I used to think the most difficult words to utter were, "I love you."
As a typically ungrateful, unexpressive teenager, I remember the first time I told my mom and dad "I love you." The difficulty of looking my parents in the eyes and saying those 3 words was excruciating.
And then there was the first time I told Barbara I loved her -- my heart jumped wildly and my adrenaline was the only thing flowing faster than the beads of sweat on my forehead. Whew!! I remember wondering how young couples in love could survive the experience!
Telling another person "I love you" represents risk and vulnerability. Yet, however difficult those words of love may be, there are three other words that are even more arduous to express:
"I NEED YOU."
Consider the number of people you have expressed your love to: your spouse, children, parents, extended family, and possibly a few select friends.
Now think of whom you have told "I need you": a much smaller number, most likely. But why?
Most of us have difficulty admitting need. It means we are dependent upon another. It means we are less than complete by ourselves.
We may even feel that our mate is burdened enough already -- Why should I weigh down my spouse further with my needs? We reason inwardly.
It's interesting that in Genesis 2:18 Adam had to be told he had a need. God told him, "It is not good for man to be alone." And even after that authoritative statement, Adam had to name a few million creatures to finally get the point -- He needed something ... someone!
Today is no different -- it still takes God to show us how we need our mates.
True partnerships are cemented by couples who frequently and specifically verbalize their need of one another. And for those of us who are married, somewhere between the wedding aisle and the fifth anniversary, a thief often makes off with our mutual admission that we need each other.
In fact it's ironic that marriage, the ultimate admission of one person's need for another, would end up being an accomplice to the thief.
Think back to those early days of romance and intrigue. She made you laugh. He made you feel secure and stable. She brought warmth into a room. Her touch transformed a drab apartment instantly and mystically into a home. His sensitivity made you realize how others feel and think.
You needed your mate because he or she:
But perhaps most importantly, you needed to feel valued and important. You "needed to be needed." For here was another person who authentically admitted he or she needed to spend the rest of his or her life with you.
Maybe today your mate acts like he doesn't need you. Worse yet, he has lost sight of how he needs you. He's heading down an alley that ends in the dark despair of loneliness of a life shared with no one. But be patient, there's hope.
Let me jog your memory ... You need each other:
Beware of living independently of one another. Sure, you're both busy. Yet, sometimes busy people build their lives around activities only to find years later that they are alone. Imprisoned by selfishness and a failure to take risks, they are living independently of the person God has sovereignly given them to share life with.
You really do need your mate.
A great marriage doesn't just happen. It's the result of spending quality time together. Be sure to visit FamilyLife's special I Still Do page for great ideas for investing in your spouse and enhancing your marriage relationship.
Article reprinted with permission from The Family Room. You can sign up to receive the free e-zine by e-mail every month.
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Walt and Ann Bealke have been married for a long time, just not to each other. They are now 5 years into their marriage (the third for each of them), and are seeing God redeem their pasts and build a Gospel-centered marriage.
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