I Love You, But How Do I Like You?

0035After my husband asked me out on our first date, we were inseparable. We couldn’t get enough of each other’s company. Our dating days were filled with joy, delight, anticipation, passion, and little conflict. But after we got married, into the newlywed years and beyond we started to grow familiar with each other.

We saw flaws up close and personal. We argued and nitpicked over various things. Our personality differences began to clash in opportune circumstances. Our expectations weren’t always fulfilled. Sexual intimacy was a learning process and required work. We had our share of opinions and more.

A perfect marriage just wasn’t reality. We were sinners living in a broken world and we quickly saw our own sin and selfishness under the microscope. We loved each other, but the truth was that at times we didn’t always like each other.

Well God is still using the school of experience to teach me that regardless of how nasty my sin is and how hard the marriage relationship can be, God has still given me the greatest gift, joy, and pleasure there is on this earth being married to my husband and journeying through life with him as his helper and lover.

German theologian and great hero of the faith, Martin Luther, once said:

There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”

I couldn’t agree more with his words. But how do couples get there? How do you truly enjoy and like your spouse for the long haul?

I certainly haven’t arrived but over the past seven years of my marriage, I’ve learned a few truths that have helped keep my relationship to my husband pleasurable and less vulnerable to distraction and danger.

  1. Be quick to forgive. Eventually, your spouse will offend you and you’ll offend your spouse. What you do with that offense is everything. Harboring bitterness will rot your marriage, but constantly forgiving him will bring life and wholeness. Let your marriage be marked by love and forgiveness no matter how difficult the issue or circumstance. “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Prov. 17:9).
  2. Communicate your feelings. Sometimes your spouse doesn’t exactly know how you’re feeling or what areas you’d like to see changed. Pray about how you might approach him and when you do, respectfully speak the truth in love about what’s bothering you: “Babe, when you do _______, it makes me feel _______.” Create a plan of how both of you can work together on your weaknesses so that unity and oneness is reached. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge but the mouth of the fool gushes folly” (Prov. 15:1-2).
  3. Get busy in the bedroom! Ditch the distractions that tempt you away from physical and emotional intimacy and make your bedroom a safe haven for love. Don’t let being tired or your kids be a regular excuse. Giggle, wrestle, flirt, dream, and be creative. Eat ice cream in the bathtub. Put some cologne on. Break out your honeymoon lingerie. Do whatever it takes to freshen up your intimacy and enjoy each other to the fullest. God created sexual intimacy with your spouse to be exciting and intoxicating. “Take me away with you- let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers. Friends we rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. See how right they are to adore you!” (Song of Solomon 1:4).
  4. Guard your mind. Discipline and protect your thoughts from wondering about another man or woman that isn’t your spouse. You’re not exempt from temptation and sowing a thought reaps an action. Don’t buy the lie that you deserve different or better. Focus your thoughts on what is pure and good and true. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
  5. Do what you love, together. Sports. Shopping. Outdoors. Blogging. Hiking. Crafting. Gardening. Woodworking. Cooking. Photography. Whatever hobby or pleasure you love, invite your spouse to enjoy it with you. Even if you don’t like his interests, participate anyway because you love him and want to be with him. You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn and laugh about. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
  6. Watch those comparisons. I wish my husband were more like my friend’s husband. How come my wife isn’t as sweet as my co-worker? How come my husband doesn’t buy me flowers or give me time away from the kids? Your spouse is unique and has been gifted in different ways to compliment you. Comparing him to others is a joy-killer. Reflect on his positive qualities and appreciate them. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
  7. Keep Christ at the center. In our brokenness and sin, Jesus didn’t leave us on our own but came to earth to save and rescue us from ourselves. Our sin was great and costly, but his grace and forgiveness was greater. No matter the struggles we face, he is the one who is able to transform our character and mend our marriages. Daily, we need God’s strength and guidance to love our spouse the way He loves. We desperately need the power of the gospel to infuse every aspect of our life and marriage. “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2).

With hard work it’s possible to not only love, but also like and find lasting pleasure and delight in the man or woman God has given you. A good marriage is always within reach no matter how far removed you are from your dating days.


Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mom, writer and editor in rural Colorado. Through story, personal experience, and biblical insight she is passionate about helping others live out their faith in everyday life and relationships. She has been writing for leading Christian books and magazines for over 12 years and holds a BA in English and Master’s in Religion. Samantha and her husband, Jeremiah, have been married for a decade and have four young children. Samantha writes candidly about marriage, motherhood, and faith at samanthakrieger.com

  • Kim

    Great suggestions for a long and happy marriage! I think my favorite is #5. We have been married for 30 years, and love spending time together on activities we enjoy. I have spoken to too many women who are nearing the empty nest stage and are panicky about not knowing what they’ll do with the kids being gone as a buffer and total focus of attention.

  • thanks for reading Kim. That’s so encouraging to hear about your marriage and what it can really look like on down the road 🙂

    • Susan

      #7 should be #1. I’m trying to repair a broken marriage, and learned this the hard way. It can’t go forward with out God in the center, for both individuals and as a couple.

  • nyambeni

    God is faithfull, always on time. Thank you for such an opener, exactly what I needed to hear to allow God to change me so that I can be a better wife to my husband. How I need God’s help. If you have a mailing list. Please do add me.

    I would like to continue to hear this truth.

    Thank you

  • Wow, thank you so much. We are all in definite need of God’s grace and help. I will definitely be praying for you and your relationship with your husband.

  • Great article, Samantha. I like #5 too. That does come easy for us, I admit, since we’re not “opposites” at all but very alike. #2 is great too!

  • Cortlin Cabbiness

    Thank you Samantha. This was great insight for me and my fiancée. Obviously the bedroom part doesn’t apply yet, but it’s still valuable insight. Thanks for this! God bless you 🙂

  • Melissa

    Well, I got number 1 down! We haven’t gotten further than that. 🙁

  • Angel Zubia

    Thank you so much. This was a great read, and a great reminder. I especially love the bible verses that back up the advice. So now, off to take that advise! Thanks again.

  • Susan

    Great, practical advice for any marriage, not just new ones. We will celebrate 28 years on Saturday and have fallen into some comfortable and uncomfortable ruts. It is time to seriously follow your suggestions and bring some new life to this marriage. Thanks

    • Congratulations Susan! That is awesome. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Eszlee

    Wow! What a great list of points to keep in mind. I love that you included scripture with each! =)

    Number 7 is really the only one my husband and I seem to cling onto during our continual struggles. Without Christ as the center & foundation, we would have split up the first day after our honeymoon was over! 😛

    Our only common denominator is truly Christ & thankfully Evangelism / Love for the lost. We really do not have too much more then that in common.. and I’m being completely honest about that. I’m so grateful for the Lord being what holds us together. He is certainly a miracle worker. We are only 6 years into our marriage and still have so much more to work on, but the Lord seems to have definitely made the impossible, possible even in these few years of our marriage.

    I pray that each of the other points you mentioned will be sanctified in us & through our marriage. We are two saved sinners with VERY different points of views, different cultures, different upbringings… & have for some reason been brought together for a purpose. So I hope we can learn to ‘like’ each other, since we’ll be spending the rest of our lives on earth together. Thank you for sharing these wise profound words God has anointed you with. 🙂 May His name be glorified! \o/

  • Ashley

    I like #3… Women are very good at coming up with ways to turn our bedroom into something else, and not “ours” anymore.

  • you are right about that.

  • David Williams

    Please pray for me (David) and my wife (Sandy). She moved out almost 8 months ago. She is not ‘in love’ with me anymore, and is considering divorce. Please pray for God to work on her heart. Amen.

  • Fran

    Please prayer for myself and my husband.We have been married for 10 years and not doing so well right now.I gave my heart an life to Yahweh a little over 2 years ago, but Rick has not.It’s really hard for a house divided to stand.Please pray for Yahweh to soften his heart an open his eyes…

  • Troy Dandrea

    Great word Samantha! I’ve seen y’all not just write this, but live it out. It’s been awesome journeying towards Christ with you & J!

  • Marge

    Do a Marriage Encounter Weekend – rekindle the romance, learn to really communicate – make your spouse and your marriage a priority once again!! Wwme.org

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