“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
Ahhh, 1 Corinthians 13! The eternal wedding passage. I’m pretty sure that this passage was read at our wedding twenty-five years ago. And I’ve heard the passage read at countless weddings since then. The reaction is always the same. Heads nod. People say “amen” in assent. Everyone listens with hopeful expectation that the blissful couple will enjoy the truth of these verses.
Although Paul wasn’t speaking of marriage specifically in 1 Corinthians (he was actually speaking to and talking about the local church), the principle espoused changes the way think and act as married people. However, the principle can only change the way we think and act if we take the time to keep it in front of us. Love is selfless. Love is always other-focused.
“Love is selfless. Love is always other-focused.”
We Were Ready for the Wedding Day, Weren’t Ready for Day 9
My wife and I were well-prepared for our wedding day in October 1991. What we weren’t well-prepared for in 1991 was Day 9 of our marriage. Day 9 was the day we got off the plane from our honeymoon and drove home to begin our life together. We’d thought through all of the details of the wedding, and looked with anticipation toward the day. We’d planned for the honeymoon of a lifetime, and still today talk about the time we had as newlyweds. But Day 9 was the beginning of the rest of our lives together.
Romantic Love Isn’t Enough
We knew lots about romantic love. Like most everyone else we’d spent a lifetime viewing on television and in movies. We’d sung along with our favorite artists as they sang about it on the radio. But we weren’t prepared for what happens when the honeymoon is over and romantic love isn’t enough. This is the point in marriages that can harm many couples. The waxing and waning nature of romantic love, if we don’t understand that there is a greater love, can lead couples to believe that they’ve “fallen out of love” with each other.
Love, for these couples, is a feeling that can be lost when it loses the initial luster. Like the two year-old iPhone, it is time for an upgrade. Romantic love isn’t nearly enough to sustain a marriage.
I love my wife. There is nothing that she could ever do to change or diminish that love. My love for her moves me to do whatever needs to happen in order for her to be whole, safe, and provided for. Sound familiar. My wife has demonstrated the same kind of love for me. We didn’t start off with this kind of love toward each other. We didn’t know any better. We thought that our strong romantic love would be enough.
Maturing is What Moves Us From a Love Based Solely on Romance
The shift from a marriage based on romantic love to one based on a selfless love wasn’t self-determined. If left to our own, we’d always choose the love that fulfilled our personal needs rather than the one that thought of others first. We must first choose God. Allowing Him to love us. When we allow God to love us, we actually come to know what love is…what love looks like. It is then, with this experience solidly in our hearts, that we can love others in this way.
Here’s the hope we have (this hope is based upon the hope we’ve discovered in our own marriage). No matter where you find yourself in your marriage right now, there is hope that it can be better. Love never ends. But it has to be the right kind of love. Commit today, right now, to let God love you personally. Commit to experience a different kind of love, a love without bounds or pretense. Then, with the experience of a never-ending, unfailing love in your life begin to share the same with others.
Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to dialogue with you. If you find this post helpful or encouraging, consider sharing the link using one of the share buttons. If you’ve missed one of the other posts in the series, the links are below.