What kind of love do you have for your lover? Is it tick love?
I recently attended one of the how-to-do life seminars hosted by Dr. Norman Wise of Living Waters Christian Counseling. He painted perhaps the best picture of what often derails marriages. He said that as singles, we feel unhappy. We meet the opposite sex, and they make us feel happy. So we marry. Then we become vampires, sucking the happiness out of our spouse. If your spouse is the same way, as Norm put it, “You have two ticks with no dog.”
Imagine if this was the kind of love that God had for us. Jesus would not have come back as a servant, but as a ruler demanding that we pay Him homage and tossing us into the eternal lake of fire every time we did not produce. I’m thankful that His love for us is agape (unconditional). It is marked by intentionality. It is not predicated on performance. Agape held Jesus on the Cross.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
That is not what God ordained. Figuratively speaking, God’s plan is for us to become one happy whole dog with no ticks … at least until the kids come. God’s plan is simple.
Simple v. Easy
It’s simple, but it’s not easy. Why, because when we are born, we are helpless ticks. Life is necessarily all about us. It’s a parent’s job to bring a child from tick to dog. The dog ultimately still has and depends upon its master (God). Unlike a tick , the dog does not need to depend upon another dog to be whole.
Childhood training can lead us to believe we deserve to be loved, because parents usually love us no matter what we do. We did not have to do anything to receive their love. Their love is loyal because we are theirs. So why wouldn’t we expect our spouse to love us this way? This mentality can set us up for tick syndrome.
I, Patricia, do take you, Patrick, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to live together as long as you support me and make me feel happy, loved, honored, respected, trusted. When you stop, I’ll find another dog.
Of course you wouldn’t say that, but is it true? Outside of marital infidelity, substance or physical abuse, couples I work with in my practice say they are divorcing because they grew apart and just aren’t happy anymore. Aren’t they describing tick love?
1 Corinthians 13 Vows
Using the vows from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, godly vows might look like this
I, Patricia, promise to love you, Patrick. I promise to be patient and kind. I promise not to be envious, boastful, proud, disrespectful, self-centered. I promise not to have fits of anger or keep a record of wrongs. I will not delight in evil, but will rejoice in Truth. I will always protect and trust you. I will hope for the future. I will persevere until death do us part.
Only Jesus can do this perfectly. But as we strive to agape our spouses intentionally, we continually become more holy. As we become more holy, we become more useful for the Kingdom. As we become more useful for the Kingdom, we find the deep and abiding joy that God has set apart for us.
Do you promise to make your marriage a no-tick zone?
Will you put that in writing?