When we are at the alter on our wedding day, promising to love the other person for the rest of our lives, we smile and think about how wonderful and easy it will be. We feel love overflowing from our core of what the future with our new spouse may hold.
We promise to always love them as 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 is read over us, sure that we will always love like that.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
However, after the honeymoon shine fades and our first disagreement as a married couple – whether its the toilet seat being left up, the feeling of not being romance anymore, or finances – we can quickly revert to hurtful, sinful reactions.
Or what about when the other person doesn’t deserve our love – when they are being unlovable? It is easy to give them a taste of their own medicine.
Soon 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 seems like a daunting and impossible task. But it is possible with Christ. It is not easy, the road less traveled never is, but your spouse was created in the image of God and should be treated as such, especially when they are not being loving in return.
And why should we treat them with love?
We love him, because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19 (20, 21)
Our motivation needs to be solely on Christ because if it is on anything else, (to change your spouse for example) it will not be love.
I have often heard “change the word Love in this passage to your name” and self evaluate if you are these things. (Tara Joy is patient, kind etc.)
This is a wonderful starting point, but how can we be all of these things in marriage or in life?
Let’s take it a step further and plan out our actions before the difficult times to love comes. God wants us to be proactive not reactive. (Proverbs 14:22)
Here are some possible scenarios as we read through 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, keep in mind that these can be applied just as well in all other human relationships.
Love is patient when my spouse did something that irritates me. I will take a deep breath and give him/her the benefit of the doubt that he/she did not do it on purpose.
When we are talking discussing or arguing about something I will not speak, but actively listen to what he/she has to say and think carefully about what they said before responding.
Love is kind when my spouse said something to hurt me. I will not respond to his hurt with hurt. I will address his hurt and if he does not apologize, I will still forgive.
Even when I do not feel kind, I will push my feelings away and choose not to say anything if I cannot think of anything kind at that moment.
It does not envy when my spouse gets something he wants or when it seems like other couples have better marriages. I will consistently remind myself of how much of a blessing my spouse and relationship is to me.
It does not boast when I was right about something. I will never say or give the “I told you so” look.
It is not proud when I accomplish something my spouse can’t. I will remember that we are a team – we win and lose together.
It is not rude when my spouse tries to spend time with me. I will put my phone, Facebook, activities away during our time spent together.
I will not snap comebacks at him if he/she asks me to do something for him/her.
It is not self seeking when my spouses has needs that need to be met. I will place his needs above my wants.
It is not easily angered when my spouse offends something I believe or like. I will remember he is unique with his own thoughts and I will not lash out in anger.
It keeps no records of wrongs when a hurt is forgiven it is not brought back up as ammo against my spouse. I will remember that I have hurt him at times as well, and I am not better than him as a person.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth when I want to lie to avoid consequences, I will tell the truth to my spouse – no matter what. It is better for my spouse to trust me than allowing my feelings to control me with fear.
It always protects when my family friends or other are bad mouthing my spouse or when I want to say something negative of my spouse to others, I will defend and stand up for my spouse no matter who is against his/her. I will choose to not drag our dirty laundry to anyone outside our marriage (with exception of domestic abuse, or a therapist that will be confidential).
Always trusts when my spouse is out or tells me he/she will do something, I will trust his/her word and not doubt.
Always hopes when things aren’t going well, I will hope instead of dwell in negativity.
Always perseveres, even when it seems impossible or I have no more left to give. I will not give up. When I want to quit, I will keep going and keep giving.
These are examples of action plans you may want to incorporate into your relationships, but I must tell you at first they will not be second nature. It will not happen over night but do not give up. Practice most certainly makes perfect and above all – give your actions to God. He will guide you to become more like him.