Can you remember back to your dating days when loving your boyfriend seemed effortless? Choosing to love daily didn’t even feel like a choice. It was a no brainer…something that just magically happened and completely took us over.
Being “in love” was a full body experience; all the senses are heightened and fully engaged. Loving and being loved felt A-MAZING. Being with one another made everything else in the world just fall into perfect place. You couldn’t get enough of him. When you were together, you didn’t want to be apart. When you were apart, your heart longed to be with him. Right?
Those early relationship days had us floating through life, feet hovering just above the ground, head stuck in the clouds, heart in Cupid’s hands. We were carefree…crazy in love…wrapped tightly in warm fuzzies and overcome with childlike giddiness.
We’re Going to the Chapel
Then, the wedding bells rang. We vowed before God to love, honor and cherish one another through sickness and in health, until death do us apart. We glided into the carefree “honeymooning” phase that followed with the same excitement and ease that we shared during our dating and engagement days.
Loving our spouses soon after becoming “Mr. & Mrs.” didn’t feel like a whole lot of work, did it? Married life was fresh and excitingly new. For many honeymooners, those early days of marriage are such a blur; reality skewed by sizzling passion, red hot fiery love and an insatiable desire for one another.
Being married felt good.
What Happens When the “Honeymoon is Over”
Getting married proved to be easy. But what happens when the fire begins to smolder, the newness fades into the sunset, the warm fuzzies become cold inconveniences and what was once fresh, is now uncomfortably stale?
We begin experiencing real life as a married couple. We step into a newer, less attractive reality with grown up responsibilities…work, finances, challenging seasons, maybe even children. Marriage no longer feels glamorous.
Over time, what used to feel good and come easily, no longer feels cozy or effortless. Some days loving our spouses can feel more like a chore than an honor.
The honeymoon is officially over. We find ourselves with new feelings of deep disappointment. Expectations are unmet, and we are left feeling mystified with this new reality. We become restless and easily annoyed. Frustrated and frazzled. Disconnected and distracted.
Overtime, we slowly begin to just go through the motions of life and in our marriage. We cruise on auto-pilot and peacefully (or not) we try to co-exist because sometimes, it’s just easier.
True, biblical love, the kind God intended for our marriages is NOT a feeling. Our feelings cannot be trusted.
Unconditional love is a posture, an attitude and a CHOICE.
A choice that must be intentionally made over and over again, each and every day with the constant help of and through the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Choosing to love our spouse daily like Jesus chose to love us is not an easy feat and one that cannot just magically happen without our dedication, commitment, consistency and proactive intention.
In John 15:16, Jesus said to his disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you”(NIV).
We Are Sinners
We are all sinners…no escaping this painful truth. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but you and your spouse are on equal playing fields in the eyes of the Lord. None of us are worthy or deserving of Christ’s unconditional love for us. However, the REALLY GOOD NEWS is that Jesus made the decision to choose us anyway. He loves us with his eyes wide open, not overlooking our brokenness and imperfections but embracing them and loving us in spite of them.
Let’s get real for a minute…Jesus has every right to turn his back on us! We are a constant let down left to our own sinful nature. I personally probably give him a handful of reasons to not even like me, much less LOVE ME, before my feet even hit the ground running in the morning. But, his AMAZING GRACE covers me completely and his mercy surrounds me unconditionally.
How different would our marriages be if we continually chose to love our spouses like Jesus chooses to love us?
Our marriages are made up of a million little moments. Each moment shared presents us with an opportunity to choose love, respect, honor and forgiveness. But how many times do we choose shame, blame, impatience, harshness, sarcasm, bitterness or apathy instead?
What would our eternity look like if Jesus chose to see us and love us the way we often do our spouses? (That is a frightening thought, right?!)
Anyone can put a ring on it and get married. However, building a Christ- centered, God honoring marriage, requires a moment by moment, life- long commitment to the Lord and to our spouse. Relationships are not built overnight on a single moment. Bonds are built (and broken) over time.
Seven Ways to Choose to Love Your Spouse Daily
1. “We love because he first loved us” ( 1 John 4:19, NIV).
We choose to love our spouse daily in the big and small moments not because we feel like it or because they deserve it but because Christ first loved us and that includes our spouse too.
2. We must choose to see our spouse as Christ sees them.
It is easy to allow our circumstances or our spouse’s words, actions or reactions to influence our feelings. But we must hold TRUTH above our feelings and intentionally choose to use a Christ inspired filter to view our spouse instead of our misguided thoughts and feelings. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession…”(1 Peter 2:4, NIV). Our spouses are worthy of our love not because of what they do (or don’t do) but because of what Christ has done for us on the cross.
3. We must embrace our role as God’s vessel.
Above our role as a spouse, we are first a Child of God and his disciple. We are called to love and serve one another through being the hands and feet of Jesus. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Choosing to see ourselves and our role as a wife as something that God is actively pursuing, using and working through will help us live and love above our feelings.
4. Give GRACE:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, NIV). God’s unmerited, precious gift of grace should be cherished and always extended to others. We can choose to love our spouses daily by extending them grace as an act of worship to Christ and as the fruit of our gratitude for the grace he unconditionally extends to us.
We must choose to extend forgiveness to our spouses daily. We are both sinful, broken individuals…destined to fall short of God’s glory on a daily basis. Choosing forgiveness over harboring bitterness, blame, and shame is not easy but crucial in building a Christ centered marriage. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV). When we find it difficult to forgive our spouse, let us go to God and ask him to soften our hearts and remind us what his forgiveness means to us in our own lives.
6. Pray Daily:
Asking the Lord to help you love your spouse can be done daily through individual prayer time and praying as a couple. If you have the desire to keep Christ at the center of your marriage and to love your spouse like Christ loves you, stay in constant communication with the Lord. “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”(Ephesians 3:20, MSG).
7. Remain Grateful:
Choose daily gratitude for your spouse over daily grumblings about your spouse! “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4, NIV). Making gratitude a daily practice will change the lens on how you look at our life and view your spouse.
Building a Kingdom marriage requires us to make daily choices to live and love above our feelings. Choosing to love with intention and living in tandem with Christ, will transform our marriages from what they are into what God intended them to be.