Having Marriage My Way

I have to apologize for being a terrible blogger for the past few weeks. The opening of our new facility at Johnson Ferry, along with lots of new classes and ministries, has made me a very busy boy. Posting stuff for all you "Imperfect and Normal Families" out there just hasn't been a priority.

But today, I'm turning over a new leaf. If I'm not able to write something refreshingly original, the least I can do is to push some good stuff from other people your way. This reflects our ongoing desire to give you the "best of the web" as it relates to marriage and family life.

With that in mind, allow me to copy and paste the content from an email I just got from FamilyLife. Mary May Larmoyeux wrote a great article about having your marriage your way. Do you deserve it? What rights to you bring into marriage?

After teaching a lesson on selfishness to our new young married adult group at Johnson Ferry, these insights are fresh on my mind. Hopefully, they will be challenging and encouraging to you. I know they were for me.


Do I Deserve Marriage My Way?

By Mary My Larmoyeux

Recently I received a message from one of my daughters-in-law that I'll long remember:

Wow--in the last 30 minutes with all kids home, we've addressed tattle-telling, being patient while waiting to speak, not competing with each other, and loving others like God loved us. At least Ashley (name changed to protect the guilty) can diagnose her problem. When I asked her who she cares about, she honestly and happily admitted, "I care about Ashley."

I couldn't help but smile when I first read our little granddaughter's response to her mom: "I care about Ashley." But the more I thought about it, the more I recognized the overarching truth of her words: Ashley's a little sinner, and so am I.

We are all born with a selfish nature. We want what we want, and we want it now.

Have it your way

Marketers know this. Just look at the advertisements that bombard us daily: Have it your way, You deserve it. It's all about you ... The examples are endless. Thoughts that begin with, I deserve my hamburger to be exactly like I want it, quickly grow into a belief that the world spins around my desires. I am the sun and you are the earth revolving around my every whim.

And what happens when I buy into what the world says about my marriage? My actions say to my spouse, "I deserve marriage my way. You should make me happy. Our marriage is all about me. You do your part and I'll do mine."

I've been guilty of speaking to my husband and children in a manner that says, "I deserve to express all of my feelings." I've found myself thinking, This is not fair! while doing something with a bad attitude because I didn't want to do it.

Can you identify?

They failed the test

"The first purpose of marriage," Gary Thomas says in his book Sacred Marriage, "... is to please God"--not to please ourselves. This requires selfless living, Thomas explains. Instead of asking "What will make me happy?" he says we should ask, "What will please God?"

The first people to fail the test for selfless living were Adam and Eve. They were created in a perfect world and had intimate fellowship with almighty God. Despite this, they doubted the Lord's good plan for them.

Noting God's command to not eat the forbidden fruit, Satan told Eve, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4-5).

Eve listened to Satan's accusations about God. She wondered. She questioned. Was there indeed something better? Was God holding out on her? Were the words of a serpent more trustworthy than the words of her Creator who had brought her only good?

Eve was at a crossroads in life. She chose her own way. Genesis 3:6 says, "... she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate."

Life was changed forever. Sin had entered the world.

Crouching at the door

"Sin is crouching at the door," God warned Cain in Genesis 4:7. "Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."

And thousands of years later, sin is still crouching at the doors of our hearts and homes. I don't know about you, but it's time for me to:

  • Remind myself, before my feet even touch the floor every morning, that I am in a spiritual battle for my marriage and home. I want to begin asking myself, Who will be at the center of my marriage today--Christ or me? (James 3:15-17)
  • Remember to intentionally follow the words of Philippians 2:3: "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves" (NASB). One way I can put my husband's desires ahead of my own, for example, is by watching an entire football game with him instead of reading or surfing the Internet.
  • Recall that I am a sinner, saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8), and so is my spouse. I should always offer my spouse the same unconditional forgiveness that I want him to give to me.
  • Rely on the Lord, and not my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5, Ephesians 5:22). There are times in my marriage when I just have to trust my husband's God-given leadership, instead of my heartfelt desires.
  • Review my day based on the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."

Questions that must be answered

My husband, Jim, and I recently noticed a license plate that said: I AM NO 1.

"Wonder what that means?" Jim said. "Does he think he is Number One, or that he is "no one"?

"Number One or no one?" Now that's a question worth pondering!

Through my actions and responses, am I saying to my husband, "I am Number One"? Or, am I following Christ's example and humbling myself? Am I putting my husband's needs above my own--as though I am "no one"?

If I want to "do marriage" God's way instead of my way, then these are questions that require answers ... every day ... every hour ... every moment.