1 Corinthians 13*
If I speak to my spouse using tactful “I feel” messages and skillful conflict-resolution strategies, but I do not love, I am like a clanging cymbal or a car alarm that won’t shut off.
And even if I have an advanced degree in marriage counseling and understand the mysteries of why people do what they do and have all knowledge of psychology, and even though I read a mountain of books on relationships, if I do not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my good efforts to fulfill my duties, and though I burn up every drop of energy in being a great spouse, if I do not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient even when a spouse does not change. Love is kind even when a spouse is thoughtless. Love does not envy someone else’s marriage. Love is not impressed with its own marriage skills.
Love does not save its best manners for company but instead uses its “fine china” manners with a spouse, treating him or her with honor every day. Love does not insist on getting its own way but works to see things from another’s perspective. Love is not irritable or exasperated. (You cannot get its goat!)
Love keeps no record of wrongs because love does not take offense. Love does not see a spouse’s failures or sins as personal affronts. Love knows that a spouse sins against God and against God alone (Psalm 51:4). Love forgives and refuses victim mentality (Proverbs 12:16, Ephesians 4:32).
Love refuses to think resentful thoughts about a husband or wife; instead, love insists on seeing what is good and giving thanks. Love does not delight in any threat to the relationship, but rejoices in what heals and strengthens the marriage.
Love always protects a spouse (his or her ultimate good), always believes that a spouse is priceless and made in the image of God, always trusts the promises of God, and always is confident that God’s grace is deeper than any need. Love never shuts its heart, never forsakes its covenant commitment, and never rejects a spouse.
Love never fails. But prophecies that “you should move on with your life” will fail; the tongues that call your spouse “a jerk” will cease; and the knowledge that “you deserve better than this” will vanish away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became married, I had to put away childish things, such as name-calling and pouting and choosing what feels easy.
For now we see through a hazy glass, and there is much that we do not understand about our spouses, about ourselves, or about God’s ways; but then, face to face with God, we will know fully what glorious things He has been doing through our marriages, just as He knows fully how to love us well now.
And now faith, hope, and love remain; but the greatest of these is love.
*adapted from various translations of 1 Corinthians 13, including the KJV, AMP, AMPC, NLT, and NIV