Life is very full right now.
I’ve said it over and over and over again the past few months.
We don’t need to compare schedules, because that never helps, but we all feel it. I’ve found May to be a sneaky busy month. We know November and December will be busy because of Thanksgiving and Christmas. And we know August and September are busy because of sports and back-to-school. But, why is May so stinking busy?
The rest of life seems to take priority, and we forget about the human relationship that matters most. In the midst of the end of the school year and marathon, kid’s baseball games, we can’t forget to pursue our spouse.
I write about this often, but I need as much help as everyone else. In addition, every year one of the top requests in my annual reader survey is to provide more help to keep the pursuit of your spouse a priority in the middle of a full life.
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Kristen and I lead a small group of newly married couples at our church (we call them Foundation Groups). We’re currently studying six core essentials of any community group, and we recently discussed the importance of relationally pursuing the other members of our community group. In today’s post I want to contextualize the pursuit to not the other members of the group, but to your spouse.
Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (NIV). Another translation says it this way: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (NASB).
What does it mean to give preference to one another in honor? In particular, how can you show preference to your spouse as you intentionally pursue them?
Five ways you can best pursue your spouse (give preference to one another) in the midst of a full life.
1) Know their likes and dislikes.
My friend Kyle does this better than anyone I know. He knows his wife and knows what she prefers, so much so that he can often anticipate where she wants to eat and what she wants to order when they get there. Without asking her what she wants for Christmas or her birthday, he knows what gift to get her.
He spends so much time and effort getting to know his wife, that he lives out with great inentionality what it means to show preference to his wife.
Question: What’s one way you can better get to know your spouse?
2) Fight your selfish desires.
I often know what Kristen wants and needs but don’t give it to her because my selfishness stands in the way. We each have our own agenda of what we want to get done and accomplish and selfish desires often win the day.
If I’m going to show preference to Kristen, I will put her needs before my own. I will look not only to my interests, but even more to her’s (Philippians 2:3-4). I need to choose to pray for my spouse and to pray God would break my selfishness.
Question: What’s an area of your life where you know you’re selfishly putting your needs before your spouse?
3) Prioritize your relationship.
If I’m going to show preference to Kristen, then I need (and want) to prioritize our relationship. In Genesis 2:24, we see the man leaves his father and mother, becomes united to his wife (cleave), and the two become one flesh. This means the priority relationship for the husband and wife must be each other.
How are you doing at prioritizing your spouse? There are seasons when children must be the priority (i.e., with a new baby), but in general, your spouse needs to be the highest priority relationship, even more important than kids and friends. There are other seasons when work or life pull you away, but don’t let career advancement or busy seasons dominate your marriage.
Question: Outside of your relationship with the Lord, is your spouse the top priority relationship in your life?
4) Think of your spouse throughout the day.
When you think of your spouse throughout the day, you’re “showing them preference.” You’re not just married when out on a date night or in bed together. You’re married 24/7, so live accordingly.
Maybe it means you text your spouse every few hours or call them when you’re in the car driving errands. You can set an alarm for a set time every day to pray for your spouse. Kristen’s birthday is May 3rd, so I can set my alarm to pray for her every day at 5:03 pm (or am for you over-achievers out there).
Question: How can you more regularly think of or pray for your spouse throughout your day?
5) Create unique, shared experiences together as a couple.
Do something new or different with your spouse. Get out of your routine. I write about it often, but I’m not great at it. I’m preaching to the choir here!
Last night Kristen and I did a Datebox together. The date night centered around a carnival/big top theme and included four main activities you can do in your home. The Datebox included the necessary ingredients and instructions to make balloon animals, learn how to juggle, make your own kissing booth for 15-second kisses, and make your own funnel cakes. I was most excited about the kissing booth, but I just got braces, so that wasn’t very fun. We’re not quitting our jobs to join the carnival or open up a funnel cake bakery, but we had fun, made some memories, and intentionally pursued each other.
Question: What can you do to show preference to your spouse by doing something unique or different as a couple?
Why is this a big deal?
I see too many couples every week who haven’t had affairs or walked through tragedy but are still miserable together. They tolerate one another or their marriages end in divorce. Many marriages around you and around me end because couples quit intentionally pursuing one another.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.
Romans 12:10 is not a marriage verse, but if you don’t show preference to and prioritize your spouse it will affect your marriage.
1) When’s a time your spouse pursued you well? Tell them next time you see them!
2) On a scale of 1-10, how well are you doing at pursuing your spouse? How well are they doing at pursuing you? Share your responses with your spouse.