Andy Naselli over at Between Two Worlds gives an excellent summary of Paul David Tripp’s What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage. Every time I read these lists I am convicted of how far I fall short. Yet, like all reminders, it brings hope and motivation for the future. This looks like a needed book. Print these out and hang them on your bathroom mirror.

What does love look like?

  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 lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love 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 always 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 a 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.
  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.

How are you doing?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    10 replies to "What Does Love Look Like in Marriage?"

    • Jerry Brown

      Ouch! I think I’m gonna go ask Mey to forgive me.

    • rayner markley

      These are all excellent points, but there must be some overlap. If possible, I’d like to see them condensed into a more manageable form. Maybe five or ten at most. Also, is it necessary to frame so many of them in negative terms?

    • Jeremy

      Our relationship with our spouse is so much like our relationship with our Lord. We have to be consistently focused and determined. In both cases I find myself reading a list like this or scripture and thinking, “I know I should be doing these things, how do I get so sidetracked though?” Got to keep going back to these basics.

    • Cadis

      Love is doing the majority of these things for the majority of the time, without thinking about it. !! And!.. while typing this just had a flash back to when Hallmark’s “Precious Moments” were in vogue. Blech!

    • Mike

      Oh, I have so much to work on and to ask forgiveness for.

    • Lucian

      Love is lust in disguise. — a line from an ‘old’ Bruce Willis movie, co-staring Michelle Pfeiffer.

    • […] a nice list of descriptions of what love looks like in a marriage on Michael Patton’s Parchment and Pen […]

    • Lisa

      In #9 only the “he” in the relationship is mentioned. Hmmmm. Was that accidental?

    • Jude

      Isn’t a bit unfair how this sort of love and these sort of loving actions are only considered for married couples?

      I mean, after reading through this list it makes me really wonder, with me being single and all, how the love for my friends could even stack up… If this is “generic” Christian expressions of love and not anything that should characterize couples as distinctive, then why the whole married-person focus?

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