Safeguarding Your Love Story
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. — Romans 12:9-10 NIV
Have you ever bought a warranty for something only to realize that when you needed to utilize that warranty, it had just expired? Or perhaps even more frustrating, have you ever needed a medical prescription or procedure only to realize that it’s not covered by your insurance? We can’t be the only ones who get frustrated by the amount of money we spend on warranties and insurance only to realize that when we actually need to rely on them, they fail us.
When it comes to our relationships, we can’t rely on our feelings alone as insurance for safeguarding our love. I know it’s not the most romantic thing to say, but feelings come and go, and feelings alone won’t get you through the hard seasons, the inevitable conflicts, or the unforeseen circumstances. As we look at the world around us and the relationships that we see failing, so many of them have let their feelings (or lack thereof) break the lifetime warranty and full-coverage insurance they agreed to when they said, “I do.” Of course, the hope is that your car won’t break down and your relationship won’t suffer a crash, but in reality, no one is immune. You need something stronger than feelings to rely on when nothing else is stable.
It’s the little daily deposits you make that become reliable insurance for a love that lasts. The choices we make day after day secure our love story, and if we don’t actively protect it, our love story can suffer an unhappy ending. Falling in love can seem effortless, but staying in love requires effort. And there are some protection measures we can take that will guide our daily actions and guard our love story. These safeguards make up our lifetime love warranty.
Audrey: Here are a few daily practices to keep your love strong and healthy.
Express gratitude. Basic manners can actually go a long way! Say thank you when your love does something for you, even if it’s something you assume or expect them to do. Say please before you make a request rather than make demands. Our creative way of expressing gratitude for each other is with our “mailbox affirmations” that we talked about in chapter 1. Maybe you can try this out or come up with your own creative way to express gratitude.
Serve each other. Even the simplest act of service can set the tone for your love. Offer to do a task they normally do, get them a glass of water, clean a mess, or make a meal. Consider each other’s needs above your own.
Stay teachable. Be a student of your person. They won’t be the same person year after year. Commit to learning more about them and how you can better love them each year.
Show affection. Maybe you always kiss goodnight or pause for a long hug at the end of the day. Or perhaps you commit to holding hands when you go for walks or give a loving shoulder squeeze or pat on the back that says, “I see you and I love you.”
Pursue God together. Talk about your relationship with God together and learn from each other. Listen to a podcast, read a book, or watch a sermon together. Pray together.
Safeguarding Your Love with Boundaries
Jeremy: Healthy boundaries within the context of relationships are protective guardrails for love. They keep the bad things out and the good things in. How you set your boundaries will depend on the stage of your relationship. Obviously, the boundaries of a dating relationship when you are just getting to know each other will look different from those of a marriage. You might also have unique-to-you boundaries if you are in a long-distance relationship, if your career requires a lot of travel, or if you have some other special circumstance.
We encourage you to come up with a few boundaries that pertain to the current stage of your relationship. This might mean that you are simply giving voice to a few boundaries that you subconsciously stick to but have never outwardly communicated and agreed on. As you do this, keep in mind that boundaries are born out of humility, not demanded out of fear or distrust. To help get you started, we’ve included a list of areas that might benefit from boundaries along with some helpful questions to guide your conversation as you come up with your own.
Social media and phone use: Do you keep your phones out of your bed? Do you stay off social media during meals or date night? Are there specific times when you get annoyed or frustrated when your partner is on their phone?
Finances: Do you have separate bank accounts? Do you discuss large purchases before making them? Do you agree on your budget and how you are spending, saving, and giving? Do you agree on your financial goals?
Work: Do you have a good work-life balance? Is there a time when you both stop working to be fully present together? Is travel for your job (or certain aspects of it) putting a strain on your relationship?
Family and friendships: Do you feel like you balance time with both of your families? Do you talk about what relationships might be toxic? Are you mindful of people who could compromise the integrity of your relationship? Do you feel you have ample time alone with your friends and together with your friends? Do you have any friendships that you keep in the dark from each other, and if so, why might that be? Is there a relationship you have that your partner is uncomfortable with?
Excerpted with permission from Creative Love by Jeremy & Audrey Roloff, copyright Jeremy and Audrey Roloff.
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Are you protecting your love? What are the helpful boundaries for your relationship? If you have a young couple in your life, share this book with them! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full