The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships

The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships


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The Seven Laws of Love is insightful, compelling, inspiring, grounded, and immeasurably practical. We love this book! Everyone needs to read it. Don’t miss out on its powerful message.”

—Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, authors of Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts

In our fast-paced, success-obsessed culture, we’re constantly tempted to chase after things that don’t matter. We’ve been conditioned to value possessions over people, status over relationships, and ourselves over God.

But the reality is this: God created love to be the centerpiece of our lives.

In The Seven Laws of Love, Dave Willis makes the case for a love revival and proves that in returning to a life of love we have no greater model than the one who is love himself.

In Dave’s humorous, touching, down-to-earth style, The Seven Laws of Love takes you on a journey through the ins and outs of everyday relationships—with your spouse, your children, your friends, and your coworkers—using practical, applicable examples and guiding principles that demonstrate what a life of love actually looks like.

There is no higher calling on earth than to love and be loved. It’s time to learn The Seven Laws of Love, and to make loving a priority over all other pursuits. Anything else isn’t really living.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718034337
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 01/05/2016
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 470,920
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 5.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Dave Willis spent thirteen years as a full-time pastor and is now a speaker, author, relationship coach, and television host for MarriageToday. He works with his wife, Ashley, to create relationship-building resources, media, and events as part of the team at and They have four young sons and live in Keller, Texas.

Read an Excerpt

The Seven Laws of Love

Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships

By Dave Willis

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2015 Dave Willis
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-3433-7



Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.


Ilove you.

These three little words make up the most significant phrase you could ever speak and the most beautiful phrase you could ever hear. These are the words we say to our newborn babies the moment we first hold them in our arms. They're the words people utter to friends and family members from their deathbeds. They're the words we use to signify a new level of commitment in romantic relationships. They're the words God is speaking to us through every page of Scripture, every new sunrise, and every act of beauty and grace. These three little words are packed with power!

I vividly remember the first time I spoke these words to my wife, Ashley.

To accurately paint the picture of this scene, you need to know it was one of the least romantic places imaginable. My college dorm room was dingy and dirty. To my knowledge, my roommate hadn't washed his sheets even once in the two years I'd been living with him. We constantly sprayed Febreze and Lysol, but our best efforts to mask the stench of dirty clothes, wet towels, and old food did little to create much ambience. My sweet mom nearly cried the first time she visited.

As unpleasant as the surroundings may have been, all those unsavory details seemed to disappear when I looked at Ashley. I had never felt that way about anyone, and I figured it had to be love. I had to tell her. It felt like a volcano of unexpressed emotion was welling up in my heart and trying to come out of my mouth. I knew that if I didn't say something right then, there was a decent chance I'd end up puking on her instead. This was a defining moment.

The look on my face must have been a combination of nausea, fear, anticipation, confusion, and joy. Ashley gave me a concerned look with those gorgeous eyes of hers and said, "What are you thinking about?"

I felt completely vulnerable and exposed, like I was standing in my underwear in front of everyone I knew — and just to be clear, I've never looked very attractive in my underwear. (The more of my body I can cover up, the more attractive it seems.)

My mouth was dry, and I was having trouble forming coherent words, but I swallowed hard and gathered my strength. And with the squeaky voice of a prepubescent adolescent, I finally said, "I was thinking ... I was thinking that I love you."

I got it out. It was not one of my smoothest moments, and I doubt the scene will ever be replayed in a great love story, but I got it out. I said it. She smiled at me, and without hesitation she said, "I love you too."

Even though we were still in my nasty dorm room, in that moment we might as well have been on top of the Eiffel Tower with fireworks going off in the background. I had expressed my love, and that love had been reciprocated. It's amazing how free and how strong you can feel when you know you're loved.

Through our years together and the different seasons of our marriage and family, our love has grown deeper and richer. We've also gained a fuller understanding of what love really means. It's not something that can be defined by feelings or captured by words alone. God created love to be a transformative force in every aspect of our lives, and once we understand and embrace it, our lives come into clearer focus and our relationships grow in deeper levels of intimacy. Everything changes for the better.

Before that can happen, though, there must be commitment. Without a real commitment, there can be no real love.


My kids have an ongoing project of building a fort in the empty lot next to our house. Almost every day after school, they'll meet up with the other neighborhood kids and look for scrap materials to add to their beloved masterpiece. It's really nothing more than some old crates and cardboard stacked together. Every time a storm comes, the whole thing falls apart, and they have to start the whole process over again.

I've never been much help on the fort project because I'm terrible with tools. Ashley's dad is a guy who can build and fix anything, so when Ashley married me, she assumed all men had the same skill set. I wish I had those skills, but when I try swinging a hammer, stuff gets broken. Ashley is both the beautiful one and the handy one in our relationship.

The boys wish I were better at construction so I could help them build the fort. I do my best to help them gather materials, but my most valuable contribution thus far has been a single bit of engineering advice. I told them the fort was going to keep collapsing until they built it securely on a solid foundation.

Many relationships resemble that fort. Maybe there's a lot of effort going into building the relationship, but it still seems to fall apart. Relationships can crumble because of a lack of effort, but in other cases the relationship fails for the same reasons the boys' fort kept collapsing. It's built with the wrong tools and with no solid foundation.

Matthew 7:24–27 contains one of Jesus' most famous teachings. He tells the story of a wise builder and a foolish builder. The wise builder took the time to build his house on a foundation of solid rock, while the foolish builder took the fast and easy route and built his house on sand.

From the outside, both houses looked the same, but the difference was revealed when a storm came. The strong winds and rains beat against both houses, and the house without a solid foundation collapsed. The house built on the rock stood strong.

When you read magazines and look at the examples of love in pop culture, it seems as though many people are content to build a relationship with no solid foundation. These shaky relationships are usually based on fickle feelings, codependent insecurities, mutual convenience, or lust. When the storms of life come, the relationships can't survive.

The strongest relationships, however, are built on a foundation of love, and love is always built on a solid foundation of commitment. The strength of your commitment will always determine the strength of your relationship.


God's definition of love and the first Law of Love is rooted in the concept of commitment. When you say "I love you" to someone, you aren't just expressing your current feelings; you're making a promise of commitment for your shared future.

Love, by its very nature, is a conscious choice to selflessly put the needs of someone else ahead of your own preferences or comforts. No relationship can survive unless it is rooted in rock-solid commitment.

As a pastor, I have the privilege of officiating wedding ceremonies. It's such an honor to stand in that sacred moment with a bride and groom as they exchange vows and rings and enter into the holy covenant of marriage. One of the Bible passages I often read at wedding ceremonies comes from the first chapter of the book of Ruth. It reads:

But Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!" (Ruth 1:16–17).

These words beautifully capture the commitment necessary for a strong marriage, but I'm always quick to point out that these words weren't spoken in the context of marriage. In fact, this beautiful promise was spoken in a much unexpected way. The story gives us some fascinating insight into the power of commitment in all healthy relationships.

Ruth was a young Moabite woman who lived around three thousand years ago. Times were very difficult back then, and Ruth's young husband died. Based on the religious and cultural customs of the day, she no longer had any obligation to her husband's family, and she was free to pursue a new life. Though Ruth could do as she wished, she refused to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi.

Ruth knew Naomi had no one, and Ruth selflessly committed her life to Naomi's service. Because of Ruth's selflessness, God blessed her in remarkable ways. Not only did God provide food and shelter for the two women, but God brought a man named Boaz into Ruth's life.

This rich kinsman-redeemer married Ruth, and together they started a family. Their lineage became a generational line of love. Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed who had a son named Jesse who had a son named David. David became the greatest king in Israel's history and the author of many of the Bible's psalms and poetry.

King David's lineage continued with a son named Solomon, who wrote the Wisdom Literature in the Bible and was blessed by God to be the wisest man of his day, but all this royalty was only the tip of the iceberg. God's ultimate plan through this family tree would happen a thousand years later.

Two descendants of King David named Joseph and Mary made their way to the City of David for a census. The town was called Bethlehem. Mary was expecting a child. She gave birth to a son named Jesus.

He was the son of God. He was the Prince of Peace. He was the embodiment of love.

God brought his own son through the lineage of a poor young woman named Ruth who understood the power of commitment and the meaning of love. God wants to create a generational impact through your life as well. The level at which you'll make an eternal impact is defined by your level of commitment to the people God has placed in your life.


Our commitment to others is evident in the consistency with which we serve them. Grand, one-time gestures can be nice, but it's what we do with consistency that will ultimately shape our relationships. I met a couple recently who reminded me of the power of consistency in a beautiful way.

Harold and Louise are an extraordinary couple. Ashley and I had the privilege of meeting them at a marriage conference we were hosting, and we were instantly drawn to them. There was a sparkle in their eyes and an adoration they obviously had for each other. They couldn't keep themselves from smiling every time their eyes met. Even though they were both in their seventies, they acted like two teenagers in love.

I spent as much time around them as I could that weekend because I wanted to learn the secret of their lifelong love. I wanted to know how their love had grown richer with time and how, even through painful setbacks in Louise's health, they both remained joyful, optimistic, and passionately devoted to each other. Louise is now confined to a wheelchair, but she looks like she could float on air when she looks at Harold.

Louise shared a story with us that gave us a glimpse into their relationship: "Our first date was on March 17, so on April 17, Harold brought me a long-stem rose to celebrate our one-month anniversary. I was genuinely impressed by his thoughtfulness, but I didn't expect the roses to come very often. I was so surprised when he brought me another rose on May 17 to celebrate our second month together. I smiled and thought, Wow! This fella is a keeper!"

She looked at Harold with a smile and continued her story. "After we got married, I expected the roses to stop, but on the seventeenth that first month of our marriage, another rose appeared."

She paused to squeeze Harold's hand, and tears began to form in her eyes as she smiled and said, "It has been fifty-four years since our first date, and every month on the seventeenth for 648 months in a row, Harold has brought me a rose."

As she finished, I was simultaneously inspired by their love story and feeling like a jerk for having never done anything for Ashley that could match that level of consistent thoughtfulness. Harold definitely challenged me to raise the bar in my own marriage! I obviously couldn't build a time machine and go back to the beginning to start that type of tradition, but I can (and you can too) start today to bring more thoughtfulness and romance to the marriage.

Harold and Louise would be quick to tell you it takes a lot more than roses to build a strong, lifelong marriage. The flowers weren't really even the point of their story; it was the thoughtfulness behind the flowers. As I spend time with couples who have successfully loved each other for decades, I'm convinced their secret is really no secret at all. It's a simple choice to put love into action by consistently serving, encouraging, supporting, and adoring each other. Make those simple but powerful acts of love a priority in your relationships, and you'll be writing a happy ending to your own love stories.


One of the biggest emergencies in our modern relationship crisis is a widespread disregard for this first Law of Love. Our culture is suffering from a lack of real commitment. Many people seem to treat their relationships like possessions that can be upgraded or traded in for newer models. We trade in our cell phones every year or two, and many people trade in their relationships with the same frequency. This collective lack of commitment stems from a sense of entitlement for "On Demand" intimacy. Our modern culture has grown more impatient, and impatience is a massive barrier to commitment.

In order to become more committed, we need to become more patient. Love and patience may seem uncorrelated, but in God's design, patience is an ever-present attribute of love. The Bible teaches us love is patient, so we need to become more patient for love to take root in our relationships. Our relationships will thrive when we abandon the pull of instant gratification. Research backs me up on this.

In 1972, Stanford University conducted a groundbreaking study that unearthed a powerful insight into human behavior and relationships. The test was simple, but the results proved to be profound. Hundreds of children from all walks of life were brought onto campus and given what is now famously known as "The Marshmallow Test."

The instructions were basic. Each child was asked to sit down at a table, and a researcher would place a marshmallow in front of the hungry kid and then give this proposition: "You can eat this marshmallow right now, but if you don't eat it right now and wait until I get back, I'll give you two marshmallows to eat."

They could have one now or two later. That was the test. Many kids would gobble up the marshmallow even before they heard the rules. Others would wait a little while, but eventually their willpower would disappear and they'd give in and eat it. A few kids found the inner strength to wait. They refused to settle for one marshmallow when patience would double the prize.

The kids who resisted the temptation didn't usually do it by willpower alone. They wouldn't just sit still and stare at the marshmallow. They got up and played and pretended the marshmallow wasn't even there until the researcher came back and gave them two. They beat temptation by removing the single marshmallow as an option, because they resolved that a better option was coming and it was well worth the wait.

This study was so valuable because the researchers followed those kids into adulthood and continued to measure their progress in different areas of their lives. They recorded profound differences between the "one marshmallow kids" and the "two marshmallow kids." The kids who had shown restraint and waited for two marshmallows were statistically much more likely to have a successful career, financial stability, and a long-term marriage.

In short, the study determined that the factor that was most likely to determine the lifelong health and happiness of an individual wasn't ethnicity, gender, family of origin, or even intelligence. The most important factor in determining the long-term health and vitality of a person's life and relationships was tied to one single discipline: the ability to delay gratification. In other words, patience is one of the most critical life skills a person can possess.

Intuitively, we know this to be true, and yet it can be so difficult to put into practice. I know that patience is important, but I've struggled with it all my life. I'd like to think I would have been a "two marshmallow kid," but I doubt I would have been. I catch myself watching the lines at Walmart and estimating which one will go the fastest, and if I end up choosing a line that moves slowly, I nearly have a panic attack. Then, if the person in line ahead of me pays with a check and tries to balance his or her checkbook while I'm waiting, I have to restrain myself from shouting, "Who pays with a check? What century do you live in?"

I obviously have some ongoing struggles related to patience. It's a lifelong lesson I'm still trying to learn. (I apologize if you still pay for things using checks. I don't judge you, although I do encourage you to check out the amazing technology of debit cards. They'll change your life and make your Walmart checkout experience go much faster!)


Excerpted from The Seven Laws of Love by Dave Willis. Copyright © 2015 Dave Willis. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword by Shaunti Feldhahn, xv,
Introduction: Love Defined, xix,
CHAPTER 1: Love Requires Commitment, 3,
CHAPTER 2: Love Selflessly Sacrifices, 17,
CHAPTER 3: Love Speaks Truth, 33,
CHAPTER 4: Love Conquers Fear, 44,
CHAPTER 5: Love Offers Grace, 59,
CHAPTER 6: Love Brings Healing, 73,
CHAPTER 7: Love Lives Forever, 89,
CHAPTER 8: Loving Your Spouse, 107,
CHAPTER 9: Loving Your Family, 129,
CHAPTER 10: Loving Your Neighbor, 144,
CHAPTER 11: Loving Your Friends, 161,
CHAPTER 12: Loving Your Enemies, 176,
CHAPTER 13: Loving Yourself, 188,
CHAPTER 14: Loving Your Creator, 208,
Afterword: What's Next?, 229,
Acknowledgments, 235,
About the Author, 239,

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The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
uncommongirl More than 1 year ago
The first part of the book is the author’s seven “laws of love”. The second part is the chapters that address specific areas of showing love. “—with your spouse, your children, your friends, and your coworkers—”. Chapters end with questions for reflection. A good book but not what I was hoping for. Written by a pastor, it had too much typical Christian inspirational stories. Just can’t get excited about more of that. {Would love to get into a book filled with some fresh inspiration and biblical backbone}
KatieA More than 1 year ago
I read one of the best books I have read in a really long time recently, The Seven Laws of Love by Dave Willis. I actually stumbled across Dave on the internet and found out he is a pastor and he and his wife both blog. I started following him on Facebook and love his wisdom and down to earth words. So when I heard that he had written a book that was being released soon, I was so happy! When I started I thought this was going to be a marriage book, but it is not. It is, just as it states, a book about love, loving your kids, yourself, God, your enemies. Each chapter is filled with thought provoking insight. Here are a few quotes from the book... "Our responses to present difficulties will often determine our level of future opportunities" "Don’t build your identity on things that change (your looks money or success, but build it on the only one which is unchanging. Gods opinion of you is the only one that counts." "Don’t take yourself too seriously or your mission too light. Laughter and joy are gifts from God that should be cherished even in life's most challenging seasons. They are good medicine for the soul." I love how at the end of the book he asks you to take action. Rather than just having a bunch of notes or head knowledge that you will quickly forget, he wants you to reach out to others and share the new things about love that he has shared. I could go on and on, but instead I urge you to purchase a copy today and then share it with others. It really is life changing!
SuzanneM88 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Dave Willis' descriptions and definitions about love are spot on and have inspired me to live more authentically and love those around me better. Chapters on loving your spouse, loving others, God's love and even loving ourselves better were very meaningful to me. I've followed Dave's wonderful Marriage page on Facebook for some time and this book is a great piece on how to make all our relationships better.
Banks25 More than 1 year ago
. This is a good book to have and keep for quick references. It helps you in different areas of Love in your life, not just love for a spouse, partner or mate but love for yourself, family, friends, co-workers and GOD. It touches on all aspects of life and how love fits in, and how much we all need love and learn how to love. Feeling stressed, confused, or unloved? This book will help guide you in what GOD wants for us and how he created love for us.
sjobabe86 More than 1 year ago
This book is great for everyone! Married, single, old, young, families, etc. I love Dave Willis' books but this really touches on how love plays a big role in so many of our relationships. I enjoyed the real life examples in the book - first book that ever made me cry! I look forward to reading future books from Dave Willis.
Anorthy18 More than 1 year ago
This is such a great book! I have already told so many people about the things I have learned from it. There are many practical things you can take from and start using right away. I love the way that at the end of each chapter Dave will often summarize everything into a list, which makes it very easy to come back and review. One of my favorites is a list of 25 principles for your marriage relationship. As he calls it, "concise nuggets of marriage wisdom". Dave includes humor, his personal experiences, and faith written in a way that makes you feel renewed and ready to start going out and healing your relationships. I recommend this book to everyone, but especially those who are having a tough time in their relationships. The marriage advice is so beneficial, if you are married, you should definitely read this book! It will open your eyes to truly loving your spouse. Get your highlighter out, because you will want to mark it up and make notes on all the wonderful words of wisdom you find.
llg88 More than 1 year ago
7 Laws of Love is an amazing resource. Based on biblical truths of God's gracious love for us, Dave Willis reminds us what that love is all about and how we are to share that love with one another. From the most casual friendships to the most intimate relationships of marriage, Willis guides the reader from loving yourself first to putting that love into action. This book will help bless your life and every relationship in it.
josyphiri More than 1 year ago
An all encompassing book dealing with love from loving yourself and then extending the love to others, including loving the 'unlovable' as the bible commands that without love you are nothing. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself and this has been fulfilled in this book. A must read to those who want to maintain any form of relationship. You wont go wrong after reading this book. God is love and this is well articulated in this book.