Love is — fill in the blank — holding hands, a warm hug, a kiss. When you are dating/courting, it can seem that the romance will never end. But, one thing that love isn’t, is easy.

While it may be hard to imagine while dating, maintaining a loving relationship is a lot of work.

Be Patient

You are both individuals with your own thoughts, feelings, wants and needs. Recognizing these differences before marriage and accepting that you cannot change another person, even through love, is critical. 

Never assume that your future spouse knows what you are thinking or agrees with you on every point. We each process emotions and respond to situations differently, and our time-frames for responding will not always be the same. In a relationship, patience is a most valuable virtue, and certainly one you’ll both benefit from cultivating throughout your married life.

Be Honest

Always be honest with yourself and your future spouse. No matter the problem, you will need to work through it together in marriage. Before marrying, make it a point to always be honest with one another. 

This doesn’t mean you have to share your every thought or opinion. The question, “Do these jeans make me look fat?” doesn’t always have to be answered with a “yes” or “no.” However, there should be no secrets between you. Share you worries, your dreams, your past successes and failures. 

Be honest, but think before you speak. Hint: A safe answer to the jeans question is always, “I love you no matter what you wear, so you decide.”

Have Faith and Hope

Center your relationship on faith from the beginning, and always leave room for hope. None of us knows what the future holds. Marriage is ‘for better or worse,’ and when things get ‘worse,’ your faith will see you through and provide you with the hope you need to get to ‘better.’

Be Committed

Your wedding vows, while important, are not as important as your actions in marriage. That old saying, actions speak louder than words, holds true in a relationship. For your marriage to be successful, you will need to work at it, so start before you are married. Be there for one another, have fun together, continuously work at maintaining your friendship. If there is a problem, be there for each other. Be strong when needed and ask for help when you need it.

Be Kind

The person whom you most love can cause you the deepest pain, so be kind to each other, and do it often. Give hugs just because. Say, “I love you,” but say, “I like being with you,” too. Hug, just because. Smile at each other. Say please and thank you. Basically, remind yourself to never stop “dating;” always keep trying to woo one-another, before and throughout marriage.

Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with.— 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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