God’s love for us is the model of love for a successful marriage. He commands us to love in the same manner because, as believers, He has placed His love in our hearts (Rom 5:5).
This love does not depend on the attractiveness or responsiveness of the object of that love.
We are initially attracted to many appealing characteristics of a mate. Such admirable traits can disappear in time, but the covenant to love your mate never changes. A spouse needs a selfless, giving, forgiving, sacrificing, and edifying love built not on emotion but on a willing commitment to live to benefit the other person without regard to personal advantages gained from the relationship.
Paul’s instructions for marriage give priority to the husband’s obligation to “love his own wife as he loves himself.” Loving yourself is all too natural, “for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (Eph 5:29).
This love is not measured by how you feel about yourself; rather, just as you selfishly do things to care for, provide for, satisfy, and please yourself, you are to provide the same care for someone else. Just as you please yourself, you must now please the object of your love: your spouse.
Likewise, the command that the “wife must respect her husband” comes from a word (Gk. phobeo) meaning to “fear.” The church’s commitment to respect Christ’s word is the wife’s model for her respect to her husband (Eph 5:23).
One listens to and follows what one respects. A key for the wife is to focus her thoughts on positive features: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Phil 4:8NLT).
Look for only these traits in a mate, because “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8). Build your case for respecting your spouse. Husbands need wives who recognize them as significant and respect them for their strengths while overlooking their faults. Wives need husbands who willingly sacrifice what they want to meet their needs.
“Lord, it is easy to see how much I love and care for myself, but now You ask me to take my self–centered love and make it a spouse–balanced love. Show me how to make my spouse feel valued, loved, and cared for as You care for us both.”
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