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Love is a Daily Choice
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Nowhere in Paul’s infamous description of love does he describe it as an emotion or a feeling.
Love is active. It’s an intention. It doesn’t have to be hard but love does take effort.
Focus on giving love and not receiving it
Think about your marriage vows. Did you write your own or did you use the traditional vows “I, ___, take you, ___, for my lawfully wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”?
Marriage vows are all about giving yourself and your love to your spouse.
My husband and I wrote our own vows and we didn’t hear each other’s until our wedding ceremony. Amazingly, I held it together and was able to read mine without turning into a makeup-stained, tearful mess.
While I don’t remember word-for-word what we vowed to each other. I do know our focus was about choosing to love each other no matter the circumstance.
Your marriage is going to come into struggles if you both are trying to receive love more often than give it.
Make the choice to be the best spouse everyday
I absolutely believe I won the husband lottery. He is my best friend and my everything. He’s my growing-old partner. I thank God everyday for blessing me with my husband.
Now that doesn’t mean he’s without faults. None of us are! But I make a concerted effort to focus on his positive qualities and the ways he betters my life.
Because I feel my husband is a blessing, I make the choice to try to be the best spouse I can be for him everyday. I make sure I tell him I love him and how much I appreciate and respect him. (He’s a homeschool daddy for Pete’s sake, he deserves a standing ovation!)
I try to do little things everyday that makes his day easier or brings a smile to his face. These aren’t big things either.
For example, we have fallen into a bit of an unspoken agreement that whoever wakes up last makes the bed. But I always get up first. So every once in a while when I hear my husband wake up and head to the bathroom I’ll make a beeline for the bedroom and make the bed before he does. Not a big deal, right? But he appreciates it.
I also will make sure I add meals to the weekly menu that I know he really enjoys even if they are a bit more time consuming or aren’t my favorites.
My husband also loves Tabasco. He’s puts in on a lot of food. So I carry a bottle of Tabasco in my purse. Not because he asked me to but because it’s a small gesture to let him know who much I love him and want to be there for him. Even if it’s as small as making sure he’s never without his hot sauce!
Keep in mind that choosing to love your spouse the way God desires you to is actually a way to glorify Him as well!
Know how your spouse wants to be loved
In choosing to love your spouse it’s also important that you know how your spouse wants to be loved. Gary Chapman wrote the book The Five Love Languages which describes the five different ways a person desires to be loved. They are gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch. Everyone has one or two ways they prefer to receive love.
What I see often as a Christian mental health therapist is my clients showing their spouse love in the way they wish they were receiving love and not in the ways their spouse prefers. For example, many guys are high in areas of physical touch and acts of service. Whereas women tend to be higher in areas of quality time and words of affirmation. If both spouses are trying to show love in their own preferred manners, their spouse is going to feel neglected.
I have had many clients admit they don’t know how their spouse would prefer to be loved. My answer is – ask them!
Don’t argue to win
This point is so important! When you are trying to win an argument that means you’re trying to have your spouse lose. You then stop focusing on loving your spouse and remaining connected to him/her and only focusing on how to make your point or get your way. You are choosing winning over love.
How is that beneficial? Is winning really more important than loving your spouse and the sake of your marriage?
I’m not saying be a doormat or a pushover. But focus on having a conversation and even a disagreement without becoming hurtful, belittling, patronizing, or critical of your spouse. This can have detrimental effects on a marriage. Unfortunately, I have seen this far to many times with my clients.
Years from now you many not remember what the argument was about but if your spouse was harsh you’ll remember the emotions you experienced. You do not want to be the one who evokes those type of emotions in your spouse.
Don’t expect your spouse to heal you
Again, I believe my husband is truly a gift from God. And he has helped me endure difficult times in my life and always been by my side.
But he cannot heal me. He can’t fulfill my every need. My husband is not capable of reading my mind and knowing my every desire. And it would be incredibly unfair of me to expect him to be able to. Not to mention I would be dreadfully disappointed. Your spouse was not created to mend you and fill your voids.
No person on this earth is able to know all of your past hurts and pains and what you need to be filled. Because we are human, our love has limits too. Please don’t hold it against your spouse because they are human and broken just like you. We are called to choose love even when our spouse disappoints us and doesn’t know what we need.
Only our Heavenly Father has the ability to heal you!
I sincerely pray this post meets you where you are today. If you are feeling frustrated in your marriage and feel like you have lost love, make the intention to choose to love your spouse.
For other posts on marriage check out Why 50/50 Marriages Don’t Work, When You Put Your Marriage First the Whole Family Wins, and The Importance of Adventure as a Married Couple.