Monday, February 22, 2016
"staying in love" synopsis part 1 : "love is a verb"
A few years ago Jesse (my husband- if you're new here) and I were invited to a couples' study group. We met for 4 weeks and read from Andy Stanley's book Staying in Love. We would read a couple of questions and meditate on some thoughts from the book prior to attending the sessions. During each session we would eat together; mingle; watch Andy Stanley (author and speaker) discuss 4 topics pertaining to "Staying in Love;" and then, as a group, discuss questions from the study guide. This study has been the best advice I have ever received in regards to "staying in love" / marital happiness, which is why I'd like to share it here and pass along the information. I've mentioned that I listen to Andy Stanley's podcast "Your Move" almost every morning. I download a series and then listen to the episodes (sometimes a couple of times because I get distracted).
"Staying in Love" is one of various series Andy Stanley offers. I believe the podcast episodes are shorter versions of the extended video episodes also offered on the "Your Move" site. These video episodes are often offered as DVDs (with the full video episodes) for purchase along with a study guide if that's more helpful to you. (It definitely helps me retain the information). Anyway, I recently listened to the "Staying in Love" podcast episodes again- perfect around Valentine's Day, right? I would like to share some of what I learned, but highly, highly recommend buying the book, watching the videos, and/or listening to the podcast episodes. I will definitely not do the study any justice. I should tell you that, yes, this is a Christian study, but I believe that the information is practical and universally applicable. I decided to split up my synopsis into 4 parts because 1 post was getting to be too long. I will share all 4 posts this week.
The first discussion is titled: "Love is a Verb." In this chapter (video/podcast episode), Andy Stanley introduces the concept that staying in love is a desire that we all have even though when we look around us we haven't really seen the "perfect" relationship or even a relationship that we want to emulate. He will revisit this idea at the beginning of every episode- the idea that we desire a longstanding, romantic relationship and are convinced we can have such a relationship even though we haven't really seen an ideal one. In addition, we, ironically, mimic the very things that contribute to dysfunctional relationships (because that's what we've seen) unrealistically expecting a satisfying, long-term relationship.
We have come to believe and behave with these beliefs in mind: "Do unto others what they deserve. Do unto others as they do unto you. Do unto others as your mood would have it. Do unto others so they'll see things your way. Do unto others until you wear them down and they agree to your demands" (p.7) because of what we have seen. In addition, in this chapter, he states that we all want "respect, encouragement, comfort, security, support, acceptance, approval, appreciation, attention, and affection" (p. 11) and that we are deprived of these things from an early age. Our hope is that our spouse will satisfy these desires for us- though they themselves were also deprived of these things and, like us, are not capable of providing these things in full.
In a funny, yet tender moment, Andy Stanley asks the question that we all ask of our loved one in one way or another: "Are you gonna give me respect, encouragement, comfort, security support, acceptance, approval, appreciation, attention, and affection... or are you just cute?" (at the 11:35 min. mark). He adds, "What begins as a hug around the neck becomes a strangle hold: 'Give me affection, comfort, security, love... I gotta have it. I gotta have it. 'Cause I came into this thing with a deficit.'" Both feel pressured in the relationship and both fall short.
The advice offered is to actively choose to love your partner (love is a verb) even when they are not lovable... even if things have been bad for a while... even if they've been bad for years. That may seem like shallow advice, but that is profound advice if you sit on it for a while as he suggests. Actively choose to love your partner because it is a choice you make. You know what that looks like because you used to do it when you first fell in love. You made him or her the priority in the relationship. You selflessly poured into the relationship and into him or her. You can start fresh today and choose to love your partner (even if he or she is confused by the change!).
Tomorrow I will provide a synopsis of the second discussion: "Re-Modeling" - though you can obviously listen to it now (and all episodes at some point), which I highly recommend you do!
Again, you can buy the book and DVD "Staying in Love" with all 4 extended video versions here or watch (or listen) to the episodes at the site Your Move right here.
Photo by Alicia Danielle for my sister Jasmine's wedding
at 4:30 PM