Lately I’ve been reading other people’s blogs and they’ve inspired me to write my own. This time, I was reading Lisa Baker’s blog “When you think your love story is boring” and it got to me. All too often, we look at the movies or TV and we think that’s what “real life” is supposed to be like! Star-crossed lovers lock eyes across a crowded room, and candles are magically lit and romantic music pours from their souls. They overcome incredible obstacles so they can chase each other across an airport (or across a field of beautiful flowers) , fall together in a flurry of passionate kisses and to be together forever, living happily ever after and eternally “in-love.”
Did you know that is not what Real Love looks like at all? I adore my Dear Hubby and I know for a fact he adores me, and yet he has never once chased me across an airport. Apparently neither has Lisa Baker’s husband. So what, EXACTLY, does everyday, Real Love look like??
1. Emotional Commitment in REAL Love
- Your spouse loses his/her job and feels bad, and you tell them out loud all the ways they are still helping at home and making you feel good and trying really hard to contribute. You VALUE them.
- Your spouse is a football-crazy fan, and you don’t nag them to stop being who they are. You put on your jersey, cut up the beefstick and cheese, and watch with them!
- Your spouse says they would rather pay bill A than bill B, and you disagree, but your spouse has great intuition and is VERY good with the money and paying the bills. You RESPECT their recommendation and go with bill A.
- Your spouse comes home from work, the two of you grab some dinner, and afterward sit down to watch your favorite shows. You hug them and kiss them for no reason other than that you love them. You sit together and hold hands while you watch the show. Now and then you touch him/her on the arm or put your hand on their leg.
- Your spouse does not speak the same Love Language as you do, so you take the time to find out if they need to hear admiring words, if they need little acts of kindness, if they need thoughtful little gifts, if they need time where you focus on them, or if they need touch. And then you give them LOVE in their way….not yours.
2. Spiritual Commitment in REAL Love
- Our spouses make mistakes–and I’m talking about the smaller, day-to-day mistakes here. This means, when your spouse does the wrong thing (note, not “if” but WHEN because they are human and they will make a mistake) you don’t hold it over their head forever–you offer them forgiveness and understanding as a fellow, fallible human.
- Respecting your spouse’s beliefs and
- Disciplining yourself to live a life that is transparent to your spouse and moral. Transparent means that you let your spouse see who you really are and include them in every part of your life–you don’t hide anything from them. This means they get to see you at your worst, warts and all. Also when you are a little but hurt or upset by something your spouse said or did, you let them know you weren’t okay with that and you’d request X, Y or Z…you don’t hold onto it and let them all build up until you explode. Living a moral life means obeying God! This means you’ll “WANT” to do something, and you do not allow yourself to act or think in a way that would displease God. When you live like He wants us to live, it means that you know your own self and your own weak points, and you build a wall of protection around yourself and your spouse so that your weaknesses do not hurt or harm yourself, your spouse or your marriage.
3. Physical Commitment in REAL Love
- Touch regularly and in a way you both enjoy, like leaning against each other, touching his/her arm, massages…anything!
- Kiss regularly and in a way you both enjoy, not just that peck goodbye kiss but a thousand different kinds of kisses. In every day love, you might kiss goodbye, rush out the door and be off … but when you get home it’s drop the briefcase and stand there and kiss her.
- Hug regularly. Period. And often!
- Express physical tenderness, like cuddling or scratching his back or rubbing her feet. Don’t be afraid of your spouse’s body and don’t be afraid to let them enjoy yours.
- Have a sex life that is fulfilling for both of you. Don’t turn sex into a power struggle–it’s too important. It’s the way men connect and the way women feel desired, so don’t mess with it and try to be in charge of when or how often. Be receptive to your spouse and MAKE THE TIME even if you have a job and kids! Connect sexually and express yourself sexually.
- Both of you maintain personal hygiene and continue to dress in a way that is flattering, so that both of you stay attracted to one another. Don’t shower once a month or wear sweats all day because you have to chase kids–make the effort to LOOK and SMELL good to your spouse.
4. Financial Commitment in REAL Love
- Before you have children, talk to your spouse about finances, evaluate where you both stand (what assets do you have and what debts do you have), and don’t hide money trouble.
- Decide ahead of time what kind of lifestyle you BOTH want. One of you is likely to be a “saver” and the other is likely to be a “spender” but decide if you are okay living “happy but poor,” if you want a more “middle class” approach like a job with some benefits and vacation, or if your lifestyle as a couple is “the rich and famous.”
- Contribute to the family income, whether you are the main provider and a SAH who does a little home business, or you both work. EVERYONE who is an adult contributes!
- Both of you live by the budget. If you discuss money and agree to not go to that sale at Macy’s …. don’t go! If you agree you can’t afford that cook tech gadget right now, don’t go get it! Honor your agreement and live by the budget so you don’t get your family in financial hot water.
5. Family Commitment in REAL Love
- In real life, family commitment means spending adult time alone with your spouse. The best foundation you can give your family is a firm marriage, so don’t neglect it!
- Everyday love shares household chores. I guarantee both of you will think you are doing “more” and both of you will be tired, but REAL love does the chores together and sometimes, just to be nice, will do one of your spouse’s chores just to give them a break.
- Children are not polite and well-raised by magic–unlike in the movies. Child rearing takes time and consistency, and in real life…in REAL love…children need both a mom and a dad in their life, preferably married to each other and in the same home! REAL love is helping get the kids dressed, helping them with homework, knowing them and their friends, playing with them, watching their “kid shows” or their game with them, talking about things, laying under the stars and learning astronomy together, teaching them to be polite by being polite yourself, and taking the time to RAISE them. Real love is being present to raise the children you created and honoring your spouse in front of the children.
6. Social Commitment in REAL Love
- Oh this one is so fun! In REAL love you include your spouse in everything: you let them into your life. So they know and have met the people at work, at church, your friends…everyone. And they are INCLUDED with all those people. If they are not welcomed and wanted in a group, then you leave! That’s how it is in real life.
- What if you’re an introvert and your spouse is an extrovert. It would be hard for you to “go out” all the time and hard for them to “sit home” all the time. Well…you LOVE your spouse so Real Love would have the two of you sit down and figure out how to make sure both of you have your needs met. Maybe they go out but to a quieter place (like a bookstore or coffeeshop). Maybe they go to a restaurant once a week and church. Whatever, in Real Love you care enough about your spouse to want their need for social interaction to be met.
- You do fun things together. That is to say, not only do you love each other and have a family together, if you weren’t married, you two would LIKE each other because you have similar interests and enjoy similar stuff. Do you both read? Like hot rods? Go to dog shows? Play tennis? What is your “fun” as a couple? That’s REAL love
- When you have nothing to do and no one to do it with, REAL lovers talk to each other about topics they both find interesting. Usually, in Real Love, the couple has many things in common so they could sit and talk about politics, religion, a game they both play, a show they both watch, what’s on Facebook, something they read or heard… and they make the effort to learn about their spouse’s interests. If he loves cars and she knows nothing about them, maybe she’ll do some research online about what a cam shaft is, and then talk to him about it. Yes believe it or not, that is REAL LOVE.
7. Security Commitment in REAL Love
- There is a thing that is pretty hard to define but that I think almost everyone understands: “Being There” for your spouse in times of crisis. What movies show us though is so fake. One spouse doesn’t always break down crying while the other spouse comforts them. Some people respond in a crisis by grieving sure, but in REAL Love you know your spouse and how they deal with crisis. Some people go quiet and deal with it internally, and once they have a grip they can come out and be with you. Some people deal with it externally and want someone to hug them. Some people need to talk it out. Some need quiet. So REAL Love is not only knowing your spouse’s way of dealing with a crisis–it’s letting them deal with it their way and accepting that is part of who they are.
- REAL, Everyday Love is giving 100% of your loyalty and affection to your spouse and only your spouse. If you are giving a little affection to the lady at the office or the guy at the gym, you need to be honest with yourself and stop it. REAL Love is knowing where your own weaknesses are and protecting your spouse (and your marriage) from being hurt. Real Love is turning down the lady at the office or the guy at the gym, and instead, spending that time and energy loving your spouse.
- Being “a soft place” for your spouse to fall–a safe haven. When your spouse comes home, do they think “THANK GOD, I’m finally somewhere safe!” or do they feel like they left the stress of “out there” only to come home to more stress and blame and fighting? REAL Love is being the one place your spouse feels like they are always safe to be who they are and they will be LOVED…consistently. Home is the one place it’s okay to be as weird, and funny, and odd as they are and yet someone still finds them interesting, attractive, and valuable.
The love we see in the movies isn’t much like REAL Love, is it? Are you still looking for “movie love”? Do you feel like your love story is boring? Want to talk to your spouse about REAL Love? Go to our Assessments page, and fill out the Love Kindlers Questionnaire. Fill out one for you and let your spouse fill out one for themselves, and then share the answers.