When we first get married, the thought of experiencing a time when we don’t want to love our spouse is unimaginable. It’s almost unacceptable to even consider that we will ever think those kinds of thoughts, or fall out of love with our spouse.
Yet, everyone has had to trudge through the terrains of Living Beyond Love, at some point in their marriage.
The truth is, not everyone makes it through those moments, some can never revive that “loving feeling” and decide to call it quits. On the other hand, others do whatever it takes, short of sin, and eventually experience an even greater love and compassion than what they originally had. Being reunited and in love is always the goal, but what do you do during the in-between time: the time when you still love your spouse but you just don’t feel loving towards them?
This happened to Vince and I during our first year of marriage.
Our beginning felt like one long “in-between” period. While Vince and I truly loved each other, we experience so many trials during that first year, that we both still wonder how we made it through.
Here is a snippet of our first year. Shortly after we got married, we found out that we were expecting our first child, we were overjoyed. Unfortunately, our joy quickly turned to sorrow when eight weeks later, we learned that we were having a miscarriage. What many people didn’t know was at that time we were separated. Losing a child is a huge challenge but being separated on top of that, now that can make or break a relationship, and honestly, we weren’t exactly sure what would do to ours. But by God’s grace, that experience drew us closer together, and we decided to start working on our marriage. Through counseling and prayer, we were able to get back to a pretty decent place.
As that storm began to calm down, a new storm arose. Vince, who struggled with depression, had a severe episode where many times he considered taking his life. During one such time, he left work in his work truck and went into the woods with the intention of ending his life. Thankfully, due to a TON of prayers, Vince did not end his life that night. But, the next few weeks were filled with him getting the time and medical attention he needed. Things still didn’t calm down or go back to normal for some time. Between getting in a car wreck, finding out that we were pregnant again and helping Vince stay healthy, we were all barely keeping our heads above water. But again, God graced us through that and taught us so much about love and life during that time. We sought God like never before and heard his voice so clearly regarding our relationship. Yet, all the challenges and turmoil had done something to my heart that God was about to expose.
Suddenly, instead of being this loving, kind, proverbs 31 wife, I became angry and resentful, blowing up at my husband daily. I found myself being disrespectful toward him as frustration and bitterness grew on the inside of me. Some of it was pregnancy, and some of it was just being overwhelmed with life. Although we were still in counseling, we would attend the session, then spent most of the time afterward blaming the other person for the problems. I’m pretty sure God was looking down and banging his head against a celestial wall because we truly were not making very much progress.
Well, a few months later, we were hit with another tsunami as I gave birth in our home to a child that was no longer breathing. It hit us both like a ton of bricks. There are no words to describe the feeling of holding your baby, who is no longer living, in your arms. The immense pain that you feel when you have to bury that child is indescribable. That, however, was truly the turning point for us. When we experienced that loss, we finally began to seriously listen to God regarding our lives. We both cried out to Him in desperation and invited him into the broken fragments of our marriage so we could experience true healing. It was then that we learned how to Live Beyond Love.
Friends, God did not create us to love each other only when we feel like it, or when it is convenient. He called us to love each other despite how we feel. He called us to live beyond the standard of love that the world has set. John 15:12 says “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” We are called to love just as he loves, without reservations.
I know that both Vince and I are beyond humbled that God does not love us only when He “feels” like it, or when it is “convenient”. I also know that we are even more humbled that He did not give up on us or our marriage and did not allow us to give up on each other. All that we endured during that first year taught us so much about life, about God, and about love. Today, we can both say that we are best friends, growing stronger through God, and although tough times come, we know that the most important thing to remember is to love as God has loved us.