How many church pews have you sat in, watching a bride and groom gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes, listening as the pastor recites this familiar verse?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. . . . And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4–8, 13, NIV)
And have you ever happened upon the uncomfortable scene, months or maybe only weeks after witnessing these vows, of that same happy couple at a dinner party fighting? I mean really fighting—even over something as silly as a toilet seat or the cap on the toothpaste.
Doesn’t it make you wonder if anyone really knows what these verses are supposed to mean, and why they are spoken at nearly every wedding?
My own marital experience encompasses 14 years, 9 months, and 25 days.
And then it ended.
What I Know Now
Being in a marriage had no impact on my understanding of what love is supposed to be. In my own marriage, love became selfish, a matter of grabbing what we each thought was ours. My feelings were tread upon again and again by him, and I became an expert grudge-holder. I complained about everything, even his beard shavings in the sink. A hope-filled journey morphed into distrust, complacency, and boredom. The more we hurt each other, intentionally or unintentionally, the less we loved—and the more room there was for dysfunction.1