The Sweet Christian Bride

Philippians 4:8 in Marriage: Lovely

by admin on August 28, 2012 in Spouse with No Comments

If you missed out on the intro to the Philippians 4:8 series, check it out here.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).


If I asked you what is lovely about your spouse, you might be stumped.  Lovely isn’t exactly a masculine word, and it doesn’t usually define concepts well.  I tend to think of the word as describing pretty things: a “charmingly or exquisitely beautiful”1 china set.

Ah, but after consulting, I learned that lovely is so much more.  It also encompasses the intangibles of a relationship, a setting, or an experience, even characterizing that which is of the spirit, making it a perfect word for marriage: “having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye,” “delightful; highly pleasing,” or “of a great moral or spiritual beauty.”2

Or if you are a grammar nerd like me, you can break it down into an unconventional diagram: Love-ly.  “Love” would be your valuing, appreciating, cherishing, or esteeming.  And “ly” is the signal for an adverb which modifies adjectives or other adverbs.  So think of the adjectives that describe your spouse (handsome, funny, charismatic).  And think of the manner in which he does things (courageously, gently, efficiently…).  Which of these adjectives or adverbs do you value, appreciate, cherish, or esteem?

Now we can answer this question.  What is lovely about your spouse?

Hopefully some qualities or habits quickly came to mind.  Could I challenge you not to stop there but to pause what you are doing and spend 3 minutes writing these down?  I know it’s not convenient or super fun, and believe me, I’ve scoffed at all the marriage books that have said to make a list because I already know what I love about Chris, but here is what the benefits are (yes, I finally broke down and made my list):

– Time to think past the first layer.  The words that come to mind immediately are fantastic, but what you appreciate about him goes so much deeper if you take the time to go there.  There are probably aspects of him about which he is longing for your praise but instead go unnoticed or become routine and expected.  Picture your life without him.  What things would you be left with that he normally does?  What not-so-hot qualities in yourself would no longer be tempered by his presence?  These are the kinds of layers that you want to uncover.

– Your focus is now on what you love about him, not on what irritates you.  Chris and I went to a Weekend to Remember marriage conference put on by FamilyLife, and our speaker, Ray, used an example of the sun and a quarter to illustrate this point.  A quarter is significantly smaller than the sun, but when you look up to the sun and place that quarter at a specific distance away from your eye—between you and the sun—the quarter can actually block the entire sun.  His point was that if you focus on the irritations in your spouse (the quarter), then you can actually come to see only those irritations and block out all of the amazing qualities in him (the sun).  Irritations then become the lens in which you see things.  If you look at the sun instead of the quarter, the quarter will always remain smaller than the sun.  No matter how big your quarter might seem, the sun is still there!  After all, if there were only quarter and no sun, you would not have married him.

-You will build up an arsenal of praise that you can unleash every time the enemy tries to focus your attention on the negative aspects of your spouse.  Especially if your spouse has a primary love language of “Words of Affirmation,” you can never have too many true words of praise that are already prepared.  Look at your list each morning and choose one thing that day to tell your honey and celebrate him for.  Such a small word can change the climate of your marriage.

– Your words are your witness.  If you can’t feel anything lovely about him, then go back to your tangible list and remember what is lovely about him.  It is your writing.  At one point you felt that way, and you can re-feel that way by reminding yourself what is true and distinguishing that from what appears to be true based on your current feelings.

God 5: Enemy 0.

Protect your marriage from attack by thinking on what is lovely about your husband and marriage.  If you don’t know what that is, think on Christ and that will calibrate your thoughts.

Photo © Don Bayley

1,2  All definitions taken from

By Lindsay

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