Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Powerful Equation of Love


Love is a soothing ointment on the scars of life. I've seen hearts seemingly hardened like stone, soften in the application of love. There have been men who are so hostile that every contact with them seems like a war, when treated with love, the pickly bristle of hostility is removed. Like the sun shining on the rose, the fragrance of love makes the coldest heart open.

There is nothing more important than love, yet many parents spend more time and money trying to find the right college for their children, or hunting for the right job for themselves. Their supposition is that once a person is economically or socially sound, love will soon follow.

My belief is that love ought to be put first, and the external things will follow. For example, a mother will carefully show her son by example, inference, and command, how to do the right thing in any situation, no matter what the cost. When this kind of character is bred into him, and he ernestly strives to live the principles of honor, duty and nobility, the perfect job and the perfect wife will come to him.

Sadly, the world has it backwards. It believes that economics is the basis of all success and happiness and that love is an accident which strikes unexpectedly, and that those who do well financially, will have better relationships and stronger marriages.

Commitment is the basis of love, yet few people live this out, in today's divorce culture. When the many principles of love are applied, a person can get through any hardship in marriage. Some people leave their mates because of economical reasons. Others leave because their mate has changed and is no longer the person they married. Yet, commitment overrides these reasons. It seems easy to understand commitment in a job, where payment is given to the loyal employee. The job may be boring, and the company may have changed from the one they first knew 30 years ago, but people keep going to work. They rarely divorce their jobs on the same basis as they divorce their wives.

Even at work, there are presentations and video clips to inspire and encourage the employees to get along with other employees that they don't agree with. Work may be stressful, yet many people remain committed to it. Yet, at home, mates are often treated with less consideration.

We pride ourselves on having the freedom of choice, but sometimes forget that we can choose to love the person we married. Many a husband who has walked out on a marriage, has done so because he "wasn't in love" anymore. However, it is easier to "do" your way into loving someone (with good words, thoughtfulness, and kindness that you would extend even to a stranger) than to love your way into doing.

In previous centuries, mates were chosen by the families, and yet there was more faithfulness, commitment and endurance than there is today, with our free choice of mates. I've often listened to open ridicule of the families who help find mates for their children, and yet see these very scoffers failing their own marriages.

While I do think it is good to have the prospective partners agreeable to marrying each other, I do not think the decision should be left entirely up to the young couple. Marriage is too big a commitment to leave it up to inexperienced youth. The advice of parents and others is very much needed, since they see qualities and flaws that young people do not see. The decision to marry should be a combined effort of the family. Couples who have the approval and backing of their parents are more likely to have stress-free marriages.

I've seen the amazing transformation in love in many couples where the wife has learned to overlook a fault, and look to what her husband could be. Alicia Nash, in the book (can't remember the author at this point) about her husband, Nobel prize winner John Nash, said, when her husband was sufferring from mental illness, "I just try to remember what he was when I fell in love with him. He then becomes that man I married, and I become the woman who loves him."

After accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics, Nash himself said, "I have always thought mathematics was important, but I have made the most important discovery in my career and of my life, in the illogical equation of love. It is one thing to have a beautiful mind, but it is quite another to know a beautiful heart (referring to his wife)."

There were two young men in our congregation who were not attractive to women, nor did they attempt it. As they grew older, when young women came around asking if there were any eligible men, and these guys were mentioned, people would say, "Oh, they are just a couple of country hicks living with their parents." They were reserved, and rarely spoke to women. Many girls passed up the opportunity to offer love to these fellows, in return for the faithfulness, stability and security they could give them.

One day a woman came to me and was wanting to know if I could introduce her to one of these men, as she was looking for a companion. I called them up and told them that she had inquired after them. Their father knew her pretty well and had apprently "talked up" about her. After church when introductions were made, this man that she was interested in, became the life of the party, full of enthusiasm, laughing, etc. I'd never seen him looking better--he was all dressed up, shaven, hair cut, neat and clean. She was kind and loving in her demeanor, and he sensed it. He asked her to his home immediately, and they exchanged phone numbers. I had thought over the years that girls were overlooking this man because of flimsy surface impressions, and were missing out on a rich life with them out on their estate. The application of love...it can change people.

In the pioneer story, "Love's Enduring Promise," by Janette Oke (also made into a movie), Marty cautions her daughter not to judge a man by his looks, charm, wealth or popularity, but by his loyalty and endurance, qualties that would make him " still love you when you are old and gray." People change, of course, because that is the way life is. If we based our love on the way people changed, we wouldn't even love our own brothers and sisters or our best friends. Commitment and loyalty will see us through these changes, and keep love alive.

Today, the scene would be much different. Because of no-fault divorce laws (which are everything BUT 'no-fault'), couples aren't willing to ride over the rough spots of their marriage. Their commitment is shallow, and love is never learned by going through the dark valleys with someone. I will grant that there are legitimate reasons for divorce, but most of the time, the problems that excuse quick divorces, could be solved. The people in the Depression era survived marriage, as well as most WW I and WWII veterans. Just look at the longevity of those marriages, compared to today, and yet they sufferred far more. They had less pay, less security, fewer benefits and less communication. They had commitment that overrides every possible set back.

While it is true that people in marriage change, the commitment never should. Has your sister or your mother changed? Are they every out of sorts with life and disagreeable with you? Would you even dream of walking out and never seeing them again? One function of marriage and the family is to help each individual grow and mature spiritually by attention to the needs of others. We are all in this together, as they say. When a husband or wife goes through unpleasant changes, even if only one of the partners remains determinedly committed, the marriage can survive, and love can grow.

A Texas Supreme Court Judge said, prior to 1970, "If a couple knows they cannot get out of a marriage for any flimsy reason, they will try harder to get along and they will adjust and make life more pleasant for themselves." This is true. When you look at people trapped in elevators, you know they will do whatever they can to keep the situtation calm. They don't know how long they will be there, and their best side comes out. Somehow, in marriage, this has been forgotten.


Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Heb 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.

If we can understand this in the concept of Christian love, then we can apply it to marriage. When you aren't "in love" with your mate, treat him like a brother, a Christian in the church. In the church, we do not always "feel like" worshipping. Sometimes we are depressed or discouraged, but our commitment remains the same. The church members may have changed and some of them may not be exciting or growing like they should. Yet, our commitment remains the same, and we are faithful. We learn to be nice to people even when we do not know them well or are not "in love" with them. We can do the same in marriage, which is truly a love that will cover all faults.

The power of a stable marriage is the message it passes on to the rest of society. Neighbors and friends will be inspired by it. They will think, "Jim and Alice have been through this, and their marriage is still intact." Commitment is the bond that creates the feeling of love, not vice-versa. Yet, commitment is truly love in action.

What is the application of love? It is showing patience, kindness, consideration, thoughtfulness, and goodness. It is going the second mile. It is giving your cloak also. It is asking, "What is the most loving thing I can do in this situation?" It is treating the other person as though they were more important than yourself.

These things that create the composition of love - things like nobility, honor, honesty, and gentlenss, are part of the "good works"* the Bible speaks of. We are commanded to be rich in good works, and without them, we cannot become wise or understanding; we cannot mature. Working through troubles will make us stronger, better people. If you don't give up on your marriage in dark periods, you will be able to look back years later and be glad that you remained committed to the cause. Every marriage failure (divorce) is a blight on our nation, a breakdown of the church and the family, and everything that makes a country strong. You who say you are "patriotic," --did you know that saving your marriage is the most patriotic thing you can do?

When a runner enters a race, he does so because he is committed, and he loves the game. However even when the going gets tough, and even when he is so far behind that he knows he will not be the winner, he tries to finish the race. It is a matter of honor and of good character.

Can you imagine the crowd standing by the track, holding out bottles of enticing soft drinks and luring him to take his eyes off the goal; offering him comfort and ease and telling him not to endure; that he doesn't have to "put up" with the agony of the effort--especially since he isn't going to win first prize anyway? This is what our world is like when it says "you don't have to put up with this. It isn't worth it. You should quit."

I first understood this concept when I read Colossians 2: "...that no one may delude you with enticing words (persuasiveness of speech)...let no man beguile (rob) you of your reward..." vs. 4 and 18. It was then that I could imagine the athlete in competition, being distracted by his enemies so that he would fail in the game.

If you are being lured away from the prize of the high calling, you need to focus again on what is really worthwhile in life. If you divorce, you'll have a lifetime of his children, your children, our children, step grand-parents, plus, visitation schedules that will drive you crazy. The unhappiness you may be experiencing temporarily, will dim in comparison to the nightmare that is yet to come through divorce.

* Scriptures on "good works" for further study:

Matthew 5:26
Romans 13:3 (this will keep you out of the courts)
Ephesians 2:10
I Timothy 2:10
Titus 2:7
James 3:13

It is interesting to see how intricately connected "good works" are to "love."


The Susan Rios print can be purchased at http://www.cherishd.com/susanrios/catalog.shtml

I've enabled the comments, but you won't see them appear right away. They have to go through the moderator, which deletes spam posts. Please check back after you post.

See also "Here Because of Love" http://homeliving.blogspot.com/2005_08_01_archive.html

22 comments:

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

It is disturbing the negativity that abounds towards marriage. People shake their heads when someone is breaking up but no one says, "This must not happen! We must do all we can to retrieve this marriage. Let us only say good things about the other to them." Instead, it seems some people almost salivate at the news of a couple's problems. Sometimes people have been surprised when my husband, the preacher, won't accept people's excuses for divorce. His view is that it doesn't matter what he did or she did, but that God can put it together if they will submit to His teachings.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I just wanted to tell you that your blog is my FAVORITE! You are a good
writer and have many encouraging and worthwhile things to say. I know that
blogging on a regular basis is very time consuming, but I hope that you can
continue. You are listed on the sidebar of my blog at:
www.awinkintime.blogspot.com.

Your post on marriage are also my sentiments. It somewhat reminds me of my
recent posts reflecting upon my grandmas. They were committed wives and
mothers. They were all stay-at-home Moms, in other words, housewives, and
they were HAPPY! There was no shame in it.

Keep up the great work! You are a Christian inspiration.

Renee

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Good point about being stay at home wives and mothers. It is the best best place for developing talents in quietness and peace. It is at home that she can observe the needs of her family and her dwelling, and take care of them. Truth be known, it costs a family more to send the wife to work, than for her to stay at home. We will love what we care for, and when we care for something, we will be more concerned about protecting it. According to scripture, women are to guide the home, guard the home, and be keepers at home. They can't do this if they are rarely at home.

Courtney said...

I also want to say that I love your blog and it has been a real blessing to me. I am a young wife and mother and I wasn't taught how to care for a home when I was a child.

If you take suggestions, I would like to see more posts on decorating, dressing beautifully, and showing hospitality on a strict budget. Our family doesn't have a lot of extra money and a humble home and I would like to make it look nicer. I also don't have much money to spend on nice clothes, but I don't want to look "frumpy". Thank you for your wonderful blog!

Courtney

Stef said...

Thank you for all of your articles, Lady Lydia! They're always such a joy.

My parents divorced after I, their only child, left home for college. I've thought a lot about what may have happened, and it seems that the central mistake was marrying each other in the first place! My mother is a Christian lady, very caring and giving, but a little shy and reserved at times. My father on the other hand is not religious at all, and sometimes selfish, with a larger-than-life personality. I understand how they were attracted to each other, but they weren't suitable for marriage partners (in my opinon).

I know you mentioned this in your article, but wanted to point out yet again how important it is to find a partner with similar beliefs and goals as those you hold dear, otherwise those "little" differences might create huge disagreements after years and years.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

I agree that people ought to look at different qualities than they do, in choosing a mate. Women tend to get caught up in the charm and attractiveness of a prospect, rather than observing how he behaves in less ideal circumstances. There are some people who are mutually attracted but should not get married--it should be prevented if possible, by the family and others who have this insight and wisdom.

However, once the promise has been made to have and to hold from this day forward, it must be kept, no matter what the difficulties. Couples must adjust to each other, and it can be done, as proven by so many in the past.

I know recently of a man who wants to leave his wife because "we shouldn't have married in the first place." That is treating the human soul as though it were a washer or a dryer that doesn't work the way you wanted it to, and in fact, jeopardizes the destiny of both souls in this life and the hearafter.

I've even heard some people say that they were married too young, and so that validates the attempted divorce. The Bible says to "rejoice in the wife of your youth." People married as young as 15 and 16 in some parts of our country and yet managed to stay together until death. I've met some of these people. It is only our modern therapy and psychology that is advocating excuses like "we were too young," "We shouldn't have married in the first place," or "We just dont' get along." Our forefathers would have laughed in unbelief and derision at such excuses.

When a soldier enters the army, he does so with the understanding that he must serve his term. While there are some that look for wasy to get out of the commitment, they are in general looked down on as cowards. It is harder to get out of serving in the military once you've signed the papers, than it is to get out of a marriage once you've made a promise. Movie contracts that are reneged on by the players often result in lawsuits, and actors take their commitments to movies more seriously than they do their marriages.

It may be too late for some people to rectify these things, but we can at least warn the next generation of the hardships ahead if they make the wrong choices or if they don't learn to endure difficulties with grace.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

My most important point is that LOVE can cover all things; love can solve problems, if it is properly applied. The best definition comes from I Corinthians 13 (and apparently, there was an old saying in the 1800's and early 1900's, that people who were wicked or lacking in love, were "Corinthian" due to the reputation of the people in Corinth at the time I Corinthians was written.)

love is patient--what would be the way to show patience to my mate?

Love is kind---what is the best way of showing kindness to my mate?

As you read each phrase, ask the same kind of question: how can I seek the good of the one I married, or how can I avoid talking about their bad side, etc.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Marriage is often a matter of being nice to the other person. They say "nice matters," so why not apply it to marriage.

Anonymous said...

I do believe that this "love" can work in most marriages....but sometimes you have abusive marriages in which one person tries to be loving, then the other one takes advantage of that.

I know of loving marriages but I know that I will never have that gift.


I am glad that you have such practical ideas for those that can live that way.

Blessings to you.

Kathleen in Illinois said...

Lady Lydia:

Your post here brought me to tears. My husband of 25 years and I were divorced as he stated he "no longer felt love" and he had "married too young" and now wanted to "enjoy the world". I did NOT the divorce.....but I did not fight it, either.

I so wish people would understand committment....the marriage vows say "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health"...That should say it all.....It does NOT say "as long as it feels good" or "until someone better comes along".....

I see many young people today jumping into marriage because the man excites the woman, or because she excites him, or because of his or her money, all very worldly and temporal reasons. Such a sad reflection of what this world has come to.

And to change the subject a bit, I too would like to see more articles on femininity, hospitality, making do on a small budget, etc.

Kathleen in IL

Sonya said...

Hi Lydia

Yes, marriage is a commitment. But like all good things, it is worth working at. One married couple I know have been together for fifty years and I know they have been through immense difficulties, yet they remained together. Today they are very happy.

Sonya said...

Dear Lydia

I am so glad you have enabled the comment
facility. I have been trying for months and months without success to comment on your blogs. I enjoy them immensely and commend you on your wisdom. You apply scripture to your thought and teaching in a lovely and thorough way. I'm so glad I came across LAF.

Martha A. said...

"I just try to remember what he was when I fell in love with him. He then becomes that man I married, and I become the woman who loves him."

I just wanted to thank you for quoting this quote above from Alice Nash. My husband also suffers from the same mental illness and I know some people wonder how you can love and care for someone still. This describes it exactly!
Thank you for your beautiful blog and advice!

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

I also enjoyed the DVD "A Beautiful Mind" which was about John Nash, but I liked the 2nd disc about the making of the movie, much better. In the part "Making of A Beautiful Mind," the director, Ron Howard, and his staff, as well as John Nash himself, make comments about how his wife was the one they all looked up to as the hero for standing by him through all those difficulties. They said that without Alicia, there would have been no book, and no movie about John.

In his speech upon receiving the prize, he said, "It is one thing to have a beautiful mind, but it is even better to know a beautiful heart," referring to his wife.

Those who say that they don't have the "gift" of love--it isn't a gift. It is a wilful attempt to do what is right. Even the words "please" and "thank you" are words of love, often given to strangers in a casual way. Is it to much to extend this same courtesy to a mate, even if the mate is not perfect?

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Addressing the divorce issue: Yes, there are reasons for divorce, but prior to 1970, prior to the so-called "no-fault" divorce laws, these reasons had to be proven, agreed upon by both parties, and given a grace period to reconcile if possible. Divorce was difficult to get, but not impossible.

The judge I mentioned said that if this law were ever allowed, couples would hold it over one another's heads in marrage, and never learn to work out their problems.

In the no-fault divorce courts, the one who wants the divorce, always wins. The other person can be stunned, not even realizing the mate was even thinking about a divorce. If they contest it, it costs $1100 dollars each time they go to court.

I know one couple that had saved up money to pay off their house. Suddenly the husband filed for divorce. She wanted to work it out and give it another chance, so she would not agree to it. Each time they went to court, it cost them each $1100 dollars. Now, the lawyers and judges have taken the entire $20,000. That money could have helped the couple help their children buy a house, pay off their own house, taken them on several vacations, or bought them a grand piano..not that things really matter, but to prove the point that this money was earned by the husband, saved and guarded by the wife, and it was rightfully theirs.

In the meantime, the one who didn't want the divorce, is not allowed to communicate with her husband except through lawyers.

The only ones who win in the no-fault divorces are the lawyers.

There are now "Covenent Marriage" laws enacted in several states. This means that when a couple marries, they cannot divorce except in the legitimate cases that allowed divorce before the no-fault divorce laws were enacted, (mainly adultry or physical abuse). This protects the couple from one of them suing for divorce for no reason. Sometimes a partner will go through some difficulties where they are not thinking right, and the courts today take advantage of that. They don't encourage the couple to work out their problems. The one who wants the divorce, wins. The courts are always on the side of the one who wants the divorce. The covenant marriage laws would reverse that.

This is scary enough that couples ought to go get remarried in a covenant marriage state just to protect themselves in case one partner gets lured away with some of the ideas that are going around now about marriage.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

I think I heard that Maryland adopted the Covenant marriage and reduced their divorce rate to half.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Love is a gift you give to others, but to become a loving person, you have to learn how to love and to practice it so that it becomes an instinct.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

The world has the definition of love and hate so convoluted that people barely know how to think or act anymore. You might check out the meaning of the word "cleave" in your search about love. It has often been said that if there is cleaving, there is no leaving.

Amy said...

Dear Lydia,

I just wanted to express my love and thankfullness for your blog. My husband and I were married earlier this year and sadly I had never been taught much about homemaking, cooking or being a good wife. In fact one could say that I was poisioned by much of what feminists preach to young ladies during their years in public school. Needless to say the first few months of our marriage were very difficult as I did not understand the need to respect and not compete with my husband, but rather treat him well.

My husband is in the U.S. Army and while away for training this past summer, I happened across The Ladies Against Feminism website and spent nearly an entire day reading everything the site featured. I also discovered your blog here and read every bit written by you. While reading all of a sudden I felt really peaceful and realized I did not need to stress myself out and neglect my home by working a job for money my family does not even need. At first I was a bit afraid of approaching my husband and telling him about the many things I had learned. I was afraid that he would think my quitting work would be a terrible thing, but in fact he ws thrilled! He did not want me to work, but was afraid to mention anything as both sets of our "christian" parents firmly believe that a woman should work outside the home.

Immediatly I began to try out all sorts of recipes and learned about housekeeping thanks to the Fly Lady website. Our home and kitchen were fixed up amazingly by the time my husband arrived home. I was even able to suprise him with numerous fun fall crafts and decorations I had made during my spare time, along with a homemade dinner of overfriend chicken, coleslaw, biscuits and pie..all made by me without the help of boxes! :-) Our marriage has really flourished thanks to my introduction to your various websites.

Prior to finding your websites I was also supressing my desires to become a mother. I was trying to convince myself that I wanted to remain childless, as so many people I know are forgoing children by choice. I am ashamed to say that I was bullied and manipulated by the world to be someone I am not, but I am afraid that is what happened. I am now happy to say that I am awaiting for confirmation from the doctor about my possible pregnancy right now. We are both very excited about this new development and look forward to a houseful of family in the future :)

Thank you very much for your wonderful website. Your encouraging words and articles have really turned my walk with God, my marriage and my life around. I feel very blessed to have come across your wonderful writings. Thank you Lydia!

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Sometimes just a kind word can put out the flames of temper. I remember several times when i was upset about someting, how my husband could just say "It will be okay," "Don't worry about it," and my blood pressure did an immediate descent. Women neglect this valuable, and free, resource in "taming the savage breast."

Mrs.B. said...

I just wanted Amy to know how much her comment encouraged my heart! It was a good reminder to me of why I choose to stay at home.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia-

I know that this is a very old post (I'm working my way through your blog from the oldest to the newest posts), but I couldn't help but comment on this. I am a young SAHM, and I have seen this happen so much with the people around me- a couple is having problems, and instead of encouragement to persevere, people say, "You don't have to take that- kick him to the curb!" I'm really surprised. When did that change in mindset happen? It saddens me deeply to see this change in our society.

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