Wait! What? Don’t you mean deepen your love for your spouse? No. I actually mean we need to deepen our love for our marriage.
As I (Steve) was praying about this, God showed me that there is a huge disconnect between the people of God, and God, on this matter. How often do you ever hear your Christian friends say they love their marriage? If asked, their response would probably be, “of course, I love my spouse.” That would have been my typical response in the past. But I’ve come to realize that it includes more than my love for my spouse.
The more I’ve been thinking about this, my love goes way beyond just for Cindy. I also love our marriage of almost 49 years. Do you want to know how I got there and why you should too?
Deepen Your Love for Your Marriage
The first reason is because God loves marriage. After all, He created it! It clearly states in Genesis 2 that God made the woman and brought her to Adam, so they would “be united” to become “one flesh.” Different versions of the Bible use the terms, “cleave to” … “hold fast to” … “cling to” and “joined to.” This appears to go much deeper than the sexual relationship. It is a uniting of bodies, for sure. But it is also a uniting of hearts, and purpose.
We also know that Jesus loves marriage. He chose to perform His first miracle at a wedding feast. Marriage is mentioned 19 times in the Bible. In my mind, any time God mentions something 19 times I need to pay attention to the deeper meaning. But what is the deeper meaning?
Deepen Your Love as God Does
The Bible doesn’t command me to “love my marriage.” But it does command me to “love my wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) As I meditated on that verse I realized all the more that Jesus was married to the church. And He loved His marriage to her so much He sacrificed His life for her (for us). Would we do the same?
Now I had to ask, what does that look like for me? I’d made up my mind many years ago that I would be willing to sacrifice my life for Cindy. (I would even throw myself in front of a speeding car and push her to safety.) But in a more everyday sense what would that look like? Here’s what I believe God is showing me in how to love my marriage. If I am going to really deepen my love for my marriage, I need to demonstrate to Cindy every day, just like Christ demonstrates His love to us every day. Below are some attributes of a man/woman who wants to deepen their love for their marriage. These are things Cindy and I have learned over the years that have worked for us.
• SERVING LOVE.
Jesus demonstrated this type of serving love throughout His years on earth. (See: Matthew 20:28.) When I first married Cindy serving her was nowhere in my thoughts. I was a taker, not a giver. After coming to Christ, it took a number of years before I learned and understood that serving Cindy is one of my main missions as her husband. And I’m still learning. Serving is an action word—not passive. I think one of the best things I saw about serving love is:
Marriage is about serving your spouse and giving of yourself even when you don’t feel like you have much left to give. It’s a matter of giving love to your spouse “as unto the Lord.” What would you do for the Lord? In what you do to show your love (as “unto the Lord”) for your spouse:
“Remember what love does: Love gently wipes vomit from a loved one’s face. Love trusts God always and looks for goodness over and over in a person you don’t recognize, remembering the person you love. Love educates itself about what your loved one is going through.” (Melody Hanson)
I’ve come to realize that one of the noblest tasks a husband or a wife can do is to serve God…and each other. As I said, serving is an action word. I have determined that I am going to do acts of service every day because God So Loves Our Marriage, and I do, too.
And then there is:
• SACRIFICIAL LOVE.
The Bible word for this kind of love is AGAPE. We all know the greatest example of this kind of love comes from our Savior. Husbands, we are not to take Ephesians 5:25 lightly. He tells husband to “Love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…”) God commands this of us. Now, most of us will never be called upon to physically lay down our life for our wife. But most likely He will call on us to do something we don’t really want to do.
Someone once said, “The best time to show true love is when it isn’t easy and requires personal sacrifice.”
A small personal example:
For a long time, Cindy had disliked the fact that the headlights on her 2006 car were permanently fogged over and “ugly.” To me it was no big deal. But because it was a big deal to Cindy, I made it a big deal for me. I didn’t tell her ahead of time, but I tracked down where I could buy the headlights for a reasonable price. I then picked them up and arranged for a shop to install them—which took about three hours. But when she saw them, she was ecstatic. This meant more to her than if I had bought her a diamond necklace. (She even told me that. And knowing Cindy like I do—I have no doubt about that.)
I sacrificed a fair amount of my time and money because I loved my wife. As a result, it has deepened our marriage (along with many other “sacrifices”). Blogger Michael White sums it up pretty well when he wrote:
“Sacrificial, unconditional, agape love doesn’t keep score. It doesn’t matter how your spouse responds; if you want to love like Jesus loves, you have to put yourself aside. In a sermon entitled ‘What is Christian Marriage,’ Coty Pinckney said, ‘Agape is a love that gives. It’s a love that does not demand or hold onto rights but has the good of the other at heart. This is the love we need to work on in our marriage in order for our spouse to feel like he or she is married to Jesus.’”
True, many could say the car lights wasn’t that big of a deal. But the secret to living out sacrificial love is to know what your spouse really wants and needs. And then do it, if it’s at all possible.
• FAITHFUL LOVE
On this matter consider these attributes: The definition of faithful is someone who is loyal and reliable. It’s “adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person; being loyal, reliable, and worthy of trust.” This is especially true for us as Christ followers.
I wish I could say that every day of our 49-year marriage I had Faithful Love for Cindy. As I’ve mentioned before I had a sexual/porn addiction when I came into our marriage. But I am blessed because God has worked and is working deeply within me deliver me from this addiction. I’ve been clean for many years; I have no desire for any other woman than Cindy. And I KNOW she has no desire for any other man than me.
As with all of the attributes to deepen your love for your marriage, they require intentionality. I’m sure we all wish a Deep Love filled marriage would just “happen.” But that’s not the way God designed it. If you are struggling with sexual purity/faithfulness, we have many articles and links to resources and tools on this web site that can help you, as you apply them. Look around.
I can’t overemphasize how important this aspect is. I want Cindy to trust me. In order for that to happen I have to be trustworthy. I love what Psalm 85:10 says: “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” This is what Cindy and my marriage has grown into. And we really love to kiss each other; biblically, of course. ☺
• UNDERSTANDING LOVE
Most of us are familiar with 1 Peter 3:7 that says, “In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers.” In reality this applies to both husbands and wives. But in a more practical sense what does that look like? I found this example from Becky Mansfield that enumerates it well.
“My husband and I have been married for over 27 years. Without ‘understanding’ we would not have the commitment we have with each other. My husband and I are two very different people.
“We came into our marriage knowing how important this union was by living with the example set by our parents. Both sets of parents were strong-willed, intelligent, hard-working and loving couples. They succeeded, as I feel we have, by ‘understanding’ each other’s differences. They not only understood those differences, but they embraced them. And they grew in their love for each other because of them.
“We are all unique individuals with different views, beliefs, interests and needs. You need to understand those needs in your spouse… Understanding is not about YOUR needs, but the other person’s needs and desires. Understanding is when you care about how someone else needs to be loved—not just how you need to be loved.” (From: “Your Modern Family”)
• CARING LOVE
Here’s a definition of Caring Love:
“It is to look after someone; to want to ensure that person’s safety. If you care for someone, you are taking care of him or her. This means that you want to ensure his or her well-being.”
Because I’m a diabetic, heart attack, and cancer survivor I’ve seen caring love in action. I could never give an accurate number of how many times Cindy has demonstrated this kind of love toward me. It’s got to be thousands upon thousands. I believe her picture should be in the dictionary next to the definition of “caring love.”
This aspect of Deepening Your Love for Your Marriage is most often borne out when one of the spouses has a chronic health condition. There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be here today without Cindy’s caring love.
Caring love is one of the most difficult to live out. It is one thing to show caring love for someone for a few months; but year after year, decade after decade is a whole different matter.
If you want another example of this, pick up Robertson McQuilken’s book, A Promise Kept. After his wife, Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Robertson left his position as president of Columbia Bible College in 1990. He spent the next 13 years of his life caring for his wife until her death in 2003.
Caring Love Lived Out
It occurred to me that if I/we really care for our spouses and our marriage there are ways we can live it out. I like what Dr. Fred Lowry wrote in a Covenant Marriage article some time ago. He listed what he called covenant promises he was committed to that demonstrate how much he cared for his marriage.
Here are a few of them:
“I promise that I will always love you. I promise that, after God, you will always be my first priority. Additionally, I promise that I am forever committed to this relationship and will always work on this marriage. I promise that I will always be faithful to you. And I promise that I will always be there for you.”
He then said:
“These promises need to be renewed on a consistent basis. Like hugs, genuine covenant promises are hard to overdo!”
Isn’t that the key to Deepening Your Love for Your Marriage? I really wish I could say that we (especially me) live out these 5 principles flawlessly every day in Serving Love, Sacrificial Love, Faithful Love, Understanding Love, and Caring Love. But we don’t. And even though we don’t do them flawlessly we do endeavor to live them out daily.
Will you join us to continually strive to implement them in your marriage? Our prayer is that you will work to grasp and implement these principles so that you deepen your love for your spouse and for your marriage. And in doing so, may you reveal and reflect the heart of Christ in your marriage so others will see Christ in all you do!
Steve & Cindy Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
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