“I, Elaine, take you, Stephen, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
With our wedding anniversary on August 30th, it’s hard to believe that almost 35 years have passed since I said those words. We have gone through some worse times, some poorer times, and some times of sickness. But the good news is that after all these years we still love each other deeply.
Some days there have seemed to be obstacles to loving. At those times I’ve felt that I am not free to love Steve. But the following truths which the Lord has taught me along the way have brought me to the point of being free to love my husband–no matter what.
1. When I am consumed with how my husband is loving me rather than “How can I love him?” my love for him starts to wither.
2. Happiness is not the number one goal of marriage. God uses marriage as a path to holiness–to make me more like Himself.
3. When I am focused on my husband’s faults–which usually seem bigger than mine–I tend to be blind to my own.
4. There is much power in these three-word statements: “I am sorry.” “Please forgive me.” “I was wrong.” “Thank you, honey.” “I love you.”
5. My marriage is not all about me. It is about what God wants to do in me and through me. (from a lady at a women’s retreat.)
6. Fear is a great enemy of love. When I am afraid my husband will hurt me, and I hold back my love because of that fear, I am working to destroy our love.
7. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage or a perfect partner. However, there is a perfect God who can teach me how to love an imperfect husband.
8. It is not my job to change my husband, but it is God’s desire that I allow Him to change me.
9. Comparing my marriage to another couples’ marriage that seems better than ours leads to envy, self-pity, and a critical attitude.
10. God uses the difficult times in our marriage to draw us closer to one another and to Him–if we let Him.
The words in the Bible that have freed me to love Steve are in 1 Corinthians 13–words that are familiar to most of us.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. 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…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
What about you? Do there seem to be obstacles to loving your spouse? God wants to free you to love the way He does.
For those who feel like your marriage is over or your love for your spouse has died, check out this link to an article I wrote for Today’s Christian Woman magazine.
I’m praying you will be set free to continue to love the way you promised to on your wedding day.