4 Approaches to Love

4 approaches to loveWomen (and men) usually take one of 4 approaches to love. These patterns will, no doubt, sound familiar.

These three of the 4 approaches to love don’t work in the long run.

PLEASING (moving toward)

Of course, you want to please the one you love. I want to please my man, too. However, I know I need to maintain a balance, or we will both lose.

As as Christian wife who wanted to please her husband, I thought I was pretty good at that “submission” stuff in my first marriage, but I didn’t understand the whole equation.

My sense of self depended heavily upon whether or not my husband approved of me and/or what I did. He often didn’t. In fact, he didn’t seem to like me much. And I must admit, at that point, there wasn’t much I liked about myself.

My submission wasn’t by choice. It was rooted in my fear. Fear of displeasing my husband … and losing him. And because of my fear, I was never a truly confident woman. And I lost my husband.

CONTROLLING (moving against)

Many women I meet are good at that “strength” stuff in their marriages. But is that strength also rooted in fear?

Sometimes we toughen ourselves up to get through life, and we lose our true strength in the process. In other words, many women develop a false sense of strength as a defense against being hurt. But in the end, it causes them and their partners to experience unnecessary pain, and they both lose.


Is the opposite of fear actually love? Or is it indifference? Sometimes we build walls to protect ourselves from rejection or hurt. However, defensiveness simply doesn’t work in marriage. Ever. Because one partner’s defense will always cause the other partner pain and lead to more defensiveness. That’s what the Negative CycleOpens in a new tab. is all about.

NOTE: All three of the above approaches to love are based in fear.

Balanced & Beautiful (moving together)

The fourth approach is described in 1 CORiNTHiANS 13:4-8bOpens in a new tab.. Its Foundation is built upon knowing you are already loved. By Jesus, Who is Love Himself.

  • Love is large & incredibly patient.
  • Love is gentle & consistently kind to all.
  • It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else.
  • Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.
  • Love does not traffic in shame & disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor.
  • Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.
  • Love joyfully celebrates honesty & finds no delight in what is wrong.
  • Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.
  • Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
  • Love never stops loving.

Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection.1 JOHN 4:18, TPTOpens in a new tab.

Man and woman are created as partners. Essential partners in the work of the Kingdom of God. Through Christ, we are redeemed to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Man is the Leader, and woman is the Follower. He’s not a dictator, and she’s not a silent, powerless subject. She has way more power than she realizes, but more about that later.

Fortunately, as we get things back in their proper, Heavenly perspective, man has what he needs to do his job, to live out his life passionately doing what God designed him to do.

You can learn to love well. I’d love to help. Contact me here.


Dr. Debi is passionate about helping Christian couples & single adults learn more effective ways to apply Biblical principles & the findings of psychological research to everyday life. She is an author & former professor, as well as a California Licensed Psychologist (21711) & a Texas Licensed Psychologist with Provisional Status (38600). She earned her Doctor of Psychology degree (PsyD) at Rosemead School of Psychology-Biola University, and has taught psychology courses at MidAmerica Nazarene University, Azusa Pacific University, & Biola University. * Dr. Debi has taught psychology courses at MidAmerica Nazarene University, Azusa Pacific University, & Biola University.

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