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Love is not tit-for-tat

We’re all familiar with the golden rule to do to others as we want them to do to us. But in marriage we often twist this and misinterpret it to I will love you in the same way that you love me. And so if you’re withholding the things that I want the things that I need then it’s only fair when I do the same thing to you. But this tit-for-tat is not the love that Christ taught or demonstrated.

God’s love is proactive

Scripture tells us that or we were still in our sins God demonstrated his love to us by sending Christ to die for us. His love was proactive. He was not waiting on us to have warm and fuzzy feelings toward him. He was not even waiting on our respect before demonstrating his love toward us.

Christ then says in another spot that as I have loved you, you are to love one another. Again, Christ’s love is proactive. It’s not waiting on the loving kindness of another before being offered. And this is the kind of love that we’re to have in marriage as well.

Love in marriage should be proactive

This means we’re to still give our wife those gestures of affection that she craves and how she receives love even when, for instance, she’s not giving us the quality time that we desire and how we receive love. This is not to give up our desire and certainly there’s a place to still fight for them. But we’re no longer practicing love when we withhold our affection just because she’s not giving us what we want.

This is not how we’ve learned Christ. This is not the example he has set. And he is a standard when it comes to the golden rule.

Husbands must be willing to take the first step in love toward their wife just as Christ did for his church

I want to be loved in marriage the same way that Christ has loved me. This means I must love my wife in the same way. And as Christ is the first one to love the church this means we often must be the first ones to demonstrate love and move toward our wife in love as well.

And as we commit to practicing the golden rule then we’re doing our part to contribute to the atmosphere of love within our marriage. And in the end, this is worth it, even if it’s not fair in the beginning.

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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