Letter for Two Lovers
What a hopeful thing love is! A man and woman decide they love each other so much that they want to get married. Each hopes the other will love them for life. True, many of those hopeful people find disappointment. But a very great number build lasting marriages.
I originally wrote the following letter to a couple we led through pre-marital counseling. As you read it, ask yourself some questions. Is your love alive? Or has loved died through neglect?
Dear Timothy and Arlene,
Thanks so much for letting us help you prepare for marriage. Talking with young couples like you brings us great joy.
Give your marriage all the time and care it needs. Don't skimp. Don't allow business and busyness to rob you of special times with each other.
Always cherish each other as you do now. You mean so much to each other. We can see the light in your eyes and sense the excitement you have in your hearts. May that increase, day by day, year by year.
New husband, your wife has taken a big step of faith by marrying you. Many women fear that, after marriage, their husband will become so entwined in his work that she will no longer be important to him.
In marriage, a woman commits herself totally to one man. He alone will be her lover. If he treats her with indifference, she experiences great emotional pain. Never give her any reason to doubt your love.
Show your wife how important she is to you. Small gestures, thoughtful little actions, really help. The lunchtime phone call; a single flower just for her; your undivided attention sometime every day; a loving touch as you pass by.
But do the big things, too. Put time with your wife in your diary like any important appointment. Talk with her about her day and yours. Times will come when the demands of work and the necessary pressures of life will keep you apart. Even so, if she knows she is important to you, she can endure those times more peacefully.
Remember, your wife married a man, not someone's boss or employee. A man is who you are; work is what you do.
Your wife knows you like no one knows you, and loves you anyway. When people hurt you or threaten you, she may feel it more acutely than you do.
Your wife loves you. She doesn't want to see you hurt, so she may try to save you from anyone who could wound you. In fact, she may be more sensitive to wrong motives than you are. That’s one way she’ll help you. Weigh her counsel carefully, but be careful not to let her insecurities move you to act in haste or unwisely.
Arelen, marriage is a challenge, especially to a couple trying to balance a private life and a public life. Sometimes you’ll think you’re in competition with your husband's boss, his co-workers, maybe his family, and his own need for solitude. What he needs most from you at those times is your patience and understanding.
It may take some time for him to learn how to balance all those demands effectively. So, when you feel overlooked and under-loved, let him know, but try to do it without making him feel guilty.
Never nag. Use positive suggestions. Instead of criticizing him for neglecting you, plan some way to reach out to him in his need. A love note placed where he might find it when he least expects it; a back rub at the end of a hard day.
If, in trying to fill all his roles, your husband sometimes neglects you, remember that he probably isn't rejecting you. He may have a tough time being all he wants to be. He might find it hard to share his deepest struggles with you, though you want him to share them with you very much. Your understanding during those times will deeply touch his heart, and will make it easier for him to open his heart to you.
Marriage is a life-long school, and its one subject is love. If we’re smart, we won’t waste the opportunity. Instead, we’ll learn how to love each other. Don’t let anything– your pride, wounds, hurts, anything– stop you from learning how to love.
Looking back on this letter, many years after I first wrote it, I have a sad heart. The couple I call Timothy and Arlene have not had a satisfying marriage. Far from it, in some ways. I hope you, dear reader, will not let the same thing happen to you. Make your marriage so satisfying that you neither of you ever regrets it.
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