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Building a Great Marriage

Building a Great Marriage: Life Principle #1: Unconditional Love

Paul and Linda J. Bucknell

Description of God's Love

Session #2b

Great Marriage

Session 2 Index | Building a Great Marriage Index
God's Design of Marriage | God's love described | Choice of love
Questions of Love | Source of Love | Pledge and Prayer
Video of Session #2 | Download

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Description of God’s Love

Purpose: Great marriages need love! Description of God's Love highlights how agape love is unconditonal, devoted and compassionate. This is session #2b of of Building a Great Marriage.

Let us now turn our attention to describing this unconditional Love.

The husband is to love his wife with God’s love. God’s love has several characteristics. If our love falls short of these qualities, then we should no longer call what we do love. The apostle Paul uses the Greek word ‘agape’ to describes this love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous;l
ove does not brag and is not arrogant,does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth; 
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things. 
Love never fails.

Upon reading that passage, we readily admit that unless God is shaping our lives and thoughts, there is no way we will be able to consistently love our wives. Our pride, desires and society’s pressures might induce us to act in a manner that seems loving, but these activities have shallow roots and cannot stand up to the real tests of life.

Unconditional loveGod’s love is characterized by unconditional, no strings attached, acts of care. These loving acts are produced from a heart of love. The scriptures state that God’s nature is love, “God is love.” From that desire or perspective came forth a plan to extend that compassionate love into the world. This is what we know as His redemptive plan.

God sent Jesus Christ into the world to extend His love and compassion. We as rebellious sinners in no way deserved this kind favor. We did not deserve His love to be extended to us even for a moment. But God’s love sent Christ to die on the cross to take away our sins.

“We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

In this example, we find that Christ totally devoted Himself to loving someone who did not deserve it. His commitment did not depend on the reaction of God’s people to Him, but on His determination to extend His love to the church in obedience to God the Father. So how would we describe this love?

a) Unconditional love

God’s love is unconditional in the fullest sense of the word. His love was not dependent on a good or proper response to Him from His people. It was not dependent upon any good thing He saw in us. Love rides on the back of grace. In fact, we were unable to properly respond to Him.

Building a Godly MarriagePurchase or download the book 'Building a Greart Marriage'You can order the Building a Great Marriage book and materials including handouts at the BFF Resource Center. Or even better get the BFF Marriage Training Library which includes the book, handouts, other BFF marriage articles including powerpoints, audios and videos.

Mankind was too absorbed in grabbing for what he wanted to recognize or respond to the Lord’s love. When we translate this life principle over to marriage, we realize that we husbands, and men in general, need to live by principle rather than by feeling or situation. We do what we are called to do – regularly and constantly love our wives.

Unconditional, no strings attached, love results in long-term marriages because it is not dependent on how the wife may respond to the husband at any given moment. It seems that the Lord has given husbands a special monthly test during a wife’s period where wives often get cranky and critical. Does our kindness vary during these times?

b) Compassionate love

Compassionate love is only one way of describing God’s tenderness, mercy, grace, kindness and goodness toward us in Christ. God did not send a Savior who, out of a sense of duty only, performed great noble acts of love.

Instead we find the Savior to be gentle, one who identified with our needs. Again, the call as husbands is to extend the unequivocal goodness of God to our wives through our compassionate actions, thoughts, words and attitudes.

Husbands must go beyond providing food and shelter only. These things are good. He might even make personal sacrifices for the home. But God’s love will also shape his relationship with his wife. He will speak with kind words. He will have a gentle caring touch. He will be patient when misunderstood or even wrongly accused of sin.

c) Devoted love

God’s love is also a devoted love. A devoted love reveals a priority of kind action despite the challenges and distractions of life. We see this devotion on the night before Jesus’ death.

“Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus asked if there was any other way to fulfill God’s purpose. But His highest priority was not to escape discomfort, displeasure, embarrassment, shame, sharp pain, rejection, mocking, injustice and finally death, but to devotedly give Himself for the sake of His future bride–the church.

buy marriage bookOur devotion to our wives must be fixed and unchanging. By prioritizing our care for our wives even in view of possible danger or suffering, we reflect the devotion that God has toward us. Abraham did the opposite when he gave up his wife to the king. He was afraid that he would be killed so his beautiful wife could be taken.

Our delight in our wives must not be focused on her beauty or joy in the relationship (though these things are nice), but on our commitment to care for her. This is what makes the wedding vow so powerful. The husband is making a commitment to be devoted to his wife whether in sickness or health, poverty or wealth.

I just attended the memorial service for a good faithful brother in the church. He set a wonderful example of faithfulness for our congregation. His wife, because of some disease, was not very coherent and needed assistance in her wheelchair. Each week he would bring her to church. He would carry her wheelchair up the church stairs and then assist her.

Although he missed out on many an opportunities to spend time with others over the years, since his retirement he devoted himself to caring for her. This was God’s devoted love given to a man to grant to his wife.

Our wives know when we are devoted to them because of our simple commitment to love them because we are committed to love them.


Husbands do not naturally have this unconditional, compassionate and devoted love. This is only received by exposing our needy lives before the Living God. We must plead that His love would freely flow to our wives through our feeble lives. We must confess that we cannot do it on our own. But we can and must follow through on our commitment to express this holy love. God can strengthen us.

I have personally discovered that the more I simply focus on my commitment to love my wife as Christ loved me, that life becomes easier. I am better able to jump over other temptations because I am no longer deliberating over whether I should forgive or help out. I identify my purpose in life with loving my wife. Most of the battles rage because we have not made that commitment. We have taken the marriage vows, but I recommend that you renew your commitment to love your wife as one of your main purposes in life.

God designed the husband to take the initiative in bringing a constant shower of unconditional love and kindness to his wife. God describes the husband’s love as an uncompromising sacrifice in Ephesians.

“So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28).

Continue reading on part (C) The Choice of Love

This Building a Great Marriage is a long series. We have printed or download ebook editions which make it easier to read and are available with BFF's other great books in our store.

Other BFF related resources:

Read more exciting and practical articles on marriage. Just click on a link or graphic below.
Developing Love in Your Marriage
Renewing Affections between Husband and Wife
God's Sexual Design for Our Lives and Marriages
Helping Solve Marital Problems
Goal and Design of Marriage: Intimacy
Strengthening Godly Marriages: The Marriage Navigator