Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Love Dare - Day 18

Love Seeks to Understand "How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding." – Proverbs 3:13

We enjoy discovering as much as we can about the things we truly care about. If it’s our favorite football team, we’ll read any article that helps us keep up with how they’re doing. If it’s cooking, we’ll tune to those channels that share the best grilling techniques or dessert recipes. If there’s a subject that appeals to us, we’ll take notice any time it comes up. In fact, it’s often like an area of personal study.

It’s fine, of course, to have outside interests and to be knowledgeable about certain things. But this is where love would ask the question, “How much do you know about our mate?

Think back to the days when you were courting. Didn’t you study the one your heart was yearning for?

When a man is trying to win the heart of a woman, he studies her. He learns her likes, dislikes, habits, and hobbies. But after he wins her heart and marries her, he often stops learning about her. The mystery and challenge of knowing her seems less intriguing, and he finds his interests drifting to other areas.

This is also true in many cases for women, who start off admiring and building respect for the man they desire to be with. But after marriage, those feelings begin to fade as reality reveals that her “prince” is a flawed and imperfect man.

Yet there are still hidden things to discover about your spouse. And this understanding will help draw you closer together. It can even give you favor in the eyes of your mate. “Good understanding produces favor” (Proverbs 13:15).

Consider the following perspective: if the amount you studied your spouse before marriage were equal to a high school diploma, then you should continue to learn about your mate until you gain a “college degree,” a “master’s degree,” and ultimately a “doctorate degree.” Think of it as a lifelong journey that draws your heart ever closer to your mate.

· Do you know his or her greatest hopes and dreams?

· Do you fully understand how they prefer to give and receive love?

· Do you know what your spouse’s greatest fears are and why they struggle with them?

Some of the problems you have in relating to your spouse are simply because you don’t understand them. They probably react very differently to certain situations than you do, and you can’t figure out why?

These differences – even the ones that are relatively insignificant – can be the cause of many fights and conflicts in your marriage. That’s because, as the Bible says, we tend to “revile” those things we don’t understand (Jude 10).

There are reasons for his or her tastes and preferences. Each nuance in your spouse’s character has a back story. Each element of who he is, how he thinks, and what he’s like is couched in a set of guiding principles, which often makes sense only to the person who holds them. But it’s worth the time it will take to study why they are the way they are.

If you missed the level of intimacy you once shared with your spouse, one of the best ways to unlock their heart again is by making a commitment to know them. Study them. Read them like a book you’re trying to understand.

Ask questions. The Bible says, “The ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15). Love takes the initiative to begin conversations. In order to get your mate to open up, they need to know that your desire for understanding them is real and genuine.

Listen. “Wise men store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand” (Proverbs 10:14). The goal of understanding your mate is to hear them, not to tell them what you think. Even if your spouse is not very talkative, love calls you to draw out the “deep water” that dwells within them (Proverbs 20:5).

Ask God for discernment. “The Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). Things like gender differences, family backgrounds, and varied life experiences can cloud your ability to know your mate’s heart and motivations. But God is a giver of wisdom. The Lord will show you what you need in order to know how to love your spouse better.

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4). There is a depth of beauty and meaning inside your wife or husband that will amaze you as you discover more of it. Enter the mystery with expectation and enthusiasm. Desire to know this person even better than you do now. Make him or her your chosen field of study, and you will fill your home with the kind of riches only love can provide.

Today’s Dare: Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the two of you. The dinner can be as nice as you prefer. Focus this time on getting to know your spouse better, perhaps in areas you’ve rarely talked about. Determine to make it an enjoyable evening for you and your mate.

"Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding." - Proverbs 4:7

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

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