Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…Corinthians 13:4-8
I am sure most of you have heard this Bible verse, in fact, you probably had it read at your own wedding. While listening to these words recently, I thought that perhaps this is why so many of us are divorced--we heard the words but didn’t listen. We smiled, shed a tear, nodded in agreement, but we didn’t live by them. Even if you aren’t religious, the words themselves make sense. It’s about putting someone else before you. It’s about sacrifice. I know this is a foreign concept to many of us, especially today, but I think it’s worth taking a closer look. Because, if we are being honest, much of what this passage says, often stopped either just before or right after the wedding.
1. Love is patient. Sure, love is patient while we “are in love”. When we are in pleasing mode and when we think and believe that the person we love is just right for us. We can be patient when watching our guy play four hours of videos without a word to us, even if we don’t get it and think it’s a waste of time. Or when your lady love can shop for six straight hours without taking a break. If we can be patient with this behavior before marriage, then why does it become a problem after marriage? Because we never really accepted it, we only pretended to.
2. Love is kind. It’s odd, but it seems as though something happens to many of us after marriage: we forget how to be kind. According to the husband and wife team of John and Julie Gottman, psychologists of The Gottman Institute: Kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in marriage. It makes each spouse feel loved, validated, understood and important. Were you kind in your marriage? Did you give your spouse the attention they deserved?
3. It does not envy. A good, solid marriage is based on “one for all and all for one”, meaning we always each have each other’s backs. When envy of any kind is in the picture, instead of being there for your spouse, you are against them. If you envy they’re more successful than you, your friends like him or her more, your children go to them first, and so on, than instead of rooting for them, you’re holding them back.
4. It does not boast, Of course we all toot our own horn on occasion, this is to be expected as we move up the ladder or had something wonderful happen. The boasting being referred to here, is when one of the spouses is more concerned with themselves and too occupied with their own accomplishments, that they do not notice their spouse’s successes and prefer to participate in one-upping. If you are married to a narcissist, this would be one of many, of your issues. True love is when love turns the perspective outward.
5. Love is not proud. I would think this has many meanings, one of which is similar to boasting. However, I believe that it has more to do with being humble. When we are in a marriage, or any relationship, we have to be open to forgiveness and able to admit when we are wrong. Many marriages fail because one or both are too proud to admit they have faults. There is nothing more frustrating than being the spouse who is “always at fault”. We all know, no one is always at fault.
6. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. Put simply—rude and self-seeking attitudes and behaviors have nothing to do with love! With a tone, nasty comment, or shaming our spouse, we dishonor them. When we only care about “What have you done for me lately?” we are stuck in self-seeking attitudes, which does not mesh with longevity of a marriage.
7. Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Wow! How many of us have lived this? Naturally, everyone gets angry, but in past marriage, anger was a constant presence. It should not be that way! In most dissolved marriages, anger was front and center. And, the participants were gatekeepers, tallying their spouses’ wrongs, while justifying their own wrongs.
8. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. I suppose evil can be many things and it means different things to each of us. Evil can simply be the absence of truth, or manipulation, infidelity, or a whole host of wrongdoings, But I think the focus here is about truth. Truth enables us to be truly known and when we are truly known, we feel loved and accepted for who we are.
9. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. This brings to mind when women are out with their friends and they partake in trashing their husbands. How does this protect them, build trust or hope? Or, when men are out with their buddies and they flirt with other women. How does this ensure the marriage will persevere? It doesn’t! If the marriage loses trust and hope for the future, it will surely end.
10. Love never fails. If love never fails, why is the divorce rate so high? After divorce, most divorced people feel as though their spouse failed them, or they failed each other. The truth is, none of us is perfect. Which means we can and do fail each other at times. And, failing each other at times can be okay and not be the end of a marriage, unless of course we are not adhering to the other qualities that show and honor our love. If we are not, then how can we expect love to last?
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