In Part 1 of this 2-Part series, I shared two ways to make sure you and your spouse have a “You Before Me” marriage instead of a “Me Before You” marriage. So often, our selfish tendencies and desires get in the way and lead us to place our needs ahead of our spouse. But, if you’re a follower of Christ, then you know we’re called to follow the example of Jesus by putting others first.
No relationship provides more opportunities to put the needs of another before ourselves than marriage. Beyond having a right view of oneness and learning to communicate by putting the needs of your spouse before your own (see Part 1), how can we each have a “You Before Me” marriage?
3. Sexual intimacy: Your body is not your own.
Sexual intimacy is the subject I didn’t cover in the weekend conference. God designed sexual intimacy for marriage. You are to be the only sexual partner for your spouse and vice versa. Pornography and infidelity are way out of bounds. And, God designed sex to be a covenant renewal act between a husband and wife.
Read 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.
- How can you have a “You Before Me” mentality when it comes to sexual intimacy?
- Do you view your body as your own, or as your spouse’s?
- What would it look like for you to serve your spouse sexually?
Caution on this one. Often guys have this passage memorized and will demand sex from their wife based on these verses alone. Meanwhile, they forget that they are to love their wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-27) and to put their spouse’s needs before their own (Philippians 2:3-4). Husband: PLEASE do not treat your wife poorly and then demand sex from her.
Much more can be said on this topic, but if you’re struggling in this area (as many couples are), please open up and share with others. Talk to your community group and trusted friends. Come check out re|engage. Send me an email. Please don’t isolate in this area of your marriage.
4. Spiritual Intimacy: Growing together in your relationship with Christ.
Besides communication and conflict, this is the area where couples most often struggle. It’s hard enough for us to grow spiritually as an individual, let alone as a couple, and rarely has someone modeled for most of us what this could and should look like in marriage.
Let’s look at a few examples:
- Maybe you and your spouse both read the Bible and have a quiet time. But, do you make time to share with each other what you’re learning and how God is challenging/encouraging you?
- Do you pray together on a daily/regular basis? Do you know how to pray for your spouse? What’s their biggest prayer request?
- Have you and your spouse ever fasted together? Maybe you’ve had a very important decision to make, so you decide to fast. Or maybe you fast, simply because Jesus tells us to. If you’re like me, then you just experienced the sting of Holy Spirit conviction.
Read Matthew 7:24-27 (one of my favorite passages, by the way).
- What can you do to continue to build your marriage on the solid rock foundation of Christ?
- Who can you turn to to help you build your marriage on the foundation of Christ?
5. Relational Intimacy: growing your friendship with your spouse.
This is one of the toughest for me. While Kristen and I did a great job in this area when we started dating and as newlyweds, when life started getting busier with kids, work, and life, we stopped putting much effort into relational intimacy. This part of marriage takes a large amount of intentional effort to grow.
What are some ways that your spouse is wired differently than you? What do they like to do that you don’t love? Maybe your spouse loves to work out. Maybe they want to take on a new hobby like cooking together. What can you do to help build the companionship in your marriage?
Check out this article from my marriage ministry teammate, Meagan Smith (Diving In To The Interests Of Your Spouse). She and her husband Sam do a great job of building their friendship in marriage.
6. Live with your spouse in an understanding way.
If you’re like me, sometimes you look at your spouse and think they’re crazy! Here are a few mild examples from my marriage:
- Kristen is a saver; I like to throw it out (unless it’s a book). I want to throw away boxes. Kristen likes to keep them.
- I have around 25 emails in my inbox. Kristen has 16,645.
- Kristen likes to get places 20 minutes earlier than we need to be. I’m good with us getting there on time or a few minutes early.
And those are the small things. In a “You Before Me” marriage, you learn to put their needs first and honor the differences. You choose to study your spouse and appreciate the differences.
I love the way Peter says it in 1 Peter 3:7. He writes, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Talk with your spouse.
- Without picking on them, ask them about some of their habits or quirks. Encourage them for being different than yourself.
- Ask them where they see differences in your wiring or personality.
- Ask them what drives them crazy and ask them what differences they appreciate.
- When you talk, be humble, listen, laugh, and remember that you are one flesh with each other. As strange (aka different) as your spouse might be, they’re not your enemy! You are one with each other (Genesis 2:24).
Together, thank God that you’re not married to a clone of yourself. Discover, embrace, and celebrate your differences.
So I’m sure there are more, but there you go. 6 Ways To Make Sure You Have A “You Before Me” marriage. This 2-part series has been so much fun for me to think through and articulate. I hope you enjoyed it!
Out of the 6 ways I’ve listed to help make sure you have a “You Before Me” marriage, which one encourages you the most and which one challenges you the most? Share your comment below or on Facebook. I’m looking forward to reading your responses.