6 Ways to Keep the Flame of Marital Love Alive
As the leaves on the trees begin to change and summer slips into fall, I look forward with anticipation to the cool fall nights of cuddling up with my husband as we sit around a bonfire or in front of our family fireplace. There is something incredibly powerful about a fire – it draws me in. Fire is so powerful that we cannot live without it. It provides warmth, a means to cook, to sanitize – the list goes on. Fire is needed to sustain life, but it also has the power to destroy life. Marital love can be likened to fire. Our marriage cannot live without proper, pure love. And on the flip side, the absence or distortion of marital love has the power to destroy the marriage.
If you have ever tried to start a fire, you know it takes sustained effort and patience. Once you have accomplished the task of getting the fire going, it can thankfully sustain itself for a short while, but eventually you need to add more wood to the fire to keep the flames burning. If you let the fire go out, it is a lot of work to get it going again. Sustaining the original flame is so much easier than having to restart the fire. It is the same in marriage. Perhaps the flame that was once ignited in your marriage is still burning brightly, maybe it’s on low flame, or perhaps the flame has completely gone out. So – how do you keep the flame of marital love burning? If the flame has died, how do you reignite the fire?
Below are 6 steps that my husband and I have found helpful in our own marriage. As much as we both desire a holy marriage, it is easy for us to get sidetracked by the distractions of a busy family of 7. We’ve found if we follow these 6 steps, we keep our marriage properly ordered and our love for one another continues to grow deeper.
1. Never Stop Dating
Take time to be together, just the two of you! Impress each other, laugh, have fun, love deeply. Dating does not mean always going somewhere. It is a mindset. Remember how you were with your spouse when you were first falling in love? Go back there. Maybe there is garbage in the way. Clean it up – your marriage is worth your effort and time. It is your vocation, your path to holiness.
2. Pray For Each Other and With Each Other
Prayer unites your souls and opens your hearts to receive the love of God through your love for one another. You can pray spontaneous prayers from the heart, or you can pray more traditional prayers. Start where you are comfortable and then slowly stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone. Real personal growth and growth in your marriage can only take place when you are willing to step out of your comfort zone. Prayer will take you there.
3. Forgive and Be Forgiven
When two people unite in the Sacrament of Marriage and begin a life together, it is only natural that challenges and difficulty stemming from the human tendency to sin will arise. Be honest, forthright and merciful. When you are sinned against, forgive and forget. Do not hold a grudge, it will only do further damage to you and your marriage. When you have hurt your spouse, be contrite and allow yourself to be forgiven. Sometimes we can be our worst critic.
4. Be Thankful
A thankful heart is a happy heart. Every day find something to thank your spouse for. Remember you are on the same team and when you are conscientious of the good in your spouse you have a successful team. Showing appreciation for what your spouse does often further encourages that same good behavior.
How easy is it for you to tune your spouse out? Think about it. Do you really listen to what your spouse has to say, both verbally and non-verbally? Taking time to truly listen to one another is vital to the health of your marriage. What is on your wife’s heart? Your husband’s heart? Do you sincerely know? Listening might come naturally to you, or it might be an acquired skill. Whatever the case, it is a necessary skill if you hope to have a happy, fulfilling and vibrant marriage.
6. Respect One Another
Both men and woman desire to be respected and have their authentic masculinity and femininity validated. Does your behavior in your marriage warrant respect? Are you honest? Do you live your life with integrity? If you want respect, act respectable. There will be times that you feel that your spouse does not deserve your respect; in fact, you might be there right now. Talk to your spouse with love about what you observe in them and what you are feeling with regards to their behavior. Work together to restore mutual respect for one another. Seek outside help if necessary. Respect is part of the foundation of marriage and you cannot build a solid marriage on a shaky foundation.
Wherever you find yourself at this current moment in your marriage, these 6 steps are crucial. They are crucial to start the flame, to keep the flame burning, and to reignite it if it has died. Christ is the fire starter and His presence in your marriage will fan the flames of your love. Make sure He is an invited guest in your home at all times. He is the key to properly starting the fire of pure love and to keeping the fire burning bright!