How Do I Love My Spouse?
Marriage teaches you how to love sinners—especially your spouse. Marriage doesn’t create the problems that arise between you and your spouse but it does reveal the problems as your start to live life together. As these problems arise, you have a choice to love your spouse in the same way that you have experienced love from God through Jesus.
What Should Love In Marriage Be Like?
- The Old Testament describes some characteristics about love within a marriage covenant: (1) Love is being solely committed to your spouse like a seal on your heart or arm. A “seal” was like a personal stamp or object to sign documents. It showed ownership of something and was closely guarded. (2) Love between you and your spouse is to be unending or unyielding, just as strong as death which is without end. (3) Love is being completely devoted to your spouse with extreme intensity and conviction. Marriage zeal (righteous jealousy) is the appropriate desire for what you have a right to (your spouse) just like death (the grave) is relentless (cruel) and doesn’t give up the dead—nor do we give up our love—it binds us together forever. (4) Love between you and your spouse is “all-consuming” like a blazing fire. (5) Love cannot be quenched no matter the difficulty that arises. It is a fire that can’t be extinguished by many waters or drowned in a flood—it is invincible. (6) Love in marriage is priceless—it cannot be bought but only given. If you tried to give everything you owned for your spouse’s love, it would be totally rejected because real love can’t be purchased—it is greater than all material value.
Song of Solomon 8:6-7
- The New Testament describes some characteristics about true love and what it is really like. You can apply these truths to know how to love your spouse with a perfect love—a love that never fails: (1) suffers long—patient and even-tempered during difficult times with your spouse; (2) kind—try to be gentle, considerate and sympathetic with your spouse; (3) envies not—doesn’t become upset over your spouse’s advantages; (4) vaunts not itself (boastful)—you aren’t focused on expressing your self-importance but on your spouse’s; (5) not puffed up (prideful)—doesn’t exaggerate a sense of self at the detriment of your spouse; (6) does not behave itself unseemly (rude)—not being offensive or impolite to your spouse; (7) seeks not its own—doesn’t take advantage of your spouse to fulfill your own desires; (8) not easily provoked—doesn’t get easily upset or irritable at your spouse and doesn’t take everything personally; (9) thinks no evil—doesn’t keep count of all your spouse’s failures or sins and become resentful towards him/her; (10) rejoices not in iniquity—doesn’t feel happy when your spouse does wrong; (11) rejoices in the truth—does feel happy when your spouse does right; (12) bears all things—willing to suffer everything that marriage brings; (13) believes all things—willing to trust your spouse without limits; (14) hopes all things—willing to expect good in your marriage; (15) endures all things—willing to courageously withstand all trials by your spouse’s side.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Principles From Biblical Love
- Loving your spouse means choosing to serve and sacrifice. The ultimate example of love is the love of God greatly expressed towards us through Jesus’ death on the cross. He was willing to sacrifice everything including His life so that we might be saved. Love in marriage should also reflect this type of sacrificial love and be one that is all-giving and is willing to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of his/her spouse. You shouldn’t enter marriage with the expectation to be “ministered to” by your spouse but “to minister” to your spouse.
John 15:12-13; Mark 10:45
- Loving your spouse means choosing to love first. The Bible says that God “first loved us” and because of that, “we love Him.” We didn’t initiate the love but God did—He chose to love us when we didn’t love Him. You are commanded to love others, including your spouse, with this same kind of love. This means that when an issue needs to be resolved in your marriage, you don’t wait for your spouse to initiate the loving process that will restore the relationship, but you will choose to love first and initiate the loving process even if it is your spouse’s fault because you are loving him/her like God loved you.
1 John 4:10-11, 19
- Loving your spouse means choosing to love when he/she doesn’t deserve it. When we were still enemies of God, Jesus died for us, therefore your love towards your spouse isn’t based on the current conditions (whether good or bad) of your marriage, but you love regardless of the situation—even when it is not merited or not reciprocated.
Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense
- There are five practical ways to express love to your spouse: words, actions, time, gifts, touch. Each of these are important to express love to your spouse, but there may also be one or more that is prominent to your spouse—meaning they feel more loved when you express a certain one. Therefore, study your spouse and discover what expression makes them feel loved the most and start showing love in that way.
- Loving your spouse means choosing to love the person but hate his/her sin. How do love your spouse but hate his/her sin? The Bible says that you are to love others like you love yourself and in this simple command we have the answer to our question. You struggle with sin, you hate it when you do sin, sometimes you don’t understand why you have a hard time with sin, but even though you greatly dislike your sin, you sill love yourself. When you sin you don’t hate yourself, but you hate the wrong thing you did—the sin. You hate the sin because you love yourself and know it isn’t right. If you didn’t love yourself then you wouldn’t care what you did. Therefore, to love your spouse but hate his/her sin is to learn from your own example and love him/her like you love yourself.
Matthew 22:39; Ephesians 5:33
- Love is not reduced to feelings (like so many movies, books, songs and other worldly media present it), but love is an action. This means that you can choose to love your spouse even when all the feelings of being “in-love” have disappeared. It is a decision that you have to make each and every day even if the natural feelings aren’t there.
- Your spouse will change and your love should grow with those changes. You probably loved who your spouse was when you got married, but your spouse will drastically change over time and will no longer be that person. Each person is being molded into something new (emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, financially, physically) by life’s experiences and you are choosing to love not only who they are today but who they will become.
- How does the Old Testament describe love?
- How does the New Testament describe love?
- What are three principles from biblical love?
- What are five practical ways to express love to your spouse?
- How do you love your spouse but hate their sin?