I’ve been married long enough to know when I’m in trouble. It happened again yesterday when I returned from a weekend preaching trip to Kansas City. I pulled my truck into the garage, and my wife met me at the door, magazine in one hand and pen in the other.

I knew what was coming. You see, my wife subscribes to several women’s magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal and Good Housekeeping. One of my Christmas gifts to her every year is to renew her subscriptions. On several occasions, I’ve asked her what she likes about these magazines. She says she enjoys reading the recipes and seeing the latest home decorating trends.

Women’s magazines always offer helpful tips about food like “27 Ways to Disguise Leftover Meatloaf” or “3 Ways to Trick Your Children into Eating Their Vegetables.” To tell you the truth, my wife is an incredible cook. If the magazine editors were smart, they’d come to our house and get her recipes. She also sets up a beautiful home, so I really don’t think there is much they can tell her.

Among the food and home decorating tips, it seems as though every issue also contains some kind of relationship article. Most of them have a number attached: “101 Tips to Get Your Husband to Stop Leaving His Underwear on the Floor” or “11 Tried and True Ways to Get Your Husband to Put the Toilet Seat Down.” Why do these magazines always address men’s faults? I’ve never yet seen an article titled “10 Ways to Get Your Wife to Clean Your Rifle.”

Another component of every women’s magazine is the test—the all-important test. Tests like this cover every conceivable topic: “How to Rate Your Marriage;” “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” or “Does Your Husband Love You?” In a measly 10 questions, a woman can find the answers to life. Of course, I wouldn’t mind my wife taking these little tests if she didn’t drag me into them every time.

As I flopped down into my Lazy-Boy after my trip, she looked up from her magazine and began to ask me questions. First came, “Do you think married people live longer?”

Of course, she wanted me to answer, “Yes” or “No.” But I’m not wired for questions like that. I answered, “It all depends.”

“Depends on what?”

“It depends on what couples you’re talking about!”

You see, I know some relationships in which the husband is praying for the “until death do us part” portion of his marriage vows to come soon. Other marriages provide an incredible, healthy environment in which individuals can nurture their mates in all aspects of life.

My wife responded, “I need a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’” After two more questions, she gave up, mumbling something about how I “didn’t take this test seriously.” Go figure.

The problem with these tests is they leave no room for discussion. If I took the results seriously, I’d think my marriage was in trouble every month. But the real test comes not from women’s magazines, but from life itself. In 36 years of marriage, my wife and I have dealt with almost everything imaginable. Financial hard times, moving, children being sick and/or hospitalized, losing both sets of parents, career changes, physical challenges and more. These are the things that test the depth of your relationship.

In all our difficult times, my wife and I never once entertained the idea of divorce. We refused to let that be an option. Way back in the beginning, we identified love as the basis of our marriage. Biblical love is not based on emotions or feelings. When those come along, they’re wonderful, but they don’t form the foundation for love and marriage. Emotions come and go like the seasons of the year. Love must be deeper.

The basis of love is a Person. Many of us learned as children that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). So simple, but so profound. Every day, I’m in the process of learning to “God” my wife. And I pray He uses me to demonstrate His love toward her this side of Heaven.

I also live by a principle: I choose to bring out the best God has in her without expecting anything in return. Again, this has been a process. I’m a sinful human being who thinks if I give, I should get. But God so loved the world that He gave . . . period. I purpose to love my wife the way God does.

Let’s see the Ladies’ Home Journal put that in a test. If they do, my wife will be waiting at the door with pen and magazine in hand. And this time, I hope I can . . . pass.

Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail walker@awestar.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827).