Marital Love in Action

Here are some excellent insights on love that I read recently in Paul Trip’s book: What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.

  1. Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.
  2. Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
  3. Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
  4. Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
  5. Love means being willing, when confronted by your spouse, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
  6. Love is a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to your husband or wife is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
  7. Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wrong but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
  8. Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in someway you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
  9. Love means being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the problems that you face as a couple, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
  10. Love is always being willing to ask for forgiveness and always being committed to granting forgiveness when it is requested.
  11. Love is recognizing the high value of trusting in a marriage and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
  12. Love is speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack your spouse’s character or assaulted his or her intelligence.
  13. Love is being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive you in any way in order to co-opt your spouse into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
  14. Love is being unwilling to ask your spouse to be the source of your identity, meaning and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of his or hers.
  15. Love is the willingness to have a less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be into do as a husband or a wife.
  16. Love is a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love and your marriage.
  17. Love is staying faithful to your commitment to treat your spouse with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when he or she doesn’t seem to deserve it or is unwilling to reciprocate.
  18. Love is the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of your marriage without asking anything in return for using your sacrifices to place your spouse in your debt.
  19. Love is being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm your marriage, hurt your husband or wife, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
  20. Love is refusing to be self-focused or demanding but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
  21. Love is daily admitting to yourself, your spouse, and God that you are not able to love this way without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace (pages 191-201).

I hope this list challenges you as it did me. I hope also that you are reminded of the impossible task we have before us as husbands and wives and that (as #21 reminds us) you cling closely to God’s grace as you seek to glorify God in your marriage.

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