If you and I are honest, we’d admit we want our life and marriage to be all about ourselves. We’d want our spouse to serve us all the time, read our mind, pursue us when we want to be pursued, and have sex when we want to have sex. We’d want them to put our needs before theirs and we’d want them always to admit we’re right and they’re wrong.
We certainly don’t want a marriage that puts their needs first, one marked by humility, characterized by us serving them.
This past weekend, I lead a marriage conference at Kiokee Baptist Church, located outside of Augusta, GA. I love the theme of the weekend they gave me for the conference – You Before Me: Moving From Selfishness to Oneness.
While I joke above (kind of) about wanting a “Me Before You” marriage, deep down you and I both know that’s not what we want. After all, if you’re a follower of Christ, then you know that we’re called to a “You Before Me” kind of life. We know that no one ever has and ever will model this better than Jesus. Philippians 2:3-4 says,
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Philippians 2:5-11 then goes on to describe how Jesus put our needs before His own by dying on the cross for our sins.
As followers of Christ, we are to – get ready for it – follow Christ. That means when He zigs, we zig. When He zags, we zag. When He calls us to put the needs of others before our own, we put the needs of others before our own.
The problem is that so many of us want a “You Before Me” kind of marriage, but we’re not willing to do what God calls us to do to get there. It’s no surprise we see marriages break down all around us. If you’ve been married for more than one minute, then you know the “Me Before You” marriage just doesn’t work and the “You Before Me” marriage is just so hard.
No relationship provides more opportunities to put the needs of the other first than marriage. Over the weekend, I talked about five areas where you and I can each have a “You Before Me” marriage. I added a bonus sixth to this post that I didn’t get to cover over the weekend.
This post is Part 1 in a 2-Part series. Today I’ll share two ways to have a “You Before Me” marriage, and in Part 2 I’ll share the remaining four ways. How are you doing in these areas?
1. One flesh marriage.
Kristen and I had a good talk last Sunday night. I confessed to falling short in our marriage by placing my own needs before her’s. I spent a lot of time working on my own projects. And, I spent even more time in front of the TV watching the NCAA tournament. None of it was sinful or hidden, but I wish I’d spent more time pursuing her and what we wanted to do with our weekend. Instead, I put me before her.
I’ve shared before five barriers to oneness as God intends. Selfishness tops the list as every one of us struggles with making life all about “me.” James writes, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1).
A few questions to get you thinking and discussing:
- Are you living as though you are one flesh?
- Are you living out your marriage as teammates or opponents?
- What are some areas of selfishness in your life and your marriage?
- What do you need to address or confess to your spouse?
2. Communication and conflict.
Later this week or next I’ll share the results of my 2017 reader survey. In the meantime, here’s an advanced preview. I asked readers to share what they wanted me to write more about and to identify the biggest challenge in their marriage. The top answer on the board, in a landslide, was communication and conflict. Married couples want and need more help with this aspect of their marriage.
A “Me Before You” marriage seeks to speak first, listen last, and focus on winning. On the other hand, a “You Before Me” marriage seeks to listen and to put the needs of the other first.
Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
Here a few questions to help you communicate about communication and conflict.
- Are you making time to communicate? When?
- Is the goal or your communication to win, or is it mutual understanding? What would your significant other say?
- Would others describe you as one who is quick to speak or quick to listen?
You can find #’s 3-6 in Part 2 in this series!
You’ve already had your turn with the questions above. See you in a couple of days for Part 2 of this series. I’ll give you a hint – several of them revolve around intimacy, but not just the sexual type!