Making the decision to love takes more than just verbalizing it. It is one thing to say “I choose love” and another to actively live that choice. It’s easy to choose to love your spouse when you’re getting along, family finances are healthy, the kids are behaving more than not, and everything seems to be chugging along in blissful fashion.

Then there are the stretches when you’re arguing more than you’re agreeing. There are times when money is more worrisome than comfortable and the kids experience challenges that feel overwhelming. In those moments, making the choice to love can be a whole lot harder. Of course, notice I said harder, not impossible. Here are five ways to make the choice to love every day:

Decide to take a walk in your spouse’s shoes
It’s amazing what a different perspective can do sometimes. Looking at things from your spouse’s point of view on a matter may not change your mind; but it will make it easier to discuss things in a respectful manner and, ultimately, reach a compromise or agreement.

Decide to cheer not critique
What happens when someone criticizes you? What happens when sarcasm and harsh words become part of the dialogue? Make the choice to silence those words. Instead, focus on encouraging your spouse.

Decide to give
It’s easy, especially when we’re hurt or angry, to focus on ‘what’s in it for me?’ That’s not about the relationship, that’s about the person. Choose to focus on the relationship and ask ‘what’s best for us.’ Give your spouse and your marriage what’s needed.

Decide to appreciate your spouse
Sure, your spouse has habits that can pluck your last raw nerve at times. Your spouse also has all those wonderful qualities you first fell for. Make the choice to focus on the wonderful things and be grateful for them.

Decide to love your spouse as God does
Think about this: God loves us no matter what we do. Even when we mess up big time, God still chooses to love us with grace and faithfulness. How can we then offer our spouse anything else?

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