Love Busters

“Marriage is like a fishing net. Each day fishermen use their nets to catch fish and sell them at the market,” writes Dr. Willard Harley in his book Love Busters.

Using this analogy Dr. Harley says, “One fisherman takes his fish from the net every day, but let’s debris from the ocean accumulate. Eventually so much debris is caught in the net that he can hardly cast it out of the boat, and when he does, it’s almost impossible to retrieve. Finally, in a fit of anger, he cuts the net loose and goes home without it. He’s unable to catch and sell fish again until he buys another net.”

“Another fisherman removes debris every time he retrieves the net with the fish he caught. Each time he casts his net, it’s clean and ready to catch more fish. As a result, he catches and sells enough fish to support himself and his family.”

“In this parable,” Harley says, “the fish are emotional needs met in marriage and the debris are Love Busters, habits that cause unhappiness.  Bad marriages are like the first fisherman’s net.”

Yesterday we wrote about the Love Bank concept that we shared Sunday in the marriage enrichment class.  If you missed this post, go back and read it now.   We also shared the six “Love Busters that Dr. Harley identifies as the most common habits and behaviors that make withdrawals from the love bank.  These behaviors will soon deplete the love bank if they are habitually and repeatedly done. Briefly consider them in light of scripture.

(1) Selfish demands.  Marriage is about selfless love for our mate. Headship is not dictatorship.  Husbands have no right to egotistically make demands of their wives. Remember “Love does not insist on its own way”(1 Cor 13:4).  Selfish Demands never solve our marriage problems.

(2) Disrespectful Judgments.  Harsh criticisms.  Lecturing.  Ridicule.  Sarcasm. Threats.  All of these are love busters.  They make huge withdrawals from your mate’s love bank.  They impugn motives. Demean character.  And attack integrity. “Love is patient.  Love is kind” (1 Cor 13:4).  Not judgmental.

(3) Angry Outbursts.  Some people justify their angry tirades by saying, “Yes, but I get over it quickly.  Once I get it out of my system, I’m fine.”  Well, the same thing could be said of a tornado!  But look at the damage and carnage its leaves in its wake.  Angry outbursts hurt feelings. Inflict pain. And severely damage relationships.   And they make huge withdrawals from your spouse’s “love bank.”  Love is “is not easily angered” (1 Cor 13:5)

(4) Annoying Habits. Dr. Harley says “whether it’s intentional or not, a couples behavior will affect the love they have for each other.”  Like the drip, drip, drip of a leaking faucet, annoying habits become irritating.  Even aggravating.  They are different for everyone.  So identify those habits that bother your spouse and work on eliminating them.  Why?  “Love  does not act unbecomingly” (1 Cor 13:5). 

(5) Independent Behavior.  When we get married we become “one flesh.”  We are to “nourish and cherish” our mate. We become partners.   All of this involves a unity of mind, heart and soul.  It shows respect. When decisions are made that not mutually agreeable and equally satisfying the marriage will suffer.  We are commanded to “submit to one another in the fear of the Lord” (Eph. 5:21).

(6) Dishonesty. No relationship can survive, let alone thrive, when there is not complete honesty.  Harley calls it “radical honesty.” Some justify lying to avoid conflict, or because the truth may hurt.  While the truth may hurt, a lie hurts even worse. Honesty makes deposits in the love bank. Dishonesty always makes withdrawals (Eph. 54:25).

If your marriage is suffering from these “Love Busters,” let me recommend that you invest in Dr. Harley’s book.  Application of its principles will help you overcome these bad habits and help you make deposits in one another’s love bank.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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