4 Fundamental Aspects of Love

Every day, you choose your spouse. And when love reigns in your marriage, you'll show it in a few specific ways.

Couple in sunlight

Gary Chapman, author of "The 5 Love Languages," gives tips on choosing your spouse every day and four intentional actions that will help along the way.

Walk into any store at the beginning of February, and you’ll find valentine gifts ranging from chocolate-covered strawberries to personalized picture frames, with the most popular gift being red roses.

Most people love the idea of love. And love is a good thing, worth every trinket and petal purchased to express it. But when Valentine's Day is over, the chocolate is eaten and the flowers have wilted, what is left? What does love truly look like?

Jesus' great commandment says:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself".

Matthew 22:37, 39

It's important to note that love requires your entire being. Love is a daily choice. Every day, you choose your spouse. And when love reigns in your marriage, you'll show it in a few specific ways. 

1. Generous with Your Patience

Recently, I visited the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. While there, I went to Ruth Graham's gravesite. The tombstone reads, "End of construction. Thank you for your patience." The fact is, all of us are under construction. Our goal is to become Christ-like in all of our thoughts and actions, but most of us have plenty of room for improvement.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul simply says, "Love is patient".

v. 4

You are under construction. Your spouse is also under construction. Maybe God is still tearing down the rubble in his or her life, getting ready to build a magnificent building. Or perhaps the foundation has been laid in your spouse's heart having already accepted Christ, but the lifestyle is far from Christ-like.

2. Open to Correction

Scripture indicates that a wise man will be open to instruction (Proverbs 9:9). Instruction involves two things: giving information and correcting misinformation and misconduct. All of us need to be corrected from time to time.

John said, "If we say, ‘We have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves'".

1 John 1:8

God often corrects His children through His Word: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). The act of giving and receiving instruction is often a sign of love. The wise Christian will be open to the correction of God and willing to make course corrections with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

3. Kind with Your Words

Kindness is saying or doing something for the benefit of the other person. It grows out of a recognition that every human is made in the image of God, and is therefore, extremely valuable. In marriage, couples should treat each other with respect and kindness, realizing that when you're kind to each other, you're pleasing God.

In Paul's great discourse on love found in 1 Corinthians 13, he says, "... love is kind ...".

v. 4

Some of us grew up in homes where family members spoke harshly to one another. Loud, harsh words spoken to a spouse aren't kind. They strike at the heart of your spouse like a spear entering the flesh. Such pain doesn't heal with the passing of time. It heals when you recognize your failure, offer a sincere apology and hope for forgiveness.

4. Gratefulness

When you learn the attitude of love, you'll view your spouse as a gift from God and your heart will be lifted in gratitude to Him. You'll also express that gratitude to your spouse.

In most marriages, there are many things for which you can genuinely express gratitude and appreciation. Someone is buying food, preparing meals, washing dishes, vacuuming floors, doing laundry, washing the car, mowing the grass, trimming the shrubs, giving the children a bath, cleaning the toilet and getting white spots off the mirror. Many people often take these things for granted. You may sometimes go days without expressing appreciation. But if you're growing in love, your mind is alert to the positive traits and behaviors of your spouse. Take every opportunity to verbally communicate your gratitude for all that your spouse does for you and for others.

If you're long on patience, open to correction, verbally kind, and eternally grateful, you're a loving person, and there's every possibility that your life will stimulate the loving response of your spouse. Don't wait for your spouse to love you, but follow the example of God and love your spouse.

This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine.

Learn About The 5 Love Languages

In The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman guides couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse's primary love language—quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. By learning to speak your spouses' language, you will also find practical ways to put your love in action.

Dr. Gary Chapman, an author, speaker, and counselor, has a passion for people and for helping them form lasting relationships. He is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages® series and director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc.