worksheet at bottom of article
There are two ways we can love our spouse. We can love under our own understanding of what we think love is, or we can love the way God has directed us to love. I think we all know how to love, but doing it is a whole different matter.
What is the difference between the two? The first way of loving is a condition and learned way to love, which is selfish and self-seeking. We don’t know we are behaving selfishly because we do not know any other way to love. It is a slow conditioning process where we learn to love for our own purpose. But marriage is designed for God’s purpose. God wants you to be happy in your marriage and the best way for you to be happy is by loving in the way God has directed us to love.
The second way of loving is what comes naturally because we have loved and accepted God into our lives first. The reason it’s so natural is because we have recognized and utilized the spiritual Christ in our lives, which makes loving a natural process of who we are.
It is very difficult to love another if we are only thinking about ourselves. Some examples of how we love our spouse selfishly are
, committing adultery, being disrespectful, using controlling behavior, using negative feelings, becoming resentful, becoming ensnared in an addiction, and the list goes on.
False teachings on marriage and loose morals in society have caused many couples to become bitter and apprehensive when loving one another. Society has lost the value of what real love is and it has tainted couples into sinful behavior. As we all know sin dampens our love for God by turning our focus on ourselves. You cannot truly love your spouse if you only think of yourself.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain, or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25-28
1.) A Husband should be willing to sacrifice everything for his wife just as Jesus Christ sacrificed everything for us. Do you think a husband who loves God will be able to make his wife the most important aspect of his life?
2.) A Husband should make his wife’s well-being of prime importance. Do you think that if a man accepts Christ into his life he will know how to love, protect, provide and care for his wife properly? God will give him the answers he needs.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24
As you can see from scripture, both husband and wife are called to submit. For the wife, this means willingly following her husband’s leadership in Christ. For the husband, it means putting aside his own interests in order to care of his wife properly. This means doing whatever it takes to protect, provide, love, and care for his wife under the “spiritual authority” given to him by God.
If a husband does not accept the “spiritual authority” of God, then he has no justification to think that his wife submit to him the way God intends for a woman to submit to her husband. Obviously they are not basing their love on the foundations of Jesus Christ, but on their own understanding of what they think love is, and this scripture, therefore, does not apply to them.
Here is what couples usually tell me when they are going through difficulties in their marriage. They want to do what is right for their marriage. They are willing to work at the marriage but don’t know what to do about their problems. Their negative feelings bring them down, and they are usually upset and furious over the iniquities and faults of one another.
The problem is couples are basing their marriage upon worldly views, attitudes, and thoughts, and the fact is, as long as they continue to do so, they will continue to have difficulties loving their spouse properly. When we are not motivated by love, (God’s love for us) we become critical of our spouse. We stop looking for the good things in those we love and only see their faults. We must put God at the forefront of our marriage and then base our actions on God’s principles.
We can all talk about how to love and we know what the bible says about loving our spouse, but what about doing what it says! Bottom line is real love takes effort, and if the willingness is not there to work on marriage and to love our spouse with the love that comes natural, couples will have problems.
The good news is you can love your spouse naturally and wholly by recognizing and utilizing the foundations of God’s design into your relationship and working off of that for your marriage.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
1. What are the two ways you can love your spouse? How are you loving your spouse now?
2. Name two ways in which wives are to love their husbands according to God.
3. Name two ways in which husbands are to love their wives according to God.
4. How many times a day do you put conditions on your love to your spouse?
5. How can couples learn to love one another without putting conditions on that love?