Building a Better Marriage: Tool #4 Love at 100%

You’ve heard it said that marriage takes two. Maybe you’ve heard that marriage is a 50/50 partnership. I’ll tell you that unless you’re prepared to give 100% in marriage without the expectation that the other person will give anything, you may not be ready for marriage. Of course when you are looking for someone to share your life with, you should probably make sure that they are committed to a long term relationship. I’m not suggesting that you get yourself into a relationship where you are giving everything and they are giving nothing. I’m also not suggesting that if you are in a relationship where you are giving 100% and they are giving somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5% that you should be okay with that.

What I am saying is that every relationship has highs and lows through time and that in the times where it seems like you are giving 100% and they are giving significantly less, that you shouldn’t keep score. I want to be in a relationship where if I am going through a difficult season, feeling exhausted or just can’t get there for some reason, that my wife is still in the 100% club.

I have heard it said, and I completely agree, that “Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.” Well said. Each one of us has hurts, hang ups and habits that get in the way of us being the ideal partner in life for our beloveds. Over time, I have really grown to appreciate and hold onto what the Apostle John said about the way that God loves us.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

In other words, we can’t possibly believe that we know how to love better than God. Why? He loved us before we loved Him. Through Christ, He showed us what true love looks like. It is sacrificial and proactive. In the ministry of Jesus He loved those who were far from God, the lost and the let down. The people that had been pushed to the margins and ignored. Not only that we had mistreated them. Jesus chose to love those people first. That is one way, 100% love if I have ever seen it! Jesus loved the unlovable and He didn’t wait for anyone’s permission to do it. He just did.

In marriage, we need to choose that path as well. In moments when our spouse is unlovable, we choose love. Not because it will be reciprocated, but because it is the right path. The more we love in a way where we do not expect to be rewarded for it, the better we understand God’s love and the more we experience true freedom within marriage.

The same concept applies to our friendships and family. If we are loving them because we expect to feel the warm fuzzies when they return the favor, we have missed the point entirely. Living a life that embodies the path of love is simply the only way to live. It is the only way to experience freedom in this life. I’m pretty sure that’s why Jesus said things like:

But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:13-14

Sure, we get blessed in eternity for the good deeds that we’ve done on this earth but I believe that there is a blessing that occurs in this life as well when we make the decision to give without the expectation of receiving. We free ourselves from the slavery of greed. If we give only because we believe we will receive, we haven’t truly given anything. Once we understand that we can love someone and not NEED to receive something in return, we have experienced the blessing of loving someone freely.

If you can learn to pick things about your spouse to love, you will begin to see them in a new light. Our surrounding world is really good at picking out the imperfections of other people but what if we developed a culture of selecting things about people that are lovable? Choose to focus on your spouse’s strengths and you will experience the freedom to love them. Not only that, you will develop a culture of love within your marriage that will spill out onto your family and yes, you will be the recipient of it as well.

So let’s make the commitment to love each other at 100% and don’t hold back! Then maybe…just maybe our marriages will be the reflection of God’s love that it was meant to be.

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