Learning How to Love Marriage - Part 1

Apr 10, 2024

On your wedding day, someone probably read the classic Bible verses on love found in 1 Corinthians 13. On your wedding day, you probably thought you and your spouse had discovered the deep love the Apostle Paul had written about. But at some point in your marriage, you might question your love for your spouse or their love for you. We must realize that we all need to learn to love. No one has to teach us how to hate, be bitter, or criticize people. It comes naturally. But we all need to learn how to love. 

Since we have to learn what love is, we need to turn to the one who created the idea in the first place. God teaches us about love in 1 Corinthians 13. I don't think any of us really know what love is until we experience the love of God through his son, Jesus Christ. And once we understand His love for us, then we are able to start giving that love to other people. Here's a quick overview.  

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)

1. GIFTS WITHOUT LOVE ARE USELESS

You are truly gifted if you can speak more than one language. I envy those who can do that. The Apostle Paul says you can have this amazing gift to speak multiple languages, but without love, your gift sounds like an annoying clanging symbol. 

God has gifted you in many ways. You may be good with money, leadership, and business. You may be gifted socially and interact with people easily. These are all great gifts, but we get over gifts in marriage pretty quickly. If you aren't showing your spouse love, she doesn't care how much money you make. If you don't show him love, he won't care how beautiful you are.

Sometimes, the gifts that drew us to our spouse end up annoying us the most. He was so safe, and it felt great early on, but now his safety seems dull, and you want some excitement. He was spontaneous and funny; it felt great early on, but now you don't want jokes; you want him to change a diaper. Gifts without love are useless. Nobody cares what you're good at if you cannot show genuine love.

If I give away all I have and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)

2. SACRIFICES WITHOUT LOVE IS USELESS

You can make the greatest sacrifices for your family and give everything you have to the poor, but if your donation is given with the wrong motives and without love, it means nothing to God, to your spouse, or to your children.  

Wait... isn't it good to make sacrifices for your family? It depends. If you sacrifice time with your family so that you can work more and make more money, but your wife is upset, and your kids never see you, then it might be a selfish sacrifice. You say it's a sacrifice for love, but often, it can be motivated by selfish gain. Making money and appearing successful could be the true motivation. How do you know? Your spouse will tell you. If they don't feel loved by you and they are asking you to be around more, then you have your answer.  

Sometimes, in marriage, we convince ourselves that we are doing something out of love but don't actually take the time to understand if our actions are really communicating love. We want our spouses to believe that we love them without putting in the work to show them our love.  

Love is PATIENT and KIND (V4)

When you are impatient, you prioritize your needs, thinking of your schedule first. We all need to pray for patience. Kindness is the opposite of being harsh or mean. Your words matter to each other, and if you are unkind to your spouse, hard on them, mean to them, or angry, you're not growing love; you're growing resentment.

I don't know anyone who is naturally a patient person. I like to move fast, I want to get things done, and I have a task list of things that need to be done but need more time to do it. So I don't have time for patience. But I'm called to it. So, I have to tell God I want to be patient. I have to tell my wife to help me become patient because she's going to have to help me; I can't do it alone. Don't miss that...growing in love is a team sport. We can't do it alone. So, I give her permission when I'm in go-mode, and she needs me to slow down, or one of my kids needs me, and my reaction is negative, or I'm unkind, she'll say, "Hey, I love you, and I need you." And that's the phrase to call our attention back to LOVE.

Love does not ENVY OR BOAST (V4)

Love isn't envious or jealous. Instead, it rejoices when good things happen to the other person. 

Not being envious means you want the best for the other person, and when good things happen for them, you are willing to celebrate with them. If you can't celebrate your spouse but get jealous instead, you don't love them. If you harbor envious thoughts toward your spouse, they will come out in snide comments and passive-aggressive comments, giving them the cold shoulder. That's not love, that's anger.

Boasting is the same thing as bragging. People brag about their accomplishments; they talk about their gifts or knowledge about something. So, Paul says love is not arrogant or proud: If you are full of yourself, it will be hard to love someone because you're too busy loving yourself. So, love does not speak much about itself and is not puffed up with its achievements or too concerned about its hurts. Love is other-centered, not self-centered. 

So, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Are my gifts showing my spouse love?
  2. Are my so-called sacrifices communication love?
  3. How can I demonstrate patience and kindness?
  4. How do I celebrate my spouse? Am I downplaying their accomplishments?
  5. How am I demonstrating an "other-centered" lifestyle?
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