It can be easier to point out problems, rather than solutions. To discover healthy spousal love is to discover something so complete and complex that a list of rules will never do. In fact, rules can be a serious stumbling block, just as emotions.
If someone were to ask me about love, I might point to Jane Austen, Edith Nesbit, GGeorge Macdonald, maybe even certain works of Dickens or Stevenson. I might suggest the read about sacrifice, friendship, respect. I might suggest they search out examples and opportunities of such love amid them. Such love is not made known in a word or two, but in living with great lovers, in discovering how far and in what ways one falls short of the ideal, in fanning the desire to love better, and in practicing such.
I remember driving home one evening after a long day of work. I was annoyed thinking about what the house would look like when I got there. Dinner would probably not be cooked. And my wife, now my ex-wife, would have little time for me. It struck me how all of these irritations centered on how I expected to be served. Hadn’t I married with expectation of a happy home? a clean home? a friendly, energetic, romantic, listening wife?
With all these expectations I was bound to be disappointed, but that was not the real horror of the situation. It was seeing it through her eyes. I was the embodiment of the law and executioner. I was the tax collector. I was her judge. I was the dissatisfied master. All my thought and energy was consumed with what she should be doing for me.
It is not surprising that such an attitude contributed to a divorce.
The long U-Turn I am making is finding happiness in serving others, in blessing them with your love and work. This is the foolish love God calls us to give. Paradoxically, it is the only love we can really enjoy. Foolish love given freely not only sets those we love free, but sets us free to as “children of the Most High” (Luke 6:35), who is good to all regardless of their performance.
Until we love unselfishly, we cannot know the one’s we love. We will objectify them and hold them under continual judgment, a very similar judgement to the one we ourselves deserve. Until we forgive our debtors their debts (real or imaginary, past or ongoing), we cut ourselves off from the rich benefits and joy, the gratitude for Gods mercy.
But the moment we set others free, we find that we ourselves have been made free, and the gratitude and reality of such freedom makes itself known in love.
In such love we are glad to be found fools.