Let Love Develop
I thought long about a gift that I could give you now that you’re married. I’ve always liked personal gifts and my chosen life as a preacher doesn’t permit much in the way of free cash. What I can give you is what I have learned over the years. My wife and I have had nearly twenty-three blessed years together. We’ve had our ups and downs. We made our share of mistakes. But sharing what I have learned might just benefit your own life, and if it improves your marriage then I can’t think of a better gift to offer you.
It is an amazing thing to be in love. It changes everything about us and everything around us. I still vividly remember the evening when it dawned on me that I had fallen in love with my wife. It struck me hard because I had given up, for the time, on finding a wife. I only wanted a strong Christian at my side and I had chosen to move to area of the country where devout Christians were scarce and far apart. To find someone in a desolate area after years of looking took me by surprise. There isn’t a day that I don’t thank my Lord for His generous gift. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).
What continued to amaze me is that as the years progressed I would look back and think. “You just thought you were in love. You really didn’t know what love is.” The nature of our relationship constantly changed. It matured and deepened with the passing years. Hardships scoured our immature outlooks. Joy filled the voids in our lives. I’ve reached the age when I’ve now been married for half my life. And I won’t trade it for another. “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
You have always been mature for your age. It seemed that you were in a rush to grow up and take on adult responsibilities. You’ve succeeded well, but don’t forget that you are still maturing. Physically you have a man’s body. Socially you have taken on a man’s responsibility. But mentally you are still going to go through subtle changes. Most men don’t finish maturing until they are 23 or 24. Your biggest struggle in the next few years is the same as every other man your age -- controlling your impulsiveness. There is a reason your car insurance is high and will remain high until you turn 25. Young men make rash decisions. They tend to do things without thinking through all the consequences. That can spell disaster when a young man is behind the wheel. It can be a disaster when we are laying down the foundations for rest of our lives. Fortunately, most of the mistakes we make are fixable.
You have a wife now. Someone for whom you are responsible. Use her input in all your major decisions. Two heads are better than one; and as mature as you are, your head is not at full capacity. Besides, women look at life differently from men. They have different needs and different goals. Take advantage of her unique outlook to give yourself a broader view of the world and your life. The more viewpoints you have, the better your decisions. “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22). Ultimately, your decisions are your own. You will have to live the consequences of each choice you make. However, others will make you aware of your options and ultimately your decisions will be better because of that knowledge.
Your primary concern during your first year with your wife is making her happy. God told the Israelites, “When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken” (Deuteronomy 24:5). This is the time for the two of you to break ties with your families and bond with each other. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). A part of that is sexually. The long wait is over and now you can have fun with a willing partner who loves you. “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of Bether” (Song of Solomon 2:17). The more you cause your wife to enjoy sexual relations, the more satisfied you will be, both now and in the future. Yet, never confuse sex and love. Sex is one avenue to express your love for each other, but sex is not love. If you read through I Corinthians 13:4-8, in that description of love you will find no mention of sex.
An important ingredient to love, especially for a woman, is security. She needs to feel secure that she has your love tightly bound around her heart. She needs a secure foundation on which to build a family and a home. None of that comes quickly or immediately. It takes time to build. As the secure foundations are laid, you will see your love take on new dimensions that you never would have imagined existed.
But while the foundations are being laid, it is easy to damage a relationship. Problems should not be put off. They need to be handled before they can cause lasting harm. “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes” (Song of Solomon 2:15). The vines are your lives and the flowers and fruitage is your developing love. It is so easy to cause damage because of impulsive decisions. Young men have difficulty seeing the potential risks and being able to weigh the potential harm.
Now is the time to slow down. You have a long life ahead of you. Enjoy what God had given you now. Don’t spoil it by trying to rush things along. Your love will grow, but it must develop at its own pace. “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Solomon 2:7).