Last week we invited you to follow along on a personal investigation of one of the most quoted scriptures we’ve heard in weddings. After hearing this scripture in over 80% of our ceremonies, it finally clicked,
This isn’t just the definition of love, but a road map on how to love.
If you are reading this, you decided to explore this guide with us, which makes our hearts so happy.
Regardless of your belief system, we all want to be loved and our marriages to flourish. We know what makes us feel loved and what doesn’t, but for some reason, we don’t seem to be that knowledgeable about how to love our spouses.
The culture teaches: do unto others as you would have done unto you, which is true in some instances but not all. The problem with this “idea” is that it’s based on personal experience and perspectives. There may be things that don’t bother you, so you feel it shouldn’t bother another. Hence why you may have thought/accused someone of being too sensitive. There may be things you like and assume others like, but it drives them crazy. So what happens when your perspectives don’t align? How do you handle a situation when everything isn’t all rainbows and unicorns and remain loving? This is a perfect time to dive into the first claim in 1 Corinthians 13:4.
Love is patient
If any particular claim convicted us the most, it was this one, and it’s still an everyday work in progress. Many of us think of ourselves as patient individuals. But are we really? The truth is that it is prevalent to believe that we are better people than we actually are. So if you struggle with patience like I have, then stick around.
The After Effects of Impatience
Growing up in a single-parent, fatherless, one-income home was difficult and didn’t come without scars. Sometimes I wouldn’t see my mom for days because she had to work three minimum wage jobs. My mother is an amazing mother. I wouldn’t be who I am now if it weren’t for all her sacrifices. Yet, I didn’t feel loved when I was a child because my mom lacked patience. The slightest genuine mistake was rewarded with an insult or a scold. All in the past and forgiven but never the less damaging at the time. Little did I know the damage extended into my adulthood.
As a wife and mother, I look back and realize my mom did love me. She would go without for us to have enough food and live in a safer neighborhood. But she was carrying the weight meant for two all by herself. My mother lashed out at us because of exhaustion, loneliness, hopelessness, self-doubt, and anger towards my father. None of it had to do with us, although it was directed at us. Unfortunately, this planted the seed for a sense of never feeling good enough. It instilled a fear of failure.
A Generational Curse
Unaware of how much weight I carried from childhood, I treated others as I was when I was growing up. No mercy. No excuses. No mistakes were allowed. I quickly got upset and responded abrasively when things didn’t go as I thought they should. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I have found that sharing who I was will help you and me appreciate how far I’ve come and who I am today.
Sometimes when you’re young, it’s hard to understand why you feel the way you do. It isn’t until wisdom kicks in, which you gain from reading or trial and error, that you better understand yourself and others. I never realized how much I desired people to be patient with me. Landon was that person for me. It was a breath of fresh air to not feel so much pressure to be perfect. I was always scared to let people in for fear of letting them down. I was hard on my friends and family, but I was primarily demanding and impatient with myself. When I met Landon, for the first time, I was able to be vulnerable with someone. He didn’t realize it, but his mercy made it possible for me to feel unconditionally loved for the first time. Sadly I did not reciprocate the same level of patience.
The effects of lack of patience on our marriage
When we got married, I had an idea of what a wife should be, how the house should run, what should be common sense, and what my husband should know. For example, he should know to pick up his dirty laundry from the bathroom floor. He should automatically clean the kitchen the way I did. And if he doesn’t, it’s not because he is a different person who thinks differently and processes differently than me. NO, I was convinced that it was because he didn’t care or he didn’t appreciate me. Inevitably, this led to resentment and turmoil in our marriage. Three years into our marriage, we were struggling to communicate.
Growing up, I was taught that the presentation of the house was the sole reflection of how great a mother and wife you were. One day we were expecting company, and I was overwhelmed. Bless Landon’s heart, I was always overwhelmed when it came time to host. I love it, but I dread what grade I will get as a wife. As much as Landon would try to reassure me that by no means a clean house meant I was an A+ mom or wife; it was how I loved and served my family, I wasn’t convinced. On this day, Landon offered to take care of the downstairs while I focused on the upstairs.
It’s about to go down
Three hours later, I finished cleaning upstairs and went downstairs to see Landon’s progress. Guys, after three hours, it looked…… the same to me. I was so furious. I lashed out at him and asked him what he had been doing for the last three hours. I belittled his work and told him he wasn’t helping at all. I am embarrassed to share this story; not a proud moment, but this very embarrassing moment changed my heart.
I saw Landon’s face. I could see he felt defeated. His eyes watered up, and he turned around and continued to load the dishwasher. Little did I know, Landon had spent that time cleaning the fans, throwing out the trash, sweeping, mopping, cleaning windows, picking up his shoes, my shoes, Kylie’s toys, and a list of other tedious tasks. In his mind, he was trying to be as detailed as I am when I clean. But I just saw the pile of dishes in the sink and the collection of cups on the kitchen counter. I just saw what wasn’t done yet. He wasn’t moving as fast as I wanted and didn’t do the chores in the order I expected.
I saw the unloved, sad 7 year old Stephanie
In that very instant, I had a flashback to when I was a little girl, trying to do something to help my mom, but my mom would only notice what didn’t get done. I’d feel so excited for her to get home from work to find that I had washed the dishes. I thought, surely this would make my mom happy. This will make her load lighter. But she would immediately notice that the counter wasn’t wiped or the floor hadn’t been swept. While being yelled at, I stood, frustrated, defeated, and feeling like a total failure.
I realized I made my husband, the man I love with all my heart, feel like 7-year-old little Stephanie. As if his efforts weren’t good enough. I disrespected him and made him feel like nothing he could ever do would be good enough.
I walked over to Landon, who had his back to me, and physically turned him around to find tears streaming down his face. Tears from frustration, feeling defeated, anger, and overall hurt. I realized that I had broken my husband. I apologized profusely. I knew exactly what he felt, and at that moment, I promised myself that I would be intentional. I never wanted to hurt my husband like that again. I never wanted to disrespect him like that ever again. I wanted to be his safe place like he had always been mine!
How the heck do I learn to be patient?
It took 23 years to realize that I didn’t have a patient bone in my body. That was the first step. Maybe you can relate to 23-year-old Stephanie. I didn’t know how to be patient but knew I needed to learn how for the sake of my marriage. Here are the steps I took to become more patient, and like I said earlier, it’s a continuing work in progress.
Understanding the message sent to the ones you love
The first thing I did was accept that the times I’ve felt most loved in my life were when someone extended patience even when I didn’t deserve it. I connected the dots and began to understand that I felt unloved and small when people were impatient with me. I felt stupid. I felt like a clueless child. Understanding how impatience made me feel when I was on the receiving end fed my desire to not make others feel like that. Everyone has value and a purpose. Strengths and weaknesses. Nobody is perfect. That’s why we can’t function alone. We need each other to complement in the areas we lack.
I had to admit I was wrong! It felt yucky at first but then it felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I apologized to my husband for being short, rude and impatient. I received his gracious forgiveness and committed to doing better. Next I apologized to and forgave myself for the mistakes I had made and the people I had hurt. I accepted I am not responsible for the his actions but my own and that I cannot justify my reactions, actions or lack thereof with his or anyone else. Now I could begin a new chapter. A healed Stephanie.
Discovering our love language
A side effect of impatience is poor communication. I knew patience would take practice, but I believe in working smarter, not harder. When we heard about love languages, we knew it would be a great starting place to understand each other’s perspectives. We both read Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman , took the test, and nailed down our love language. Side note, don’t assume you know your love language. I did and I was wrong! TAKE THE TEST!
Now, how do we apply this to help in the patience department? The love languages helped Landon and I understand how we received love. What makes us feel loved. We put that knowledge into practice to try and keep each other’s love tank full but didn’t know how to use that information to avoid depleting it.
Applying the Five Love Languages
When we started our family, I intentionally researched books on parenting. I wanted to break the generational curse of verbal abuse. I researched how to discipline and have a healthy relationship with your children. I came across Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Gary Chapman. This book was a game changer!
Gary Chapman lays out how to communicate based on your child’s love language. I know Landon and I aren’t children but the concept was still applicable. We applied these techniques to each other! It worked! For example, Landon’s love language is touch and quality time. You can already guess how I communicate when I want something, with hugs and kisses, but how do I do this when I don’t like something?
Before reading this book, in an attempt to be patient and not reactive, I would just walk away from the argument. Go to our room. Close the door (well, maybe slam) and stay alone for a little while. What I thought was collecting my thoughts to Landon felt like the silent treatment. Someone whose love language is touch and quality time will not do well with the silent treatment. To them, it feels like you are avoiding and rejecting them; it feels like punishment. I was accidentally depleting his love tank.
I learned I needed to verbally communicate with him about every part of my process.
I am super upset right now, and I just need a second to gather my thoughts so I can express myself without hurting you.
I’d take my moment, sit together on the same day, and share how the situation made me feel. Approaching the conversation this way allows you to share your feelings and perspective without disrespecting or accusing your partner. It will enable your partner to clarify his/her intentions and correct your point of view if it is wrong. This leads to the next ingredient for becoming more patient.
Accept My truth may not be The Truth
We have both had to accept that things we viewed as my truth weren’t the truth. Being passionate about a situation doesn’t make you right. The fact that I could be wrong greatly humbled me to stop and think before responding to situations. I looked to the Bible as a source because after reading through the Gospels, I realized that Jesus was supernaturally patient. He was a teacher and maybe I can learn a thing or two about patience from Him.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1.
When you are patient and gentle with people you can reach the heart easier than if you lash out at them. I realized that this is exactly how Landon reached my heart. I immediately knew that these wise words were true. I needed to control my emotions. My emotions should not control me. If I can’t control my temper, the next best thing I can do is learn to keep my mouth shut until I do. We’ve learned that if our delivery is garbage, we make it impossible for the message to penetrate the heart of the other. This requires one to be intentional when speaking. If you don’t know how to put into words what is frustrating you, you say that. Refrain from making condescending comments until you can gather your thoughts. Having the last word won’t feel like a win if your marriage falls apart.
Give your partner the benefit of the doubt
What if every time you made a mistake or forgot something, your spouse immediately thought you didn’t love them. Landon tells me that when I would be impatient and sassy, he would say to himself, that’s all she’s ever known. He said he felt terrible for me because being on the receiving end allowed him to imagine me as a child feeling that pain. It moved him to feel nothing but mercy for me. Bless his God-fearing heart for giving me the benefit of the doubt.
Someone else would have reasonably thought she doesn’t respect or value me. They may have thought of giving up if they saw all their efforts shut down. But Landon gave me the benefit of the doubt. Give your spouse, children, family, or whoever the benefit of the doubt. We are all damaged somewhere or somehow. When you have mercy on others you allow them to heal.
You don’t have to continue to be who you were yesterday!
If you struggle with patience like I did, just know that you don’t have to struggle like that forever. You can change! You can heal. This doesn’t have to be your lost battle; it can be your victorious testimony. I’ve overcome this battle! Impatience sometimes tries to sneak up on me, but I whack it on the head with a stick. Accepting that you are not a patient person is good. Wanting to change that is great. Being disciplined enough to actually put steps into action is better.
Patience will get you far in life. Once I started being patient, not only did I become a better wife, I became a better mother and friend. I’ve even been able to serve our couples better. So many of y’all tell me all the time how patient I am, and I think to myself: