Verse four begins with the phrase “Love is patient and kind”; in other words, it’s an attitude, and an action.
I’ve had married couples during counseling say after just a few years they’ve stopped telling one another each day that they love each other.
If this action is not happening, and you are not telling your spouse that you love her/him, then you have allowed something to affect your attitude. It’s critical to identify this challenge and resolve it.
This “something” that is affecting you can be a small, unexpected disagreement about something trivial, or it may be about a much deeper held value that you were unaware of before your marriage. It could also be as simple as the way your spouse drives in traffic.
Whatever it is, you need to discuss it openly and eradicate the feelings of separation, or it will permeate your relationship.
Those who received pre-marriage counseling with me learned that the single greatest indicator of a healthy, long-term marriage is your ability to resolve conflict*. I give ten steps to help a couple through the process, so that when it arises, they immediately implement them together.
It is important that you don’t put it off. Each day you allow the conflict to stay under the surface, it gains strength and continues to open the door even wider to destructive attitudes and behaviors. It’s only a matter of time, and the right emotional trigger, before it sticks its ugly head up.
Note that the passage in 1Corinthians begins with an ‘attitude’, and then an ‘action’. Patience is about your attitude or love; kindness is about your action.
The kindest and most courageous thing you can do is not let anything come between the two of you, so you must do whatever it takes to resolve it.
Of course along the way, it’s wonderful to discover what your partner enjoys, then you can fulfill the encouragement to be “Patient and Kind” toward one another by doing small kindnesses throughout your week.
And oh yes -- start and end your day with, “I Love You”. A small act with huge benefits.
1. Keep checking your attitude, not theirs.
2. Discover what your partner enjoys and do it. Today.
3. Read together “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.
4. Define the problem. Generalizations are not productive, i.e. “You always…” “You never…” statements are counterproductive.
5. Listen, listen, and listen, especially when you feel defensive.
6. Cherish one another.
7. Don’t let yesterday dictate today. More about that later…
*The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman Ph.D (Crown)
Principle Point: 1Corinthians 13:4