Over the course of the dating and engagement process, a couple will often say, “I love you.” They will say it publicly during the wedding ceremony.
Everyone will hear it and likely take it for granted, recognizing it as perfunctory “wedding speak.”
What man and woman would get married and not speak of love? And what husband would not insist, “Of course I love my wife. I loved her when we got married, and I still love her!” Who doesn’t believe he or she knows what love means? How could we not? We say it often. We hear about it all the time.
Television and movies often portray love as a powerful feeling. People fall in love, but the feeling eventually dulls. People fall out of love. It’s part of a natural progression. The time comes to move on. Maybe fall in love again.
And sex is frequently part of this popular image. Sometimes as the bonding act of two people who have fallen in love. Sometimes as the catalyst for two people starting the process.
Love was not a powerful-but-temporary feeling to the apostle Paul. It was anything but status quo. It wasn’t about sex. And it certainly wasn’t a wedding clicche. He was not numb to love. It was fresh to him.
“I want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing,” Paul might say if he was talking to each of us about love. He might drape an arm across our shoulders or put a finger in our chests. “Forget what you know or think you know. Let’s start all over with the idea of love. We’re going to redefine it, and it is going to redefine us. It is going to pervade everything we do!”
A husband commits to love his wife. We think we know what we’re saying. After all, it’s love. But here’s a little different approach. Go through that 1 Corinthians passage and replace the word love with your name. Reads a little differently, doesn’t it? Now comes the hard part, at least for me: to live it.
“Serve one another in love,” says Galatians 5:13 — another wedding clichÃ¨, unless you stop to think about what it should mean to each of us. Again, Paul might pull us aside and say, “Now that we’re on the same page about love, let’s talk about serving. Let’s talk about putting your wife’s well-being ahead of your own. Not just a single act or for only a day, a month, or even a year. How about as a way of life?”
What if I’m tired and just don’t feel like giving to the relationship? Persevere in your marriage, the way Christ would.
What if my wife is stuck in her own issues? Be patient in your marriage, the way Jesus would.
What if I meet someone and begin to wonder if I made the right choice? Protect your marriage, the way Christ would.
What happens when I start to wonder, “What’s in this whole, ‘Serve one another in love’ thing for me?” Trust in the system, the way Jesus would.
What if we have an argument and she says things that hurt or embarrass me?Talk about it but keep no records of wrong, the way Jesus would.
It’s only over time that a husband can begin to realize what a challenge 1 Corinthians 13 is. Life is challenging. But serving someone in love for a lifetime? Way challenging. And if we start measuring what we think we’re putting into our marriages against what we think we’re getting out of them, we may not have bought into love the way we think we have. If we don’t challenge ourselves every day to that standard of excellence, we’re holding out on our teammates.
It’s also only over time that we experience the rewards of having a marriage that is lived in this way. But we have to have faith in this system of love. We may not see the results we’d like for a while. Paul defined faith as being “sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Coach Walsh had faith. He was sure of what he hoped for. Certain of what he could not see? Maybe. At least he was certain of what he believed he could see. Every coach knows he has to get the buy-in from the players.
First Corinthians 13 love was a different approach in Paul’s day. And it’s a different approach now. It creates an environment that allows and encourages you and your wife to become all that God made each of you to be. The marriage partners you can be. The parenting partners you can be. The marketplace people you can be.
A Super Bowl marriage will take time. It will take commitment. And it will take trust in the system. You may be just starting your marriage with hopes of first making the playoffs. After that, the Super Bowl. Or you may be wondering if you can turn around a twenty-year relationship that is 2-14. The great teams have confidence. But before that, they have faith. If you don’t act on faith in the love and servanthood way explained by 1 Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5:13, you won’t develop the confidence necessary to achieve a Super Bowl marriage.
Taken from Super Bowl Marriage by Terry Owens
Copyright © 2005 by Terry Owens
Published by Waterbrook Press, Used by Permission.