This weekend I had the honor of officiating a wedding for a wonderful couple at the Minden Opera House. It’s the perfect venue to celebrate a marriage and it was such a delightful event. There’s nothing better than witnessing the promises of a couple so in love.
I often include this blessing as part of the declaration of marriage:
May the sun of many days and years shine upon you;
May laughter fill your hearts and home;
May the love you have for one another grow and hold you close.
May your dreams come true, and when they do not, may new dreams arise.
And long, long years from now, may you look at one another and be able to say,
“Because of you, I have lived the life I always wanted to live.”
I think I love this blessing so much because I am very grateful to feel this way about my husband of 37 years. It hasn’t always been an easy road. We have weathered many ups and downs. We come from two entirely different kinds of families and we see life from different angles sometimes. Yet I celebrate that the constant has been our support, respect and love for one another. I celebrate that indeed, because of him, I have lived and continue to live the life I’ve always wanted.
When I have the privilege of working with couples in the counseling room, I do a quick read of the presence of support, respect and love in the relationship. Is there more positive sentiment than negative? Do they turn toward one another or away? Do they really care about the other or is it all about them individually? Do they have a vision for their relationship and goals for a future together? How can I help them remember what drew them together in the first place and how can we capitalize on that? Is it still possible for them to celebrate their love? Can we together get to a point where they can feel that, at the end of the day, they are living the life they always wanted because of their partner’s presence?
Sometimes we can and sometimes we can’t. But it’s worth the effort to try. It’s easier, of course, if couples can consistently be mindful of celebrating their love. Valentine’s Day gives us that occasion but it’s best if we can be intentional about noticing and nurturing love in our relationship every day of the year.
How best to do that?
The secret is to note what fills your partner’s bucket, or what makes a real deposit in his heart account. We either make deposits or withdrawals on these accounts daily. It’s up to you. Another way of talking about it is to identify your partner’s “love languages.” I like to reference Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. He identifies 5 common love languages:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
The challenge, of course, is that most of us more easily give what we want ourselves. For instance, I need words of affirmation and gifts but those aren’t my husband’s top needs. He likes acts of service and quality time. It took me awhile to figure out that verbally affirming him and giving him gifts just wasn’t cutting it for him! Duh.
Celebrating love shouldn’t just happen on your wedding day, your anniversary or Valentine’s Day. To live the life you’ve always wanted, it’s worth it to take the lead and find something to celebrate about your partner every day. This creates a wonderful synergy that allows love to grow and expand. Your own needs are better met when you get outside yourself and make those intentional deposits in your partner’s heart account. That’s because they have more to give then and it creates positive regard in your relationship, giving you collateral to weather the down times.
Feeling loved is a primary need. It enables us to feel secure and significant. Love is patient and kind….and to feel loved, we need to give love. Celebrate it because it’s life’s most precious gift.