You know Jesus loves you and that He loves your spouse too. So why is it often so easy to forget about showing God’s love in marriage?
I was a teenager when WWJD, “What Would Jesus Do?” became a popular buzz phrase. I had the rubber bracelet and everything. It’s turned into such a cliche that we forget that the question is quite valid.
When there are issues in your marriage, do you ask yourself that question and seek answers, or do you hold back your love to teach your spouse a lesson?
- Do you give them the silent treatment?
- Are your responses snarky and disrespectful?
- Do you say nasty things about them to your friends and family?
- Do you threaten to leave if you don’t get your way?
How would Jesus respond to the situation you are facing? It will help us to look at some of the characteristics of the love of God that we can apply to how we should love our spouses.
The more our love looks like Jesus’, the better chance we have of fixing any problems that we’re facing or that will arise in the future. It’s all we really need to keep our marriages healthy enough to last a lifetime.
God’s Love is Sacrificial
Sacrificing something means to surrender or give it up. It can also mean you allow yourself to be injured or put at a disadvantage for something or someone else.
We look to Jesus as the greatest example of sacrificial love both in His life and His death. He gave up Heaven to put Himself in a mortal body and live with us to understand our struggle. Every day He demonstrated the meaning of the Golden Rule, doing good for others, and treating them with love and kindness.
Then, He died a horrible, painful death to be the final sacrifice for all sin, allowing us to live with Him one day.
Your marriage is an example of somewhere you can live out sacrificial love daily.
In a Christian marriage, God commands the husband to give himself up for his wife and love her sacrificially, as Jesus loves us. The wife’s responsibility is to submit to her husband as she would submit to Christ. That shows the sacrifice of self. And by the way, it’s the same way Jesus submits to the Father.
If you feel anger and resentment building up from within toward your spouse, think about the cross. Create an image of Jesus hanging there, dying, while the people, both Jews, and Gentiles, mocked Him relentlessly.
That was for you. What can you do to show sacrificial love to them?
His love is unconditional
For everything Jesus did for us, he never requires anything from us in return. He loves you when you pray every day and love your neighbors, and He loves you when you yell at your kids and skip church.
His love is there for you when you are strong and when you’re just muddling through life. It’s constant and consistent. Nothing can revoke His love for you.
Don’t let your spouse’s humanity override your love for them. Your love shouldn’t depend on external circumstances.
So, look past the squabbles. Acknowledge the obstacles and make a plan to overcome them.
Make and live by a firm commitment to overcoming obstacles and showing God’s love in your marriage
Because, despite how your emotions can change based on circumstances, it doesn’t mean you don’t love them anymore. Sometimes, love has to be a choice, just like when Jesus chose to die for you.
God’s love sees the best
We are all far from perfect, and God knows that. He still encourages us to grow and change for the better.
However, He chooses to see His children through the lens of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He sees us as blameless, washed by the blood by Jesus. Jesus lived the sinless life we couldn’t.
As God decides how He wants to see you, you get to determine what you expect to see in your spouse.
For example, if you expect your spouse to be selfish, they probably will be. But if you decide to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that what they do is not done to be malicious or hurtful, you will be able to trust their good intentions.
God’s love is a covenant love
God made a unilateral covenant with Abraham. A unilateral covenant is an agreement between two people, but only one of them has to do something. The other person doesn’t have to do a thing.
God promised that He would make Abraham into a great nation, bless him, and bless the entire earth through him. He promised an eternal blessing on Abraham’s family. Abraham didn’t have to do anything to keep the promise going.
Thankfully, we don’t have to do anything to keep up our part of our covenant with Jesus. We ask for his forgiveness and do our best to follow after Him, and eternal life is ours.
A marriage is a covenant, but many treat it as a contract, expecting their spouse to live up to specific criteria to remain married.
If you want to show God’s love in your marriage, don’t make your spouse do things to keep the covenant. It’s not reliant on them. It’s reliant on you.
“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; Deuteronomy 7:9 (NKJV)
His love is unmerited
God extends His love to us, even though we are unlovable and unworthy. God loves us despite our immorality, bad habits, and unacceptable behavior. Even when we hate ourselves, He loves us because of the covenant created by the actions of Jesus on the cross.
If you are showing God’s love in your marriage, your spouse shouldn’t have to earn your love. You gave that love freely on the day you entered into a covenant marriage with them, and it should continue despite any problems you have.
I don’t mean you should allow destructive behavior, but you cannot just drop out of a covenant because they change in ways you don’t like. It takes great patience and love to keep loving someone who is behaving in disappointing ways. You promised you would, though. For better or worse, remember?
It is eternal
We have a difficult time understanding the concept of eternity. Everything has an ending. Books. Songs. Even life has an end.
Yet God promises His people that the covenant is permanent.
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you. Isaiah 54:10
Marriage is designed to be permanent, lasting until the death of one of the partners. Too often today, though, people see marriage as something with an escape hatch.
Things change. Your spouse will change, and so will you. There will be times when your marriage seems easy, and there will be times when you will get annoyed just by the sight of one another. Different seasons are normal.
If your spouse’s changes are making you look for an escape, remember that God doesn’t give up on His covenant with you because you are going through a change in life. Shift your mindset to consider marriage permanent.
God’s love is lavished on us
The word lavish means to give in enormous amounts without limits.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
I love those words “without limits.” God doesn’t have ration cards where we only receive specific amounts of his love and blessing. It’s not limited by anything! He has limitless love for all of us, despite our worthiness.
In marriage, people often measure the amount of love given by each spouse. They may think, “I will only give the same amount of love I receive from my spouse back to them.
It’s not a scale, so don’t try to balance it. Do your best to give more love than you feel you are receiving. Think about the limitless love you receive from God despite your screw-ups! Your spouse deserves mercy from you, and you can demonstrate that by showing love to them every day.
How to start showing God’s love in your marriage
I don’t mean to make it seem like showing this kind of love to your spouse should be easy. It’s not, and it requires a new way of thinking and a lot of determination.
When you try to make these changes, there will be obstacles.
First, Satan doesn’t want you to change. He likes seeing your marriage hovering on the edge. He’s always trying to plant doubt or anger toward your spouse in your mind.
Also, your brain won’t like these changes either. Your brain considers the status quo to be safe, no matter how bad it may be. It says, “We’re just fine here. Don’t stir the pot by changing things!”
We would love to support you as you try to implement this new way of thinking about marriage. If you haven’t already signed up for our email list, do it today. You’ll get access to the information we don’t put out to everyone like marriage prayers and special offers.
We also offer 1:1 coaching. It’s more like 2:2. The two of us will work with the two of you in personalized sessions coupled with informal check-ins to keep you on track.
Fill in the form below to request a free 30 minute coaching call to help you get started!
If you want to read more about how to love your spouse like Jesus, take a look at this blog post: How to Love Unconditionally, Even When You Don’t Want to.
You may also find our 7 Mindsets for Marriage Success useful!