Real Love: Making A Fresh Start
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Do you catch yourself being rude, irritable, or resentful with your spouse? Bob Lepine, along with hosts Dave and Ann Wilson, share about share about how to make a fresh start, on FamilyLife Today.
Real Love: Making A Fresh Start
Bob: There are a lot of attitudes/a lot of actions that can be real love killers in a marriage. The Bible identifies many things; like rudeness, irritability, resentment. Are any of those things true about you?
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 10th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. How can we identify whether rudeness, and irritability, and resentment are a part of our marriage relationship? And what can we do to rid ourselves of those kinds of toxic attitudes? We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m guessing, in some states/some parts of the country, it’s going to be a very different Valentine’s Day than it has been before for others; right?—I mean, probably some folks not going out for dinner.
Ann: It’s going to be very different; it’s kind of depressing, actually.
Dave: We both love going out for dinner.
Ann: We do.
Dave: We haven’t been able to do it in Michigan.
Bob: What do you do, if it’s Valentine’s Day, and you can’t go out for dinner? Help a couple here, who’s thinking, “We want this to be special. We’ve got kids at home. We can’t go anywhere. What do we do?”
Ann: Dave is going to cook. He’s never cooked, but—
Dave: Not going to happen. [Laughter] Not going to happen. That would not be a good Valentine’s Day for anybody.
Ann: You know what would be fun though? We should cook together.
Dave: That’d be fun.
Bob: You think?
Dave: That’d be fun; I can do that.
Ann: I’m totally taking you up on this. [Laughter]
Dave: I would say we do that in 2022; but this Valentine’s, we order in.
Bob: You’re going to get take out? [Laughter]
Dave: Yes; I mean, we’re going to go get something. But I—
Ann: What are you going to do, Bob?
Dave: Remember the Mother’s Day when—I think it was Mother’s Day—but I mean, Austin and I created this table with the cloth and roses—
Ann: You were in on that?
Dave: —and you came home.
Dave: Anyway, my middle son, Austin, did it with me. They’re married and gone and they have kids. Now it’s me and you, and I’m going to do that. I’m telling you right now—[Gasping sound]—I’m telling you right now: “I’m making it,”—
Dave: —broadcasting it to the world. [Laughter]
Ann: This is accountability.
Dave: I am going to make the most romantic Valentine’s Day you’ve ever experienced in your entire life—
Ann: You all heard it.
Dave: —from P.F. Changs or something. [Laughter]
Bob: We thought, that with Valentine’s Day coming, we ought to recalibrate our thinking when it comes to love; because Valentine’s Day is all about romance; it’s all about passion. It’s all about what Dr. Gary Chapman calls “the tingles.” We all like the tingles, but there’s more to love than just the tingles; right?
Ann: Really? [Laughter]
Bob: There is.
Dave: The tingles actually don’t last very long.
Dave: That’s the thing we found out, so you’re right.
Ann: Speak for yourselves. [Laughter]
Dave: She’s still got the tingles for me; that’s good!
Bob: I spent time last year working on a book called Love Like You Mean It.
Dave: Yes, you did.
Bob: We created a video series from Love Like You Mean It. The whole purpose of this book was to say: “We need to be thinking more biblically about love rather than just letting—
Ann: —“rather than the tingles”?
Bob: I like the tingles; I’m a fan of the tingles, but you can’t build a marriage that lasts off the tingles. You’ve got to have a stronger foundation underneath that. We looked at 1 Corinthians 13 and what the Bible has to say about love. The description includes a number of things that love is and then other things that love is not. Among that list—three things that love is not—“It’s not rude, it’s not irritable, and it’s not resentful. It does not keep a record of wrongs.”
You can’t have a thriving love relationship if you’re rude to one another, if you’re irritable with one another, and if you’re always holding onto resentment.
Bob: I know; right?
Ann: That’s a list right there.
Bob: If you’re getting ready for Valentine’s Day—and rudeness, and irritability, and resentment are around—it’s not going to be a good Valentine’s Day. We thought, “Why don’t we just help folks today with a little recalibration?” We’ll listen to an excerpt from the Love Like You Mean It® video series. You’re going to hear couples interacting, because we invited couples in to share some of their stories with us. Then you’ll hear as I unpack this passage from 1 Corinthians 13.
Dave: Let’s do it!
Bob: Let’s listen.
[Excerpt from Love Like You Mean It Video Series]
Bob: Let’s assume for just a minute that all of us are still single. I know most of us are married; some of you are single, headed toward marriage. But let’s just assume we’re still single. Think back to when you were single. What qualities did you find most attractive in members of the opposite sex? Or think about your spouse: “What was it that first attracted you to them?”
Woman #1: I thought he was cute. [Laughter]
Man #1: She was very attractive, and she always had a really nice smile.
Woman #2: Just dimples.
Man #2: There we go!
Bob: We think about this—most of the things that we found attractive, when we first noticed somebody—those things were pretty superficial, because we didn’t know very much about that person. We just know what we saw or what we first heard when we first got to know them.
For some of you, you were friends for a long time before you started to become attractive to one another. Maybe you were attracted by deeper, more substantive things. But that’s not my story. My story was, when I first met Mary Ann, I was attracted on more of a surface level.
We were at a retreat together. We were standing in line for dinner the first night of the retreat. She was a few people back behind me. I was in conversation with somebody else in the line. The girl I was in conversation with said—I think she was a junior or a senior—she was talking to me and found out I was a freshman. She said, “You’re just a freshman?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “Oh, I thought you were a junior or a senior.”
Mary Ann apparently overheard it; because a few minutes later, she said, “You’re a freshman; huh?” I said, “Yes, what did you think I was?” I’m fishing here, thinking is she going to say, “Oh, I thought you were a graduate student”; you know? But she said, “Oh, I thought maybe you’re a sophomore.”
I remember two things: first of all, I liked her smile; I liked her spunkiness. Then I liked the way she looked in that red t-shirt she was wearing/that Arkansas Razorback red t-shirt she had on—so smile, spunkiness, and style/t-shirt style—she looked good in that t-shirt. Pretty superficial reasons for being attracted to another person.
I don’t know what’s on your list, what you would say first attracted you to your spouse or what you find attractive in people of the opposite sex, but I can pretty much guarantee there are three things that are on nobody’s list. There are three things that are mentioned in the Bible as being the opposite of love. The Bible says: “Love is not rude, it’s not irritable, and it’s not resentful.”
Think about it: nobody’s ever said: “Boy, what really attracted me to that other person was just how rude they are,” or “I love how irritable this person was,” or “I just loved how full of resentment this person was.” Those are unattractive features for any of us; those are love killers in a relationship.
Let’s define our terms here: Rudeness—“What is rudeness?”—it’s more than just a lack of politeness. Rudeness is when we treat another person as though we are more important than they are. It’s when we demonstrate, through our actions and our words, that we think we’re superior to someone else.
One Bible teacher I know put together a list of what qualifies as rude behavior; he said: “It’s inconsiderate talk, or disregard of other people’s time, taking advantage of others, a lack of tact or empathy, ignoring the contributions or ideas of other people, running rough shod over other people’s plans or their interests, inappropriately behaving with members of the opposite sex, basic discourtesy, or a general disregard for proper social conduct.”
Rude people are often focused on how the behavior of others affects them, but they pay virtually no attention to how their behavior affects other people. It’s not possible to be rude and loving simultaneously; the two cancel one another out.
Let’s talk about irritability. My mom used to talk about people who were touchy. She didn’t mean people who were touchy/feely or who put their hands on other people; she meant people who were easily provoked. You had to be careful how you acted around them or what you said; they would become quickly irritated. You’ve heard the expression, “walking on eggshells,” where you have to be really careful that you’re not going to annoy another person; because they are easily triggered or set off. That’s a person who’s irritable.
Then somebody, who has resentment, is somebody who holds onto an offense/who won’t let it go. The Bible has an interesting way of expressing it. The word that is translated “resentment” in some versions of the Bible literally means to count up wrongs against another person/to keep a record of wrongs. That’s what it means to hold onto resentment.
Man #1: One of the biggest issues I would say in our marriage is finances. She was used to buying what she wanted. If she saw something she liked, she got it. Whereas, I came from an area of I’m very conscious about what I’m buying, and looking at what I’m buying, and researching. Recently, we just made a very larger purchase; we bought a camper. She went and bought some $25 stickers to put on the back wall of the back splash. [Laughter]
Woman #3: This is a used camper. It was in really, really good condition; it looks like they never used it. I love everything except that fabric, and I don’t like that little wallpaper strip that they have in the back of the back splash. I did buy $25 stickers to stick on the back splash. The thing is there were only four of them; and I needed six packs, because it was only four stickers for $25.
Man #1: Right.
Woman #3: But I took it back.
Man #1: She did take it back, because she saw my face when I opened the door and she told me how much those cost. [Laughter] It’s one of those things that it took a long time for that understanding; right? I mean, in the beginning/I would say, if this happened six years ago, we would have had an all-out argument over those stickers.
Woman #3: I would have thought to put the stickers up before he saw them. That way, I wouldn’t have been able to take them back.
Man #1: Right. But one of the things that always happens is that, in the beginning of our relationship in our marriage, that one action turned into a thousand actions. We never got through the issue that was at hand, because we were too busy talking about everything else and trying to one-up each other.
Woman #3: Instead of discussing what was at hand, which is the finances, we used to be focused so much on: “Are you right?” “Am I right?” and “If I can’t say that you’re wrong on finances, I’m going to find 16 other things that you did 17 Tuesdays ago.”
Man #1: She was really, really good at time stamping. As a male, I’m really, really, really bad at time stamping. It made me even angry, because she had all these time stamps. I had to start keeping a calendar of all the stuff that she did. It became this tit for tat. It just caused so much issues that it came to a point to where we got some great advice from our pastor.
He told us that we need to pray for each other every night; we need to learn how to put God first in our relationship. That’s the one thing that we have kept to this day is that, when we feel things are starting to get off balance in our relationship and things are not going the way they’re supposed to,—
Woman #3: It’s like a quick reality check—
Man #1: —it’s a quick reality check.
Woman #3: —because only God can do those changes and mold those things that we need to do to each other for anything.
Man #1: Definitely.
Bob: Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, says love “Puts up with anything.” It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs; it puts up with anything.
Rudeness, irritability and resentment: these are love killers. These are things we need to focus on if we want love to thrive in a marriage relationship. Good diagnostic questions here:
Are you a rude person? Would your spouse say you can be a rude person? Would your kids say that? Would friends say that about you?
Are you easily provoked? Are you an irritable person? Are you somebody, who stores up resentment/who has a hard time letting go when somebody has offended you? Do you keep a record of wrongs?
At the end of the day, if we’re going to deal with these issues, we can’t just deal with the behavior. We have to get to the root of the issue. We’re not just trying to correct how you act; we’re trying to get to what motivates your actions/to your heart. Rudeness, and irritability, and resentment are just manifestations of a deeper heart issue. Let me give you a roadmap of how we deal with some of these stubborn behaviors/these deep-seated heart issues that manifest themselves as habits over time: rudeness, and irritability, and resentment.
The first thing you have to do to address these is you have to call them what they are. Don’t try to sugar coat them; don’t try to minimize them; but put the Bible names to these behaviors. You have to be able to say: “That was rude,” “When I do that, I’m being irritable,” or “I’m being easily provoked,” “I’m being resentful; I’m keeping a record of wrongs.” Name the behavior for what it is.
Then secondly, you have to acknowledge that these attitudes/these behaviors are more than just some unpleasant part of your personality. It’s not: “Well, this is just the way I am.” No; these are sin patterns in your life, and we have to call them what they are. We have to call them out/say, “This is not just a part of my personality; this is an offense before God.” We have to name these things as a sin against Him.
Which leads to the third thing: anytime you identify a sinful pattern in your life, we have to confess that. We have to agree with God that that sinful pattern is wrong/that we are offending His goodness and His holiness when we manifest those behaviors or when we harbor those attitudes in our heart.
Name them; identify them as sin; agree with God that it’s sin that needs to be rooted out; and then develop a game plan for how you’re going to address these issues: “How are you going to break some of these habits of the heart?” You have to do some introspection here: “What triggers me?” “What prompts me to be rude?” “What causes me to be irritable?” “Why do I hang onto resentment?” You’ve got to dig around in there and say, “What’s really going on in my heart that causes these things to happen?” If there are things that trigger you, can you avoid some of those things so that you’re not triggered until you learn how to exercise some self-control in these areas?
There’s a final step, and this is really a key. If we’re really going to get where we want to go and get rid of rudeness, and irritability, and resentment, we can’t just try to chase them away. We have to replace them with godly characteristics like kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, meekness, patience. Colossians, Chapter 3,
verse 12 says, after we put off wrong behavior, we’re to put on these kinds of godly characteristics. We should cultivate in our own heart: “Instead of being rude, how can I be kind?” “Instead of being irritable, how can I be compassionate?” and “Instead of being resentful, how can I be forgiving?”
We don’t just try to put off the bad; we have to learn how to put on new behaviors that are ultimately Spirit-generated in our lives. We have to ask God to grow in us fruit of the Spirit that will replace these habits of the heart that destroy love in a marriage relationship.
Woman #4: There’s been two times in our marriage, where we lived with Bobby’s dad. The first one was whenever we first got married. Then the second time is whenever we were starting to raise missionary support about a year ago. It was really exciting for me to see that my kids were going to get to grow up around Papa. But whenever we moved in there, I would be in certain places in the house, having bad memories of the beginning of our marriage. As I remembered those things in the past, it would stir up resentment in my heart.
I went to Bobby one night; and I said, “This is something I’m struggling with. I don’t know what to do about it, but I need to talk to you.”
Man #3: Knowing that that was lingering in the past, every little space that she remembers, I felt that it was important to give her some new memories before we move out of there.
Woman #4: He had promised me one night that we were going to dance together. He’s not necessarily a dancer, but I’m a dancer. We got to our bedroom, and he put some music on his phone. He took me in his arms and started to dance with me. Then he said something that meant a whole lot to me.
Man #3: I just backed up and I said, “Now, we’re going to start making new memories here.”
Bob: When rudeness, and irritability, and resentment are present in your marriage, love cannot flourish. But when you begin to replace those attitudes and behaviors with new attitudes/new habits of the heart, you can see love begin to grow and flourish in your marriage.
“Love is not rude, it’s not irritable, it’s not resentful.” Are you rude, or irritable, or resentful?
Bob: We’ve been listening to an excerpt from the Love Like You Mean It video series.
Ann: Did you say “an excerpt” or “the expert”?
Dave: That’s good.
Bob: —“excerpt” [Laughter]—“an excerpt.”
You know, we’ve been listening to—actually, I was getting my toes re-stepped on—you guys have got to understand: when I went through this passage and wrote the book, Love Like You Mean It, and then worked on the video series, people will say, “Oh, this is convicting.” I go, “I was there first.
Bob: “I was the one getting convicted first; because you can’t go to this passage without going, “I come up short in a lot of these areas.”
Dave: Yes; I mean, it is such a beautiful, beautiful picture of love. But as you read it, you’re like, “Wow, who can do it?”
Dave: You sort of said, “Nobody; God has to do it in you.”
Ann: Yes, even the term, “irritable,”—okay, like that’s super convicting—not that I am—[Laughter]—I wish I wasn’t.
Bob: I think, for me, the turning point in our marriage was when I started to recognize that you can’t just put off the bad stuff; you got to learn how to put on the right stuff. It’s not just “Stop being rude”; it’s: “Now, be kind,” “Now, be polite,” “Now, be gracious to somebody else.” It’s not just: “Stop being irritable”; it’s: “Now, be sensitive to another person and caring about the other person.” That’s what we have to learn how to cultivate.
Ann: I think it’s learning how not to let someone else determine your own mood.
Ann: That’s really, really hard.
Dave: As you think about other things that Paul wrote in the New Testament, he said, put off the old and put on the new. I mean, I can get rid of irritability for about three minutes; [Laughter] then it’s right back, unless I replace it with who I am in Christ.
Dave: There’s a power in the Holy Spirit of God that I’ve got to allow to transform me or I’ll slip right back quickly.
Bob: You try to have a romantic moment or a romantic evening, a Valentine’s Day—where you come together with some expectation and you’re trying to express your love for one another—if there is this ongoing undercurrent of rudeness, or irritability, or resentment, that’s going to show up.
I’m thinking about your tenth wedding anniversary and how you’re trying to have a romantic evening, but there were issues there that just got in the way of trying to connect as a couple.
Ann: That’s what I was thinking, Bob, when you were talking that it’s not just having a good day or a great Valentine’s Day. I don’t know what men are like; but I’m still thinking about two days ago or a month ago; or I’m thinking, “This year has been really hard, and our relationship has been really difficult.” One day doesn’t necessarily fix it just like our ten-year anniversary date.
Bob: I think, if you get to Valentine’s Day and you think, “Okay, we have been in a tough place,” I don’t think you just throw in the towel and say, “Well, we can’t do Valentine’s Day.”
Bob: But I think you can go into it, saying, “You know what? It’s been a tough year. We’ve not been where we want to be, but let’s make this the day…”
Ann: Yes, if Dave hadn’t put in that effort for our Valentine’s Day [on our tenth anniversary], I don’t know if the conversations would have taken place that really transformed our entire marriage.
Dave: Yes; I think Valentine’s can be, in some ways, like New Year’s for a couple. It’s like a new starting point: “Let’s make this day a day we start over.”
Bob: —some romance resolutions?
Bob: That’s a good idea; huh? I hope one of those resolutions for couples might be that they would get together with other couples and, all of them together, go through the new Love Like You Mean It video series that you’ve heard a portion of today.
There are ten sessions in this series, but it’s really designed so that you can pick the sessions you need to focus on. We think everybody ought to go through Session 1 and Session 10. But the ones in between, you can focus in on the ones you need to concentrate on. If you don’t have time for all ten, just ask the question: “How about patience?” or “…kindness?” or “…tenacity?” or “…honesty?”—all of the different aspects of real love that come from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13.
The Love Like You Mean It video series is now available. We’ve got couples, who are doing this online together/couples who are meeting in small groups to go through this content. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to find out more about the Love Like You Mean It video series.
If you have not yet gotten a copy of the book, Love Like You Mean It, that’s available as well at FamilyLifeToday.com. In fact, if you’ve read it, and you haven’t gone to Amazon and left a review, do that. Help us out; help other people find out about the book. Again, it’s called Love Like You Mean It—the video series by the same name.
Find out more about all of these resources when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or call if you have any questions; 1-800-FL-TODAY is our number. If you’d like to order by phone, again, it’s 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Or again, you can order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about what the Bible means when it say that “Love bears all things,” and “believes all things…endures all things.” Does that mean we put up with anything? Does that mean that we should be gullible in marriage? We’re going to talk more about real love tomorrow. I hope you can tune in and be part of that with us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, with some help this week from Justin Adams. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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