Monday, June 27, 2011

How to have a Reckless Marriage

There is a saying written on my kitchen wall: Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon. I could add "marriage" to that saying.
If anything in my life has seemed reckless and has required me to abandon habits of self-preservation, it's marriage.
Marriage is a funny thing. It's about two people laying their lives down for the sake of the other person. Done mutually, honestly, and even recklessly, the result is a mysterious fusion of two lives, no longer two, but one. The bible says this is mystery (Ephesians 5:31-31a).

So what is the reckless part of marriage? What aspects of marriage should we approach without thought, without reservation, without even considering the consequences? Here are the three things that made my short list:

1) Listening. Scott Peck said listening is an act of love. When we listen recklessly, we will ourselves to shelve our own opinions and advice. We stop offering our point of view and begin the hard work of trying to understand what is being said, and, more to the point, the person who is saying it. When we listen recklessly we show our love and respect for our spouse, and we demonstrate our desire to know him or her more deeply. Listening creates a safe, loving place where your spouse is free to speak about the things that truly matter.

2) Forgiveness. Mother Teresa said "If we really want to learn to love, we must learn how to forgive." Marriage affords us a lifetime of potential offense. Not to mention the fact that we live by side with the person who has offended us. If we don't forgive, the relationship dies. Reckless forgiving is insisting that you know that your spouse is for you and not against you. It's deciding to put aside your personal right to be offended in favor of living in love. Reckless forgiving says, "I love you. I am for you. In all situations." (one caveat: in the case of spousal abuse--the first option is always to get safe. Always. Forgive from a distance).

3) Affection. Reckless affection means never hesitating to touch, kiss, caress, and speak kind words to and about your spouse. It's telling your spouse, and the world, "Hey, I love this person." We protect our mind from wandering affection, we protect our eyes from looking at anything that would test our affection for our spouse--images, movies, other people, whatever it may be. It means we hoard our affection and lavish it only on our spouse.

Reckless abandon. Try it in your marriage today.

Today's crunch: Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. That was just reckless. What one thing can you do for your spouse today that emulates Jesus' reckless love?

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