Almost every day we hear about another high-profile marriage meltdown or a lifelong friendship falling apart. We look at the relational carnage around us and wonder, is it even possible to build a marriage that lasts? Is it possible to have a friendship that grows stronger through the inevitable misunderstandings and mistakes of two imperfect people? Is it possible to experience lasting love?
The answer is a resounding yes! The Bible says, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). It doesn’t say it’s easy to build deep and rich relationships that stand the test of time, but we can say from personal experience that with God it’s more than possible.
The two of us have been married for more than twenty-five years, and we can honestly say we’re more in love today than ever before. We’re two imperfect people who don’t have it all together or figured out, but we’ve learned some principles from God’s Word that have helped us develop a rich, unshakeable love for each other and for the most important people in our lives.
We want to share with you these lasting love principles that continually help us see life and the people we love right side up—from God’s perspective.
All relationships, whether a marriage, a family, or a friendship, go through the same three stages. This First Glance stage is often called the honeymoon phase, that blissful time when everything is sunshine and rainbows. It’s the time in a dating relationship when you think you’ve finally met the perfect person, and all you can see is how alike you are. The honeymoon happens in family relationships too. But when children become self-thinking teenagers, parents and kids usually see one another’s shortcomings more clearly. In a friendship the honeymoon be- gins when you think you’ve finally found a friend who really “gets” you.
There’s nothing wrong with those first infatuated feelings unless you expect them to always be there. The First Glance stage is intense but fleeting, and trying to make it long-term isn’t realistic or even desirable!
At first everything seems beyond perfect, but then you take a second look. Suddenly you see reality staring back at you!
In a friendship, as you get to the Second Look stage, you see your friend’s annoying habits and negative qualities. In marriage, that second look makes you realize that the person you’re married to is not so perfect after all. Suddenly you’re able to see only your glaring differences, and you start to wonder what you saw in them in the first place.
In the Second Look stage, you start asking, “What happened? Where did all the loving feelings go?” Nothing’s actually wrong. Reality happened! And in a real way, it’s good. Great relationships need to be based on reality—the true understanding and acceptance of another’s faults, shortcomings, and weaknesses. This is also the stage where we admit we’re not so hot either! It’s in this honest acceptance of each other—acceptance of the real us, not the ideal first-glance us—that relationships begin to grow.
The danger of the Second Look stage is that it’s easy to give up because we no longer have the sense of awe and wonder we had in the First Glance stage. Of the three key relationships you’ve named, is one possibly in this Second Look stage?
Our goal is to help you get beyond the First Glance stage, which is by definition a shallow relationship, to move through the Second Look stage and not get stuck there, and to enter the Lasting Love stage, where the real work and re- ward of relationships occur.
The Lasting Love stage is the point at which you know each other’s faults, fears, and true feelings, but your love is secure as you work to grow closer every day. Lasting love relationships are what this book is all about, and they always involve two people being honest, vulnerable, and feeling safe with each other. The reason you chose those unique three key relationships is precisely because you long for them to be lasting relationships. Maybe they’re in the Second Look stage, and you recognize the need to move them into the Lasting Love stage. Possibly they’re still in the First Glance stage, and now you’re beginning to realize all that it will take to move them deeper.
Adapted from One Month to Love: 30 Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships, by Kerry Shook.
Copyright © 2013 Kerry Shook, Published by Waterbrook Press, used with permission.