How do you know if your marriage is pleasing to God and that you’re holding up your responsibility as a spouse? The surprising teaching of Scripture is that it’s not by comparing yourself to your spouse (how well you love compared with how well they love)—it’s by comparing yourself now with yourself last year.
The real way to answer this question is by asking: “Am I progressing in my love for my spouse? Do I love him/her better than I did a year ago?” According to Scripture, our ability to love isn’t something we master—it’s a journey we begin. Paul commends the Thessalonians because “The love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” (2 Thess. 1:3, NRSV)
The “new standard” for faithful believers surrendered to the Holy Spirit is that our expressions of love should be expanding. I should be more loving today than I was five years ago, far more motivated by love today than I was a decade ago, and hopefully much more loving five years from now than I am today.
This also means that whether I love “better” than the person I’m married to is of no concern. I’m not to compare my present love with my spouse’s present love: I’m to compare my past love with my present love, and if my present level of loving isn’t increasing, something’s wrong in my life, spiritually.
“How am I doing in my marriage?” = “Am I progressing in my love for my spouse?”
Do you love your spouse more thoroughly, more graciously, more patiently, or more sacrificially today than you did last year? Do they receive more understanding, more kindness, or more service? That’s the mark of a growing Christian.