What Does Love Require?

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”—Ephesians 5:33 (ESV)

Is there anything worse than fighting with your spouse? I’d sooner be sick than feel the flush of red on my face and see the hurt in my spouse’s eyes from verbal shots fired. Miscommunication, assumptions, and insecurities—all these things surface in the union of marriage and wreak havoc. In the heat of the tension, my husband often encourages our family to ask this question: What does love require?

In looking at today’s verse, we can see what loves requires between a husband and wife. For husbands: “Let each one of you love his wife as himself.” Love requires a husband to consider his wife as often and as carefully as he would himself. Love requires a husband to love his wife “just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). For wives: “Let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Not just in word, but also in deed, so that he may feel it. Love requires the wife to yield to her husband and empower him to lead their family.

Marriage creates a glorious friction that, with the power of the Holy Spirit, can produce great patience, perseverance, character, and depth of relationship. Love is not passive; it is an active promise. Forgiveness is a costly part of that promise.

For the sake of unity, love requires you to relinquish your claim on an offense and give full pardon. If we’re really being honest, sometimes this feels near impossible. But the defenses that you think will keep you safe from being hurt again will soon poison your marriage. Insecurities never protect love. They strangle it. Therefore, they must be put down.

When you feel like you don’t have the strength or security to forgive your spouse, lean into the love of Jesus. Remember the commitment He made to you: “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15 NIV).

Love requires grace­—an overwhelming embrace of reconciliation. Love for your spouse flourishes when you know that Jesus loves you, so fully, so perfectly. He understands you like no one else. The sacrifice of forgiveness is always worth the reward of reconciliation.

DIG: Remember and reflect on the vows you made to your spouse.

DISCOVER: Are you gracious with your spouse? Pray that God would reveal to you the vastness of His grace and love for you!

DISPLAY: Seek to fully reconcile any lurking bitterness or conflict you have hidden in your heart.

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