How long does it take to grow a maturing love?
When I was newly married, I couldn’t wait to turn a little older. Not that I didn’t enjoy being a newlywed, I did. But I wasn’t thrilled with all the cracks and grind that came with new love.
We’ll be ten years married this August, and I am in awe because time has gone by so fast. And with it our relationship has blossomed.
We still have work to do, but our general attitude and perspective have changed/matured. If you are wondering about your relationship, concerned for when things will make a turn for better, let me encourage you, things can change.
Just because you are wrestling with things now doesn’t mean you will grapple with the same things forever. You might feel stuck now, but that doesn’t mean you will always be stuck.
Things change as we hold on to God and learn to persevere.
Here are 8 signs to watch for (aka areas to develop) in your marriage relationship.
1. When you finally understand disagreeing doesn’t mean the end of a marriage.
This is a significant sign of a maturing love when as a couple you can wrestle through hard moments without feeling and acting like it’s the end of your marriage.
It took a long time for me to learn how to work through challenges without feeling like my husband was against me or our marriage was falling apart.
It’s probably one of the hardest areas to grow as a new wife but its crucial. Because until you learn how to fight together, you will be fighting against each other.
The good news is that it’s possible to have this mental shift; as you hold on to God and allow Him to tutor and mend your heart, you start to get a different viewpoint. (See Communication in Marriage; A Husband’s Perspective)
2. When you give sweet (and patient) attentions with no strings attached.
Most newlywed couples exhibit a strong desire for the other persons welfare. But the difference in a maturing love is that these sweet attentions are driven by choice and discipline, not just feelings.
One of the things that used to make it hard for me to inquire and listen to my husband in the earlier years was a fear of what I would find out if I pursued him hard enough.
I struggled with mothering tendencies. (See 2 Ways to Clip Mothering Tendencies in Marriage) But when you get over the urge to fix each other, it becomes possible to pursue and listen without barriers and fears.
3. When you finally begin to ask “what’s in this for us,” instead of “what’s in it for me.”
Singular living brings with it many unique mindsets and habits. But a marriage relationship demands we lose most of these habits and mindsets in order to prefer another person above ourselves.
Fortunately, if your single life involved putting Jesus first, the ability to prefer another comes baked in on the day you take your vows.
That’s why it’s so crucial as a single person to have an intimate relationship with Jesus because it teaches you to say “yes” to Him and “no” to the world and yourself on a consistent basis.
That’s what you’ll be doing in marriage all day every day: preferring another above yourself. That said, this muscle (ability to prefer another) has to be exercised so it can grow and do its job in marriage.
While a maturing love might not enjoy the pain of growth, it begins to accept it as part of a happy marriage.
4. When you begin to seek health, not just happiness.
All couples with a maturing love have learned/are learning to let go of the idea that happiness is the whole goal of marriage. Indeed marriage does bring a lot of joy, but that’s not the only thing it brings.
Marriage also ushers a new level of refinement as God uses the man and wife to check and grow each other so they can reflect His image in the marriage so the world can know of His love.
But we don’t like refinement. We would rather point fingers, make excuses and stay stuck in our ways.
Nonetheless, a maturing love begins to to see God at work in their marriage. As opposed to seeing your spouse as the enemy. You begin to see them as a tool of refinement in God’s hands. (See this When Your Spouse Acts Immaturely)
5. When you live for more than yourselves.
Most people have asked the question “why do I exist?”. But few have asked themselves “why does my marriage exist?”
I believe the reason we are married is because God thought we could have a greater impact in the Kingdom as a team of two.
A great sign of maturing love is when a couple begins to live not for themselves and their happiness but God’s purposes.
Taking on a Kingdom mindset, constantly pushing against the urge to “settle down,” dreaming together and taking steps towards the dreams are all part of a maturing love. (See Why You Must Align Your Marriage to God’s Purpose)
6. When you love God more than you love your spouse.
Prayer, reading your Bible, meditating on Scripture, going to church, serving the body of Christ might seem unrelated to marriage. But these disciplines are the anchor of a marriage.
If you are undernourished in any of these areas, the entire marriage will be malnourished.
A maturing love shows itself as a couple devoted to the Word, prayer and fellowship with God, being in a community of believers, serving others as if the health of our marriage depended on it. Because it does.
7 When you laugh together.
My husband is a funny guy. Not over-the-top funny. Just dry and witty.
I tell single women “make sure he can make you laugh.” It’s fantastic to be smart, dedicated, loving, hard working..but funny? That’s bliss.
He doesn’t have to be an uproarious storyteller or a comedian or make everyone else laugh. Just you. Interesting enough to tickle you silly. Sometimes when he’s not trying to.
If your husband used to make you laugh but now turns up your brows, if your best response to his best (or worst) joke is a sigh and scowl, dear wife, ask God to give you a new heart which enjoys the simple things.
A maturing love knows that when two people can laugh together, they can walk through anything together.
8. When you begin to give each other space and grace.
I am not exceptional at giving my husband space – at least not always – because I don’t like being away from him. (See 8 Way to Nurture Your Marriage When Your Spouse Travels for Work)
But just because I don’t enjoy it doesn’t mean I don’t do it or understand it’s importance; my husband needs his guy space. As I do my girl space.
A maturing love knows the value of recharging. Encouraging each other to do things that nourish the soul so you both can bring your best to the relationship.
There’s more to nurturing a maturing love..
Now you may have read these points and despaired in your soul; I don’t mean to discourage you but to help you look to the future with hope.
Remember, we don’t feel like we are growing when we are in the thick of growth itself. Many times we see our progress from hindsight. Or through studying ourselves to understand where we have developed.
If your marriage isn’t exhibiting most of these routines or signs, it doesn’t mean your marriage is not growing. These are the things that have meant maturity for us and other couples I have observed. (Plus there’s much more that can be added to the list!)
Look at it this way; if you can check off just one thing out of the eight, you are making progress. If everything is an aspiration, you are still on a high path because you want to grow.
A delightful marriage is not a destination; it’s a journey. You never really arrive. The day you vanquish one pesky task is the day you discover another one to work on.
Also growth takes time. And it usually takes place when we are not even looking. But when you fuss with it, keep on checking and assessing and obsessing, you tend to mess it up. (See Quit Sabotaging Your Marriage)
Remember, love is not a feeling, it’s a choice. Do what the Bible tells you to do, not what the world, yourself or his actions say you should. Honor God and He will bring honor to you in due time.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 1 Peter 5:6
And those are my eight estimates of a maturing love! Let me know what you think? What would be your 9th point?
Are wrestling with the overwhelm of new marriage? Is shutting down, fussing, anger, passive-aggressiveness common place in your relationship? Your marriage can change! Get on the road to a great marriage -> Amazon Paperback I Amazon Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF I UK/Europe PDF