"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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. " (13:4-7)
I remember how relieved and joyful I felt over his sincere agreement with this view of love. In my life, I had used this passage as an interior checklist to judge romantic love.
Being married ten years this month, I look at this passage with some additional wisdom that I did not possess on my wedding day at 24 years old. We have lived these ideas, time and life has broken them in like new leather shoes. I still say today with certainty that St. Paul's view of love is accurate, but I've learned that it is also a bar set very high. St. Paul is challenging us to love like God does.
Perseverance comes into play through darker times when feelings are shaken by life's tests, small and large. Then it becomes apparent how love is a choice of how to act rather than a feeling. Through those moments one must be patient. Martina McBride sings the idea beautifully:
"It's hangin' on when your heart has had enough. It's giving more when you feel like giving up." -(from In My Daughter's Eyes)
When both husband and wife faithfully attempt to live out St. Paul's view of love, it's easy at times, and difficult at others to stick to this way of loving, but it can be transforming. Something amazing happens when you persevere, when you include God in your relationship through prayer. God gives you grace. He lifts you above rough waters and strengthens the love between you and your spouse, so the easy times are that much sweeter. Then marriage changes you both for the better spiritually.
"If you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones..."
- (I Will Try to Fix You, -ColdPlay)