3 Ways to Love Your Spouse Even When They Aren’t So Lovable

Agape love is often the word used to describe the love that Jesus modeled. It is the word used to describe the type of love we as Christians are to model towards one another and is especially distinct from erotic love or emotional affection. The agape love modeled by Jesus is a selfless love that usually runs contrary to our selfish, sinful nature. In marriage and in other relationships, we default to wanting our own needs met. We want to feel good about ourselves and protect our rights. This is contrary to God’s ways. He wants us to put ourselves aside and place Him (God) first, and others second. When asked which command­ment was greatest, Jesus said,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these ~ Mark 12:30–31.

When we follow this command and love others in this way, we glorify God.

To love others, we need to first receive and experience God’s love ourselves. Knowing how much God loves us allows us to love others more fully. First John 4:7–8 says,

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

God is love! Love is not just an emotion that God created, but it is the full embodiment of God Himself! As you meditate on God’s love for you, begin to reflect on His love for your spouse. If you look at your spouse through God’s eyes, you will see him or her differently.

If love in your marriage is missing or strained, go to love’s source: God. Talk to Him in prayer and read His love letter to you. The Old Testament tells the story of God’s

faithful love for Israel even when they rejected or abandoned Him. Isaiah 43:25 says,

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

This is the love God has for us and wants us to have towards our spouse. First Peter 4:8says,

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

God sees us fail repeatedly, yet He is never impatient or unkind. God sees our wrongdoings, but He doesn’t record them. His love is long-suffering and His for­giveness is never ending. God never gives up on us, and He wants us to love our spouse in the same way.

Remember, agape is not a feeling, but an act of the will. Choose to act lovingly, in obedience to God’s commands, even if you do not feel loving towards your spouse. Romans 5:3–5 says,

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

When you struggle with loving your spouse, ask God to fill you with His love towards your spouse. Even if your spouse does not respond to your love, you will draw into a more intimate relationship with God through your obedience.

Agape love is different than the kinds of love the world offers. Worldly love suggests each spouse give 50/50. In other words, love equally—give only as much love as you receive. Agape love says give 100 percent. God desires both husband and wife to give 100 percent. Yet, we have seen cases in which one spouse fully committed to God’s agape love was enough to turn the relationship around.

God beautifully illustrates His love and gives us a model for how we should love our spouse:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.—1 Corinthians 13:4–8

God’s love never fails!

Is this the kind of unconditional love you have for your spouse?