by Linda W. Rooks @linda_rooks
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV
I was not happy with my husband. The night before, when I started talking about wanting to get some insurance papers off in the mail, he was unresponsive. I continued to prod him, and when he finally replied, his answer seemed dismissive. I felt offended. The rest of the evening, I busied myself with cleaning up the kitchen and avoided spending time with him.
Now it was morning, and a new problem had surfaced in his work. My husband needed to resolve it, and I could tell he wanted to talk to me about it, but I still felt miffed. I took a sip of coffee and looked down at the 1 Corinthians 13 love cup in my hands. My eyes immediately rested on a phrase inscribed on the side, which read, “Love endures all things.”
Humph. I didn’t feel very loving . . .
But I knew what God was saying in this Scripture, and that God was not asking me how I felt. God was just asking me to love. And my coffee cup stated love “endures.” In other words, love keeps loving even when it’s hard, even when we don’t feel like loving. So I listened to my husband and responded. I was polite.
After we spent some time talking about his work situation, I looked at my husband and sighed. “I’m still not very happy with you, you know.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling well last night and had so much on my mind. I thought you were referring to the medical insurance forms I’d just received yesterday. I didn’t understand you were talking about the insurance for our trip.”
Oh my – miscommunication unmasked – a familiar marital theme!
Thankfully, however, God ripped away its destructive potential with a gentle reminder. Our misunderstanding could have gone on for quite awhile without resolution—but for my coffee cup reminding me about what it means to love.
I picked up my Bible and read 1 Corinthians 13 again, thinking about loving my husband God’s way—even when I feel offended.
By following God’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 13 on how to love, even when conflict arises we can work through the confusion that often threatens to divide a couple during confrontations and quarrels. When we are patient, we wait to hear what the other person has to say without judging. By being kind and gentle with our words, we show that we care and give the other person confidence that they are being heard. By rejoicing in truth, we work together as a team to find the best answer rather than merely insisting on our own way.
1 Corinthians 13 tells us what to avoid as well. If we are boastful, conceited, or selfish when disagreements arise, we will pull further apart rather than finding resolution. When we get angry or begin bringing up past offenses, we muddy the waters, cause tensions to rise, and thrust what may have begun as a simple misunderstanding into thorny and dangerous new areas of offense.
However, by protecting the hearts of one another, hoping to find resolution, trusting each other’s motives, and persevering until we come to an understanding, love can reign and hurts can mend.
God can steer us through many disagreements in the home when we follow the instructions He gives us in His Word. And sometimes it may help to start the day with the right kind of coffee cup.
About the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning book, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, and her earlier book, Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.
Join the conversation: What have you found to be helpful in your relationship with your spouse?