A Loving Marriage
I read a few articles the other week saying there’s been a major uptick in marital struggles and divorce applications during this time of quarantine. This is a sad reality but not surprising. Any issues couples were already struggling with have now been put in a pressure cooker of sorts with the stress of job loss, money issues, homeschooling kids, and the constant presence of one another.
The truth about this season is if you already had issues in your marriage, they are only going to be exacerbated. And if we’re honest, who doesn’t already have issues in their marriage? I do and I’m a pastor! We all have issues we need to work on. We’re all selfish and broken in certain areas, right?! There’s a reason 50% of marriages end in divorce. Marriage isn’t easy. It’s hard work. But, anything worth anything takes a lot of hard work and prayer! Marriage is one of those things that is well worth our time and attention.
Being cooped up in our homes together over the last month and a half has presented two opportunities, more time together and…MORE TIME TOGETHER! This could be a good thing, and this could be a bad thing. This could be an opportunity for God to do something amazing in our marriages or this could be an opportunity for Satan do something detrimental.
Maybe the last month and a half has been super refreshing for your marriage, and you’ve been able to work on several things. Or, maybe it’s been super tough and a struggle. No matter where you are today in your marriage there’s good news! Better is possible. Not because of your effort, but because Jesus is your example and you have the Holy Spirit to empower you to follow His example.
No matter where you are today in your marriage there’s good news! Better is possible. Not because of your effort, but because Jesus is your example.
One of the amazing passages often referenced at weddings is 1 Corinthians 13:4–8. While this passage isn’t directly talking about marriage in the context, it applies to all relationships and, I believe, is super helpful in marriage. Paul, writing to the church of Corinth says,
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
This passage is all about love which begs the question, what is love? The word love in our culture has been so misused and overused that it’s hard for us to understand what is being said by the apostle Paul. We use love to describe anything from pizza, to our favorite hobby, our spouse, even God! But, how does scripture define love?
In scripture, Jesus is the definition of love. Jesus didn’t look down from heaven and “fall in love with us.” No, scripture tells us Jesus set aside His own rights, submitted to the Father’s will, and chose to love us (Philippians 2:6–8).
We use love to describe anything from pizza, to our favorite hobby, our spouse, even God! But, how does scripture define love?
That love meant a lot of sacrifice and humility. The greatest sacrifice. Everything. JESUS RADICALLY REDEFINES LOVE FOR THE WORLD. So, before going forward, this is the foundation we must work from when it comes to loving our spouse. It’s going to be a choice. It’s going to be a choice to sacrifice, to set aside your own rights, and to humble yourself.
With that definition of love as our foundation, we can now build from there focusing on some key things in this passage to help our marriage.
1️⃣ Love is patient and kind
I’m sure you are learning in this time that so much of your marriage is practicing and showing patience and kindness with your spouse. What does it look like for you to be patient and kind? Not when they deserve it but when they don’t. What does that look like?
2️⃣ Love does not envy or boast
The definition of envy is wanting what someone else has. Love, according to Jesus, is the opposite of envy. Love is wanting what’s best for others rather than yourself. What does that look like in your marriage?
3️⃣ Love is not arrogant or rude
If you’ve been married long you know that you have plenty of opportunity to be arrogant and rude. Love is the opposite of these things. Love is humble, gentle, yielding and submissive. Where is there opportunity for you to demonstrate these qualities to your spouse?
4️⃣ Love does not insist on its own way
This might be one of the biggest issues in marriage, selfishness. We want our own way. We want what’s best for us and what will make us happy. Again, this is the opposite of what Jesus calls us to in our marriage relationship. Jesus calls us to SELFLESSNESS not SELFISHNESS.
5️⃣ Love is not irritable or resentful
The thing about marriage is your spouse will see you in the best of times and the worst of times. Those times when you are irritable and not nice to be around. We all have irritable moments and we don’t respond well to our spouse. Additionally, there will be times in our marriage that our spouse will wrong us or hurt us. They aren’t God, and therefore will fail. So, as we are offended or wronged by our spouse, we have the choice to be resentful or to forgive. Love is forgiveness. This is what Jesus demonstrated on the cross. I’m sure there are many opportunities for us to forgive and release our spouse right now. Do you have things you need to forgive your spouse of? Do you need to ask for forgiveness?
6️⃣ Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things
The word bear has the idea to protect or guard here. So, love is something that protects, believes the best, hopes for the future, and endures all things. Literally, love never quits. Love never gives up. Love never surrenders. LOVE NEVER ENDS. Are you at a place of giving up on your marriage? Don’t! Choose to love your spouse and start again, pray for the Spirit’s strength, and invite others into your relationship to help.
In this season and beyond, choose love in your marriage. Not the “I love pizza” kind of love but the patient, kind, submissive, humble, gentle, selfless, forgiving, protecting, and never giving up love! No matter where you are right now in your marriage, no matter what this season has brought to light, we all would do well to live this way with our spouse. If you’ve failed, like we all have, start again tomorrow. The love and example of Jesus is waiting for you.
Will you choose love?