These immortal words, sung so long ago by The Beatles, run through my mind each June as the wedding season hits its stride. They also stick in my head as I talk to couples who have long forgotten they once felt this way about each other.
What is it about this vow to love each other until death that gets couples sideways. I’ve had couples claim it was all a mistake and they never really loved each other. One look at their wedding pictures sheds light on that particular deception.
Managing the inevitable transition from over-the-top love felt at the beginning of a relationship to the deeper connection a lifetime together can bring, is where many couples lose their way. Knowing how to translate the vow’s promise into actions can ease the challenge.
Love is defined as: 1) tender, passionate affection; and 2) strong personal liking.
This is helpful but how does it apply in your marriage with your partner?
Loving your partner means protecting them from harm. This includes harm from both outside the marriage (friends, family) and from the inside (anger, resentment from you). If you find yourself caught between your mother and your partner, the right thing for your marriage is to choose your partner. Shutting down unsupportive comments aimed at your spouse is an example of your love that will make your partner feel protected.
Love is making sure your partner feels safe and secure in your relationship. It means you never intentionally hurt your partner by punishing them, making judgments, using demeaning words or tone, or using anger as a weapon. Calling your spouse names, minimizing their feelings, and withholding sex or affection all qualify as non-loving behaviors.
Loving your partner also means altering any behavior that is annoying or hurtful. Leaving your socks on the floor or not calling when you will be late may not be a big deal to you but it may be important to your partner. Your snoring may not matter to you but if it keeps your spouse out of your bed, it is not loving to leave it unaddressed.
Love means you do not make unreasonable demands of your partner. If you make a request and the answer is no, the loving response is to withdraw the request without anger or recrimination. Pouting or pulling a guilt trip will only add fuel to the fire. You always have the right to make a request and your spouse always has the right to say ‘no’. Accepting that disappointing answer with grace is a real act of love.
How do you show love to your partner? How do they show it to you? What impact does this have on your relationship?
- How Your Vows Can Help When Things Get Rough
- How to Love Your Partner Enough to Listen
- The Magic of a Loving Response
Learn more about Lesli’s book and how you can take the work and sacrifice out of your marriage.
Photo: Stuart Miles