In order to understand how to be a good lover of your spouse, you need to be a good mind reader.
Most people have a fairly decent understanding of what love looks like. In fact, if you ask most people what the Bible has to say about love they can recite some or all of 1 Corinthians 13…
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not….”
And granted, this chapter provides a good summary. But, it isn’t enough to know what love is…
Jesus was and is the perfect lover of people. But have you ever wondered why his love looked different to different people in different situations?
He pursued a meal with Zacchaeus. He confronted the woman at the well. He overlooked the soldiers leading him to the cross. He waited to raise Lazarus from the dead. He turned over the tables in the temple. Was he loving perfectly in each of these situations? Absolutely.
Each of these people required different forms of love to accomplish God’s purposes for love. And, God’s purposes for love revolve around creating the best environment for us to be cared for and conformed to Christlikeness.
Translated to marriage, the goal of our love towards our spouse should be the same:
Care and Christlikeness
Consider what Ephesians 4:29 has to say about what it looks like to love others in the context of meeting needs:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Sometimes meeting the need of the moment will look like listening. Sometimes it will look like appreciation or praise. Sometimes it will look like overlooking an offense. Sometimes it will look like instructing or admonishing. It depends on the situation, the person, and the particular need of the moment.
I wish this was easier. But, after 20 years of marriage I’m still trying to get it right more than I get it wrong. Here’s 4 practical steps you can take to improve loving your spouse well.
- Examine your motives – Is this action going to create a good environment for my spouse to feel cared for and motivated to change (if necessary)?
- Have Faith – If your spouse needs to change in an area, remember that God is the author of change…not you. And although God wants to use you in the process, God is the only one that can change your spouse.
- Get to know your spouse – You will only be able to love your spouse as well as what you know them. See exercise below.
- Read their mind – Sometimes the most appropriate thing you can do to determine the need of the moment is to just ask your spouse. But other times that might get you slapped (men)! This is where mind reading comes in. But your mind reading shouldn’t be blind. As you get to know your spouse you should be able to better predict what your spouse’s need of the moment is in different situations.
- Pray – Lastly and most importantly, ask God to give you wisdom. He created your spouse and knows them better than you do. And, he desires for you to love your spouse well. You need wisdom, and God is a God who will give generously to those who ask.
Below is a simple exercise you can do with your spouse to help you get to know them. Complete the below charts for yourself, and then try and predict how your spouse will answer. Discuss. Then, ask each other how you can do a better job of meeting their top 3 needs as specifically as possible.