12 Gifts we can give our true loves

Some weeks ago some young friends of ours who are getting married asked how we had maintained our relationship of over forty years.  Many of the topics I have covered in my blogs over the past three years, but with apologies to those who can’t bear Christmas carols too early, I have borrowed the ideas for gifts from the '12 Days of Christmas', which according to my Google searches has no real meaning but has been used as a Christian catechism song, as a marriage catechism* song!

A partridge in pear tree

·       Respecting my spouse: looking up to them as if they are up in the tree. This means dying to self, not imposing my ideas on the other or wanting them to see things my way. Instead, by appreciating that they have their own way of understanding and viewing the world, and their own conclusions about how things should be, I give them permission to be themselves.

Two turtle doves

·       Loving our partners in word and deed: by telling them regularly what it is we love about them and demonstrating our love for them in the ways we respond to them and act towards them.

3 french hens

·       A cord of three cannot easily be broken: Sharing in each other’s spiritual lives if this is something you both share. Praying and reading scripture together is a great privilege and intimacy.

4 calling birds

·       learn to deal with the  in laws well:  marriages can be torn apart by the relationship with the families of origin  of each party.  Gen 2:24 reminds us that on marriage we are forming a new relationship which supersedes our relationship with our parents.

5 gold rings

·       Give gifts to each other: they don’t have to be expensive or cost anything at all monetarily, but they show that you have taken time and effort to show your love for your beloved in a concrete way.

6 geese a laying

·       Contribute to maintaining your home together: it doesn’t matter who does what, so long as there is a fair and agreed negotiated result over the division of labour. I am amazed by how many couples in counselling end up talking about who takes out the garbage!

7 swans a swimming

·       Find time for romance:  some couples love swimming together at sunset at the end of a warm day – what are the things that you and our partner do as a couple that engender feelings of love and romance? Make sure you find time to do them on a regular basis.

8 maids a milking

·       Contribute to providing for the couple: or as Paul Keating said, work  together on “bringing home the bacon”, whether that means actually working outside the home to earn the finances, or in being financially responsible with what is available to you.

9 drummers drumming

·       Solve conflict well:  dealing with conflict can be heated and energetic, but is shouldn’t be abusive or damaging. Learn good conflict resolution skills and use them, out of love for your husband or wife.

10 ladies dancing

·       Have fun together: even if it means going dancing which is not your favourite activity. Recent research indicates that long term relationships are invigorated when the couple commonly engage in new experiences instead of sticking with their tried and tested ways of having fun together.

11 pipers piping

·       Learn not to complain and react to things: the bagpipes may not be your preferred form of music making, but being able to not say things straight away when annoyed or irritated and to make a more measured comment at a later time can reduce hurt and annoyance.

12 lords a leaping

·       Have a shared vision for your life together: be bold with in seeking it: believe that God has a purpose for you as a couple and be prayerful and dedicated in seeking His will for you and your family.