In February our culture focuses on relationships. This month I am in more hotels than the Gideon's Bible doing Valentine's banquets and marriage conferences. It brings to mind many years of marriage counseling. It always surprised me that people paid good money to fight over things that really didn't matter. I felt more like a referee than a psychologist.
Relationships are difficult, especially for men. Last year my wife said she wanted to go somewhere she has never been before. I took her to the kitchen. She took me to the guest bedroom.
Of course, men can always find a guy worse than they are. One man forgot Valentine's Day, and his wife was quite angry. She told him that the next morning she better find a gift in the driveway that goes from zero to 175 in six seconds. The next morning there was a big gift-wrapped box in the driveway. She ran outside, and upon opening it, she found a brand new bathroom scale.
Now, because I'm an equal-opportunity offender, I have to tell you about the missing husband. Frantically, the missing husband's wife called her neighbor and told her that her husband had been gone for over two hours. They raced to the police station to fill out the missing person's report. She described her husband as tall with a slim waist and broad shoulders. He was sharply dressed with thick curly hair. He was soft-spoken and a wonderful father. The wife's neighbor was horrified. "That's not your husband! Your husband is short, overweight, dresses sloppily, is foul-mouthed, and can't stand kids," she said. The wife looked at her friend and sighed, "I know, but who wants him back."
If you have been in a relationship for a long time, your wonderful world of hormone heaven can soon turn into the war of everyday life. Penny and I made that promise to never go to bed angry, and I think we stayed awake the whole third year of our marriage. Just the other day, I asked her if she loved me just as much as she did when we were married, even though I have put on a few pounds and lost some hair. She told me that she had married me for better or worse, thick or thin. The reality is that great relationships involve hard work. Most of us want the romance without the reality.
When I was in private practice, men often told me that they were falling in love with their secretary. They told me that their secretary dressed nicely and was always in a good mood. I have the answer to the problem of men falling in love with their secretaries. They should pay their wife and let her off at 5 p.m. In relationships, we often make unrealistic comparisons and start to believe the grass is greener with someone else. If the grass is greener, it's because someone has watered it, fertilized it, and taken care of it. If no one appears to be taking care of it, there's a septic tank somewhere.
Jesus met a lady at the well who had been married five times and was living with yet another man. Jesus told her what He still says to us today. You're looking for love in all the wrong places. No person or relationship can meet your deepest needs. No matter how much they love you, people will let you down and you will thirst again. Jesus offered her what only He can provide. He offered her living water, and she would never thirst again. Let Him give you a love that will satisfy your deepest needs and you will be refreshing to others.
You cannot do the work of relationships unless you understand the worship of relationships. People need love the most when they least deserve it. When my wife is in a good mood and there's money in the bank, she's easy to love. She really doesn't need my love. She needs my love when she's in a bad mood and the bank account is depleted. I say something nice, and she says something ugly. That's when she really needs my love, but I want to tell her to stick it in her ear. I deserve better! Here is where the work comes in! I can love her as an act of worship to Him. Because He loved me when I was a jerk, I can love her when she is a jerkette. When I am a jerk, she loves me as an act of worship, because He loved her when she was a jerkette. So this jerk and jerkette have been happily married for thirty-eight years except for year three when we never slept. We plan to grow old and spend our Social Security together, because love is spiritual and not secular. It is based on a commitment. Love, the emotion, cannot sustain a marriage. Marriage, being a covenant, sustains love.
You may think I don't understand your situation and that the feeling of love is dead. I would say don't give up — remember after February comes March. This year, Easter is early, and we celebrate the resurrection power that can bring dead things back to life. I have worked with couples who not only said the feeling of love was dead but they hated each other. They called on this resurrection power, and now they love each other. Maybe this year, skip Valentine's Day and go right to Easter. I've discovered that romance will take care of itself if you bring dead things back to life. In my practice, when it became evident that love was dead, I immediately referred them to the Great Physician. He was the only one qualified for this type of therapy because you have to have conquered death to give life. (Since I haven't even conquered Snickers, I refer a lot.) I don't know how desperate you are in your marriage — or other relationships — but because He came back, you can come back, too.
This Valentine's Day, why not celebrate Easter, honor Him with some flowers, and sing Hosanna to the King. You will discover that when you come together for Him, it won't be long before the romance hormones are singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
Charles Lowery is founder and president of LIFE, Inc. and is in a fulltime speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 903-881-9422 or www.charleslowery.com.