Last week, we asked “what is love?” and began constructing an answer based on what Paul says in I Corinthians 13. The goal is to understand how this chapter relates to us in marriage. First we notice that love is patient. Here, patience carries the connotation that we are to be patient with those that do us wrong. It means that we do not seek to retaliate when we are mistreated.
I wish I could say that spouses never do one another wrong, but unfortunately this is not the case. It is often one’s spouse that can inflict more damage than anyone else. Sometimes it is through hurtful words, a lack of follow through in key areas, betrayal, or misplaced priorities. Whatever the case, couples often hurt one another as can be evidenced by the current state of many marriages and the divorce rate in America.
People hurt people. Hurt people hurt people. Thus, the cycle of pain grows. A husband and wife are certainly no exception. Sometimes couples hurt one another in an isolated incident and other times there is a habit or struggle that plagues a marriage. Yet, we are reminded that love suffers long. It is patient. It does not seek to retaliate.
When we are done wrong, being reminded that love is patient can be a tough pill to swallow. When we are treated unfairly our natural reaction is to strike back. As the saying goes, revenge is sweet, but revenge is the antithesis of love.
Paul is not saying here that love is co-dependent. Love does mean we sign ourselves up to be hurt in the same way continually. It does not mean that we live a passive lifestyle. Practicing patience does not imply that we forget about being treated with respect and disregard healthy boundaries. There are times when we have to construct walls that keep the same offenses from happening. No one is to become a doormat in their marriage.
Practicing patience within marriages simply means that we be willing to turn the other cheek. It means instead of getting even we practice forgiveness. Again, forgiveness is a difficult thing to put in practice, but it is completely necessary; more so for our sake than anyone else’s. When we refuse to forgive we construct a mental and emotional prison for ourselves. Forgiveness gives love wings. It frees us from our own mental prison, and it releases the person who hurt us of the debt they owe us.
I have seen many marriages implode due to the fact that one or both parties were unwilling to let things go. They continually sought to punish the other for past transgressions. For love to grow we cannot harbor any roots of bitterness because they eventually grow into colossal trees that are unmovable.
Let us also remember that we are married to another human. They will make mistakes and hurt us time and again. Instead of taking these hurts and meeting them with reciprocity, what if we practiced patience instead? In place of meeting hurt with further hurt let’s talk to our spouse about how they hurt us. Sometimes they are unaware that they have done so.
So what about when they are aware that they have hurt us? We still practice patience. The last thing that will fix the situation is lashing out at them and seeking to do them wrong. Instead we must deal with the problem, and let them know how what they did affected us. If they are unwilling to change and seek to continually hurt us in this way then we construct a set of boundaries that will not allow them to do so.
Love is always patient. It suffers long. It never seeks to retaliate. It forgives instead of holding a grudge.
Patience is waiting for God to solve problems that we cannot. – Unknown
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.