What is love?

Real Love: What It Is—What It’s Not

Marriage Dynamics InstituteCelebration, Commitment, Connection, Faith, Intimacy, Marriage Courses, Marriage Health, Patience, Selfishness

Got any special plans for Valentine’s Day this year? In this season, we often feel obligated to demonstrate feelings of love by purchasing things like candy and flowers, or even more expensive gifts.  And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with giving and receiving gifts, there’s a lot more to real love than hearts and flowers.

Love is powerful. It is foundational to faith in God, and incredibly important to our well-being as people made in the image of God.

And love is essential for healthy relationships. So, it’s important to know what real love is, and what it is not.

Fortunately, Scripture is quite clear when it comes to defining love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 NIV

Need a quick way to evaluate how you are doing in the love department? This chart may help:
What Love IS/What Love DOES: What Love IS NOT/What Love DOES NOT DO:
Patient Boasting
Kind Proud
Rejoicing in Truth Dishonoring
Protects Self-seeking
Trusts Easily angered
Hopes Keeping score
Perseveres Delighting in evil


As you prepare for Valentines Day this year, why not do an inventory. If you are brave, you may want to do this with your spouse. Ask each other questions like, “How well am I loving you? Am I patient and kind? Do you feel protected by my love? Does our love make you hopeful for the future?”

Then look at the other column. Have you been intent on getting your way lately? Easily angered? Bringing up old wrongs and keeping score? You might want to choose one or two areas that could use some improvement.

What could you do this week to demonstrate your desire to love your spouse well?

Here’s one final reminder as you are making Valentine plans:

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Because a beautiful card with a sweet message is always nice to receive. But the true measure of  real love is found in how we treat one another every day.

Want to learn more about courses and workshops that can help you develop a more fulfilling, enriching love in your marriage? Take our free Marriage Quiz, and find out which course is right for you.

About the Author

Marriage Dynamics Institute

Marriage Dynamics Institute (MDI) wants to cultivate healthy families, churches, and communities by helping create marriages full of joy, meaning, and purpose. Having served more than 75,000 couples since 1994, MDI offers workshops and seminars for marriages at every stage, including those in crisis.