"if ye will be happy in marriage, confide, love, and be patient;
be faithful, firm and holy.”
Martin F. Tupper
When Jesus was asked which is the great commandment, he responded with the top two—one, love God with all your heart, soul and mind; and two, love your neighbor as you love yourself. [Matthew 22:37,38.] And it is when we love God with our heart, soul, and mind that we are able to follow the second command to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Just who is our neighbor? Loving our neighbor takes on a fresh, new meaning when applied to marriage. In the New Testament the key word, neighbor, means the person nearest and dearest to you. And if you are married, the person closest to you is your partner, the one with whom you chose to share life at its deepest and most intimate level.
How does this work out in daily life? If you love your partner as you love yourself, you will have his or her best interest at heart. You will want to serve, not be served, and you will resist the urge to manipulate or pull power plays. You will have a relationship based on love and trust.
So many times marital conflict would be resolved if we just loved the other as we love ourselves. Too often we are “me” centered and want things to work out “my” way. But just the opposite approach is what promotes spiritual intimacy.
Take a few minutes and think of ways you can love your neighbor (who is your spouse). Consider the following ways to really love your partner:
· Choose to really listen to your spouse. Don’t just think about how you are going to respond. You could even repeat what your heard the other say, just to make sure you understood.
· Look for ways to express your appreciation to your spouse. You could make a top ten list of things you appreciate about your life partner.
· Look for ways to serve—not be served. When Dave goes out in the cold rain to get the paper and even lets Claudia have her favorite section first, he serves her. When Claudia relinquishes control of the remote and watches the football game with Dave, she serves him. When you agree to turn the lights off when you really wanted to keep on reading, you’re being a servant.
Take our suggestions. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your spouse as you love yourself. Trust us. If you concentrate on loving your closet neighbor--your spouse--you’ll demonstrate to a needy world that you also love God.