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What Is Love? Answer: C-O-U-P-L-E [Video]

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I received an email from Nathan and he asked, “Husbands are to love their wives. That’s their special command. So what is ‘love?’” Excellent question.

There are all kinds of answers; many of them are rather flowery and syrupy, while some are very romantic. I responded to Nathan with what I believe are practical, down-to-earth, biblical instructions on how a husband can spell “love” to his wife. I provided six principles using the acronym, C-O-U-P-L-E, as described in chapters 8-14 of my book Love & Respect. They are:

Closeness: You are seeking to be close, face-to-face—and not just when you want sex. This is the idea behind cleaving (Genesis 2:24).

Openness: You are trying to be more open with her, sharing more of your heart and closing off in anger far less often (Colossians 3:19).

Understanding: You are pulling back from trying to “fix” her and are listening more, trying to be considerate when she’s really upset (1 Peter 3:7).

Peacemaking: In order to resolve conflict and be united as a team, you are trying to use powerful words like, “Honey, I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” (Matthew 19:5)

Loyalty: You are exerting effort to assure her of your love and commitment to “until death do us part.” (Malachi 2:14)

Esteem: You are viewing her as your equal before God, honoring and treasuring her as first in importance to you (1 Peter 3:7).

The acronym, C-O-U-P-L-E, is the first half of the Energizing Cycle, which teaches that his love motivates her respect, her respect motivates his love.

As Sarah and I have received feedback over the years, we are fairly sure people understand the concept of stopping the Crazy Cycle, but we wonder how well husbands and wives are using the ideas presented in the Energizing Cycle.

To have a happy, biblically solid marriage, you and your spouse need to do a lot more than just work on stopping the Crazy Cycle.

That is where the Energizing Cycle comes in. When you keep the EC humming, the CC stays in its cage and you function as the team God wants you to be.

In my devotional, The Love & Respect Experience, I suggest that you and your mate take a few moments each week to reflect on the love in your marriage.

What kinds of loving acts and words are happening?

Consider this analogy. Picture the word “LOVE,” carved from a single block of beautiful oak or maple, bit by bit, day by day. Your marriage is like that block of wood. Love doesn’t just happen; you have to work at it, and many husbands do.

What is love? It is not a noun, but a verb. It is something a husband does in word and deed.

Right here, one or both of you may conclude that I am putting all the pressure on the husband (these six things are, after all, what he is supposed to be doing to connect with his wife), but that’s not what I have in mind at all.

Using the acronym, C-O-U-P-L-E, I want you to look for positives and plusses, not negatives and minuses. For many of us, it is all too easy to see the cup as half-empty, instead of looking for the acts and words that make it half-full (and often more).

As a wife, guard against only seeing what your husband is overlooking; instead, appreciate his loving words and actions.

As a husband, guard against feeling that you can never be good enough; instead, receive encouragement from how you have been obeying God’s command to act lovingly. “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself” (Ephesians 5:33).

Remember, looking at the positive does not mean we are being naïve about the negative; however, if any team looks only at its losses and never at its victories, it will grow discouraged. Winners need to celebrate their victories as an incentive to experience even more. Rejoice!

Prayer: Thank the Lord for the love that is evident in your marriage. Thank Him for where biblical love is being spelled out in your marriage: Closeness, Openness, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyalty and Esteem.

Action: Explore different ways of sharing love together. Need specifics? Choose from one of the 60 ideas located at the end of each chapter in the C-O-U-P-L-E section of Love & Respect.


Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

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