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Love in Marriage

So, you love each other! Do you really love each other? Lets pretend that there is a legal requirement for young couples to present proof of their love before they can sign the marriage certificate. How do you prove your love? Give some examples.

Read the following quotations of famous people about love. Check if you like.

  Friendship often ends in love; but love in friendship - never.

  I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

  To say 'I love you' one must first be able to say the 'I.'

  I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.

  Before I met my husband, I'd never fallen in love. I'd stepped in it a few times.

  Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Bible about love

Read following excerpts from the Scripture. What is the main idea of every one of them? Try to combine all you know from these verses in a paragraph describing love from Biblical perspective.

Proverbs, 17:17; Matt. 22:37–39; Luke, 6:27-35; Luke, 10:25-37; John 3:16; John 13:34; Romans 13:8-10; Romans 14:15; Galat. 6:2; Galat. 5:13; Ephes. 4:2; Ephes. 5:2-3; Ephes. 5:25; 1 Peter 4:8;

What if love is gone?

Nick and Julie got married two years ago. They loved each other so much that despite all their friends' jokes and parents' warnings they wholeheartedly believed that their love will never fail. Unfortunately, later they realized that their passion is not strong as it used to be, the excitement of feelings faded, they didn't enjoy each other's company as before. Nick stays longer at work, they spend week-ends separately: he goes fishing, she goes shopping. He even noticed that other women look more attractive than his wife.

Julie feels angry at her husband again and again. Sometimes she keeps bitterness against Nick for weeks. They start thinking that their marriage is a mistake. They are close to the idea that divorce is the best solution for the situation when they do not feel love to each other.

1. What is their main problem?

2. What they have to do to solve the problem?

3. There is an advice in the Scripture about love Revelation, 2:1–5. According to it what people need to do to restore their love?

Different kinds of love

One word 'love' includes different types of loving relationships. Usually, people distinguish three major kinds of love: erotical or sexual desire, love as friendship, and spiritual love-agape. All variaty of love is to be in harmony in your marriage. They are intertwined with each other and affect each other. Spiritual love-agape, however, plays the most important role in your relationships. C.S.Lewis compares it to a gardener who takes care about all other types of love as flowers in the garden. The Bible says that this kind of love is given to every Christian by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

Self-sacrificial Love

Self-sacrificial love agape is described in 1 Corinthians, 13:4–7. From the Scripture you see that agape consists from many elements, dos and don'ts. Illustrate every aspect of love-agape by an example from your relationships with the partner: how you've been expressed them to each other?

Friendship

Ed Wheat points to three phases of achieving the true friendship in marriage: relaxation, rapport, and revelation.

  1. Relaxation.
    Start doing together something very simple and joyful: reading a good book, going to a gym or for a walk, growing plants, doing a small project, serving in church together, etc. Do not pick an activity that takes too much energy and exhausts you. Do what you like both. Reading the Bible together and prayer bring a blessing to your relations. Every time when you need to do something think first: 'Can we do this together and enjoy it both?'
  2. Rapport.
    The rapport phase has been reached when you are ready to share aspects of yourself that are precious and vulnerable. Not only you are ready, but it becomes real joy to share yourself with your partner.
  3. Revelation.
    In the revelation phase the couple reaches such a deep level of mutual understanding that is not easy to explain by logic or rational arguments. This is the phase when spouses 'reads each other's mind', when they don't need words to communicate. Not all couples reach the phase. Even those who reached it do not experience it always but time to time.

Five basic rules for communication

  1. Never repeat to anyone else the things your spouse shares with you privately.
  2. Give your spouse total enthusiastic attention and listen him with interest.
  3. Do not interrupt your spouse or jump to conclusions about what he is saying.
  4. Acknowledge that you understand even if you disagree. Do not let your disagreement sound like disapproval.
  5. Be careful never to sound as if you are heaping blame on your spouse.

from Love Life by Ed Wheat.

1. What kind of activity that you share with your partner brings you the most joy and happiness?

2. What is the activity you'd like your spouse will share with you?

3. What kind of your spouse's activity you'd like to participate in?

4. Pick one from the Five basic rules for communication that you think you need to pay more attention. Why?

5. What rule your partner needs to follow better? Why?

Romantic Love

Solomon's Song of Songs praises this kind of love. Notice how Sulamith and her lover treat each other.

  • They have very positive attitude to their marriage.
  • They admire each other: 2:2-3,14; 4:1-7; 5:10-16.
  • They express their delight in each other by words, looks, touches, gifts, they continuously maintain romantic environment.

Think how you can create and maintain romance between you and your partner. What kind of your partner's behavior your consider romantic?

The Stages of Intimacy

Dr. James Dobson in his book Love for a Lifetime describes the 12 stages of intimacy that a romantic relationship must traverse through to reach full maturity:

  1. Eye to body.
    A glance reveals much about a person—sex, size, shape, age, personality and status. The importance people place on these criteria determines whether or not they will be attracted to each other.
  2. Eye to eye.
    When the man and woman who are strangers to each other exchange glances, their most natural reaction is to look away, usually with embarrassment. If their eyes meet again, they may smile, which signals that they might like to become better acquainted.
  3. Voice to voice.
    Their initial conversations are trivial and include questions like “What is your name?” or “What do you do for a living?” During this long stage the two people learn about each other’s opinions, pastimes, activities, habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes. If they’re compatible, they become friends.
  4. Hand to hand.
    The first instance of physical contact between the couple is usually a nonromantic occasion such as when the man helps the woman descends a high step or aids her across an obstacle. At this point either of the individuals can withdraw from the relationship without rejecting the other. However, if continued, hand-to-hand contact will eventually become an evidence of the couple’s romantic attachment to each other.
  5. Hand to shoulder.
    This affectionate embrace is still noncommittal. It is a “buddy” type position in which the man and woman are side by side. They are more concerned with the world in front of them than they are with each other. The hand-to-shoulder contact reveals a relationship that is more than a close friendship, but probably not real love.
  6. Hand to waist.
    Because this is something two people of the same sex would not ordinarily do, it is clearly romantic. They are close enough to be sharing secrets or intimate language with each other. Yet, as they walk side by side with hand to waist, they are still facing forward.
  7. Face to face.
    This level of contact involves gazing into one another’s eyes, hugging and kissing. If none of the previous steps were skipped, the man and woman will have developed a special code from experience that enables them to engage in deep communication with very few words. At this point, sexual desire becomes an important factor in the relationship.
  8. Hand to head.
    This is an extension of the previous stage. The man and woman tend to cradle or stroke each other’s head while kissing or talking. Rarely do individuals in our culture touch the head of another person unless they are either romantically involved or are family members. It is a designation of emotional closeness.

  9. The final steps. The last four levels of involvement are distinctly sexual and private.

  10. Hand to body.
  11. Mouth to Breast.
  12. Touching below the waist.
  13. Intercourse.

Obviously, the final acts of physical contact should be reserved for the marital relationship, since they are progressively sexual and intensely personal.

Love and Feelings

1. Check if you agree:

a. Open expression of love shows your character's weakness therefore it is better to restrain your feelings.
b. Do not tell your partner often that you love him or her. There is no need to say something that is obvious.
c. Private life of the spouses has to be protected from outsiders. It's not anybody else's business.
d. Love is a feeling for first and foremost.
e. Good Christian spouses do not argue with each other.

2. List what you plan to do in your marriage in order to strengthen you love relationships with your spouse?

3. How do you prefer for your partner to express his or her love to you? Be more specific.

4. Complete the sentence: "Sometimes I'd prefer to be alone. It happens when..."

5. Complete the sentence: "Sometimes I avoid..."

6. Complete the sentence: "When I feel angry, I want you..."

7. Complete the sentence: "When you're angry, I want you..."

8. Check if you agree:

A. These things drive me crazy, when you...

pay more attention to your work or school more than to me.
do not care how do you look.
make me feel stupid in front of other people.
talk a lot.
do not listen to me.
are too picky on me.
are crying a lot.
do not care about spiritual things I share with you.
something else. Describe:


B. When I'm angry at you, I want to...

leave you.
revenge.
play a martyr's role.
demonstrate you my anger.
start doing some activity.
cry.
something else. What exactly?


9. Recall the events when you were angry at your partner.

10. Give an example when your partner made you feel important.

11. What you can do to make your partner feel important?

Counselor's final notes

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