It is no wonder that marriages are failing at an alarming rate in our society. We are so caught up in our own “selves” that our spouse’s needs and happiness come second to that. Alarmingly, this is also the case for many so-called “Christians” in the church. Why else would the divorce rate of Christians be no different than that of the secular world? In order for a marriage to be healthy and successful, you cannot put your needs above those of your spouse -- unless they cater to your every whim and are satisfied to play second fiddle in a dysfunctional relationship. That relationship will not last long.
Husbands are the ones, according to the Bible, expected to take the lead in this area. Ephesians 5:25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Jesus died for the church. Our sacrifices greatly pale in comparison.
Why is it so difficult to put the needs of our spouse ahead of our own? First of all, we are human. We are born selfish and full of sin. Our flesh wants it all. We are in a continuous battle with our flesh (which, by the way, is “self” spelled backwards with an “h” in front – could stand for him or her). You can be guaranteed that the devil knows every inch of your flesh that is the most vulnerable and will continually attack in that area until you make some changes. We will always want for more and never find satisfaction in what we have in the flesh. Only dying to that self and our flesh will find us the peace we desire through the grace of God.
Second of all, we live in a society that endorses “self”. What do YOU want? What do YOU need? We’re actually frowned upon if we don’t stand up for our “self”, don’t promote our “self” or don’t give in to all our “selfish” desires. We now live in a world where right and wrong are rapidly disappearing. “Whatever works for me” determines the moral values in a large population of our country.
Surprisingly, we find many Christians caught up in this worldly belief. When Rick and I counsel a couple that struggles and can’t seem to improve their relationship, “selfishness” is usually the culprit. Many can’t grasp the concept of putting their spouse’s needs ahead of their own. It’s too foreign for them. They don’t want to hear it (and we only counsel "Christian" couples).
Putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own is like dying to your “self” for God. It’s difficult. It takes practice. Many times you really don’t want to do it. But like our relationship with God, the more we do it the easier it becomes, and the more blessings we experience. When you give, give, give, you WILL receive. Maybe not immediately or even the next day or so, but God will bless you for your obedience to Him and to your marriage.
As for your spouse, if they are working on obtaining a healthy marriage with you, they will only be grateful for your attitude of giving. And what will they do? They’ll want to give in return. Once you both discover this joyful cycle, you will be more than willing to take care of your spouse’s needs.
If you are married to someone who isn’t at the same spiritual level as you, or to a husband who has not taken the lead in this area, it may take a little longer for them to realize your selflessness. But they will. They will notice the difference in your relationship and strive to reciprocate. In the meanwhile, you can pray for them that God would reveal to them the importance of putting your spouse ahead of yourself. In the long run, it will also help them learn to put God ahead of their “self” through your example.