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What Every Marriage Needs by Alesha Sinks

what every marriage needs.jpg

Off and on throughout my childhood, my mom would institute various Bible memory challenges. Often she would pick verses specifically for each child to memorize or allow us to pick our own verses, but there were a few standard verses every one of us had to memorize at some point.

One of them was Philippians 2:3-4.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

I can still say this verse from memory today. As a child, I knew my mother wanted us to memorize this verse as a reminder for how we should view family life, as a reminder for how eight people living together could have a happy, peaceful life.

Now as an adult I see it’s application in every area of life, but most particularly, I still come face to face with my own selfishness most often in my own marriage.

There is a quote that, although perhaps slightly overused, always confronts my sense of entitlement and fairness within my marriage…

"Marriage is not 50-50. Divorce is 50-50. Marriage has to be 100-100. It isn't dividing everything in half, but giving everything you've got!”
Dave Willis

Most of the struggles I experience within my marriage come from me trying to compare myself to my husband. I’ve found that this, without fail, leads to one of two places: feeling superior to my husband and bitter toward him for not helping more, or feeling completely inferior to him and desperately striving to “make it up to him” or “be better for him”.

A closer look, reveals that both of these things are warned against in Philippians 2:3-4. When I feel superior to my husband, I am walking in “conceit”, and when I and striving to make up for my lacking, to impress him, and to be as capable, hardworking, or sacrificial as he is, I find myself working from “selfish ambition”. This is selfishness, because the root of my striving is a desire to measure up. I don’t want to be outdone or humbled.

To be honest, my pride usually blinds me to my husbands work and sacrifice for our family and drops me into the first category. However, neither of these outcomes leaves me, or our marriage, in a healthy, happy place.

So what does Philippians tell me to do instead?

“ humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Rather than measuring myself against my husband or measuring him against me, both selfish in nature, I am to look at him and his needs as more significant that mine. I am called to lay aside my needs and instead focus on the needs of others.

Just writing those words is painful to my sense of self and all sorts of caveats are instantly flying through my mind. While yes, we cannot serve others well if we do not also take care of our own spiritual and physical needs, the fact still remains that God has called us to put others ahead of ourselves.

(Keep in mind that this verse is for all Christians and I’m simply applying it to my role as a wife.)

As if we need further convincing, Paul goes on in the next few verses to play the ultimate trump card.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:5-11

Paul tells us that we should live humbly, putting others before ourselves, because that is what Jesus did.

Ephesians 5:1-2 emphasizes this point again.

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

We are called to imitate God, and one part of imitating Him that we so often overlook is humility. Jesus humbled Himself in so many ways through coming to this earth to rescue us from our sin. He laid aside all the glory of God in order to identify with us, to serve us, and to die for us.

The sense of righteous pride and indignation that I so often harbor in marriage feels completely foolish when compared to all that Jesus has given for me.

These verses from Philippians orient us to a new way of living, to a new way of walking through life with our spouse. This kind of marriage is focused on loving, serving and sacrificing for our spouse without keeping any list or tally for comparison. This kind of marriage serves our spouse from a place of love and humility, not give-and-take expectation. This kind of marriage doesn’t stop to worry about how our spouse feels about us or if they think we are doing enough, giving enough, or being enough. This kind of marriage doesn’t stop to wonder if our spouse is doing, being or giving enough to us either.

This kind of marriage is only found and sustained by repeatedly coming to the foot of the cross and reminding ourselves of all that Jesus first did for us, and letting His Spirit move us to greater humility and service from love.

When a couple walks together in this kind of humility and service toward one another, it is a beautiful thing. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is some sort of marriage level to be achieved. This way of living, that is so contrary to both our culture and our fallen nature, is something we will have to work toward every day of our lives.

This Philippians 2:3-4 way of living is only possible when we are continually seeking Jesus and humbling ourselves first before Him. It is never a state of being that we will perfectly arrive at, but rather a path to continually walk on and reorient ourselves to. It is a path of continual communion with and surrender to Jesus. A marriage built on this foundation it will be filled with all the blessings, joy, love, and holiness that God intended.


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CONVERSATIONS | with Pastor Lewis Williams

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Questions To Ask Your Spouse by Laura Williams

Being married is one of the most wonderful and challenging adventures that I think we get to experience during this lifetime. We get to share the most intimate parts of our personality, our secrets, our bodies, struggles, our weird senses of humor, our quirks and phobias…and all of these together create a bond that cannot compare to any other human relationship we will ever have. There is so much comfort in having a spouse who gets you. But this isn’t something that just “happens” once you say, “I do.” Marriage takes work. And sometimes, I’ve found, the longer you are married, the more work the “knowing each other” can be. 

There is a comfortableness that assumes you may already have told all your stories, shared your deepest fears and joys, and maybe you’ve simply run out of new things to say. But our entire lives are meant to be spent learning and growing and loving each other deeper than before. Daniel and I have made a habit of asking one another some of these questions from time to time just for the sake of learning something new about the other person, and let me tell you, there are still surprises. :) We are far from perfect, but we have begun to understand the value in becoming reacquainted with the person we married. We married very young, and many of our answers to these questions have changed over time. Maybe yours will too. 

Knowing that God created marriage, it makes sense that He wants to continue to grow and shape us into His image throughout our married life, regardless of which stage you may find yourself in. The more we are able to experience of each other, the more we seem to find new levels of intimacy and unity that we didn’t even know was there waiting for us. And the more beautiful the work of Jesus becomes as you see your spouse through His eyes. Just like newlyweds believe nothing can top the euphoria of new romance and passion, we find deeper intimacies waiting for us at each new bend in the road. So, take some time to ask your spouse these questions and to answer some yourself. Even if you think you know the answers, listen. 

1. Name one thing I do that makes you feel loved.
2. What could I do to cause you to feel more loved?
3. Name one thing I do that causes you to feel respected/honored.
4. What could I do to cause you to feel more respected/honored?
5. Name one thing I do that causes you to feel understood.
6. What could I do to cause you to feel more understood?
7. Name one thing I do that causes you to feel secure.
8. What could I do to cause you to feel more secure?
9. Name one way I serve you that brings you great joy.
10. Are there specific ways that I can serve that I am not already doing?
11. What attribute would you most like me to develop?
12. Name one attribute (or mannerism or idiosyncrasy) that you most like me to change?
13. What attribute would you like me to help you develop in yourself?
14. What achievement in my life would bring you the greatest joy?
15. What mutual goal would you like us to accomplish?
16. How is our sex life?
17. Is there anything I can do to make our sex life better?
18. How are we doing with our family budgeting and finances?
19. What is one thing we can do to improve our budgeting and finances?
20. Name one personal goal for your life that I can help you achieve this year.
21. Name something new we might do together that would bring joy to our marriage/family? 
22. How are our relationships with our extended family (parents, siblings, etc.)?  Name one thing I can do to improve one of these family relationships.
23. Name one way that God has blessed our marriage.
24. Name one way that we could make our marriage more Christ-like.
25. Name one sin that you continue to struggle with.
26. What could I do to help you with this struggle?
27. Name one sin you see that I continue to struggle with.
28. What would you encourage me to do to deal with struggle?
29. Is there some way that you can help me with this struggle?
30. What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christ-like?
31. How has your love for God grown?
32. How is your devotional time going? (Specifically Scripture study & prayer)
33. Is there another spiritual discipline that you would like to develop? (fasting, " scripture memorization, etc.)
34. What can I do to help your love for God grow?
35. Name one thing about our church that brings you great joy.
36. Name one thing that would increase your joy in church?
37. In ten years where do you hope to be spiritually?
38. In ten years where do you think I should be spiritually?
39. Name one way that my leadership/submission has strengthened our marriage. What could I do to lead/submit better in our marriage?
40. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate our marriage? What would make our marriage a ten? 

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