No matter how strong I feel my marriage is, every once in awhile I feel the need to read a book on marriage written with a Christian worldview. I feel it helps me reinforce what I’m already doing well as a wife, reminds me of the things that I’ve grown lax on, and makes me realize that there are still things I don’t know or need to improve on. Sometimes these books are ones that my husband and I read together to see how we are doing as a couple, but sometimes I read them by myself to see how I am doing personally. It’s good to take stock sometimes even when things seem to be going well. It can help prepare you for times when trials come along.
To that end, I recently bought a book called 100 Ways To Love Your Husband: the life-long journey of learning to love each other by Lisa Jacobson. I’ll admit it was different than I expected. I had thought it would be a page or two devotional with Scripture and a homework assignment – something like “Tonight make your husband his favorite meal” or “Greet your husband with a kiss”. To my surprise I turned to the first page and read this: #1 Always Choose Love. Above all things. 1 Corinthians 13. (2014, p. 11) That was all. Short, sweet, to the point.
But what does it really mean to choose love? We hear it all the time – love is choice, you have to choose to love your spouse – but what does that look like? To my embarrassment her short first page took me longer than it should have to get. The whole thing boils down to the passage she sites. Did you catch it? (Probably, and probably more quickly than I did.) Here’s a portion of that Scripture.
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 with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
So what does it mean to choose love? It means that when I’ve asked my husband ten times to please take out the trash, and he still hasn’t done it, I have a choice to make. I can get impatient, nag him, gripe at him, take it out myself complaining the entire time – or I can choose love by demonstrating patience. I can choose to take it out myself without complaining, without expecting a thank you, or I could even remind him (lovingly) one more time. When he’s been short tempered with me, I can be unkind in my response – or I can choose love and answer kindly even when it’s hard. I can brag that I was right or I can choose love and be humble. I can be envious of his talents, gifts, job, whatever, or I can be proud and thankful for what God has given him. I can be stubborn or I can be willing to yield. I can hold every little irritating thing he does against him or I can forgive – over and over again if necessary. I can doubt him or I can believe him. I can give up on him or I can work with him. Over and over again every single day we have options and responses. Ways we can choose to show love, or ways where we can fail to love.
To be honest, I want him to choose to love me in these ways every day. It’s not like he doesn’t need patience with me sometimes or to forgive me. His wife isn’t perfect – far from it! So if I want him to love me in this way, shouldn’t I strive to choose to love him every day in this way?
I have to admit that the reason it embarrassed me so much that I didn’t figure out what she meant immediately is because of the amount of time I spent on this very passage when writing Sweetheart Suite. As I wrote it I wanted to show clearly what love really looks like, and that it’s not all physical attraction and emotions, but it’s deeper and purer than that. Christians should embody love in a way that no one else in the world can, because we have a perfect example of what love looks like in Jesus. We should be visibly and radically different in our view of love than the world is, and it should be a love that is better than anything they have ever experienced or witnessed before.
So yes, we choose love with our husbands, but don’t let it stop there. Choose love with everyone. Always.
Jacobson, L. (2014) 100 Ways To Love Your Husband: the life-long journey of learning to love each other Loyal Publishing
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