15 December 2017

Family Matters: Love One Another…

From the moment we are born we demand to be loved. Think of a new born baby. The first cry heralds an on-going request for personal needs to be met. At whatever stage you are in life, take a few minutes to ponder just how important it is to feel loved.

We are created to be loved and to love. How we go about having this deep need met can often be a tricky and complicated matter!

One of the ways we can witness this fear of not being loved enough is in sibling rivalry. It can be fairly obvious at times. Seemingly, Esau and Jacob weren’t the only two to battle with such insecurity. Even now some of our grown-up children try to coerce me into confessing who my favourite really is. One asked recently if a particular sibling ‘secretly’ was ‘The One’. I laughed and suggested he ask that particular ‘child’ what they thought of the idea. She, in turn suggested another sibling. It then became a more general debate among them as to who this ‘favourite’ might be. My pleas that I most definitely did not have a favourite appeared to fall on deaf ears.

Most of us want to feel special and to be loved unconditionally. How do we secure this for ourselves? How do we cope when we do not experience the level of love and affirmation we expect? Do we try to resist it or do we in fact feed such a desire? A need like this tends to grow and unfortunately can get insatiable.

Trivial as it sounds now but I can still remember the awful feeling of rejection and indignation when Chris did not send me a Valentine’s card. It was many moons ago and yet I can still remember how I felt!

Our first Valentine’s Day as a couple and no card came. I had waited expectantly for this tangible evidence of his love for me. What did I do? I started to demand! Not through words. That would have made it too easy for him. I wanted to let him know just how hurt I was, so I had a major sulk. He had to experience the drama of trying to guess what was wrong. Ladies, some of you know what I am talking about. Needless to say, the poor man has never risked forgetting a Valentine’s card since!!!

Love is sacrificial. Tim Keller in his book ‘King’s Cross’ reminds us that Jesus did not have to die despite God’s love but BECAUSE of His love for us. His words encourage us to love less selfishly and inspire us to love from softer, more giving hearts. Love because we are loved, not to be loved. Wow! What a challenge. Are we up for it?

I have just read the article Susan has written. I also remember the first Valentine’s day after we were married. Being a logical sort of person I reckoned that since I had married Susan 5 months previously, she would by then have realised that I loved her. Why would she need a card designed to make money for card manufacturers to prove it? We were married, no need for anymore of that stuff associated with the chase for a wife. Ah! The simple innocence of the young male mind!

I am not always a quick learner in matters of the heart. However, I quickly learnt that this card was extremely important to Susan. Apparently, even if it was bought from the local garage, late in the evening on the 13th of February, that was preferable to no card at all. This card seemed to symbolise something very deep. So each year a card appears on the morning of the 14th of February and I bathe in the joys that arise when there is a happy and contented wife in the house.

This brings us to the topic of married couples showing love to each other. I can almost hear our children begging me to not discuss this. I think the phrase they use is ‘Too Much Information’. I will go there because I think that there is a lot that needs to be said on the subject. What does a man have to do to make his wife feel loved? We men generally like simple answers to questions like this. My one stop answer is, ask your wife what would make her feel loved, wait a reasonable period and then try to provide it, within your budget. (I have just let Susan read this and she thinks that I am going in the right direction – so – keep reading).

Don’t be tempted to think that what makes you feel loved will automatically be what your spouse needs to feel loved. What works for one person may not work for another. There are a range of activities which can help a wife or a husband to feel loved. A person may feel loved when they receive presents, for another, the most important thing is being listened to. There are people who most feel loved when someone spends time with them at an activity and for others, the top of their list for being shown love is physical attention. Each of us has our own specific preference for how we want to be shown love. The most common mistake is thinking that our spouse will want what we want. A simplistic example of this is Susan feeling loved if I buy her flowers whereas I would feel mildly confused if she bought me flowers.

This concept of what makes us feel loved is covered in an excellent course by Holy Trinity Brompton called ‘The Marriage Course’. If you are married and offered the chance to attend the course, I would strongly advise you to book a place as quickly as possible.

It’s wonderful. Love is part of the glue that holds marriages and subsequently families together, let us show love to each other unselfishly.

Chris & Susan Cordner