Depending on who you speak to, love means different things to different people. We all give and want to receive love in a certain way. We all have our yardsticks for love defined by our background and exposure and even if someone thinks they’ve gone out their way to prove their love to us, we can tell if we really felt loved or not.

“If God has not hugged, kissed or cuddled any of us, then love must be more than these.”

Many times it’s not about the person giving the love or the mode it was conveyed, the judgement lies with the recipient. Let’s not hop around telling anyone that we love them, can they attest that they feel loved?

Over the years and down the centuries, this short phrase ‘I love you’ has been said, sent as a message, written on cards, engraved on wood and stone and even part of the lyrics sung by billions of people at different times and in different languages.

Artwork, not limited to those made on clothing, accessories, billboards have had these three words on them and it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon as more people continue to fall into and out of love.

“Love that has not been tested cannot be trusted.”

Some of you grew up hearing these words repeated from those nearest and dearest over and over again, your love tanks were full and that had such a great impact on your maturity, confidence and your outlook on life.

But many of us from dysfunctional homes never heard those words, we were raised on survival mode, we were not wanted, our birth wasn’t planned, there was so much chaos and drama growing up and these words were often out of reach. And with an empty love tank, many emotionally malnourished kids who are now adults are desperate and searching for the love and attention they never received.

Many times what we call love is only a plethora of our ever-changing emotions and unstable hormones as we transition from teenagers to young adults. There is often an attraction we feel towards the opposite sex as our reproductive organs and systems are developing.

“Many marriages are struggling today because their spouses never loved them.”

What makes one person loved may not make the other person feel loved. You observe some couples and think they should be having a great time but honestly one spouse feels neglected and unloved because their needs for love isn’t met.

One Bible character, Leah, one of Jacob’s wives, is a sad reminder of many women who are stuck with men who have given them a lot of possessions and they have lots of children but their hearts yearn for an undivided love from their husband they may never get.

Jacob loved Rachel and nothing and no one was going to change that. You can’t put anyone under pressure to love you. If it’s not willing and unconditional, it’s not sustainable. It’s not from their heart.

Many marriages are struggling today because their spouses never loved them, they got married because of different reasons and are stuck with people whose company they no longer enjoy or who are not excited about them anymore.

Just because someone raises our body temperature after they send us a steamy text or touch us in a certain way, we assume they love us but really they are only interested in achieving their selfish plans of getting us under the sheets and not genuinely concerned about us.

Sadly, many have committed the rest of their lives to someone they shouldn’t have because they were overwhelmed by the lustful passions and infatuation they confused as love. If our love is selfish, self-centered with a secret motive of pleasing ourselves, then that is not love.

If God has not hugged, kissed or cuddled any of us, then love must be more than these. God is love and who’s the best person to look to for the definition of love outside of Him. God defines love in 1 Corinthians 13. He says that you truly love someone when you are patient, kind, sacrificial, selfless, just to name a few.

Love is an action word and not an emotion. It would no longer be love if we had to always get into a certain mood to feel it to give or receive it. Love is selfless and sacrificial and God proved it at the cross when He died for your sins. If you love someone, there’s no value in doing a lot of talking or bragging about what your good intentions are, just show it by what you do.

There’s research to prove that the embers of love between a couple flicker out between the first eighteen to twenty-four months of their relationship. So, couples complain of no longer feeling the same way they did about this special person so they either hop off to another relationship if they are not married or are stuck with someone who no longer makes their heart skip a beat.

To love is to take a risk. Your love may not be acknowledged, appreciated or reciprocated. But that’s the high standards God’s expecting from married couples. At some point, marriage becomes loving the unlovable, putting up with someone who makes loving them tough.

If we love people because they are good or do good things to us, then, our love is conditional. I love you if … when… but true love loves at all times, loves the good, the bad and the ugly. You can love anyone, it will require you changing your mindset but if your mind’s closed, there so much that can be done.

Love that has not been tested cannot be trusted, if not, it is a risk. It’s difficult to say how people who claim to love you will act and behave when life doesn’t go as planned.

Many times, when we say we love someone, it’s often limited to an attraction of an external assessment of someone in our mind’s eye. We love how a person looks, how they talk or reason, their composure or we love the potential of being with them. But how do you truly love someone you barely know?

It’s a bit premature and desperate to tell anyone you truly love them when you have barely met them. You may promise to love them the best way you can but saying you love them is a false statement just said in a hurry hoping we don’t lose them yet.

With the different stages and phases in every marriage, love will mean different things to different couples. At the honeymoon stage, it’s a lots of quality time, physical touch and the exchange of gifts that’s very common.

At midlife, couples finally realize, it’s not how fast one spouse can go alone but how far they can go together as a team. So, love becomes slowing down, helping the other partner finish strong as well and this will require lots of compromise and team work.

As couples get older, it’s the selfless sacrifice that’s obvious when a spouse has to rearrange their schedules to cater for the other or even the hard choice made to donate a kidney or blood for an ailing spouse or sitting by the bed of a terminally ill spouse and watch then step out of time into eternity. Love never fails.

True love can only be tested in a crisis. Don’t trust anyone who says they love you, wait to see what they will do when things don’t go as planned.

“Marriage is a covenant not a contract. There’s no commitment in a contract.”

Job’s wife loved him as long as her account was credited and she has her closet filled with all the clothes, shoes and jewelry she wanted but when Job’s businesses took a nose dive and his children and servants were dead and gone, she was on her way out.

God expects couples to love one another but He leaves very specific and detailed instructions to husbands not just to love their wives on their terms or when it’s convenient but as Christ loves the church. If husbands are not meeting God’s standards for love, aren’t they just wasting their time? What’s the point working so hard to achieve a goal but missing the mark?

How does Christ love the church? He paid the ultimate price, He laid down His life on the cross to redeem us from our sins. He is selfless, sacrificial and offers forgiveness freely, He’s patient with us as we mature and become complete in Him, He doesn’t compare us with others but challenges us to imitate Him. Christ is our example of what true love is.

Ladies, don’t get married to a guy who is not willing to ‘die’ for you. Guys spare yourself any heartache, don’t get stuck with someone who makes loving them tough and impossible. Assumption is the the beginning of conflict. Don’t assume people love you and don’t ask them if they love you, observe and make your own assessment if they really do.

People claim they are busy and so are unable to keep in touch or make out time to visit you or spend quality time with you. The honest truth is that they are not busy, you have only become unimportant and irrelevant to them. We all make time out to be with those who are special to us even when it’s not convenient.

Love and submission are intertwined. When a man truly love his woman, submission becomes a natural process, a resultant effect of sorts, it’s voluntary and sustainable. If submission becomes an issue or comes up for discussion, it’s usually because the husband is now controlling and domineering and has had his ego bruised at some point and then all hell breaks lose.

Couples who have great marriages say: We love each other as both spouses are intentional and committed to be selfless and sacrificial. But couples in not very stable relationships say:. I love my husband or I love my wife but their spouse doesn’t feel loved. Their relationship is lopsided and exhausting as only one spouse is doing all the work to keep the marriage going.

Marriage is a covenant not a contract. There’s no commitment in a contract, when things don’t go as planned, everyone goes their separate ways and everything they have worked together to build is lost overnight. When we get married with an option of getting out, we have only succeeded in building our marriage on a faulty foundation and it wont be long before it begins to crumble.

But in a covenant, there’s no easy way out, divorce is not an option as both spouses are committed, intentional and consistent about making their marriage work. It’s not about what the man wants or what makes the woman feel good but they are aware that the assignment God has entrusted to them is at risk if they don’t keep their vows to each other.

If we have not received God’s unconditional love at the cross, we will have no love to give to our spouse. Don’t get married expecting someone to love you but instead get married looking forward to give out of the overflow you’ve received from God to your spouse.

Don’t get married to find happiness in anyone. You can’t depend on someone who is also depending on you for their happiness to make you happy. Happiness is short term, strive for joy which is long term and eternal.

Why are you expecting someone to make you happy? If someone’s happiness depended on you, would you be able to cope and keep up. It’s just a lot of pressure for you and for anyone to make anyone outside God the source of your happiness.

The Bible reveals to us the only two sources of true joy: In God’s presence and fulfilling God’s purpose for your life. In your presence is the fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures for ever more. Psalm 16.11.

If you want lots of joy, spend time in God’s presence in worship, prayer and the study of God’s word. Many of us are searching for joy from things, people, achievements, drugs, careers but we are not prepared to make the investment in time to sit at the feet of Jesus.

And to the servant, who had received five talents, his lord said to him, Well done good and faithful servant … enter now into the joy of your master. Matthew 25.20,21. Want to experience joy on another level? Discover God’s purpose for your life and pursue it with full focus.

What great joy couples can experience when both of them enjoy spending time in God’s presence and wake up every day pursuing the purpose God entrusted to them when He brought them together.

If you get married to someone who doesn’t enjoy spending time in God’s presence and who doesn’t spend time with you in God’s presence, where are you going to get your joy from? If you get married to someone who neither understands God’s assignment for their lives nor is willing to fulfill purpose with you, where will the joy of staying married come from?

After the lavish wedding celebration, the romantic honeymoon, the babies are here, where will our joy come from? Many couples are looking for the next big thing to give them joy, only if they knew where true joy comes from.

Sadly, many have been robbed of the joy they once had before they said ‘I do’, they are stuck with someone who would rather hang out with others who don’t fear God than spend time with God, they are married to people who think that chasing after God is too much and gradually but surely, their fire and passion for God begins to die out and so will their joy.

Falling in love is accidental, walking in love is intentional. God doesn’t want us falling in love but walking in love. The earlier couples can fall out of the love they claim to have fallen into, the better for their relationship, then they can be intentional about walking in love and truly demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in their relationships.

So, now you know what love is and what it’s not, anything short of this isn’t love. Loving someone won’t be a one-off decision but a continuous process for a lifetime as long as you both shall live. Hence we depend on God to pour His love into us and then we can truly give what we have received.

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