In its most beautiful form, love is defined by a choice rooted within a volitional act of giving oneself to another. It is the willful intent to deny self to seek the gain of others for the glory of God. To love as God intends is to willingly transfer one's joy that is rooted to self and plant it within the heart of another. This is real love. As Christ followers, this is the model of love God has given to us, and it is this love we are called to live.
If I get this right, or at least come close, I have the assurance that God is making our path straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). In this context, I lead best when I love most. I love most when God's glory and the needs of others are my life priorities. This is the sacrificial blueprint of love that God calls us to pursue in our marriages, as well as in all of our relationships in life.
Unfortunately, I've seen numerous men leave their wives and embrace a different model of love. Never have I heard them say that they are doing it for God's glory and/or for the sake of their spouses. Rather, it is just the opposite. I typically hear that they've found their true "love," their soulmate. It is all about them and has nothing to do with God's glory or the welfare of their wives and children.
Just prior to Christ bearing the weight of a cross upon his back, He gave His followers a new commandment, "...that you love one another, even as I have loved you..." (John 13:34-35). As we anchor ourselves to God's love through Jesus Christ, He provides us the means to love Him and others as He loves us. My love for my wife is a God-driven decision to love her as Christ has loved His bride. It is this same God-honoring and sacrificial love that allows me, by God's grace, to love my children in a way that reflects God's love for us.
I know that to venture beyond the walls of God's model of love is to remove His foundation of protection and provision. Like the foolish builder described by Christ in one of His parables (Matthew 7:26-27), to not build my life upon Him is the surest way to have my life crumble and with it all the relationships around me. This is why I must daily pursue to strengthen my relationship with God. He is the foundation of my life and my love.
Within my roles as a husband and a parent, the pursuit of God's sacrificial love is one of my greatest life quests that never ends. It is the daily goal to "die to self" and put God and others before myself.