Christians are called to love their neighbors (Mark 12:31). Of course, that also applies to your spouse (Col 3:19; Titus 2:4). Did you realize your wife or husband is your closest neighbor? But loving your neighbor is a broad command—it tells you to do good without telling you what good you should do. So how do you know how to love your spouse?
The Bible gives you some guidance, but you have the freedom and the obligation to figure out the details for yourself. That means you have to experiment, reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and then experiment some more. In other words, you have to put your theology into practice and engage in some theological reflection.
In that spirit, I asked some friends to name the principles they’ve discovered behind a successful marriage. Here’s a sampling:
- “Open communication, especially when you feel like the other person ‘should know,’ so you don't want to tell them.”
- “Humility and compromise.”
- “Understanding that the person you are married to is someone that God loves more than you love them.”
- “Understanding that when I stand at the Bema, I have to be accountable for how I responded in my marriage.”
- “Love is a commitment, not a feeling. Feelings change and can cause one to quit. Commitment is always a pledge to the future.”
- “The 95/5 rule. That's where you celebrate the 95% you love about the other person and don't trip about the challenging 5%.”
- “Remember that you're a team—a partner in life.”
- “Never give up!”
- “The key is picking the right person from the outset, someone with the right moral compass, shared values, and a shared view of the world.”
- “Stay. Love is a decision, not a feeling.”
- “A weekly date night”
- “Friendship. Slow to start, followed by deeper and lasting feelings.”
- “Genuine respect but freedom to disagree.”
- “Willingness to learn and to change.”
- “Shared interests, activities, pastimes, and passions.”
- “Resolving issues one-at-a-time, such that they never (ever) show up again.”
- “The Lord Jesus right in the middle.”
Strong marriages are the foundation of strong families which are the backbone of strong Free Grace churches.
Spiritual question for the day: Do you think about how best to love your spouse? Have you tried talking to your spouse about which acts of love work and which don’t? Are you willing to listen and learn about how to love them better?