It was quite a wedding – a beautiful bride and nervous groom. I wondered if they really understood the love they were committing to “until death do they part”. In his book, “The Five Love Languages” Gary Chapman says the “tingly” love phase in marriage - when neither can do any wrong in the other’s eyes, may last 2 weeks to 2 years. Then couples must learn to love as husband and wife – a man is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church; and a woman is to respect her husband (Eph.5:33).
Then they must learn to love as parents. What a fabulous moment it is when a child is birthed into the world! Mom & Dad experience the result of the love God talks of when He says, “they will become one flesh.” (Gen.2:24). Then come the dirty diapers, some talking back and teenage attitude. Then the child steps into adulthood. On the journey there are times when you wonder if your kid got switched with another at birth! And there are times when you are busting at the seam with pride, yelling, “That’s my kid!” Challenges can flare up at many points in between. One of the biggest challenges for dads is learning and conveying unconditional love. One dad stood toe to toe with his son as he pushed the independence envelope as boys do. The dad looked his son in the eyes, put his hands on his shoulders and said, “There is nothing you can do to stop me from loving you!” The argument was diffused. Appropriate consequences were implemented but the son never doubted his father’s love. Such love will keep the home a safe place for those tough questions and discussions as the kids mature.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV. The charge is to learn to love. Mature relationships recognize that love is not just a noun, it is a verb; not what is received but what is given; not praise but encouragement; not conditional but unconditional. Covenant love is extended from the Father through the Son. It is to be embraced fully, lived in marriage and passed on demonstrably to the next generation.
Tips to Learn to Love:
- Reflect on what you learned of love through your parents. Note what you remember of hugs, discipline, discussions and questions you could ask in the home;
- Ask your wife to do the same. Compare your perspectives with the Corinthians and Ephesians passages and discuss how love is reflected in your home;
- Be spiritually disciplined and reflect your relationship with Jesus in marriage;
- Hug your wife and kids, and say, “I love you” before walking out the door.
Prayer guide: Lord, I confess my perspective of love was based on feelings from a young age. You brought a young lady into my life that provided a healthier perspective. Thank You for the covenant love graciously offered through Your Son. It is Jesus’ example of selfless and sacrificial love that You have charged me to emulate. I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me so by His grace I am learning to love as He loved more today than yesterday, more tomorrow than today. Amen.
A faithful father learns to love as Christ loved, selflessly and sacrificially.