Would you agree or disagree that the phrase “I love you” seems to be overused these days? Think about it, how often do we hear people say things like, “I love your dress”, “I love your shoes”, “I love this food or that food”, or “I love it when ________” (You fill in the blank)? Could it be we ascribe our love to so many things today, the emotional value attached to saying, “I love you” in our most meaningful relationships somehow becomes minimized? So, how do we differentiate between any two types of love? Should one kind of love be more exclusive than another?
The best way to logically answer either of these questions is to first identify three different types of love, two of which are mentioned in Scripture. The one type not mentioned in the New Testament is called “Eros”. This is a physical, sensual or sexual type of love. Another type of love is “Phileo”, which is a brotherly type of love. This is more of an endearing love, denoting an emotional, caring concern one individual can have for another. The strongest love mentioned in the Bible is known as “Agape”. This is an unconditional love, exemplified best by God through Jesus Christ dying on the cross for sinners, thus giving them the right to be forever called a child of God once they receive Christ as Savior.
This is also the type of love God expects husbands and wives to demonstrate in marriage. Meaning, God expects husbands and wives to show love to each other, even when one or both spouses aren't acting lovable. Yet, before any spouse can be successful in this area, he or she must make a few choices. For example:
- Choose to have the correct attitude about unconditionally loving your spouse. Whatever you believe about anything, is how you will live it out. When I made the attitude shift from what I believed Lynne should be doing for me to how I could better serve her, within a few weeks, looking for how I could meet her needs became more my default response.
- Choose to make blessing your spouse daily a way of life. The best way I know to make this happen is to consistently take the “Love Chapter Challenge” found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. For me, it looks like me showing my love for Lynne in ways that is patient, kind or not arrogant. Not jealous or behaving rudely. A way that bears her burdens, believes the best in her and from her, helps provide security and hope to our marriage, and lastly endures even the most difficult times.
One of the most common complaints I hear from spouses in crisis is that somewhere in time, their love for each other just seemed to become non-existent in the relationship. In almost every situation, I find that one or both spouses became complacent and no longer intentional at demonstrating their love for the other in small ways. Most admit that when they did hear their spouse say, “I love you”, their actions seldom reflected their words.
How about you? How’s your attitude about love in your marriage? I encourage you to consider taking the “Love Chapter Challenge” found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Because God designed marriage, He also equips each of us with the ability to experience marriage the way He intended. If this area of your marriage needs improvement, begin by asking Him to help change your attitude. Learn to see your spouse in the same perspective as does God. Ask Him to help you find ways to serve them, opposed to expecting them to make you happy in marriage. I can tell you first hand that God will hear and act on your requests.