Those of you who have met me know that I, generally, have a positive outlook on life. So what I’m about to ask you to do may sound surprising: Make a list of 50 things that annoy or irritate you about your spouse—things you would change about your spouse if you could.
Go ahead and do it now before continuing to read my post. I will too.
[Pause here until finished.]
How long did it take you to come up with 50? Did it surprise you how easy or hard it was to come up with this list?
Ok, now consider the categories of the things you wrote down. Your list likely includes…
- Annoying habits.
- Personality quirks.
- Differences in personal preferences or values.
- Sinful tendencies.
- Physical inabilities or deficiencies.
- Lack of knowledge and awareness.
- Other things that wound you—whether intentional or not.
To simplify things even more, we could probably summarize them all into one simple category: All the ways in which my spouse is not just like me! [By the way, please don’t show this list to your spouse–that would not end well!]
Now at the top of your list I want you to add the words, “EVEN THOUGH.” This is your EVEN THOUGH LIST.
In my previous post, I talked about how agape love is an essential component in a uniquely Christian marriage. It’s the kind of love that the Bible portrays as being sacrificial, selfless, and unconditional. I cited my grandfather’s steadfast love for my incapacitated grandmother as my prime model.
So if I choose to utilize agape love in my marriage to Cindy, an admittedly imperfect person, I’ll need to show my love to her…even though.
Likewise, you also need to show unconditional love to your spouse even though your spouse does such-and-such [insert all 50 of your complaints here].
Our loving treatment must be completely unrelated to our spouse’s failures, foibles, and follies. We must love purely and unconditionally.
Why must we do this? Because the Bible commands that marital love should mirror Jesus’s love. We are to love just as He loved. This even though type of love is the kind of love Jesus showed us. He loved us in spite of us. Imagine if Jesus listed our deficiencies—it would be way more than 50! Yet he loved us even though.
We were his enemies—rebellious, selfish, idolatrous, prideful, distracted, self-promoting, objects of wrath—and yet he treated us lovingly anyway by dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. This is the good news, the Gospel. We’re treated better than we deserve!
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
He offers us his unconditional love; we only need to receive it.
But back to marriage, let’s determine to love our spouse even though.
Tomorrow I’m going to have you make another list–one that I promise will be much more fun! But first, why don’t you go ahead and destroy this list I just had you make. It’s served its purpose.
[Note: as I said in my last post, I’m talking about normal marriage relationships. If there is abuse, adultery, or abandonment involved, this post should not be construed to mean you must put up with it. In fact, the most loving thing the abused one can do for the abuser would be to stop him or her from abusing you. If this applies to you, protect yourself, get help from those you can trust, and institute whatever boundaries may be needed.]