Love is Not All You Need for a Strong Marriage

This year, I’m excited to officiate at three weddings. It’s such a privilege to meet with couples as they prepare for spending the rest of their lives together, and I love to see how God is at work in each of their relationships. In honour of this season of weddings, today I’m sharing a short wedding message.

wedding

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

These words come from the love chapter of the Bible, and they’re so beautiful, so romantic, that they’re often read at weddings or anniversary celebrations.

But as beautiful as these words might sound, if we really think about them, they are also difficult words because of the way they define love. When a husband says, “I love you” to his wife–when a wife says, “I love you” to her husband–whenever any of us says “I love you” to another person, what we’re really saying is:

I am patient with you.
I am kind.
I do not envy or boast.
I am not proud or rude,
not selfish, not easily angered.
I don’t keep record of wrongs.
I always protect,
always trust,
always hope,
always persevere in our relationship.

According to the Bible, that’s what love is.

And that’s what makes these beautiful words so difficult.

Because if love is really all those things–being patient, being kind, always protecting, always trusting, always persevering–if love is really all those things and more–who among us can ever say “I love you” and really mean it? And really live it? How will the two of you be and do all of those wonderful qualities as a couple? Not just for a minute, not just for a beautiful wedding day like today, but for a lifetime?

That sounds impossible. And humanly speaking, it is impossible. After all, if we look at the world around us, if we look at our own lives, we know that even with the best intentions, relationships sometimes fail, and the love that’s meant to last a lifetime, is not always enough.

In fact, to have  a healthy, strong marriage, takes more than love. The Beatles once sang, “all you need is love, all you need is love.” It’s a great hit song, but in the Bible, while love may be the greatest thing, it’s not the only thing. Love is not all you need. As the great love chapter of the Bible also says,

now these three remain:
Faith, Hope and Love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

To live out the Bible’s impossible definition of love takes faith. For with faith, all things are possible. Faith in God to make you patient when you don’t feel that way. Faith in God to give you perseverance when life gets tough. Faith in God to forgive you when you fail.

What’s more, you’ll need faith in one another and in the commitment that you make today–faith that whatever challenges or changes come your way, you’ll still be there for one another; faith to forgive one another when you fail. Along with love, that’s the kind of faith commitment that can make a marriage–faith in God and faith in one another.

You will also need hope.

In our everyday language, the word hope tends to be a relatively weak word. We say, “We hope everyone will be on time for the wedding rehearsal”–even though we have no control over the traffic or other people’s schedules. We say, “We hope it won’t rain for the wedding”–even though we know we have no control over the weather. In our everyday use of the word hope, sometimes we get what we hope for, and sometimes we don’t.

But the Bible talks about another kind of hope. It describes hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It encourages us to be diligent, to make our hope sure. There is nothing weak about that kind of hope. It’s the kind of hope that makes things happen. It’s the kind of hope that has brought the two of you to stand where you are standing today. It’s a hope that says yes to love and yes to one another, and is diligent to make it happen.

And so as you celebrate your wedding today, I encourage you in Faith, Hope, and Love–that you would turn to God in faith; that you would truly love one another; that together you would face the future with hope.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: How do you express faith, hope, and love in your marriage and/or other relationships?

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2 replies

  1. Thanks April for those good words of encouragement. I can certainly agree on the topic that not only do you need love. – that is born in the heart of us –but we also need the love of God to keep going, believing, and enduring in the commitment we made in the wedding ceremony to each other before family and friends. 53 years of personal experience in loving, living, raising 4 children to adulthood, loss of home, possessions, jobs, and income and yet through it all–I would not change anything, because of the lessons we learned and are still learning about the magnificent love of God carrying us through life daily!

    • Congratulations on 53 years of living, loving, and learning! There is much beauty in young love looking to the future, and perhaps an even more brilliant beauty in mature love that’s known testing and refining over the years. I treasure your testimony, and wish you many more years of blessing.