How To Reconnect To Your First Love
February 14 is a red letter day for young and old alike. Children exchange Valentines and candy hearts. For adults, love is expressed in beautifully crafted cards, and if the recipient is someone special a card is often accompanied by roses or a box of chocolates!
For many, falling in love is a magical experience. Cupid’s arrow pierces the heart and strange things occur. A guy who dislikes poetry, is transformed into a poet, writing sonnets to the object of his affection. He is also likely to pass on the premier of “Iron Man” to see “Sex & The City” with his girl. Likewise, a girl smitten by love will alter plans with her girlfriends when the man she declares “the perfect guy” calls.
In time, many couples take the marriage plunge. While they notice their partner has some “minor flaws,” they are convinced this will change once “we are married”. Over time, the magic wears off. The poet turns into a pundit on “your” flaws. The “perfect guy” (or girl) now has some glaring imperfections. Most couples go into marriage with unrealistic expectations. In reality, marriage is the union of two imperfect people!
Studies indicate that couple satisfaction levels rise during engagement and slowly decline shortly after marriage. It continues to dip during the child rearing stage as couples faced with numerous challenges raising a family, have very little time and energy to invest in each other. For those who hang in there over the years, statistics show satisfaction rising to a high water mark.
Often the real problem affecting satisfaction is when couples forget to do the things that made their relationship special in the beginning. They stop investing in each other. The Bible calls it “losing your first love.”
In the book of Revelation, the church of Ephesus was commended for doing many things right. Yet, Christ pointed out a problem they overlooked, “You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4,5) While these folks were doing some good things, they had forgotten their first love. They mistook religion for relationship. To get back on track they were offered a simple, tri-fold remedy: remember, repent and return.
This treatment plan is ideal for couples having lost the magic in their marriage. The first step is remember. Remember what you were like when you fell in love. Dust off the picture album, open the shoe box of poetry, cards and letters. Reminisce about the romantic dates, the fun excursions, and how alive you felt. Stroll down memory lane, even if it means you have to drive a ways to get there!
The next step is to repent, which means “go in the opposite direction”. This requires self-examination with a dose of humility and honesty. It may include having to ask for forgiveness for your attitude or actions. Assigning blame is counter-productive. Christ called this form of judging, “looking at the speck in your partner’s eye while failing to see the speck in your own eye.” (paraphrase) Time and energy is better served by working on yourself while leaving your mate to God.
The final step is to return to your first love by following Jesus’ excellent advice. “Do the things you did at first.” Going on real dates, giving cards, showing a genuine interest in each other are most likely things you did early on. It probably wouldn’t hurt your marriage to return to these “first love” activities.
There are many external and internal stressors impacting marriages today. Couples often report dissatisfaction, hurt and loneliness. Clearly, many marriages are suffering pain. You may be wondering if there is any use in trying to make yours work. Let me suggest that as a couple you try it. The biblical model described is both prescriptive and preventative, offering couples healing, happiness and hope.
Valentines Day is a perfect time to return to your first love. Get out of your comfort zone. Be creative, not predictable. Guys, take the lead! Plan a romantic date. Pick a new restaurant. Wash the car. Dress up. Express your thoughts in a card or poem. Go with your heart. You can do it!