How do you keep the flame of love burning in your marriage?


Christian Life


Couple dancing in the forest. Photo Unsplash, Scott Broome

After a few years of marriage, the interest of wives in the hobbies of their husbands has decreased to zero. Just like husbands prefer to let their wives go shopping by themselves. Where did the first love from their dating period and the start of their marriage go?

In Revelations, the Lord Jesus blames the church in Ephesus for leaving their first love for Him. And who does not recognise that in his or her marriage? Pastor Arnoud Vergunst from New Zealand gives tips to keep the flame of love alive.

Dating is fun. Boyfriends and girlfriends are flooded with warm feelings for each other. Sacrificing your own pleasures for the other is something they do with love. Young women show much interest in the hobbies of their future husbands, while young men go shopping willingly with their wives-to-be. Just compare that period to your marriage, Rev. Vergunst writes in an article in the Dutch family magazine Terdege.


There is one main reason why the first love disappears between a husband and his wife, pastor Vergunst believes. And this reason can be summarised in the loss of romanticism, the fuel of a relationship.

However, romanticism disappears when a husband and wife do not fulfil each other's needs. Often, there are unspoken and maybe even unconscious wants and desires that need attention. If these are not fulfilled, stress and tensions will enter the marriage, romantic feelings will disappear, and love will turn cold.


Needs and wants differ per person, but gender plays a role as well, as pastor Vergunst points out in his article. For example, women desire to feel loved in order to experience romantic feelings for their husband. They do not feel that love through sexual intercourse first and foremost but rather desire to be touched in a sensitive way, so they feel secure in the arms of their husbands. Also, they find it important to be really listened to if they have to deal with a problem.

Men, on the other hand, tend to be quiet if they have a problem. They want to find the solution themselves without talking about it. Also, they have a need to feel respected by their wife. They want to hear from their spouse that they are needed. In addition, sexuality often plays a much bigger role for them to experience romantic feelings.

Stream of love

Nevertheless, there are also similarities between the needs of men and women. They both need love to flourish. And God gave us marriage as a way to satisfy this need. To function well, we need caressing, being cherished and relating lovingly to others, Vergunst states. As soon as the stream of love dries up within a marriage, love will wither away.

The mutual satisfaction of these needs of spouses is very important to keeping the first love alive, pastor Vergunst points out. "We must know how we can keep the fire going."


There are three secrets to a happy marriage, the pastor highlights. The first secret to romanticism in your marriage is learning, the pastor writes. The apostle Peter writes that men should live with their wives in an "understanding way", not in a feeling way. In other words, Peter emphasises that men are still to learn many things, and they should do that in a wise way.

And how should they learn? From their wives, who carry the secret key in their hearts. Men are responsible for the joy, quality, satisfaction and richness of their marriage. If they took this responsibility, Vergunst says, many marriages would be changed greatly. "It would lead to much more satisfaction and joy of the wives who would much more willingly take the place that God gives them in marriage", he states. Which wife would not want to live with a Christlike husband who lives for his wife and denies himself?

But what if husbands do not take their responsibilities? Then this will have consequences for their religious life, pastor Vergunst warns. Their prayers will be hindered, he quotes Peter's epistle. In other words, a poor marriage affects the deepest relationship there is between a man and a woman, the spiritual bond between the spouses. And before that, it has already done much harm to emotions, health, sexuality and social life.


The second secret to a happy marriage is leaving behind all harmful baggage we have received in our childhood. Some spouses have to deal with wrong expectations from marriage that they learned from their parents. It is difficult if we have never received tools to do maintenance on our marriage, but it is even harder if we have the wrong tools, Vergunst believes. Therefore, harmful habits, wrong expectations, and dangerous behaviour should be cast out for a marriage to flourish.

The third secret might very well be the most important. It is conversion to God. Nothing is as destructive for marriage as behaviour that flows from a selfish, idolatrous and inconsiderate heart, Vergunst writes. Without Christ in our hearts, we can never feel the glory and satisfaction in marriage that our Creator has put in it.


It is important that spouses pay attention to their behaviour. They need to think about what needs to change to feel more loved and respected, Vergunst states. In doing so, they should pay special attention to small words, little actions or the lack thereof as well. Change starts with a conversation, he advises. "It is important that you, as spouses, acknowledge the differences between you and talk about them so you can point them out and take steps to fulfil each other's needs. It is no small or easy task to become an expert in doing so, but it is worth it!"

Love account

Author William Harley has written a book on how to keep the flame of romantic love alive in marriage as well. He uses the illustration of a bank account to illustrate the concept of love. Those who show us compassion, respect, and love make deposits in this bank account. However, harsh words, lack of respect, and selfishness are examples of withdrawals. If the withdrawals exceed the deposits, the balance will dive into the negatives.

This can be one of the reasons for the destruction of a marriage, especially when someone else starts depositing more into our "love account" than our own spouse. If a husband or wife does not fulfil one's needs, he or she becomes much more vulnerable to cheating with another. As a result, the marriage is harmed beyond repair sometimes.



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