Dying to Self in Your Marriage
By: Amanda Idleman
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. - Galatians 2:20
A friend’s husband ordered a monogrammed cup with some really strange initials on it. DTS. They weren’t the initials of his name, favorite team, or even of anyone in his family. Puzzled, my friend asked her husband, what is DTS all about? He explained that he got DTS monogrammed on his favorite cup so every time he took a sip, he was reminded to die to self.
She was blown away by her husband's response. His eagerness to serve God over himself touched her heart. Don’t we all need DTS plastered in our favorite places as that continual reminder that it’s just not all about us!
Marriage is one place where it’s easy to forget that it’s really not about getting all our own needs met. It’s actually about serving each other and following the example of Christ. Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Jesus is our example on how to treat each other in our marriages.
During Jesus’ life he served, loved, and even sacrificed his life for us. That’s not an easy example to live up to, but it does put into perspective the expectations we have for what we “get out of our marriages.” We have to die to ourselves in order to be the kind of spouse who follows the example of Jesus.
What are some practical ways we can put the needs of our family over our own?
1. Starting our days with prayer is one of the best ways to be reminded to live our day for Christ and not solely for our own gain. Practically living a life of faith means inviting God into our every interaction. When we check in with Heaven before jumping into meeting earthly needs, we invite Jesus to be with us throughout the day.
2. Clear communication is essential so we don’t overlook the needs of our family members. We can’t serve if we don’t know the needs of the ones we love. We only discover the needs of our spouse by asking them. When we assume we are helping without stopping to ask if what we are doing is helpful, we can miss out on doing what is really needed.
This happens a lot with my husband and I, mostly because both are very stubborn and independent. We want to feel like we are in charge of executing the best plan for the day and forget that we need to consult each other before making the plan.
I know my husband loves to exercise. If he misses several workouts I start pushing him to go because I think that’s what is going to make him happy. Rarely, though, do my efforts to bully him into “doing what he likes” work.
Of course, I don’t have evil intentions when I do this. In fact, I justify my stubbornness because I think it’s for “his own good.” Yet, my efforts always fail because no one wants to be told what to do.
Most of the time, what my husband really needs is for me to listen to him vent about how hectic his schedule is and how much he misses exercise. Maybe then I can encourage him to get back into it or remind him that this too shall pass. It is never helpful for me to try to cajole him into compliance.
Dying to self looks like continuously asking, “What is the loving thing to do in this situation?” When we operate from a place of love, God best shines through our lives. Consequently, that is when we are the best spouses too!
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She creates devotions for the Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, is contributing to a couples devotional for Crosswalk, and is a regular contributor for the marriage/family/homeschool/parenting channels on Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda at rvahouseofjoy.com or follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.
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