FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Why Love Is Patient

with Bob Lepine | November 10, 2020
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Love is patient. Are you? Bob Lepine, author of the book, "Love Like You Mean It," talks about what it means to be patient, or long-suffering, especially if your spouse isn't as loving, or helpful or attentive as you hoped. Lepine reminds us that most of us got married for oneness. God has put you here to be a dispenser of love to those who need it, so how can you be an ambassador of grace? Cry out to God, and ask for His help.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Bob Lepine talks about what it means to be patient, or long-suffering, especially if your spouse isn’t as loving, or helpful or attentive as you hoped. Lepine reminds us that most of us got married for oneness.

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Why Love Is Patient

With Bob Lepine
November 10, 2020
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Bob: Do you define love differently today than you defined it when you were dating, back before you were married? A lot of couples do.

Man: I think the way I defined love back then was just a place of security/of commitment and, ultimately, a feeling.

Woman: Yes.

Man: I didn’t understand the harder parts; I didn’t understand self-sacrifice.

Woman: How I defined love back then was probably selfish; but as soon as I’m unhappy or it’s not the way I think it should be, then “I’m out of here.”

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 10th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at If love is at the heart of what makes a marriage work, then we better make sure we understand what real love is supposed to be. We’ll explore that today. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I have to tell you—at FamilyLife®, what we’re passionate about is husbands and wives/moms and dads getting in alignment, biblically, with what our assignment is in marriage and in family. We believe that families can be transformed when husbands and wives and moms and dads start thinking more biblically about this, and we believe cultures can be transformed when families are transformed.

Dave: Yes; you’re not going to start thinking biblically—here’s a profound thought—until you look at the Bible. [Laughter] I mean, seriously, it’s like the culture is going to dominate our thinking about love and all kinds of things. A lot of us—that’s about the input we get.

It’s like: “Okay; what would happen if I said I’m going to put as much time into the Word of God?”—you’re going to see your marriage, and you’re going to see love, totally differently.

Bob: Yes.

Dave: It’s not just this cute little Scripture that’s read at weddings—the love chapter—it is profound in how it changes the way you see love.

Ann: Yes; and we have seen, personally, God change our lives as a result of surrendering to Him and following what He says in Scripture.

Bob: Yes.

Ann: Bob, you’re going to get into a topic today which is not an easy one.

Bob: Yes; we have just developed a new video series for couples called Love Like You Mean It. It’s based on the book I wrote, by the same title, that came out this year. This is designed for small groups. We go through 1 Corinthians 13, phrase by phrase/idea by idea.

It’s interesting to me that where the Bible starts in defining love for us is with the idea that love is patient, which is not the first word that would come to mind for me when I think about love.

Ann: Oh, it’s a hard word!

Dave: Doesn’t sound very exciting! [Laughter]

Bob: I think part of the reason the Bible starts there is because you have to start by recognizing: “Yes, this is going to take some work/some development.”

We want our listeners to hear an excerpt from the Love Like You Mean It video series. We’re hoping that there will be tens of thousands of couples who will get together and go through this content in a Sunday school class/in a small group. Couples can do it online on a Zoom call.

Ann: What great premarital material!

Bob: Yes.

Ann: Boy, I wish we would have heard this before we got married.

Bob: Well, in one of the early sessions, we talk about what the Bible says when it says one quality of love is that love is patient. Let’s listen to an excerpt from this series.

[Love Like You Mean It Excerpt]

Bob: A number of years ago, I was approached by some friends, who asked if I’d be willing to officiate their wedding and to do premarital counseling for them. I was delighted to do that. They were coworkers; and I knew both of them and looked forward to interacting with them around marriage issues. I remember getting together with them for the first time. Their names were Maria and Hector. I asked each of them to get out a piece of paper; and I wanted them to write down, in two or three sentences, a definition of love: “Just write down for me how you would define love if someone asked you to define it.”

They did; they took their paper and jotted out their notes. When they were done, I said, “Just fold it up and turn it in to me.” They handed it in; I put it aside; and I thought, “I’m going to go back and look at that later.” We went on with our first session of premarital counseling. Well, later that night, I pulled out their papers and read their definitions of love. It read a little bit like bad romance poetry from the ’60s or Hallmark cards kind of mashed up together—you know, it was a lot of flowers and sunshine words—not a lot of hard-hard/work-boot words when it comes to marriage.

Man: I think the way I defined love back then was just a place of security/of commitment and, ultimately, a feeling.

Wife: Yes.

Man: I didn’t understand the harder parts; I didn’t understand self-sacrifice.

Woman: How I defined love back then was probably selfish; but as soon as I’m unhappy or it’s not the way I think it should be, then “I’m out of here.”

Woman: I think, back then, I probably thought it was easy; it’s not. [Laughter]

Man: In the beginning, it’s just this happiness—you always are happy; you get to do all this fun, silly stuff together; you have somebody that’s always going to rock with you in everything that you wanted to do.

Woman: Now, we would define love as being able to show grace, and being able to show mercy, and being able to love each other through those mistakes—like: “I still want you,” “I will choose you, even though you made me really upset two minutes ago.”

Woman: I’d say, now, it’s sacrificial. It’s not just doing things to serve him and love him; but it’s: “What’s my heart motive? How am I displaying Christ to him in the things that I do?”

Man: I would say love, now, to me is so much different; because it’s a picture of God. It’s more than just commitment; it’s a pursuit. Regardless of what is going on in our circumstances or how I feel at the moment, it’s a will to love you.

Bob: I wonder what your definition would look like. If I gave you the same assignment—you pulled out a piece of paper, and you wrote down your definition of love—what kind of descriptive words would show up in your definition? If you’re trying to explain what real love looks like to somebody else, how do you define that? What words would you use?

I think it’s fascinating—the first word that shows up in the Bible’s definition of love. If you gave me a piece of paper and said, “Write down words that describe love,” I would write down a whole lot of words before I’d ever get to the word that the Bible describes as the word defining love; and that word is “patient.” Now, it’s not that that’s an unimportant word; it’s a powerful word/it’s a critical word for us when it comes to understanding love. First Corinthians 13:4: “Love is patient…”

Dr. Philip Ryken, who’s the president at Wheaton College, says this—let me read this to you—he says, “Patience is having the ability to put up with the frustrations we will face anytime we have a relationship with someone, who is just as flawed and every bit as fallen as we are.”

In older translations of the Bible, there’s an interesting way that the word, “patience,” is translated. The original Greek word is translated, in older versions, this way: “Love is longsuffering,”/“Love suffers long.” Think about that for just a second. If I said to you: “Let me describe love to you. You’re going to have a loving relationship with somebody over a lifetime. Here’s the first thing you need to know: you’re going to be suffering for a long time.” I mean, who says, “Okay; I’m in!”—right?—“That’s what I was signing up for.”

Most of us don’t even think that way; and yet, when we think about the traditional wedding vows, they’re designed to help us think this way. That’s why, in those vows, there are phrases like, “…for better or for worse”; because anybody, who’s been around marriage long enough, knows worse is going to come into your relationship, and love is going to have to figure out a way to hold together when you’re experiencing worse.

“…for richer/for poorer”: “What do you do when either poverty or affluence begin to cause a drift in your marriage?” “What do you do when there’s sickness in a marriage relationship?” These kinds of pressures can begin to drain the emotion out of a marriage relationship; and yet, the Bible says love is enduring/love suffers long and well in the midst of these kinds of challenges.



Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to a portion of the new Love Like You Mean It video series for couples. It’s a hard place to start—to think love is going to have to learn how to endure in hardship—but it’s the reality all of us are going to face. If we don’t know how to face tough times together, and how to demonstrate patience toward one another—

Ann: You know, it’s interesting—one year, for the Detroit Lions wives’ Bible study that I led, I asked the wives, “As you watch a movie, and you’re defining true love, would you rather see a young married couple, walking down the sidewalk, holding hands, or a couple that has been married 70 years, walking down the sidewalk, holding hands?” Of course, they all said, “Oh, it’s the couple that’s been married 70 years.”

Dave: They’re probably not walking at that point. [Laughter]

Ann: Yes, maybe.

Dave: That means they’re in their 90s, probably.

Ann: Yes; and my parents were married 70 years before my mom just passed away. You talk about enduring love—

Bob: Yes.

Ann: —you know, to watch them stay, side by side, to encourage one another; to love one another through Alzheimer’s, through heart attacks; through the good, the bad, the poor, the rich—there’s something endearing and biblical. I look at that and I think, “That is what God intended.”

Bob: You saw both your mom and dad have to be patient with one another.

Ann: Yes.

Bob: And you saw how love is there in the midst of that patience. I mean, what a demonstration of love, when we are enduring and putting up with the hardship that’s external and the idiosyncrasies that are a part of our relationship.

Dave: Yes; I tell you—there’s something that—you tear up when you see it—it’s emotional when you watch somebody go through hardship and bond closer together. I think you tear up because it’s divine; you know you’re looking at a godly love.

It’s so easy, in tough times, to bail: “I didn’t sign up for this.” Actually, you did. When you say, “I’m going to be married,” you say, “…for better, for worse.” You just don’t know—every marriage is going to have parts of worse—and it’s beautiful when you endure through those.

Ann: It’s not romantic in the moment. You know, it’s not our Hollywood view or version of it; but it is this beautiful picture of endurance and love.

Bob: One of the things that we did in this series is—we got a number of couples together and had them share about their marriage and their experience of love in marriage.

Dave: That’s a real tribute to your producer, Jim Mitchell.

Bob: Jim did a great job with this.

What we wanted was to say, “There’s a real life to all that we’re talking about here.” One of the couples we talked to—Robbie and Sabrina—are in a blended marriage. Both of them have been previously married. Learning to love and show patience to one another—that was something, as they were blending their family, patience was required. They shared about that in the video series.

[Love Like You Mean It Excerpt]

Sabrina: The hardest part in a marriage, I think, is learning how to love that person. We didn’t come from a divorce situation, where there was trouble; we came from a widowed situation, where we both loved our previous spouses. There was never a waning of that; so when we got married, I thought it would be easy for me to find out how to love him. It wasn’t that easy; it was hard.

Robbie: It was hard for both of us. It’s just a learning curve, because you think you know how to do it all. Sabrina requires more attention than my first wife ever did, so I had to learn how to love Sabrina and how to pay her attention. I think she had to be patient with me while I did that.

Sabrina: Yes; and I had to be patient with the way he was used to loving and being loved. I have to be patient in the growth of that love and realizing he had 22 years with the woman that he loved before he married me; I had 7 years with the man I loved before I married him. And now, we’re trying to compare the growth of that time together with just six months, or a year, or a year-and-a-half. We really had to just sit and be patient and wait for that kind of love to really take root and form the fruit that it needed to form.

Robbie: We both had nights, where we’d go to bed and think we should have been happier.

Sabrina: Yes; we’ll have some big argument, or something to that nature, and you think, “Wow, this never happened to me before. This is not something I dealt with in my previous marriage,” or “It was easier then.” You get into a trap. You have to get yourself out of that and go, “No, I am choosing to have grace upon this situation and upon this person,” and not let myself go down into the depths of saying, “It’s never going to get better.”

You just have to continually hope in the patient endurance of those times: “So I’m going to choose to have hope,” “I’m going to choose to believe that it does get better, and it will get better than this.”

Bob: To say you love another person is to say: “I’m not going to be surprised when these challenges come,” “I’m not going to run away when these challenges come,” “I’m not going to give up on us when we face these kinds of challenges. I’m in for the duration, even when things get hard.”

Let me say quickly here: “I’m not talking about enduring abuse. When I talk about being longsuffering, I’m not saying that, if somebody’s being physically abusive to you, or emotionally cruel to you, for a sustained period of time, that your job is just to endure and just to suffer. In fact, you’re not loving somebody well if you’re enabling them with that kind of behavior. They need to be loved well so that they can come out of that behavior/so they can move from that sinful pattern in their life to a new pattern.”

But patient love is love that says: “I’m not going to be surprised when adversity comes,” and “I’m not going to run,” and “Yes, it’s probably going to cost me, and it’s not going to be pleasant at certain times; but I’m not going anywhere. I will bear up in the midst of that.”

Patience is grace, fueled by love, that sustains a relationship. Think about this: “God is patient with us.” One of my favorite verses in the Bible is a verse that says that God demonstrated His love for us this way: “While we were still rebelling against Him, sinning against Him, Christ died for us. God demonstrated His love through sacrifice and through suffering while we were still opposed to Him.” That’s what patient endurance in a marriage relationship is supposed to look like. Love does not crumble when circumstances get hard; love says: “My goal is your good, even if it costs me something.”

Maybe one of the most remarkable examples of this in the Bible is the account of the interaction between Jesus and Judas on the night that Judas comes to betray Jesus. Jesus knows what’s going on. He and the other disciples are in the Garden of Gethsemane; they’re praying. Judas had already left the meal, and Jesus knew why he was leaving. Here comes Judas with temple guards behind him, and they’re coming to arrest Jesus. And Judas walks up to Jesus—and you remember what he does?—he kisses Him on the cheek; it’s a kiss of betrayal.

Jesus looks at Judas in that moment, and the first thing He says is, “Friend.” Think of that; He calls him “friend” in that moment! He says, “Do quickly what you came to do.” Here is Jesus, knowing the greater glory of God is at stake, who is entering into a season of suffering. Later in this same scene, He says to His disciples, “If I wanted to put an end to this, I could call 30,000 angels to come to My defense, and this whole thing would be over right now.” Jesus is entering into suffering because it’s for our good, and He is patiently enduring what He’s experiencing in this moment.

The couple that I did premarital counseling with—Maria and Hector—at the end of our time together, after we’d done five or six sessions of premarital counseling, I got out their definition of love that they had written the first night. I read it aloud to both of them. I watched them smile; because my goal, over the time we were together, was to have them move from this romanticized view of love to a more biblical way of thinking about love. Really, at the end of the session, I wanted them to lock in on two big ideas: I wanted them to see love as commitment and self-sacrifice; and for that to sustain itself throughout a marriage, there’s going to be a lot of patience required.

I think that’s a great starting place for us as we think about love: “Love is patient. There’s going to be commitment and self-sacrifice; and when suffering comes”—and it will—“do we endure? Do we suffer long?” Love is patient; the question is: “Are you patient?”



Ann: Why’d you have to end it that way?! Why couldn’t you say, “Is your husband patient?” [Laughter]

Bob: We’ve been listening to a portion of the new Love Like You Mean It video series for couples. I did step on your toes there; didn’t I?

Ann: Yes! “Are you patient?”

Dave: Way to go, Bob.

Bob: Each of these things—I had somebody, years ago, who said, “Read

1 Corinthians 13”—the definition of love—“and take out the word, ‘love,’ and put in your name: ‘Bob is patient; Bob is kind; Bob is not self-seeking; Bob doesn’t insist on his own way.’” I went, “Oops, we can’t get very far without going, ‘Okay; that’s not true about me.’”

I had a young wife, who reached out to me recently; she and her husband are in a tough spot. They’re trying to patch up a lot of damage in their marriage. She sent me a note, and she said, “I’m reading your book; and it’s convicting, but it’s life-changing.” That’s what you—write a book, hoping will happen. That’s why we put this video series together, hoping will happen.

The Love Like You Mean It video series—ten sessions for couples to go through in a Sunday school class, in a small group; you can do this online—the videos are available on DVD, or you can stream the videos. There are workbooks available for the couples as well. We’re hoping a lot of husbands and wives will get with other husbands and wives, because there’s power and synergy when you’re doing this with other couples. You can do it on your own; but to do it with other couples, I just think that multiplies the experience significantly.

Find out more about the brand-new Love Like You Mean It video series. It is available for pre-order now. You can go to to find out more. There’s also information on our website about other video series available from FamilyLife®: the Vertical Marriage® series that you guys have done, the Art of Marriage® series that you’re a part of, Art of Parenting—you guys are a part of that as well—a whole line of video resources designed to help husbands and wives and moms and dads build stronger, healthier marriages and families.

Again, go to our website,, and find out about the new Love Like You Mean It video series; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you have any questions or if you’d like to order the series by phone. Again, the number: 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Ask about the Love Like You Mean It video series or any of the series we have available, here, at FamilyLife.

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We hope you can join us, again, tomorrow. We’re going to talk about what a good man looks like. Nathan Clarkson is the author of a book called Good Man, and he examines what makes up godly masculinity. We’ll talk with him about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.


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