Married people are so guilty of it. Life gets crammed with daily responsibilities and before we know it, we’ve fallen away from intentionally loving our spouse well. Hidden in 1 Corinthians 13 we find fourteen vital ways to infuse our marriages with a love that will stand the test of time.
14 Principles that will help you Love Your Spouse Well
1. Love is patient. Being understanding toward your spouse means sometimes you’ll need to lay down your desires for theirs. Ephesians 4:2 gives the reminder “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” This phrase “bearing with” means to hold on, wait, or tarry alongside of. Bear with your spouse, be understanding in how they see and do life. Help them along graciously.
2. Love is kind. “Be kind and compassionate to one another”, Ephesians 4:32 says. Be sensitive to each others needs. Show mercy and generosity. There is no law against goodness, so be good to your spouse’s heart. Be kinder than necessary in all things.
3. Love does not envy. Envying your spouse is when you begrudge each other their role. This leaves fertile ground for bitterness and contention to grow. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30 Bring life and peace to the body of your marriage by being thankful for your spouse’s efforts, noticeable or unnoticeable. Realize that while you may not understand exactly what their day held, they still deserve appreciation and recognition for making it through alive and sane. 🙂
4. Love does not boast. Bragging about how great you are or slighting your spouse’s efforts and role is a fine way to make them feel unappreciated. Don’t do it.
5. Love is not proud. Being proud and puffed up is a disgrace. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace”. Think of the last time you stood beside someone who oozed pride and arrogance. Most likely their presence made you feel belittled. Possibly a bit suffocated. Don’t suffocate your spouse by projecting a conceit, disdain or other haughty attitudes and behaviors.
6. Love is not rude. Rudeness is never acceptable behavior. Being abrupt, sharp, ill-mannered or disrespectful in any way is never helpful in a relationship. There is a verse for husbands that says, “Love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” (Colossians 3:19) This should be a mutual principle in the marriage.
7. Love is not self-seeking. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 Self-seeking people are the ones who manipulate, connive, are tricky in their conversations and dealings and are only interested in anything that promotes themselves. A narcissist. Don’t manipulate your spouse or play their hearts to get what you want. Be sincere, genuine, honest and concerned about their greater good.
8. Love is not easily angered. Being short tempered or displaying unpredictable, uncontrolled outbursts of anger makes your spouse fear you. It may not look like they are afraid of you, and they might not even recognize it as fear. But if your spouse feels like they are “walking on eggshells” around you, they have an unhealthy concern around you that makes them shy away.
9. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Pocketing your spouse’s offenses and pulling them out to use against them later is a dangerous habit. It erodes and disintegrates trust in your marriage. Reminding your spouse how awful they are sets up an expectation for perfection, and since your spouse is human…well that’s what they are going to act like. Human. And none of the humans I’ve met are perfect. Let your spouse know that it is safe to have flaws by not using theirs against them.
Lesson 4 of this Bible study for wives share how forgiveness freed up my need to remind my husband of his humanity. 🙂
10. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Sometimes we are tempted to hide things from our spouse. No matter how small, purposely withholding something from our spouse will invite suspicion and doubt. Being dishonest or deceptive in any way, is sure to drive a wedge of distrust deep into the heart of your spouse, so be truthful and transparent. “An honest witness does not deceive”. Proverbs 14:5
11. Love always protects. Protecting your spouse isn’t only done in the physical sense. Shielding them from the plans of the enemy is vital to their mental and spiritual well-being. A few ways to protect your spouse are:
(a) Build them up with encouraging words (Ephesians 4:29)
(b) Do not withhold your body (Lesson 2 of this Bible study for wives explores biblical concepts of your sexuality with grace and gentleness.)
(c) Pray and fast for your spouse and marriage. (You are invited to join this 40-day Fasting & Prayer challenge for Wives)
12. Love always trusts. If your spouse has proven dishonest or untrustworthy in the past this one can be very hard. Remember that they too, are a human in need of grace and forgiveness. Rather than trusting your fulfillment solely to your spouse, place your trust in the God who does not disappoint. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:4-5) because He is the one “who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17) or fallen humans.
13. Love always hopes. Hope is grounds for believing something good will happen. If you’re marriage is in a difficult season, hold on the promise that the Lord sees your situation and He plans to make good come of it. Remember Jeremiah 29:11 and Isaiah 55:8-9. The Lord knows what He is doing. Fiercely hold on to the hope of a brighter tomorrow, and pray expectantly for the healing of your hearts, minds and marriage.
14. Love always perseveres. Don’t give up hope. Don’t give up on your spouse. Don’t give up on your faith. Press on in this goal of loving your spouse well. Keep practicing and perfecting a love that is true and sincere. For when we do, we are told in 1 Corinthians 13:8,
“Love never fails.”
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