How to keep love alive?

I give in my habits

Love is a gift from God.

My future wife and I "spotted" each other in our mature age. Before that, we have worked together for quite a while. At the office, we sat facing each other but somehow we didn’t pay attention to each other for a few months. All of a sudden, something had changed, I’m not sure how it happened.

It was not love from the first sight. However, once we found each other, it became clear it couldn’t have been differently. We spent much time together holding hands and describing our lives to each other. We felt a great harmony being together as never before.

We have been living together for seven years now. We felt right away that we matched each other, everything went as smoothly as a running mechanism.

This story is probably a commonplace and anyone who found his soul mate could say the same. I can tell for sure that during all the time we have been together, love didn’t fade away but it grew. The more we live the more I realize that I can’t even imagine my life without Oksana. I can’t see the other woman in her place.

Recently Oksana had a very serous surgery and the risk of a lethal outcome was very high. I was out of my mind with worry. I was thinking what would happen to me if she wouldn’t survive… I couldn’t answer this question, couldn’t imagine my existence without her or with someone else. Thanks God, Oksana is safe and sound now. I’m so happy we are together and understand that real love is a gift. Did we deserve it? I don’t know, maybe not.

About a year ago Oksana and I decided to calculate how long we have been together. We never thought of it, really. Seven years? But it seemed like a couple of years or even a year. At that moment, our son Gleb was 5 years old and we had Fyodor already. We were surprised that so much time has passed. There is an expression "just like one day". All these years have run just like one day.

– They say that true love not only becomes stronger with time but also changes its quality.

– I think that "fuel of love", something that nourishes it, changes. Formerly, spending the time together was just interesting to us. I was discovering Oksana and she appeared to have many-sided and interesting personality. At the same time, I had certain fears like "what if I made a mistake? what if I find something (within myself or within Oksana) that will change my relations to her?" In a while, maybe in three, four or five years, I realized there were no issues that could affect our relations. It was the first step of strengthening our relations.

Then our children were born. I helped Oksana in bearing, I stayed with her at the maternity hospital. It was the second step when I realized that I would be the last villain if I step off the road. These were my kids, how could I leave them?

The most important thing connecting the spouses is faith. It was Oksana who brought me to the church. At the beginning, I didn’t quite understand the sense of it. We lived in Moscow near the river port at that time and the church was far away from it. On Sundays, we had to wake up early to go there… The only thing I could understand was that faith was right and necessary. Later when we lost our son, I realized the role of the church and belief in my life more clearly. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t survive it if there was no belief in God and belief that Fyodor became one of the Lord’s angels. It was another step on the ladder of our love. It’s awful to say such sort of things, but death of a child connects more then his birth.

Any event is a new step. The further we go, the more our love is based on our love to God, to our family and people dear to us. I thank God that we are together! Perhaps, true love is impossible without faith.

Our Lord gives a gift of love to both believers and non-believers. But none of the non-believers we know passed the test of family life. Our friends’ families broke up or are close to it with the only exception of the Orthodox spouses. There are too many temptations in our life. Birth of children is also a temptation because apart of happy moments people have to face new difficulties. Faithful people are educated and enlightened by God, He gives them love and patience through His grace and the sacramental communion. Any advice of the experienced priest is also very helpful. It’s impossible to go through life full of difficulties without a spiritual leader. Think for oneself is not always easy.

Faith is learning, the last barrier that prevents from a wrong step that could break a family stability. It has a great positive effect on the family relations. I’m rather hot-tempered and the understanding that being angry I break a commandment to love a neighbour helps me to control myself. The same goes for my attitude to alcohol, tobacco and opposite gender. For non-believers it’s much easier to step over this border. "My wife doesn’t know, there is nothing to be afraid of". As Dostoevsky said, "Everything is permitted if there is no God". Since I’m a believer it’s not my wife that restricts me from doing wrong. I mean, of course Oksana accepts my shortcomings; however, when I die I’ll answer God, not her.

Now we understand that whatever is given by God leads us to the strengthening of our relationships, faith and understanding how we should live. God provides everything if we live with faith. The only thing that interferes is our laziness, it’s an awful scourge. Often people know the right way but don’t follow it. That’s why God sends some ordeals and misfortunes in order to bring us to senses. If you prayed under the difficult circumstances, you should pray even harder when they are over so God wouldn’t send you another disaster.

– Some people think that with time only a habit connects the spouses and it’s not very romantic.

– I don’t think it’s a habit. Each morning when Oksana wakes up, I feel how much I love her. I know what a habit is because there are many things in my life that I got used and lose interest to. However, Oksana, my family and faith are the only things I didn’t get used to so far and hope I will not. I find it interesting to live like this. I could be bored with my work, friends and something else but not with my family. Our three sons, Ivan, Gleb and Fyodor were the sources of such a great joy that at some moment they became a foundation of love. This is not a habit, absolutely not. I cannot separate myself from my family and my faith, they are part of me, they share my thoughts. How can anyone become bored with his right hand or his left eye?

The indication of love is self-sacrifice. If two people are truly in love, they will change for the sake of each other, adjust to each other and make concessions. What does a change mean? If Oksana doesn’t like something about me, I’m ready to change; she will do the same for me in return. God gave me a gift of love and I sacrifice myself for my beloved one not because duty calls but because I want to do so.

Certainly, one has to work on self-improvement; otherwise, if there is no any development, a degradation of personality and family relationships is quite possible.

It’s very important to pay close attention to the words you say to each other. Wrong words can lower the quality level of relations and it’ll never be the same. At the wedding ceremony the relationships can be at the highest point as if spouses were in Olympus of their love. However, the further development depends on their ability to maintain this level because even perfect relations can be ruined by vulgar words. They should remember that any bad action is almost irreversible.

– Sometimes, when people date they think of each other as of sole mates; but at the same time they want to change something in each other…

– Entering into a marriage is similar with purchasing an apartment though it may sound odd. People should decide what they can put up with and what they cannot. For example, if you don’t accept the first floor or the absence of a balcony, this will always bother you no matter how hard you try to renovate your apartment. Your spouse can also have certain shortcomings you would never accept. As for me, I can accept a mess in a house or something else but there are certain things I cannot. Of course, I can forgive it but it will be very difficult for me to live with it.

A long time ago, I learned to remain calm and be understanding. For example, if my wife doesn’t feel like cleaning the apartment today, it’s ok with me. Moreover, I’ll be pleased to meet her wishes. I’m rather self-centered person by nature and forgiving the mistakes of others isn’t easy for me. I always have my own opinion about the events and I try to put it the way I think is right. However, the relations with my wife are not this way. If she feels comfortable with something, it’s perfectly fine with me. For instance, my wife doesn’t like my jokes any more; she fights with them gently and I try to change myself and give up some of my habits.

At the beginning, it seems nothing should be changed in your spouse. But I think, any family faces some small local conflicts with time. Things cannot go smooth all the time, people aren’t perfect. Any misunderstanding, for instance grumbling, always causes the inflow of love. The quarrel of lovers is the renewal of love. If I quarrel with Oksana, I think: "So what that I’m right, what’s the difference? She is a woman and mother of my children. I’d better say I’m sorry". This feeling is sincere; this isn’t because I want her to make me some coffee. Not at all. I just feel a great relieve saying "sorry" for I love her.

Therefore, if two people match each other and there are no reasons for conflicts, there will be nothing to change. Let your spouse have some imperfections, let them be the reason for small and light incidents. It’s quite normal unless such imperfections aren’t "the balcony" from my previous story, something unacceptable for you. Let them be, there is nothing wrong with it. I believe spouses shouldn’t try to change each other, it’s unnecessary. If your loved one truly loves you, he/she will improve him/herself in order to please you.

The most easy and at the same time, the most difficult way is praying. We remember about this way only under the critical circumstances, when we cannot mend the situation by our own efforts. I don’t know why people are so muddle-headed including myself.

Our son Gleb has rather firm nature and Oksana has been having a hard time with him up to the point that she lost heart. Recently something has happened. After she couldn’t get along with Gleg, he was put in the bathtub and she was sitting in the corridor and crying… As a matter of fact, she read many books on psychology in her attempts to find a key to him. Well, and so she was crying and saying such words, "Please God, I don’t know what to do, I cannot stand it any longer". Then Gleg came out of the bathroom and said, "You know, Mom, I think, why do I really behave like this?" It was a miracle, I guess. The sincere prayer can make a miracle.

I have to admit, my wife and I also try to correct each other, sometimes with a file and sometimes with an axe. This is very difficult; we resist and don’t yield, just like any other humans. However, when we start praying the things are corrected by themselves. Then there are three options for the further development: either you change, either your spouse changes, or there is no need for changes any more. Too pity that we don’t pray all the time. I guess, our laziness is the biggest problem. When everything is fine, you think praying isn’t necessary.

– What should be avoided in the family relationships?

– You shouldn’t control your spouse, instead you’d better control yourself. To keep love alive you mustn’t analyze the one you love. Analyzing will always tell you something is wrong, "I thought that I liked it, but no, I do not". Accept your partner the way he/she is. You can ask yourself a simple question such as, "Will I be able to find a better person, better than I have now?" Will God give you a chance to find a better spouse?

Think thoroughly and you’ll understand: if there is a spark of love, you need to keep and support it as much as possible.

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Andrew Klyashtorni, businessman

Andrew Klyashtorni, businessman

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See also
Nothing should be higher than love (Writer Maxim Yakovlev)
Bear each other’s weak points (Painter Olga Motovilova-Komova)
We could not activate love by our own efforts (Igor Gagarin, Archpriest)
Talk to each other! (Svetlana Shvetsova, psychologist)
Your spouse is the delight you pay no heed to (Irina Rakhimova, psychologist)
The Third person is needed in a family (Vladimir Gurbolikov, journalist)

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