by Joey & Carla Link
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (NIV)
Before we talk about what love looks like, let’s talk about what love is NOT.
- Never show your appreciation for anything your spouse does for you. (“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4)
- Nag and whine when things aren’t going your way. (“A nagging wife annoys like constant dripping.” Proverbs 19:13)
- Never admit that you are wrong, but be sure and rub it in your spouse’s face when he/she makes a mistake. (“Love forgets mistakes, nagging about them parts the best of friends.” Proverbs 17:9)
Now let’s look at ways you can show your spouse you DO love him/her.
- Be an encourager. When I (Carla) get discouraged, it is usually because I am overwhelmed with criticism. For me, the issue is not that I can’t handle criticism. It becomes a problem when it is not balanced with encouragement. During these times, I get so overwhelmed with my ‘faults’ (as others perceived them) that I lose confidence in my strengths. Charlie Shedd, in his book Letters to Karen states, “Tell your husband he is wonderful. You can only tell him he isn’t wonderful where he isn’t if you have already told him he is wonderful where he is!”
I am greatly encouraged by my husband when he praises me in front of others. At these times I feel highly esteemed by him, and I know he feels the same when I share his good traits and praise him in front of others too. It is not enough however to only praise our spouses in front of others. Unless we are continually encouraging him in the privacy of our homes, especially in front of the children, public praise will seem false and insincere. “Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others.” (Philippians 4:8)
- Have realistic expectations. We all have expectations of each other. I expect Joey to know what I am thinking and feeling without having to express it and vice versa. Much of the conflict we have experienced in our marriage has been a result of unrealistic, unspoken expectations. We finally learned to share our expectations and at the same time express to each other how we need those expectations to be met.
It has helped me a lot to have these thoughts regarding my expectations:
v Is there any way he can meet them? (Or am I demanding what he is unable to give?)
v Will he have to compromise too much of what he thinks and believes to meet me on this? (Is the price too high?)
v Am I being selfish?
- An old saying goes, “Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet.” In other words, don’t rub your spouse’s mistakes in his face. Joey may have said something that was insensitive and although he apologized for it, I won’t let it go and my actions and attitude show it.
Another old saying goes, “A real friend is a person who, when you’ve made a fool of yourself, lets you forget it!” Where do we get the freedom to withhold forgiveness when it is asked of us, or if we grant forgiveness, to choose not to ‘forget’ the offense? Does Christ refuse to grant us forgiveness when we ask Him for it? “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John1:9) Does God, once forgiveness is granted ‘remember’ the sin and continually bring it back to us? “Their sins and lawless acts I remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17) When we refuse to grant forgiveness until we are ready, or won’t ‘forget’ his sin when we let him know we do forgive him; we are setting ourselves above God’s willingness to do so, and this is unacceptable.
When you need to talk with your spouse about something you know he isn’t going to want to hear, ask yourself first, does he need to hear this? Is there a better time or way I could approach him with this? “…Convince, rebuke, and encourage with the utmost patience…” (2 Timothy 4:2)
So, how can you communicate love to your spouse? Your perspective and your attitude towards your spouse and your marriage all depend on one thing: Your perspective and your attitude. Remember, you can only change yourself. As your perspective and your attitude move from negative to positive, what once seemed horrible and ugly to you will become beautiful and wonderful.
It would be well if our spouses could say of us,
“I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love.”
This article was taken from the Mom’s Notes presentation, “Is Your Spouse Your Best Friend?” (Volume 1) This presentation is on sale until February 28, 2014. Buy the Notes for $5.00/ and get the CD teaching for free!