Summary: Part 3 of a series entitled "Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships" - Part 4: "The Love of a Lifetime"

A bride was very nervous. It was right before the service. She wasn’t sure she could even walk down aisle. Her mother gave her some words of calming wisdom. She said to her. “Honey, there’s only three things you need to focus on. If you focus on these three things, you’ll be fine. The first is walking down the aisle. Just focus on walking down the aisle of the church. I know its rather long, but just concentrate on that. Don’t get caught up with those on either side of the aisle. Just focus on getting to the end of the aisle. Next, focus on the altar. It is your destination today. Make your way down the aisle to the altar. There you will stand before God with the man you love and will make vows to God and him. Last, focus on the hymn that the soloist will sing. If you’ll just focus on these three things you won’t be so nervous: Walking down the aisle, standing before the altar and listening to the hymn.”

The bride was very thankful to her mom for her words of advice. The family and friends gathered and watched as she walked down the aisle and noticed a look of calm determination on her face. But as she passed them, they began to chuckle quietly. For along with the look of calm determination, she was mumbling three words over and over again. As she passed them, they heard her saying, “Aisle, Altar, Hymn… Aisle, Altar, Hymn… Aisle, Altar, Hymn.”...

Those of you who are married can identify with the bride’s words. We often enter a relationship believing that we’ll altar the other person, shaping them into the person we want them to be. And whether it’s intentional or not almost all of us who are in committed relationships attempt to do this very thing. We think that if our spouse or the person we love can just become more like the ideal man or woman in our dreams then everything will be ok.

One of the difficulties with such a way of thinking is that those expectations are very seldom made clear. We steer our way through marriage and through life with a picture of what we want but seldom do we take the time to stop and explain those needs and desires to those who can meet them. That lack of communication causes tension in a relationship, and if it’s not given the attention it needs those unmet expectations can eventually bring a relationship to its demise.

For that reason last week we continued our series on Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships by talking about the needs of women and how we as men can meet those needs. Men, let me quickly remind you of the four things that the women in this congregation indicated as being activities which made them feel closest to us…

First of all, married women said that they feel closest to their husbands when they are touched in an intimate but non-sexual way.

Second, they also said that they feel closest to their husbands when they are listened to and when their husbands share their feelings with them.

Third, women feel close to their husbands when those men are actively involved with the kids and or around the house.

And fourth, they feel close to their husbands when they are appreciated.

Men, if your marriage is falling apart then chances are you need to work on these four areas. Because if you’ll get these four areas down you’ll be well on your way to becoming the man of your wife’s dream. And even if your marriage isn’t falling apart working on these four things will bring fulfillment and happiness to your relationship.

In order to go where I’d like to take you today I also want to quickly recap two concepts we dealt with last week: the “Love Tank” and the “Love Bank.”

As you may recall I told you last week that each of us have a “love tank” or a “love bank.” Dr. Willard Harley and Gary Chapman coined these phrases as a way of saying that each of us has a reservoir of love that is filled up by the person with whom we share our deepest feelings. For our purposes, I’m talking specifically about the relationship between a man and a woman. Willard Harley asserts that we make deposits in each other’s love banks but we also make withdrawals from those love banks. And in much the same way as financial stability brings peace to our lives so does a high balance in our love banks. And in the same way as a bank account can be overdrawn, so too can our love banks be overdrawn resulting in bankruptcy or divorce.

And you’ll remember from last week that in order to keep those balances high we’ve got to learn to make deposits in the currency of our partner.

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