Marriages without agape will most assuredly end up in disaster. Couples should always be friends, but you can only build a home on agape. Agape takes time, work, and patience. (And there is a much better chance of developing it before you get married than after you get married!)

Sometimes you can think you're operating in agape when you're really not, especially if you've been married awhile.

For example, in marriage counseling, a wife will sometimes say that she feels as if her husband is putting her down. Then her spouse will say, "I don't make her feel like that."

Immediately, he is on the defensive. Therefore, he isn't acting out of real love (1 Cor. 13:5).

You see, in a marriage relationship, it doesn't matter how you feel. It matters how the other person feels. In the above-mentioned hypothetical case, it is the husband's responsibility to find out why his wife feels as if he's putting her down and then talk it out and fix the problem. That's what it means to operate in agape love.

Agape love is not automatic. It's something you have to work on. You have to work on seeing your mate as valuable and precious. You even have to work on seeing yourself that way, because you have people telling you just the opposite.

Some people grew up in homes with parents who told them they were worthless and that they'd never amount to anything. So they have to battle that. (This is another reason why it's important not to rush into a marriage relationship.)

Christian woman, if you're dating a man who grew up in a home where his parents talked about him and called him all kinds of names other than the one they gave him at birth, then guess what kind of person you're going to walk down the aisle with!

Do you think that person is going to see you as valuable and precious? He can't even see himself as valuable and precious! He has to work on renewing his mind until he starts to see himself the way God sees him.

Sometimes you can hinder a person from working on what he needs to do by rushing into things. You may be ready, but that doesn't mean the other person is ready. That's why it's important to pray about every relationship.

The person might be the right one, but God may be telling you to leave him alone - give him some time and pray that he'll do what's necessary to see himself as valuable and precious. Timing is everything!

In order to have success in your marriage and family, you have to recognize the importance of family (by esteeming the value and preciousness of each member) and establish God's Word as the final authority in your home.

Source: Establishing Godly Relationships Through Marriage & Family
by Deborah L. Butler
Excerpt permission granted by Word of Faith Publications