Article: Celebrate Your Love! | Sarah Thomas, Australia

Greetings to all our dear readers in the name of Jesus Christ.

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February is the month dedicated to celebrate love and relationships, but celebrations does not have to cease in March. Every month and day is a great time to be grateful for all the loving people God has placed in our lives. It is hard to find genuine love these days and the older we get, we consider this as hard work and most connections come with some sort of commitment. We truly wish people would love us for who we are. A classic example is when someone sends a friend request and then they tag you for their meetings or ask you to subscribe to their YouTube channel etc. Friendships sometimes are devalued down to some sort of marketing campaign. I am not being all negative about this, but I intend to get the readers to think – do a stocktake of your relationships and see if you truly love your friends.

The Bible wants us to love our enemies too. True love is found at the cross, which is “Agape”, unconditional love. Love undoubtedly is a beautiful and powerful emotion. Hence such loving relationships be it friendships or marriages can nurture you and bring the best out of you. I am sharing some of my thoughts on this primarily from what I have read, the collective experience of my friends and other findings.

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Gary Chapman’s five love languages outline ways by which people express and experience love and it is quite helpful in relationships. However, each person and their relationship is unique so we have to figure out what works best for us, and in line with biblical principles. Another popular concept in marriages is the six types of (or more) intimacies that are needed. The principal ones are physical, spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, recreational, and financial not in any order of importance. For a believer, God is in the marital union. Hence, spiritual intimacy is of prime importance. We have always heard about the importance of physical intimacy, social intimacy and emotional intimacy. Hence, I would want to focus on financial, recreational, intellectual and spiritual intimacies.

*Financial intimacy* can develop only when the individuals have a clear understanding of their financial position and have a clear vision. They should be open with each other and be transparent at the same time giving each other some space and trusting them with some spending of their own. This applies to individuals having income or not. Sadly, a large proportion of marital conflicts as we know are out of monetary issues. Lots of unemployed women and men are struggling because they are unable to spend any money. At the same time, women and men who are working are not able to spend, save or give money wisely. Having a clear idea of finances must be a prerequisite to marriages. Premarital courses should have topics like a family budget, how both partners can communicate clearly on their financial issues.

*Recreational needs* are something that we neglect as we become adults. It is quite important to be able to play games, climb trees if you are physically fit and do things that kids are doing. Playing board games together helps in healthy family bonding. During Covid lockdown times there were increasing marital conflicts as suddenly we found ourselves sharing space without much to do together. Those who go for a walk together, work out together, play together as a family, do puzzles or do any other activity will help in creating happy memories. Recreational intimacy will improve the relationship without much effort. That being said, it is not an easy task to achieve based on your upbringing, but we can all make an effort at any age.

*Intellectual intimacy* is not that easy to find in all couples. One can argue that opposites attract, and the differences keep us going. Communication is an integral part of any relationship, and couples should be in a space where they can communicate things safely and enjoy that bond. We cannot expect all such intimacies in one person. Some might be artistic while the other person might hate art. The same goes with music or sport etc. Hence it is quite important to let the partner do things that interest them and stimulate them. Once they both are happy in meeting their goals they can come together more powerfully.

*The spiritual bond* is the main bond and there is no such thing as praying and worshipping together. A family that prays together stays together. The spiritual bond is quite necessary as we raise the family together, but we see different opinions either about the church leader or about a theological issue that creates conflicts. It is wise not to bring such issues home but to speak to elders or other mature Christians. Children observe these debates and they lose respect for preachers and spiritual matters. This atmosphere is not conducive to the spiritual growth of the partner or kids. It is easy for those families who have an agreement in spiritual things and carry the same spirit to go along well. Some of the debates are centuries-old which have led to various denominations in Christendom. Hence a conversation between husband and wife is not solving these things but igniting new problems. Our goal should always be to find common ground. The more differences we are aware of makes it difficult to attain intimacy. Being patient with each other and praying for each other – individual prayer, prayer with partner alone and prayer with the whole family – helps to keep the spiritual bond alive and that will help in all the other intimacies.

My prayer for the Igniter and KE family readers is that we live life to the fullest with our God-given partner. If it requires us to be more aware of their needs, then let us focus on those prayerfully. God is sovereign and if you are going through a rough patch in life or marital life has always been a challenge to you, be aware that God cares for you and your family. Our partners are only there till our grave, but we have an eternal life to look forward to where there are no more tears. To all women and men out there struggling with such issues – open your heart to someone whom you can trust. Think of your kids and the responsibility of giving them a good future.

Celebrating love is not just about flowers and chocolate and a cheesy version of love, but it is a time to enjoy the loving relationships we have and about finding ways to nurture and sustain love.

Sarah Thomas

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