Paul describes love as active, not passive (1 Cor. 13:4-8). His description is extensive and helpful. It is written in the context of brethren dealing with one another, but is surely applicable to the relationship of husband and wife. Consider the following in light of the marriage.
Suffers long. Patience exercised by both the husband and wife. Each needs to grow and give opportunity for the other to grow. Both will make mistakes and even do things out of spite at times. Longsuffering will help build a solid relationship.
Kind. Each spouse will be gracious and considerate. The husband will not pick on his wife for her weaknesses, but rather work to compensate for them; hiding them from others when possible.
Does not envy. Spouse ought not to be jealous of each other or discontent about the other’s success. The wife should not resent her husband as he leaves the home everyday to go to work. The husband will not feel ill toward his wife who gets to remain at home and watch the children grow, having those special moments.
Does not parade itself, is not puffed up. Marriage partners will not be arrogant and conceited. The PhD wife will not look down on the high-school graduate husband. The head will not belittle the body, acting as a know-it-all dictator. In short, no superiority complex.
Does not behave rudely. Husbands and wives with love in the marriage will not be unmannerly, discourteous, impolite, or vulgar toward one another. The husband will respect the wife’s sensibilities and not unduly harass her with his childish behavior. A wife will conduct herself in a courteous manner in public and private.
Does not seek its own. This gets to the heart of most marriage problems; selfishness. Each is vying for supremacy in the relationship, thinking of self instead of the other. This is not an action of love, but of self-centeredness.
Is not provoked. Love in the marriage will bring an even-handedness. The husband will not be temperamental and hot-headed. The wife will not wear her feelings on her sleeve. Rather, each will control their passions as they deal with difficult situations, even ones that tend to upset them.
Thinks no evil. Spouses will not dwell on the wrongs committed against them. They will not assign dubious motives to the other’s actions and words. There will be no brooding over slights, intended or unintended.
Does not rejoice in iniquity. A husband cannot be gleeful about his wife’s sins. The wife ought not find joy in her husband’s moral failings. Too, neither will draw undue attention to each other’s iniquities. This includes during an argument, but especially in the presence of others. It will do untold damage to the marriage relationship and embarrass all present.
Rejoiced in truth. Husbands and wives will be happy about the faithfulness of their mate. They will appreciate a godly spouse who encourages them in righteousness and is helping them get to heaven. This is true even when controversy and persecution arise.
Bears all things. There are difficulties we must all face in life; hardships and heartaches. Some of these are unavoidable, others are not. Even when the thoughtless or careless action of a spouse brings trials, the other will bear with it. Spouses are in life as one unit, not two.
Believes all things. The marriage is helped greatly when each spouse has confidence in the other. There is no idle suspicion, mistrust, and doubt. Faith is put in the other that love and fidelity is mutual, that each has the best interest of the other at heart, unless there is some compelling reason to think otherwise.
Hopes all things. Wives and husbands will anticipate good. They will think the best and look forward to it. When having to deal with a sticky issue, they will expect a reasonable discussion and pleasing outcome. Hope for the best in the one you love.
Endures all things. This is similar to bearing all things, but points more toward circumstances in life. There will be requirements of each spouse, unique to them and the role God has assigned them. In these roles, the husband and wife will endure; minimize the complaining and wishing for escape from rightful duties.
Never fails. True love survives the good and bad. When both the husband and wife love each other as God commands, any trial or difficulty can be conquered. The relationship will grow deeper and more beautiful as the years go by. Old age will be more pleasant and profitable as they remain companions up to the point of death.