will you be my wife?” instead of “Will you marry me?” and it was perfect. I remember the tears streaming down his cheeks as he vowed to love me for better or worse. I remember when I came home from work to find something he loved about me written on every single window of the house. I remember during an angry outburst, when he held me in his arms as I struggled against him and told me that he would not have a marriage where he was afraid of me, that I was better than this, that I did not have to give in to my lowest urges.
These are grand gestures of the deepest kind of love. Beautiful moments in our history that prove to me his commitment and affection. I cherish them and yet…so easily forget them during the daily conflict and monotony of a lifelong marriage. But as Deuteronomy says, to love God well, I must remember. I must never forget what he’s done. And I think to love Logan well, I must remember. I must never forget the things he’s done for me.
On a practical level, this is what I do: I have a journal. It’s the story of us. I write the stories of our love. The moments that rise above the rest as displaying our truest and best feelings for each other. And then I read it over and over. And I think about those moments over and over. Until it becomes ingrained in my brain that he loves me. And oh, how naturally love rises in my own heart.
Some of you may be saying that you don’t have very many moments. Maybe his best flirtation while dating. The moment he married you. The time he looked at you over the squirming body of your newborn child and you saw it in his eyes. But even if it was only those three moments, they mean so much. God really only has a couple moments he keeps pointing back to…rescuing Israel from slavery, sending the Law, sending Jesus, when Jesus died on the cross. And he keeps pointing back to them and saving, “This proves it. This proves how much I love you.”
Can’t we apply the same principle to our marriages?
I’m not saying that daily affection and love is not important. It’s necessary to say, “I love you,” every day and then show it with acts of service and a gentle hand on the back. But we don’t have to expect grand displays of affection on a regular basis. Remember the ones you have and hold them in your heart, letting the power and force of your love story carry you through the simple days of your life.
I challenge you to buy a notebook or start a private blog or open a new file on your computer, and begin writing your love story. Remember all of it, relive the moments of love and affection, and let your heart grown warm. Remember so you can love.
:: This post is a part of a series about love in marriage in honor of Valentine’s Day. You can read about falling in love again, how to flirt with your husband, and you can find a booklist for lovers. Also, stayed tuned next week for a very special guest post! ::
(Photo by Erwitt Parejas)