5 Aspects of True Love towards Your Spouse

Updated Feb 19, 2024
5 Aspects of True Love towards Your Spouse

Love is not just something to make us feel good; it's an action that is centered around the other person's thoughts and feelings. Here are 5 characteristics that I have learned about true, agape love:

My husband and I have been married for twenty-three years. The first few Valentine’s Days we spent together were very romantic as each one of us tried to demonstrate our love to each other with grander gestures each year.

However, as the years went on, it became more difficult to think about the upcoming Valentine's Day or how to show each other love in ways we hadn't previously.

Some years we felt we had gotten stuck in a rut in our marriage and were just going through the motions. We simply did things just to please the other person, and not because we really felt like it.

Although feelings are not the ultimate indicators of whether we should show love to each other, it does make a difference. Deep feelings create a sense of motivation and urgency. When we feel motivated by something, we're more apt to do it.

Because love matures, we have had to understand truly the meaning of the word love.

Agape love is defined as, “…in the New Testament, the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God. In Scripture, the transcendent agape love is the highest form of love and is contrasted with eros, or erotic love, and philia, or brotherly love.”

We often throw the word love around for different things, diminishing the word’s meaning. For example, we may say we love ice cream, and we say we love our spouse. However, we love our spouses differently than we love inanimate objects.

Love is not just something to make us feel good; it's an action that is centered around the other person's thoughts and feelings.

Here are 5 characteristics that I have learned about true, agape love:

1. True Love Means Humility

True love cannot occur if both parties are set in their ways and too prideful to acknowledge the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

It is difficult to strike a balance between meeting your own needs and wanting to serve the other person. However, if we change our mindset to one that our lives are in service to the other, we will understand true love.

With love, we put aside our pride and humble ourselves. We apologize when necessary. We work out our differences in kind, loving ways. We resolve to end conflict and not let it fester.

When we lay down our pride and replace it with humility, we experience a love that goes deeper than any other relationship we can experience here on earth. 

2. True Love Means Forgiveness

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is your spouse. This is because they see the best and worst of us. They know our strengths and our weaknesses and sometimes they use it for their own selfish gain, and sometimes we do the same to them.

However, that's not love. To love means we forgive other people's offenses even when they've done it multiple times.

Forgiveness means to put the past behind us and choose not to remember it anymore. God chooses to remember our sins no more; that is how he chooses to forgive. But that does not mean he doesn't remember; he simply chooses not to remember it.

It's the same with us. We cannot forget past hurt and pain. However, as we forgive others the way we've been forgiven, the pain becomes less and less.

God, in his sovereignty, puts salve on our wounds and heals them so that we can forgive our spouses because we realize the grace that has been given to us.

3. True Love Means Repentance

Repentance makes it easier for our spouses to forgive us, and vice versa. Simply saying sorry and asking someone to forgive, only to do the act again, is not true repentance.

True repentance paves the way for intimacy, trust, and deeper bonds both with our spouses and with God.

It is not easy to change old, sinful habits into new, healthier ones, but with God's help, anything is possible. Repentance requires that we go to God to acknowledge our sins, and we humbly ask for his forgiveness.

Once we live in the knowledge of that forgiveness, we choose to not do that behavior anymore, not only because it hurts us, but also hurts our relationships with others.

Repentance means to do an “about face.” That means we literally turn away from our selfish acts and turn towards the demonstration of the fruit of the spirit to others.

Repentance is a necessary component of true, agape love that we can have for our spouses.

4. True Love Means Intimacy

Many relationships struggle because although the physical intimacy is there, the emotional intimacy is not. Many wives can feel a part of their relationship is missing because their husbands are not emotionally available to them.

While some men have difficulty with emotions, it is an important part of their overall well-being. It is important for men to get in touch with their emotions so that they can empathize and comfort their wives during difficult times. And it is important for wives to be there for their husbands as they go against society to learn this skill.

When a woman's emotional needs are met, more than likely she will reciprocate in a physical way.

While it’s true that men and women may differ on how they feel the most loved, whether through emotional or physical intimacy, both parties need to be for each other and seek to meet each other's needs, not their own. 

5. True Love Means to Exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit

When the fruits of the spirit are evident in our lives, our relationships thrive. However, when those fruits are missing, relationships get reduced to both parties trying to meet their own selfish needs.

The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). When we seek to add these into our lives, we become better people. When we become better people, we want to be better people for our spouses whom we love the most.

No longer are we looking for others to meet our ultimate needs, but rather we have our identity solidified in Christ. All these fruits have one thing in common: they seek to be others-centered. We can't be selfish when we're exhibiting these types of fruits in our lives.

A person who wants to develop more fruit of the spirit knows that to be the best person they can be, they must have their foundational emotional needs met by God. They need to have their identity solidified in Him and understand that their worth and value were settled on the cross, not in other people's opinions of them.

When they can reconcile this in their minds and hearts, they will seek to be people who strive to be tangible representations of Christ.

Love is a word that gets thrown around a lot in our society. But few of us know what true love really is.

As Christians, we understand what true love is as we look at the witness of Christ. However, we may feel as if we fall short because we are not like Christ and won't be in this lifetime.

However, we can strive to emulate Christ’s example by being humble, forgiving others, repenting of our selfish behaviors, meeting others’ emotional needs and exhibiting the fruit of spirit in our lives.

When we can do these things, we will understand what true love is. Once we understand that true love, we want to give it to others, including our spouses!

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Sam Edwards

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.