I toyed for a while with what I wanted to call this series.
“Pursuing” a selfless marriage? No.
“Cultivating?” Not it.
LIVING. That’s it.
You see, the other two words insinuate that my marriage to Johnny isn’t blissful without any of the lessons. Because it is, because of how much we love each other. It is beautiful when we’re just chillen at home and it’s beautiful when I’m an emotional mess and it’s beautiful when we’re on romantic adventures.
Maybe you’re reading my blog and have been married for 20-something years and are thinking, She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. One month in? She has no authority to write on marriage.
And I absolutely understand where you are coming from. So please note, that I am sharing MY perspective: being married for one month to my best friend who I dated for four years before this. I am sharing my beliefs, and hopefully shedding some light on the relationship Johnny and I have built on the foundation of Christ – the relationship in which we have had very little conflict, never experienced yelling or fighting, and genuinely see more of Jesus in every single day. The marriage that gets better and better every single day, as we both grow and understand each OTHER better.
And today, I’m talking about something called SELFLESSNESS.
Our generation, I’ve noticed, uses this word in a funny way.
We use it as a compliment… to describe a person as “selfless” is to describe a kind, others-focused, compassionate person. Yet our generation ALSO focuses on selfishness, which, if you hadn’t noticed, is selfless’s opposite.
Maybe your girlfriends have told you to “Be selfish!” in way of trying to give good advice, and help you take time for yourself. But, I would argue that this is a difference between caring for oneself and respecting oneself, and being selfish. And, as a seasoned word-lover, I think that watching our tongues and meaning what we say is incredibly important.
Selfishness, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary:
(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
Sometimes, only WE know when we are being selfish. And, having been married for just over a month, I’ve recognized some of the tendencies in myself that I have given over to the Lord, and I pray that He shows me any and all selfishness in me.
Take cooking for example.
Cooking delicious meals for my husband. This seems incredibly selfless, right?
Well… not for me. You see, cooking is to me as soccer is to Johnny. It’s my happy place, my favourite hobby, and one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.
I’m gonna be real upfront with you.
If you know me, you may have heard my rant about my opinion of the popular “Five Love Languages.” The sparknotes version of my opinion is that I see this test as a helpful tool, but I NEVER want Johnny to kiss me or affirm me because he knows that physical touch and words of affirmation are my top two “love languages”… I want him to do those things because he loves me. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I simply don’t receive any kind of love that isn’t genuine, or is done in a certain fashion because my partner knows I took some test. Johnny and I have GENUINELY, DEEPLY gotten to know each other’s HEARTS, and thus our methods of showing each other love are genuine, heartfelt, and spontaneous, while thoughtful.
So, back to real upfront: The other day, I told Johnny, “Honestly, the main thing I’ve learned about since being married is that I feel most loved when you love my food and have sex with me.”
Johnny’s response, laughing, “I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
But really… what does this tell you about my heart?
I feel loved when Johnny eats my food, and I feel loved when he initiates sex.
Stereotypically, now, GUYS feel loved when their wives cook them a special meal, and when their wives initiate sex. These things are still true of our marriage, but, because Johnny knows these aren’t sacrifices at all for me, but actually are things that I adore myself, if I were to “pass them off” as my only or even most common acts of love, there would be no real sacrifice. He probably wouldn’t feel all that loved, because he knows that these acts come naturally to me.
What is more sacrificial/truly serving for me because I don’t necessarily enjoy it, but do it wholly because I love Johnny and choose to put him before myself?
- Folding his laundry.
- Watching sports with him/learning about sports.
- Basically any sort of cleaning/organizing.
- Cooking with ingredients that aren’t “gourmet” (he typically loves these foods… aka sometimes he doesn’t want my homemade sauces, he wants Diana sauce).
- Sleeping in with him to cuddle (I like to get up early).
- Understanding when he needs a quiet night in, just the two of us (I’m usually more inclined to be out doing things).
You see, THIS is where the “Five Love Languages” gets me.
Would I want Johnny to buy me flowers once a week because “Getting Gifts” was my love language (for the record – it’s not).
No – because his purpose for it and the routine of it takes all the good and thoughtfulness and genuineness out of the word gift.
What is the bottom line? What is the Jesus-like characteristic we’re talking about needing more of in modern-day marriage?
I mean genuinely sacrificial. I mean sacrifice without a hint of self-ambition.
Marriage was designed in the hopes that both spouses would operate in this fashion… just imagine that marriage. The catch? Don’t imagine your husband or wife or partner becoming fully selfless, serving you. Imagine YOU becoming wholly selfless.
Ask Jesus to show you how, because, my dear friend, you cannot be wholly selfless. SELF cannot be wholly SELF-less. This is, in itself, a paradox. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you up today.
For an excellent sermon series to listen to with your spouse/partner, or on your own, head here.