Irrespective of where your love relationship with your spouse is currently lodged …whether in the depth of a valley or on the heights of a mountain top; Priming the Pump is a rich article to read and retain in one’s journey as a married person.
Excerpt from An online Course: Where God puts two hearts in a home
I grew up near the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, and in September my family often went into the mountains to pick wild blueberries. One particular summer when I was about twelve years old, I remember a hot, dusty day in the mountains, and I was thirsty. After a day of hard work picking blueberries, my father and I stopped at a campground to use the restrooms. There was no running water, but there was a pump with a handle. I ran to the pump and began levering the handle up and down the way I‘d seen pioneers on television do. But even after several minutes of effort, I was dripping with sweat but water would not come. My father discovered me and pointed out the tin can sitting nearby full of water. He told me to pour the water into the well to prime the pump. At first, I thought he must be mistaken. The water coming back out of the pump was only the tepid water I had put into it, but slowly the water that I had put into the pump made it able to draw fresh water. Suddenly, instead of splutters and dribbles, the pump gushed out gallons of cold, refreshing water. My face and feet were soon drenched as I tried to drink. In fact, there was water enough for an entire bath if I needed it! A little sign reminded me that before walking away I needed to refill the coffee can with water for the next visitor.
If both you and your spouse work at developing and maintaining each type of love (Storge, Phileo, Eros and Agape) your love may never need priming like a dry pump. But if your love runs dry and needs priming, never manipulate or try to force your spouse to prime it. Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to bear His fruit of unmerited love (Gal 5:22) through you.
How does agape restore the stream of love in one’s relationship? Please read and memorize 1 Peter 5:6-7
The twelve step plan to assist you in priming the pump in your marriage is :-
- Recognize that if your spouse is a difficult person, this will be a spiritual battle. But the Lord can strengthen you with His Spirit and love your spouse through you.
- Identify the expectations and conditions that have been disillusioned in your marriage and offer them to God, along with your desire to have a good marriage. Submit your Isaacs to Him continually (Gen 22:2). These things that you want are not necessarily wrong, but all things that are not submitted to God can become idols and can actually prevent you from obtaining your desires.
- If you do not love your spouse, confess this sin to God (Col 3:19; 1 Jn 4:21), along with other sins the Lord brings to mind. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit to enable you to love your spouse humbly and unconditionally. Realize that this may not result in any change in your emotions. Agape is not an emotion, but a desire followed by action. You are desiring and then giving your heart, mind, and strength to the best good of your spouse, just as Christ laid down His life for those He loved (1 Jn 3:16).
- Cast your concerns onto God‘s broad shoulders by giving Him each of the problems in prayer. Express your own helplessness to deal with them, but express your faith that He will take care of them properly. Visualize leaning back into the arms of Jesus and feeling that His strength can support your full weight. This is His problem and you are His tender concern (1 Pet 5:7). Your goal is to listen to Him and heed His instructions Jn 2:5….(Jesus’s Mother told the servants during the wedding at Cana to do whatever Jesus Christ told them to do). Let Him carry the heavy problems in your relationship, just as if you were the smaller ox in a pair with His greater strength carrying the bulk of the load (Mt 11:29-30).
- Humbly ask your spouse to forgive you for the sins you have committed against him/her. Describe them specifically, not generally. Do not say if I have … or use generalities such as for not being a good husband … While it may be true that your spouse has equal or greater fault, you are only responsible for your sins, so these are the only ones to mention while asking forgiveness. Ask your spouse if you have wounded or disappointed him/her with other actions or attitudes and ask forgiveness for these as well. Do not imply any blame to your spouse for these sins or any others. This is not the time to mention mitigating circumstances, either. I did make a mistake, but … is not acceptable. Neither is it time to work on or work out problems together.
- Express your desire to love better in the future and ask for your spouse‘s patience as you try.
- Spend time studying God‘s Word daily, especially the New Testament. Ask God to give you verses and concepts, which will guide you along the way as you let Him love your spouse through you.
- Listen to the promptings of the Lord for opportunities to do good to your spouse: service, help, prayer, affection, understanding, listening, encouraging, and speaking the truth in love. Set appropriate boundaries to keep yourself safe, if your spouse is likely to be abusive or manipulative. Keep in mind the example of Jesus, who never allowed Himself to be coerced, but followed God‘s direction to serve the best good of His followers (Mt 10:19-20; Jn 5:19-20). Doing good does not always mean doing what your spouse wants, especially if what is wanted would be sinful (make certain you distinguish between sin and your own preferences). Rather, it means doing what he/she needs, or things that are truly good for him/her.
- Keep your thought life under control. Choose to love in your thoughts (Mt 12:34-35; 18:35; 1Pet 1:22), as well as your actions. Do not be a hypocrite or double-minded. If you choose to do good, but you do not feel warm and loving, you are not a hypocrite. However, if you choose to do good from self-centered or manipulative motives, that is hypocrisy, which you need to sort out and root out (Mt 6:16-18).
- Realize that your love will be tested, both by your spouse, who may not believe or trust your love, and by the enemy, who wishes to dislodge it for his selfish motives. Put on the whole armor of God and learn how to prepare to stand firm in your commitment (Eph 6:11-18). One way you will be tested is through other people‘s advice. Resist outside advice that is not firmly rooted in the Bible and in accord with God‘s directions to you (1 Kgs 13:1-26; Prov 4:25-27). Many well-meaning people may try to make you feel like a martyr or foolish. Instead, cultivate fellowship with those who will pray with you and help strengthen your commitment to agape love, even when no love is coming back.
- As often as possible, move warmly toward your spouse without fear (1 Pet 3:6, 14-17). A common way to react to a difficult person is to become passive or withdraw, and feel nothing and/or express nothing. Silence may be appropriate in some situations (Mt 27:11-14), but as the Lord directs the timing and circumstances, agape reaches out to talk to and relate with warmth, kindness, wisdom, and personal courage (Acts 24:10; 26:26-29). Agape love, rooted in God‘s wisdom, sees past a hostile attitude to the root needs that underlie it a need to be loved, to handle guilt, to feel adequate.
- Be strong, rooted in God and His Word, not leaning on people, reactions, or circumstances (Ps 1:2-3; Jer 17:7-8). Agape love is never weak or clingy. As 1 Corinthians 13:7 describes, agape is the most powerful strength in the universe because it comes from loving the God who is Love. Let those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might, says Judges 5:31 (NASB).
As a woman said in Dr. Ed Wheat‘s book Love Life for Every Married Couple, …even if there is no happy ending for our marriage, I will not regret the stand I have taken. I will know that I made the right decision and followed the only course possible for me. I will have done all that I could. But my trust is not in what I am doing, it is in God and His word … I‘m going to keep on obeying Him in my marriage and I‘ll leave the results with Him. I am at peace with that‖ (85).