I’ve been told that a person’s greatest need is to be loved. I’ve even been told that being loved is the greatest reason to endure the struggles of marriage. Maybe you’ve heard similar statements. Maybe, like me, you’ve felt those statements were lacking in some way. It’s because they aren’t true. Your greatest need, especially in marriage, isn’t to be loved. Your greatest need in marriage is actually the exact opposite.
I’ve discovered a biblical truth I believe the church has led me astray from. Now in fairness, the church usually describes a person’s need to be loved in regard to their need for a loving God. In the context of a person’s soul, certainly their greatest need is for a loving God to extend grace and forgiveness of sin for the purpose of salvation. But does a similar need to be loved extend to our marriage?
For years now, I’ve lived my married life under the assumption I have this great need to be loved. If I felt our marriage relationship wasn’t what I wanted it to be, it must be because my wife wasn’t loving me appropriately. She wasn’t sharing love with me according to my love language. Or she was simply too busy with the kids to devote time to me.
Trouble is, I still feel a lacking in our relationship even when she is intentional to devote time to me and love me according to my love language. If my greatest need is to be loved by my wife, why do I still feel like something is missing when I know she loves me?
It’s because I’ve been missing my greatest need in marriage for all these years. My greatest need, and your’s too, isn’t to be loved. Our greatest need in marriage is to love our spouse, not be loved by our spouse.
Jesus said so
Let me demonstrate this biblical truth with a few words from Jesus. In John 13:31-35, Jesus is giving the disciples a new commandment. Jesus is trying to prepare the disciples for his crucifixion. He tells them he won’t be with them much longer. But then he tells them how to demonstrate to others they are followers of Christ. He tells them they are to love one another; just as he loves us, we are to love one another. He goes on to explain this love for one another is how all people will know we are disciples of Christ.
How does this relate to marriage? The purpose of marriage is to demonstrate the love of Christ to others. If we are going to fulfill this new commandment that Jesus gave us, we must love our spouse. Love is a verb that requires action on our part. It is through the act of loving our spouse our heart is filled with the oneness the Bible describes as marriage.
Paul said Jesus said so
In Acts 20:35, Paul is teaching the people of the Ephesian church to love and care for others in the ministry of the good news of Jesus. In his teaching about helping others, Paul quotes Jesus as saying “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
How does this relate to marriage? Simple really, you will be more blessed by giving love to your spouse than you are by receiving love from your spouse.
Peter said so
In 1 Peter 4:8, Peter is teaching us to steward well the grace of God. He tells us to be self-controlled and sober-minded. He tells us to serve one another and to speak the truth of the Bible to one another. But in the middle of this teaching, Peter says “above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since loves covers a multitude of sins.” Wow, above all? That’s right, above anything else, love one another.
How does this relate to marriage? Above all else, even receiving love, we have the need to love our spouse. Additionally, only love will cover the multitude of sin our spouse struggles with. Incidentally, we struggle with similar sin and only the love of our spouse will cover our sin.
Paul said so
In Colossians 3:14, Paul is teaching us to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, and patient. He adds that we are to forgive one another. All very important characteristics of a Christian. But then he adds more. He then says, “above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Forgiveness doesn’t bind everything together, love does. Patience doesn’t bind everything together, love does. Compassion doesn’t bind everything together, love does. You get the point.
How does this relate to marriage? Everything includes marriage. Therefore love is the only thing that will bind the marriage together in perfect harmony.
You can’t control how your spouse loves you. Luckily, that isn’t your greatest need. Your greatest need in marriage is to actively love your spouse. You can control how you love your spouse.
Knowing these biblical truths, I have to be intentional to live out my greatest need in marriage. I have to intentionally love my wife. It is then that I realize a fullness in our marriage relationship.
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