Here are some wise words from Paul Tripp’s book What Did You Expect?? This is Tripp’s description of marital love from chapter 12, “Ready, Willing, and Waiting.”
1. Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.
2. Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
3. Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
4. Love is being honest and approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
5. Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
6. Love means being willing, when confronted by your spouse, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
7. Love is a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to your husband or wife is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
8. Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
9. Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
10. Love means being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the problems that you face as a couple, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
11. Love is always being willing to ask for forgiveness and being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
12. Love is recognizing the high value of trust in a marriage and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
13. Love is speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack your spouse’s character or assault his or her intelligence.
14. Love is being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt your spouse into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
15. Love is being unwilling to ask your spouse to be the source of your identity, meaning and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of his or hers.
16. Love is the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a husband or wife.
17. Love is a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your marriage.
18. Love is staying faithful to your commitment to treat your spouse with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when he or she doesn’t seem to deserve it or is unwilling to reciprocate.
19. Love is the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of your marriage without asking anything in return or using your sacrifices to place your spouse in your debt.
20. Love is being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm your marriage, hurt your husband or wife, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
21. Love is refusing to be self-focused or demanding but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
22. Love is daily admitting to yourself, your spouse, and God that you are not able to love this way without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace in Christ.
23. Love is a specific commitment of the heart to a specific person that causes you to give yourself to a specific lifestyle of care that requires you to be willing to make sacrifices that have that person’s good in view. Love is never general, and it never remains in the realm of feelings. Love desires, love thinks, love chooses, love decides, love acts, and love speaks in an ongoing, day-by-day commitment to the welfare of another. Real love is concrete, specific, and active.
24. It is impossible for any of us to love this way perfectly. None of us has what it takes to reach this standard. We are poor, weak, and needy sinners.
25. Jesus shed his blood for our sin and our lack of love. He made the ultimate sacrifice of love by giving himself for us on the cross so that by his grace, we now can begin to love one another in this way.
26. Jesus shed his blood for the conversation that started out right but has now become angry and tense. Jesus died for the daily pressure of living with someone who is very different from you. Jesus died so that you would win your struggle with forgiveness and be able to resist the seductive call of bitterness and vengeance. Jesus died so that you would have what it takes to make the decision to get out of bed and do what you promised even though you are weary and discouraged. Jesus suffered so that you could face hurt and mistreatment with wisdom and grace. Jesus died so that you would resist the temptation to give in, give up, run away, or quit. Jesus shed his blood so that you would have the power to edit your words and say what is wholesome even when you have been spoken to in ways that are unkind. Jesus shed his blood so that in specific moments you would have the power to say no to irritation and impatience and respond in kindness and self-control. Jesus died so that in the face of the death of your dreams you would take up the better dream of what he has called you to. Jesus suffered so that you would have the wisdom you need to deal with things you did not expect and don’t fully understand. Jesus shed his blood so that you would have the power to grow and change.
27. Jesus suffered in love so that in your struggle to love you would never, ever be alone. As you give yourself to love, he showers you with his love, so that you would never be without what you need to love. He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of love because he knew that was the only way that you would ever get what it takes to love as you have been called to love. Jesus knew that your struggle to love is so deep that a certain system of wisdom or a certain set of provisions wouldn’t be enough. He knew the only thing that would help you would be if he gave you himself. So that is exactly what he did. He gave himself so that right here, right now, you would have the resources you need to live a concrete and continuing life of love.
28. So don’t let regret paralyze you. Don’t be overwhelmed by love’s call. Don’t be discouraged by the size or number of the things you are facing. Don’t let the failures of the past rob you of hope for the future. No, left to yourself you don’t have what it takes, but he is with you, and for you. Romans 8:31-32 says “what then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”