Twice, now, in the past ten days I have heard this explanation of love. "Love is giving the advantage to someone, not taking it."
One thing I have learned over my spiritual journey is not to ignore a message from God. If He wants us to hear something, He’ll often relay it to us at various times and through numerous people. I don’t know exactly for whom these words are intended (most likely, myself), but I do know I plan to add them to my long list of “marriage pointers”. They speak volumes.
We all know what “taking advantage” means. We are programmed, in our society, to prevent anyone from laying this kind of abuse on us. Sometimes, though, our heart interferes with what’s right, and we allow those we love to walk all over us. It is a difficult, unpleasant role to take, one that we should never impart on our spouse. It easily happens, though, when a couple begins to take each other for granted. "Taking for granted" is the step that comes before “taking advantage”.
“Giving the advantage”, on the other hand, is not quite as clearly defined. It’s actually not all that popular, either. We live in a world that tells us to focus on what we are getting out of a relationship and not so much on what we are giving to that relationship. If we are only in a relationship for our own selfish desires, that relationship will quickly die unless the other person struggles with co-dependency or an unhealthy need for love - a less than optimum relationship for sure.
Here are some definitions for advantage: Any state, circumstance, opportunity, or means especially favorable to success, interest, or any desired end. Benefit, gain, lead, prosper. A position of superiority or ascendance.
This is what we do for our spouse in giving them the advantage. We use every opportunity we can to help them succeed. We want them to have every possible benefit in life; we want them to prosper and to take the lead. We place their needs ahead of our own by putting them in a position of superiority over us.
Superiority means: Of higher rank, quality or importance, situated higher up. We should treat our spouse as though they are on a pedestal above us. Their needs should come before our own, before our children’s, and before our work. Only God Himself should reside in the spot above our spouse.
We are to give our spouse the advantage in all we do – the advantage to shine, to feel good, to be esteemed, to feel loved. The beauty of this selfless act is that our spouse, in turn, will desire to give us the advantage back. (There may be exceptions here if that spouse is afflicted with selfishness. It may take a little more time for them to see the light.)
If this is a fairly new concept to your relationship, it may initially be a difficult change. You may not reap the benefit of getting the advantage back right away, but it will happen. That is the point where a marriage becomes complete and joyful, where peace and love abundantly flow between two people who have made the effort to exceed with their marriage as God intended for them.