A great marriage is built on selfless love, in the big and the small. When we do this, our brains actually shut off their need for reward. Giving freely without expectation does not come naturally to us, but it enables us to love through seemingly impossible circumstances.
Great Love Requires Great Self-Sacrifice
When we were first married, I walked out on my husband Bobby the night he was critically ill with food poisoning. I was immature, scared, and completely self-absorbed. Even when he could have held a fistful of resentment, he unselfishly sacrificed his pride and forgave. He loved me in the big.
Almost a decade into being married, we both confessed some secrets from our past. For some couples, these would have been marriage-ending issues. Even though we wanted to run, we chose honesty and trust. I was never more thankful than that moment that we were both Christ followers. His command to forgive one another in love is the primary reason we stayed together (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV).
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13: 6-7 (NIV)
This is not blind love without healthy boundaries or the need for intervention. Our ability to love came only from God who helped us admit our brokenness together and empowered us to continue working at our love.
A great love story demands selflessness in the big things. Tweet This
Little Things Matter as Much as the Big
Pivotal moments can make or break our marriages, but the big things are comprised of the mundane and every day. Kate Motaung relates the story of how she panic-called her husband one Valentine’s evening because he hadn’t come home after his late shift. “The world will tell us that love looks like chocolate and roses,” she says. But often, it’s more like what he was doing: late-night shopping for toilet paper.
I recently asked several women and men how their partners loved them in meaningful ways. There were no big stories. What they recounted were the little things.
What Women Love
Women love it when men show thoughtfulness:
- Making morning coffee
- Taking out the trash
- Scraping icy car windows
- Bathing the kids so she can be alone
“He is extremely frugal but never begrudges my pedicure or Starbucks or purchases for the kids even though they would not be something he prioritizes.” -Sara H.
Women love it when men connect:
- Praying together
- Playing with the kids and caring for them
“He says ‘thank you’ a lot. It goes a long way for me.” -Liz J.
Women love it when men help them in the crazy. Jennifer B. says, “When my children were small, my late husband would sometimes come home to find me with THAT look in my eye after being at home all day with them. He would see the crazy. So he would point to the door and say, ‘Go. I got this. Don’t come back until you are ready.’ And I would. I loved him for that.”
What Men Love
Men love it when women empower them.
- Complimenting in public.
- Interacting respectfully.
- Welcoming him cheerfully.
Men love it when women value the physical.
- Taking care of her beautiful self.
- Making sex a priority.
Men love it when women give freedom.
- Being patient when he forgets things and not nagging.
- Giving him time to pursue the activities he enjoys.
It’s important to mention that service was huge for both women and men in my query. Michael M. said, “Cleaning the house and having dinner on the table when I walk in the door,” was meaningful. Both sexes mentioned taking care of the kids and my personal favorite: sleeping late.
Great love grows in the unselfish things we do for each other in the everyday. Tweet This
Selfless Love Makes The Impossible Happen
Love that asks for no reward is exactly what enables people to love through the impossible: the woman who continues praying for her husband when he says divorce or the man who forgives his wife when she confesses unfaithfulness. Many of my friends have endured terminal illness, epic career changes, childlessness, and many other crises in their marriages. Like the moments in my own, these are the times when selflessness is put to the test, in big and small.
I think of how my husband made the bed today, because he knows this sets my day aright. Tonight I won’t bug him when he plops on the couch for a few minutes of chill time because I know he needs to unwind. I remember the courage he found to forgive me when I left at the beginning of our marriage. Then we both made that choice again when we decided to live in complete truth.
Our love story is made of moments—days, months, years—all writing a future lifetime. We are two broken people who still grumble and fight, who find it hard to forgive. Christ is the only One who makes our love possible. He laid down His life in sacrifice for us. And we follow suit as selflessly as two selfish people can.
What You Think
Take a moment to let me know what you liked or didn’t like about this article. Writing about loving well is a difficult topic for me: it takes a huge amount of time and energy because I’m constantly examining my own motives and relationship with God and others. Your constructive feedback always helps!
Who do you know that chooses to love unselfishly? How does their example inspire or challenge you?
Ways To Love Better
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