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What to Do when the Honeymoon Is Over

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Song of Solomon 5:2–16; 6; 7; 8

A marriage that brings lasting satisfaction and joy cannot be built on excitement and infatuation. Rather, it will be established on love that is selfless and persevering, a love that mirrors God’s love for us. This is the predominant message of the Song of Solomon.


What to Do when the Honeymoon Is Over

The Song of Solomon 5:2–8:14


On our last Wisdom Journey, we sat in the audience on the wedding day of Solomon and his bride. Now as we continue in chapter 5 in The Song of Solomon, the wedding party has gone home. The happy couple have finished their honeymoon, as we would call it, and they have settled into their newlywed routine. And at this point, something all married couples experience happens.

One author described it in terms of an hourglass. Once a couple becomes deeply in love, “that hourglass gets turned over and there is enough sand in that hourglass, on average, to last about twelve to eighteen months.” After that, he says, “Sexual chemistry and romantic attraction can remain . . . but they cease to be the main glue that holds a relationship together.”[1]

I agree. That is why the marriages of so many people in our culture do not last but a few years. They were built entirely on a physical and romantic foundation. Even Christian couples realize after two years, on average, that a marriage is not built in the bedroom; it is built in the living room.

By the time you reach chapter 5 in this love story, the hourglass has run out of sand. Solomon’s bride says here in verse 2,“I slept, but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking. ‘Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one.’”

Solomon wants his wife, but she’s indifferent; she says here in verse 3: “I had put off my garment; how could I put it on? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them?” She does come around, for she says in verse 6, “I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and gone.” Well, he has taken it personally and left. Now he is withdrawn, and she is indifferent. It is at this point that marriage building process begins to take place.

Is “withdrawn/indifferent” the likely outcome when a husband and wife commit to praying together? Explain your answer.

I have often said to husbands and wives that when you are courting and in the early days of your marriage, for the most part it is a fairly smooth path. But sometime later, a truck pulls up at your front door and drops off a load of bricks. And you begin in earnest at that point to take those bricks and either build a wall between you and your spouse or build a path to each other. And you have to decide every day which one you are interested in building.

For this bride, verse 9 is a turning point. She is dreaming here and begins to tell all her friends—the daughters of Jerusalem—what a wonderful man her husband is. He is not perfect, but she is once again focusing on his better qualities. Here in verse 16, she says, “This is my beloved . . . this is my friend.”

It is easy to lose sight of the better qualities of that one you married. I read some time ago of a couple who were disenchanted with each other. They both secretly found someone else online and began to develop a relationship. They remained anonymous through this dating site, but they seemed to understand each other so well. They each found the kindred spirit they believed they were missing in the persons they had married. The man finally decided to meet the other woman; and without knowing it, his wife decided to meet the man she had fallen in love with. On the same night they came up with an excuse to leave the house at the same time. When they met the other person at last, they discovered to their surprise that the other person was their own spouse. The one they wanted was the spouse they already had.

Let me recommend you keep a mental list of the qualities of the one you married and review it every now and then.

Now in chapter 6 it seems the couple has made up. The wife says in verse 3, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” These words express something critically important. They express “exclusivity and commitment.”[2] Let me tell you, fellow husbands, those are words your wife wants to assign to you: “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”  

Solomon then returns her gracious comments by praising her like he did back on his wedding day. But here we need to deal with the difficulty of verses 8 and 9, where Solomon is speaking:

There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number. . . . The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.

There is a lot of debate as to whose royal court these women belong. Is it Solomon’s or some foreign king and his entourage who have visited Solomon? The truth is, we cannot tell for sure. But what we do know is that in verse 10 Solomon’s praise is exclusively for his wife.

Now in verse 13, we finally learn the name of Solomon’s wife—well, sort of. Here she is called “[the] Shulammite.” This could mean she is from Shunem, a town in the Jezreel Valley in central Israel. But more likely, this is Solomon’s pet name for her,[3] just as you might call your spouse honey or sugar or sweetie. It’s a pet name you are not going to call some other adult—at least I would not recommend it.

Throughout all of chapters 7 and 8, Solomon and the Shulammite exchange passionate talk and compliments.

Let me make some observations from chapter 8, as this song begins its final stanza. In fact, I want to draw from here three principles that every husband and wife can use to build a path of stepping stones toward each other.

The first stepping stone is permanence. The Shulammite says to Solomon in verse 6, “Set me as a seal upon your heart [affections], as a seal upon your arm [strength].” A seal in the ancient world, typically created by pressing an engraved ring into wax, established ownership and spoke of permanence. She is asking Solomon to make it clear that his affection for her is permanent.[4]

The second stepping stone is perseverance. She says in verse 7, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” When I pray that final prayer of commitment as I preside at a wedding ceremony, I can’t help but think of the floodwaters this couple is going to face—trials, heartaches, and disappointments will accompany the joys, blessings, and laughter. They will experience them all, and they are going to need to persevere.

Think of it this way: prayer works for the Christian, but you have to work at prayer. Prayer works, but prayer is hard work. Well, marriage works, but you have to work at your marriage. Marriage works, but it is hard work. Why? Because marriage is the union of two sinners.

But if your marriage includes the principles of permanence and perseverance, when the floods come, you won’t jump overboard; instead, you will plug up the leaks and keep sailing together.

A final stepping stone is pricelessness. Listen to these song lyrics in verse 7: “If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.” In other words, true love cannot be bought. It does not have a price tag. And what makes love priceless is that it can only be given and received as a gift.

The concluding verses have Solomon desiring to hear his wife’s voice up close as she invites him to “make haste.” And so, their marriage is built on commitment to the Lord and to each other. This is how to build a marriage, long after the honeymoon is over.

And with that, we come to the end of this song of songs, a love song straight from the heart of God.

[1] Gary Thomas, The Sacred Search (David C. Cook, 2013), 29.

[2] Michael A. Rydelnik and Tim M. Sigler, “Song of Solomon,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Moody Publishers, 2014), 998.

[3] Rydelnik and Sigler, 999.

[4] Ibid., 1001.

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