Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.
Likely the scripture reading most often read at weddings is I Corinthians 13:4-8. It will also be seen on numerous greeting cards etc. this Friday, Valentine’s Day. As we talked today we wondered how people live this out in a marriage that is to last forever. What follows are some thoughts that we’d like to share.
1. Love is patient and kind.
The two go together. Most people aren’t married very long before they realize that the person they married isn’t perfect. However what keeps that person the “perfect” one is patience and kindness. For me (Rita) I discovered that it takes Bob a long time to make decisions and to spend money. He even has to spend a long time trying to decide what to play when we are playing a game of Scrabble. As we age he has a harder time hearing and so many times I need to repeat or speak louder. But it is the kindness that he shows me at other times that give me the patience to love him even more.
2. It does not envy, boast nor is it proud.
I think these three aspects of what love is not can be wrapped together. They are all about seeing the value and the goodness in your spouse and rejoicing in it. For me it is about seeing Rita’s great ability to have a positive influence on the lives of her students and being happy for her and for the students she touched. It is recognizing that she had abilities in that area, that I will never have and not letting myself wish that I either had those abilities or that she did not. I learned instead to be thankful to God and delighted that I get to spend my life with such a good and talented person. Sometimes it was tempting to say something about myself to prove that I am also a good person and also have talents, but I learned to enjoy being present and sharing the joy of others as they honored her.
3. It does not dishonor others, it not self-seeking.
While Bob is a wonderful father and grandfather, was quite successful when he taught, very good at doing consulting work and inspires people when we do enrichment activities, he always makes sure that I get credit with everything that I do. He does a great job of affirming me and goes out of his way to verbally support me. When people talk about what I have done for them or how good I am at what I do he says “I know and I get to live with her.” While he likes to be affirmed he encourages me to have lunch with my friends, go shopping with our daughter and daughters-in-law, likes that I take the granddaughters for our annual spa day and lunch and marvels at the way I read to our grandchildren. Yet he receives his own accolades and nothing lights up his face more than when Greta stretches out her arms and says, “Grandpa” with a look she has for no one else.
4. It is not easily angered. It keeps no records of wrongs.
In every relationship there are times when one of the partners feels neglected, or wronged by something their spouse says. We can’t totally control our feelings, so they will come, but we can decide how to respond to them. When Rita does something that makes me angry, I try to avoid saying anything immediately, while I may say something that I will regret later. Instead, I wait for a while and often decide that it wasn’t important enough to even bring it up. If it stays with me I will eventually bring it up for discussion, but in a situation where we can have a calm discussion. Keeping no record of wrongs doesn’t necessarily mean that I will forget and issue or something hurtful, but I make a decision never to bring it up or use it in a future argument.
5. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
One of Bob’s best qualities is that he does not hold onto a grudge. He faces whatever difficulty comes his way and then moves on. It doesn’t matter what I say or don’t say, do or forget to do or ask him to do or not do. It doesn’t affect the way he responds to me. I’m sure that after 47 years of marriage he could write volumes on what I could or should have done but he doesn’t ever delight in the shortcomings of another, most especially me. He is a truth seeker and will defend the truth. He does this most often when he perceives that someone is not treating me the right way.
6. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
For most of us, most of the time, protecting our spouse from physical abuse isn’t an issue. It is more likely that he or she will find themselves in a situation of verbal abuse or an emotionally difficult situation. When I see Rita in a situation like that, I try to move in and remove her from the situation or redirect attention to myself. There are other times when I see that she is burdened by a situation and I offer to listen or just hold her. When Rita does or says something, without realizing its effect, and I begin to wonder whether she is angry with me, I have learned to trust in her love and let it go. Often, it isn’t long until she walks by gives me a gentle pat or says something that reassures me and all is well.
It is always good to be living my life with Rita and that gives me hope for the future. We always look ahead and plan good things for our future. At this point in our lives we know that travel will become harder for us in the future, but hope allows us to keep discussion of future travel alive. We have confidence in our love for each other and are confident that we will still love each other and be with each other when our plans for the future are curtailed.
7. Love never fails. People say a lot about love but when we stop and think about it we all seek love, need love to survive. We grow and blossom when we are loved. I can certainly speak to that. I sought out Bob when we were in high school. We made the decision to be married and live a life of commitment in love. I know that I have more than survived because Bob loved me. Through difficult times, when things weren’t going my way, when I have been hurt by others and when I lost someone close to me his/our love enabled me to get through whatever came my/our way. While I can still be recognized by my high school friends I have become a different person in all ways because Bob loved/loves me. He has never failed to love me and has his love has never failed me.
Take a little time this week to reflect on the words of this passage. You won’t need to give each other gifts but you can if you like. Reflecting on the gifts of love as described in this passage will be wonderful Valentine’s Day gifts.
Please share with us what you see as the gifts of your love
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time. Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.