“Relationships don't last because of the good times, they last because the hard times were handled with love and care.” – Anmol Andore

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – From the Love Chapter in the Bible

The story is told of a young man who asked an older (and wiser) man to pray for him. “Pray that I will grow in patience,” the younger man asked earnestly. His friend suggested that they pray right then and there.

“Lord,” the older man began, “I pray that you would bring trials and tribulation into Ben's life this very day. I pray he will experience trouble this morning and again, this afternoon. I pray –”

The younger man interrupted his friend and said, “Wait, please! I wanted you to pray that I would grow in patience!”

The older man smiled. “That's what I was doing.”

The Love Chapter in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13) lists in one brief package 15 characteristics of love. Bob Lepine, in his book “The Christian Husband,” takes a look at how these statements should be applied between husband and wife.

The first characteristic, illustrated by the story above, is patience. Synonyms for patience are endurance, perseverance, and forbearance. The word “patience” seems a lot friendlier than the other more demanding words.

The essence of patience is the willingness to wait and to make the effort to understand the other person. The antithesis is selfishness; we refuse to wait, to forebear, because it is inconvenient to us.

Kindness goes right along with patience because we choose to act in good will toward our spouse. It takes the word “endurance” and adds the human element of genuine concern.

Jealousy, as we have noted in the recent past, stems from a very selfish nature. In addition to illustrating our selfishness, jealousy demonstrates a failure to trust the other person and a desire to control their behavior for our own benefit. Jealousy tends to feed on and magnify the trivial.

Arrogance and bragging are normally fueled by a feeling of insecurity. That selfish nature rises up and tells us we must exalt ourselves in the eyes of others. The input and interest of others is not important because the arrogant braggart “has all the answers.”

We act unbecoming when we are inconsiderate of those around us. If we are among friends and talk about our spouse in an unflattering manner, we are acting unbecoming.

The characteristic of “not seeking after our own” is another way of condemning selfishness. The Burger King ad says “Have it your way.” Society today says we are successful when everything is going our way. The Love Chapter says we know true love when we are more concerned about providing for others.

Love is not easily offended. We don't walk around with a chip on our shoulder. When our spouse says or does something that appears offensive, our first concern should be for their welfare. What happened that is triggering their behavior? Is there anything we can do to help?

This doesn't mean we blindly accept wrong doing. We have an obligation to make the truth know, but we do it in a fashion that demonstrates the other characteristics of love. As has been said, we exhibit “tough love,” which can only be done in a spirit of humility and unselfishness.

In the context of marriage, the ideas of bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring summarize the essence of committed unconditional love.

Bearing and enduring imply that the marriage relationship between two flawed individuals will bring many challenges. Believing and hoping in each other and God will bring this institution through to a divine ending.

The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken, Inc. (FAMCO) provides resources for you to succeed in your marriage and families. Roger Rollins, Executive Director, FAMCO, 803-640-4689, rogerrollins@aikenfamco.com, www.aikenfamco.com.