Sacrificial love meets supportive love – the husband and wife team in a nutshell! Successful marriages are built that way. It’s interesting how the same words read by different people can evoke different interpretations where sacrificial love goes out the window and makes way for conditional love: “I only love you if you do what I say” and then on the other side of the spectrum comes the enabler saying: “Whatever you’re doing, whichever way you’re going, I’m going to support you.” That marriage would be a toxic cocktail and couldn’t be further from the intentions of the author of this letter to the Ephesians.
Relationships are challenged where self-interest gets in the way. A marriage partnership is unequally yoked if one partner keeps on giving and the other partner keeps on receiving, a classic example of marital dysfunction.
I believe there is no better training ground teaching us how to love well than that of a marriage relationship. I got married late in life, so I missed out on the fun for the better part of my life. I learned more about love in a decade of marriage than all the preceding decades of my adult life combined. Of course this is not to underestimate the effects of friendships or partnerships, however, according to my experience there is only so much commitment we have in friendships. At the end of the day I go home and do what I please. Not so in a marriage. When I come home from work and close the door, my spouse is still there. Marriage forces us to work things out. If we can’t work things out, we stop being married. That’s why marriage is a force to be reckoned with. If marriage works it rocks. If it doesn’t work it sucks.
When we had the chance to learn the ABCs of sacrificing and supporting through team work, we can bring this experience to the table, and this will contribute to the success of our marriage. Bottom line is: we need to learn how to support one another and how to love sacrificially. Both go against the grain of human nature.
As with many other things in life, the lifestyle of love boils down to learning by doing. In Christ we see a Teacher who does what He says. We can learn from Him. Awareness is our first step. Our second step: we need to practice the lifestyle of love. As time goes by, we will discover two things: We will never stop learning and our love grows ever so deeper.