A few days ago, Kristen and I spoke with a room filled with first-time expecting parents. While hospitals do a great job of preparing you for labor and delivery, at Watermark we focus more on topics like the vision of parenting, how finances change after bringing home your baby, how your family dynamic will change and men’s and women’s Q&A breakouts.
Kristen and I taught a session on eight lessons we’ve learned to help couples keep their marriage a priority in the midst of the new normal. Some of the lessons we learned from doing things well, but the majority were lessons learned the hard way. I still remember how awesome, scary and different life became for me and Kristen when we brought our twins home from the hospital. These eight lessons will help set these couples up for success in the midst of the new normal.
All eight lessons are so helpful, but the one I want to share is, I believe, the most important lesson on the list. This lesson is for parents with newborns, parents with older kids, newly married, premarried, dating, single, single again, widowed, children, students and everyone and everything else in between.
This most important lesson? BE SELFLESS.
What causes fights, quarrels and arguments in our relationships? Selfishness. In James 4:1-3, James writes:
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
I have written about selfishness in prior posts (Working on the Biggest Problem in My Marriage and The Most Selfish Person I Know), but be reminded that the main reason you and I fight is because we’re selfish. There’s something we want. We don’t have it. So we fight.
The antidote to our selfishness? Be selfless. Paul writes in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
I told the couples in the class that if they were going to memorize one passage before having their baby, Philippians 2:3-4 is the one I recommend. And, whether you’re expecting a baby or not, I’d give you the same counsel: memorize and APPLY this passage.
While I could certainly restrict this point to just expecting parents, I don’t want everyone to feel exempt or to miss out on the opportunity to be selfless. So, below I share a few ways for all of us to choose to be selfless. You’re welcome.
Expecting or Brand New Dads:
Help with laundry, dishes, get the house cleaned, wash bottles, fix her or bring her a fun drink like something from sonic or Starbucks. Go get her something yummy from Braum’s. Maybe it’s even as small as bringing her a glass of water. Massage her feet or shoulders. Draw her a warm bath. Let her take a nap. Read scripture over her when she’s nursing and pray with and for her.
Her love language may change to “acts of service.” Look for ways to serve her and live with her in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). Give her a night out with her girlfriends, or even let her have a night away in a hotel room for 24 hours. I remember my friend Adam bought his wife a book she wanted to read and gave her a night away to read and sleep!
Expecting or Brand New Moms:
You’re probably going to believe that your husband can’t do things better than you. You’re probably also right, but still let him serve you. Let him make mistakes. Coach him when he can do things in a different way, but don’t be controlling. Thank God when he wants to help you or take care of the baby. Look for unique ways to serve him and to live with him in an understanding way.
You’re probably not going to think about sex much. But, he probably is thinking about it just as often as he usually does (which probably means quite often). Even when you’re not allowed to have sex with him after you have your baby (usually six or eight weeks), look for ways to serve and please him sexually outside of intercourse.
Remember, this is tough for him as well. Even though he didn’t carry the baby and probably isn’t doing the heavy load of nursing and living with the baby 24/7, this baby is just as much a shock to his system as it is your’s.
For Everyone Else:
Over and over, I remind myself the biggest problem in my life and the biggest problem in my marriage is me. My selfishness gets in the way and affects my marriage, my kids, my friends and my co-workers. And I know I’m not alone. This is one universal among us all. Even the most selfless among us is still selfish.
How do I become selfless? I look at the example of Jesus, who even though He was God, did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped. Rather He made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant. He humbled Himself to the point of being obedient, even obedient to death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11).
You want to know how to be selfless towards your spouse, your child, your friends or anyone else? Look at Jesus. Let him be the example and motivation for why you do what you do. Mark writes in Mark 10:45, “Even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Want to be a good employee, boss, friend, spouse, child, or expecting parent? The choose to Be Selfless.
- Where in your life right now are you being selfish? Can you think of some specific ways you can be selfless in your love? Your gifts? Your time? Your resources?
- For the married folks out there: What’s one specific way you can serve your spouse?
- Here are a few additional verses to read and meditate on: Romans 12:9-12, 1 Corinthians 10:24, 1 John 3:18.