The move from “I have to” to “I want to” is a move from duty to delight
How often do we view meeting the needs of our spouse as an obligation, yet another item on our already crammed-full to-do list? The problem with seeing our spouse as a duty, through the lens of “I have to,” is that it steals our passion. Obligation creates a passionless marriage because duty is a passion-killer.
From “Have to” to “Get To”
The first step in moving your marriage from duty to delight involves changing from a mindset of “I have to” to a mindset of “I get to,” where we start to view serving our spouse as a privilege instead of a duty.
starts by discovering God’s delight in you. He wants to replace duty with delight in your marriage, just like He wants to do in your relationship with Him. If you want to release love into your marriage, you have to become love. And to become love, you have to receive love–the love of God. In short, to be a lover, you have to first fully experience what it means to be “beloved.” Evangelist Leif Hetland describes this process as “an upgrade in love.”
We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:19 (NIV)
You may think this is a bit simplistic, but I can attest to the truth of this in my marriage. Our journey toward a more passionate marriage began when my heart became awakened anew to the amazing depths of the love of God for me. Such an awakening is transformative. It can be a genuine source of healing from past hurts. It can replace fear or shame with confidence in love. And it can give you a renewed heart of love for your spouse.
The Lover and the Worker
Whereas “I have to” or “I ought to” comes from an attitude of obligation or duty, “I get to” comes from an attitude of love, such that giving to your spouse in their areas of need becomes a privilege of being in a love relationship.
The difference between “have to” and “get to” is the difference between being a worker and being a lover. A lover will outwork a worker every time because actions motivated by love have more staying power than actions motivated by duty. A worker usually does what he does to get something in return. In the business world, that’s a paycheck. In a marriage, it can be to get your spouse to meet your needs or to love you back.
A worker is motivated by external forces, but a lover is motivated by internal forces.
A lover is compelled to surrender, sacrifice, and serve by the love that burns inside because he has allowed his heart to be wrecked by the One who gave His all for the sake of love. A lover does all for the sake of intimacy, not for the sake of gain.
Yes, eventually, you still have to do the work of marriage. But if you can allow your heart and mind to be transformed from that of a worker to that of a lover, you will be able to work longer, harder, and with more genuine joy than you can imagine.
From “Get To” to “Want To”
If the move from “have to” to “get to” is a move from duty to love, then the move from “get to” to “want to” is a move from love to passion. You see, it’s entirely possible to love something (or someone) without being passionate about it (them).
Passion takes love to a whole new level.
When we have “get to” in our hearts, we see loving and serving our spouse as a privilege. When we move from there to “want to,” loving and serving becomes a pleasure as well as a privilege. It becomes desire. And you can’t have passion without desire.
Couples who move from “I have to,” past “I get to,” and all the way to “I want to” have moved from duty to delight. And these couples share a common relationship characteristic: passion.
When passion runs deep in your marriage, it is a delight to give, love, and serve each other. Where there is an abundance of passion for each other (both non-sexual and sexual), there is no need to perform, no need to give in order to get love, because, in a passionate marriage, love is the baseline; it’s a given, a reliable constant.
This post was adapted from my book Pump Up the Passion. To learn more about the five habits that help create and sustain passion in marriage, get your copy of the book today: