The Way of Love
The Way of Love: 1 Corinthians 13 as a guide to Romance
The passage about Love in 1 Corinthians 13 is so prevalent at weddings that even non-Christians are familiar with it. I believe it is relevant to anyone, regardless of race or religion. When a friend of mine was having relationship problems with his girlfriend, I reminded him of the passage and shared with him how to use the passage as a guide for his relationship with her. He and his girlfriend got engaged shortly after.
For what it’s worth, here are the thoughts which I had shared with my friend on the passage in relation to how it can guide any romantic relationship.
1) Love is patient
The definition of Love begins with the line, “Love is patient” and rightly so. There is a reason why it begins this way and that is because of how patience is a virtue that is foundational for any romance. Patience is what enables both parties to understand and accept each other, flaws and all. It also means that both parties are not to lose their tempers at the slightest difference of opinion. Instead, they are to be patient with each other, communicate lovingly and honestly, and not rush each other into any decision or actions.
Patience is right at the forefront of the 1 Corinthians 13 passage and it can also prove to be the most difficult to abide. However, this is non-negotiable. Before getting to the rest of the passage, one must pass through the Gate of Patience.
2) Love is kind
Res ipsa loquitur. This is straightforward: Don’t be an a-hole to your partner. If two people really love each other, how can they be anything but kind to each other? Be kind to your partner – in thoughts, words and deeds. This is one of the best ways to show your love to your partner and make your partner feel loved.
3) Love does not envy
In a romance, two people are not supposed to compete against each other. They are supposed to be united in a common vision. Celebrate each other’s successes. Help each other succeed. Encourage your partner to be the best that they can be. Skip the mind games and stop making your partner jealous.
A good man does not make his partner jealous; a good man gives his partner the assurance that she does not have to worry about anything. A good man gives his partner the emotional security that every moment spent with her is a dream come true.
4) Love does not boast
The ego is one of the greatest causes of relationship breakdown. If there is a perpetual clash of egos between both parties, or if one party exerts his or her ego over the other, the relationship is bound to fail or become abusive. Conversely, humility will help a romance flourish. Nobody is perfect. When one makes a mistake, apologise.
Besides the words, “I love you”, the other three important words are, “I am sorry.” Guys, be a man and admit when you’re wrong. And for crying out loud, don’t go bragging to your buds how you had pleased your woman in bed. A little class goes a long way.
5) Love is not proud
No matter how well a relationship is going, never be arrogant about it. And do not be too proud to apologise to your partner or seek forgiveness from your partner when you have erred. Pride can be a formidable barrier between you and your partner that will cause a rift in the relationship. Get rid of foolish pride. You and your partner will then have a happier and healthier relationship.
6) Love does not dishonour others
Never scandalise or bring disrepute to your partner. Honour your partner every chance you get, in public and privately. Your partner will be one of the greatest treasures you receive in this lifetime. Acknowledge that by your words and deeds.
7) Love is not self-seeking
It is never just about you. If it were only about you, then remain single…on an island by yourself or in some cave. When you are in a relationship, it is about the two of you – equally. Do not put your needs and wants ahead of your partner’s. Collaborate with each other on how your wants and needs can be met jointly. Respect your partner enough to prioritise her and her needs in your life.
8) Love is not easily angered
This ties in with patience. Be patient with your partner. Do not snap at them for the slightest issue. Girls, if your guy forgot to put the toilet seat down after a long day, don’t pounce on him – just put it down yourself. If he forgets again, then take a frying pan to his head...kidding. Do not terrify or terrorise each other. Do not magnify small issues or petty grievances.
Have clear and open channels of communication with your partner. Before tempers flare or explode, let your partner know what is bothering you. Be conscious of the words you use. Communicate with love, not harshness. Why should any harsh words be exchanged between two people who love each other?
Be aware of your body language and facial expressions – are you conveying aggression or displeasure? Are you putting your partner in fear? These are undesirable and unhealthy for the relationship. Be mindful of how you treat your partner. Love begets love.
9) Love keeps no record of wrongs
When you forgive your partner a particular mistake, let the matter rest. Let it go. Do not resurrect it in a future argument. Keep all resurrections for Paradise where there are gardens and waterfalls and all things nice. Do not bring a past mistake into a present argument. Specifically, do not bring up your partner’s sexual history and use it against her.
I know of women who have a tough time dealing with this, especially when they meet a man they love. A woman I once dated was terrified that her sexual history would cause me to abandon her. She told me how many people she had been with but was surprised when I was unfazed. I explained to her that when I had expressed interest in her and wanted to see her, I was ready to accept her for who she is.
When you love a person, you love them in their entirety, sexual history and all. Do not keep a record of your lover’s wrongs. Instead, liberate your partner from any fear, doubt or insecurity that they might have.
10) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
Treat your partner well. Do not be abusive towards your partner or take advantage of them. Have an honest relationship. Trust, honesty, fidelity…all these are critical to a relationship. Communicate truthfully.
11) Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres
Protect your partner, not just physically but emotionally. Guard her heart as if it were a priceless treasure. When your partner entrusted her heart with you, she placed herself in a position of vulnerability.
Understand what that means and do all you can within your power to keep her safe and secure. In addition, have faith in your partner. Trust your partner and trust in her. Journey together, weather the storms together. It’s only over when you call it quits, so persevere and keep hope alive.
12) Love never fails
Love is the most powerful force of all. This much I believe to be true. When two people love each other, they will not find excuses – they will find a way to make their relationship work. Love always prevails.
(20 February 2015)