How Long Should the Love of a Marriage Suffer?

Suffering long is probably the last thing on any couple’s minds as they exchange vows on their wedding day. At that moment, the new couple is completely immersed in the love they sense so strongly. They exude confidence that their formidable love will help them sail through the varying seasons of life. They are right on one hand because love conquers everything. On the other hand, they may be completely wrong if they peg their hope purely on the romantic love they share -sexual attraction, passion, fuzzy feelings, emotional attachment, care, and exclusivity. 

And while romantic love is a critical phase in any relationship, it fades away with time. Your palms will eventually stop sweating, and your cheeks stop flushing at the sight of your spouse. Your heartbeat will eventually assume a steady rhythm, and the feel-good hormones will come to a grinding halt as your relationship evolves. Enter intentional love. This makes a couple stay true to their vows and trudge on despite the hurdles that sprout up unexpectedly on their path. Believers have an advantage where love is concerned because the Bible offers us the blueprint for loving each other. 

Love Suffers Long

In 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, Paul points out the futility of the believer’s spiritual gifts if not motivated by love. Love is the epicenter of the believer’s life; without it, the believer lives in deception. The entire gospel is a relentless love story. It’s about a God who loved the world so much that He offered His only son to redeem it. God is love, and we cannot claim to know Him if we do not practice love (1 John 4:8).   

The first attribute Paul uses to describe love is that it is long-suffering. The Collins Dictionary defines long-suffering as patiently putting up with a lot of trouble or unhappiness, especially when caused by someone else. Peter taught that God is long-suffering. He warned the early church against scoffers who would claim that the return of the Lord Jesus was taking a tad too long. Peter explained that what looked like a delay in Jesus’ return was actually God exercising long-suffering. God “delays” Christ’s return to offer the world more time to repent since He desires that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

Jesus, too exhibited long-suffering while on Earth. He had to leap over many hurdles to fulfill the father’s will. He endured the cross and despised its shame to redeem humankind. He humbled Himself unto death. As the author and finisher of our faith, Paul urges us to emulate Him by running our race with endurance (Hebrews 12:2). If Jesus needed to suffer long to do God’s will, we too must be ready to tread the same road since we are not greater than our master. We are not to back down from the race at the first sight of trouble. We are to stick it through and endure hardship like good soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3). We are to suffer long as we fight the good fight of faith. 

Long Suffering in Marriage

Long-suffering is critical in all your relationships, but you will most likely need it more in marriage than in any other relationship. Seeing that marriage is the closest human relationship, disagreements and disappointments are part of the package. Like you, your spouse is not perfect, and their weaknesses become more apparent in marriage. 


Your marriage will present you with countless opportunities to exercise long-suffering. But isn’t that what you promised to do at the altar as your eyes glistened with tears while saying your vows? You vowed to be with your partner for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health. You signed up for a life of long suffering as you ceased being two people and became one flesh. How can we then exercise long-suffering in our marriages, and are there limits to the same? Here are four thoughts to consider.  

1. Do Everything as Unto the Lord.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:17

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

God asks us to do everything to His glory and in His name. Our lives are not to be compartmentalized. We should not glorify Him in some areas but live mindlessly in others. This means that your relationship with your spouse is no exception. Every deed and word uttered should be done in the name of the Lord to bring glory to Him.  Does how you communicate with your spouse bring glory to God? What about how you meet their needs? If we embrace this careful attitude, weighing our words and actions against God, we will inadvertently find that we are exercising long-suffering in our marriages. We will be more patient, forgive more and bear with each other’s weaknesses.  

2. Observe How Christ Relates to the Church

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, let the wives be to their husbands in everything. Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5: 22-27

Paul urges the married folk to use the relationship between Christ and the church as the template for their marriages. He asks wives to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord and in everything. That is no easy task. Wives will often need to suffer long to fulfill this command. How do you submit to your husband when all you can see are his glaring shortcomings? Husbands, too, have the arduous task of loving their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. How can husbands possibly measure up to the towering standard Christ has set for them? They, too, must exercise lots of long-suffering to love their wives selflessly. Long-suffering is embedded in the marriage template Paul recommends, and there’s no way of escaping it. 

3. Remember Your Own Failings

“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’ and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First, remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Mathew 7: 3-5


When tempted to judge your spouse harshly, withholding mercy and forgiveness, take a moment and reflect on your own failings. Are you perfect? Far from it. Does your spouse also have to contend with your weaknesses? Most definitely. Realizing that you also have many failings that your partner has to put up with will help you put things into perspective. Jesus warned that if we don’t forgive others, our heavenly father will not forgive us (Mathew 6:15). If you expect your spouse to bear with your weaknesses, how about you start by doing the same?

4. Know the Boundaries

Love suffers long alright, but there are boundaries. Our long-suffering should not put our lives at risk and cause us harm. God does not ask us to languish in our marriages in the name of long suffering. Though the scriptures consistently urge spouses to bear with one another, there are exceptions. For instance, God outrightly says that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). However, Jesus taught that divorce was acceptable where sexual immorality had crept into the marriage (Mathew 5: 32). Additionally, if a spouse becomes abusive and risks the life and well-being of their partner, long-suffering should not be exercised. Couples need to operate within healthy boundaries in their marriages. Boundaries protect spouses from exploitation and manipulation by spelling out limits and assigning responsibility. 

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Hispanolistic

Crosswalk Writer Keren KanyagoKeren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at

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