I wasn’t raised in a beautifully ideal home. Growing up I received many conflicting images of marital “love”, and I left home with a firm cynical belief that no marriage could possibly be happy and loving in the true sense of the words. I was highly suspicious of couples who seemed content and happy. I thought that they must have created a brilliant facade and that some day I’d see the truth of their misery come out.
One particular couple who had a huge impact on my life during my late teens & early twenties baffled me. I spent a lot of time in their home, and from all appearances they were blissfully happy with each other. They had the occasional disagreement, but even worked those out using *gasp* calm discussion. Every time I was around them together, I watched them in awe. I questioned them directly once, digging for hidden conflict and disdain, and they claimed that what I saw was pretty near reality. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it.
Deep down, I longed for that sort of relationship some day. I prayed that if such a thing was possible then God would mercifully show me in my own life.
Then I met the man who is now my husband — and God blew my mind.
Sometimes I still have trouble believing it’s possible, but living out an imperfect yet biblical and joy-filled marriage is very much a reality. One I now experience daily.
Earlier this week my husband sent me a super sweet email, and attached was a post by R.W. Glenn which listed 22 Descriptions of Marital Love. The list is an excerpt from Paul Tripp’s book What Did You Expect?
Now, my husband sent the list to me as a way of lovingly telling me that he falls short and will strive to grow in these areas — yet it sent me to my knees in recognition that I have a long way to go myself. Here is a sampling of Tripp’s twenty-two descriptions of marital love:
1. Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.
2. Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
3. Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
9. Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
10. Love means being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the problems that you face as a couple, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
15. Love is being unwilling to ask your spouse to be the source of your identity, meaning and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of his or hers.
16. Love is the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a husband or wife.
You can read the whole list at the Solid Food Media blog here: http://solidfoodmedia.com/blog/22_descriptions_of_marital_love
We just ordered two copies of the book for us to work through together, since it’s been quite a while since we’ve done a marriage-focused book together. I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂
May each of us, by the power and grace of Christ, love our spouses more and better today.