Selfishly Married

How Selfishness Destroys Marriage

Matthew 19:4-6, “‘Haven’t you read,’ He replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.'”

Webster’s dictionary defines marriage as a legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship. I want to highlight those two words personal and partnership.

For every one of us that is married or is about to get married, or whatever your situation is maybe you are going through separation and divorce and you are hurting in this area, the Lord wants to minister to that area today. He wants to reconcile, restore and give hope. It is never too late for you.

Marriage is powerful but marriage is also beautiful. It is an expression of God’s character, His vision, faithfulness, and commitment to us. We are supposed to let His character shine through our marriages.

Two Are Better Than One

Ecclesiastes 4:9, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up."

Two are better than one and if that is not the case for you right now, God wants it to be the case for you. It is better to be together. The enemy knows the power of your partnership and covenants because when you have a vision in your marriage, you are a force to be reckoned with. The enemy knows the power of partnership and what you two are capable of. He understands this and that is why he attacks it so much.

The Attack On Marriage

It is plain to see that there is an attack on marriage in our society but the devastation that has happened is that it has come inside our homes; we start to attack each other. We are supposed to be our spouse’s partner to fight against the enemy but what happens is we become partners with the enemy to fight against our spouse. If we are not building up our spouse, we are tearing them down slowly but surely.

We are called to be our spouse’s helper but blindly choose to help the enemy destroy our spouse. We are called to be our spouse’s helper but blindly choose to be the enemy’s helper.

Often, we do this without even realizing or recognizing that not only are our relationship and intimacy being diminished but then the attacking starts happening. We attack the person instead of what is behind that person. Then, we start to see our spouse as being against us and we are no longer a team. We forget that we are on their side.

We are called to be our spouse’s helper as it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9. It is not just the wife that is supposed to be the helper as it says in Genesis 2:18-20; we are supposed to help each other as well. We are husband and wife.

The enemy has found his way slowly but surely to set you against your spouse. The enemy turns us to fight each other and we start taking things very personally when they fall or have a shortcoming. There are certain tools that will be helpful to help you thrive. The Lord wants us to thrive in our homes.

Three Tools To Win Your Spouse’s Heart

We are competing for our spouse’s heart. That is why we are to be tender-hearted, and soft-hearted with our partners so our relationship with them can have intimacy. We destroy love in action by acting in selfishness.

1. Choose Action Over Laziness

One of the things that slowly kills or destroys our relationship and intimacy with our spouse is that we choose laziness over action. Laziness robs you of the marriage you desire. How many times have we sabotages our own selves or relationships because we were just too tired. You have every right to be exhausted. You come home from a big day of work, you face so much demand, and then there are your children. There is so much in a day that is required from you and is pulling from you that when you go home all you want to do is shut off from the world, which includes your kids and spouse. That happens to each and every one of us. When we do this, we are giving our spouse our last, not our best and we need to give them our best.

I understand that sometimes it takes a lot for us to be able to have a conversation. Even simply asking how they are doing takes energy.

It Takes Effort

In order to have a thriving relationship with your spouse, you need to have a 90-minute conversation every week with them. Do not settle; strive up.

Dr Jordan B. Peterson

That 90 minutes needs to be full-on quality time talking to one another, conversing without constantly glancing at your phone. We are all busy. Everyone has places to go and things to do. We live in a society of busyness.

A lot of the time, we go to the place of just being lazy, idle, or lethargic. We feel exhausted and we brush off the importance of having these conversations. Every time we do that, we are tearing down what we are trying to build. The Lord wants to give us building blocks to build our marriage and for our connection with them to be strong. Every action we take is either building up or tearing down.

The Pursuit Doesn’t Stop

Laziness is a form of selfishness. Selfishness puts the fire out quicker than anything else in marriage. It removes the intimacy and passion that the two of you can have and would have had. The pursuit of your spouse isn’t over when you get married; it must be greater. Don’t give up and settle for what you have; continue to strive up. We need to continuously pursue our spouse – what they like and don’t like, to be their teacher and their student. We teach them how to treat us and we are a student in how to treat them. Always be teachable. This takes effort and energy.

We need to be active, making sure that we are aware and alert of the enemy prowling like a lion ready to destroy (1 Peter 5:8). This applies even to our marriage and our children. We have to be alert, aware, and to protect. Don’t be idle. Be a person who carries excellence. Look into every area of your life and see how you can make it better. What can you do to allow the Lord to cultivate your marriage and make it a vineyard that produces fruit? Marriage produces life, it gives us children but there should also be the life of Christ in the home at the center of it all.

Even Small Efforts Count

Don’t give way to how tired you feel when they ask you to take out the garbage or clean the garage. “I am tired; don’t they know I worked all day”. Every small thing your spouse asks you to do is a great thing. When you respond with honor and do those things, it shows that you care and listen. It is not that one of you is dominating the other but it is a team effort. This is how helping each other in some of the smallest ways can be some of the greatest things.

Take a moment to reflect on your relationship and see what area in your marriage you have stopped doing something for your spouse that you did when you were dating. We often make excuses that are constantly derailing us from actualizing our potential in our homes. Ask yourself, what can I do to cause my marriage to thrive?

I want you to invite the Holy Spirit because He is the greatest Helper (John 14:16). He can teach and show you how to be the greatest helper in your marriage and also show your children what that looks like. The Holy Spirit wants you to create standards in your marriage which is the Word of God. He is calling us to be helpers to lift them up whenever they need it. Pursuing God enables you to pursue your spouse.

2. Choose Servanthood Over Selfishness

Matthew 20:28, "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

When we are serving our spouses, family, and home, it shows Jesus. He is and should be the center of our home. We make Jesus the center of our home when we cultivate the characteristics of God. Marriage will always be more difficult when “you” is bigger than “we”.

How Can I Help You?

My husband has a pop-up on his calendar that says ‘ask: how can I help you’. It is not cheating or childish. It is rewiring your brain to think a certain way. If something doesn’t come naturally to you, or if you didn’t have the opportunity to experience certain things in the way you were brought up, it can help to set simple reminders. Small adjustments like putting a reminder on your phone to ask how your spouse is might seem insignificant but they are not. One brick is not a big deal by itself but it can be used to build a home one brick at a time. It is precisely these kinds of little efforts and adjustments that cultivate an atmosphere where the Lord can be the center of the home.

Allow the character of Jesus Christ to develop in you. Ask how can I help you? How are you doing? What is it that you need? If your spouse tells you they like a, b, and c and you don’t do any of them, it hurts even more because they communicated to you. Remember, you are supposed to be your spouse’s student at these times. Sometimes, our spouses do make it clear what they want or need but because of laziness or that we are too focused on other things, we completely miss what they have said.

Jesus Chose Servanthood

Invite the Holy Spirit to come and He will give us the energy that we need. The Holy Spirit not only gives grace but creates the desire in us to build a great relationship in our marriage. Selfishness chooses me first. Servanthood chooses me last. You know which one is operating in your life if you always think what about me? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to create the thought what about him or her first before yourself? I am not saying this to condemn but to encourage you to curate that characteristic within you: what about them first?

Serving Is Rarely Convenient

When Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as an act of servanthood, He had a lot of needs Himself at that moment. He was about to go on the cross. The Lord will often call you to serve your spouse when you have needs that you need to be fulfilled the most. It is hard and it hurts, especially when it feels like your spouse has neglected or abandoned you emotionally or spiritually. The Lord sometimes calls us to serve the one who has hurt us the most. The Lord Jesus is very wise. He knew what He was saying in Matthew 5:44 that we should pray for our enemies and those who have persecuted us. Jesus knew what He was doing because He knew how to protect His heart.

You might be thinking I don’t want to be walked all over. When you serve you are not walked over; you are walking over the problem. Serving is not allowing the problem to walk all over your soul. Jesus also said in Luke 6:35-36 that we should be kind to those that are ungrateful. Sometimes, it can feel like our own spouses are ungrateful. They don’t appreciate us. The Lord told us to be kind. Being kind is not just an attitude or action but it is also shown through the act of servanthood in serving them in those moments when you feel like you need to be served.

Make God Your Priority

Psalm 23:1, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."

This scripture is not implying that we should not teach our spouses how to fulfill our needs or validate us and our emotions. This verse speaks of readjusting where the Lord belongs and placing Him back on the throne. It also calls us to repent that we had put our spouses on the throne, making them our God to fulfill our needs and wants. Our spouse is complimentary but they cannot replace the Lord. Only Jesus can fill the void in our souls, not our spouses. Some of us have idolized our partner more than we have given God the throne in our lives to take care of our needs and wants. Our spouses do have a duty. They are responsible for us but God is still the priority.

Go to the Lord first before you go to your spouse. Your partner is not responsible for your joy or to make you happy. You are responsible for your joy and happiness which comes from the Lord. The Bible says the joy of the Lord is your strength, not the joy of your spouse. Understanding this is crucial because some of us are suffocating our own marriages, demanding things our partners cannot give us. We are looking at the wrong source. God is the ultimate source. What your spouse gives or does is only meant to be complimentary to that.

3. Choose Humility Over Pride

Sometimes we have a better relationship with ourselves or our ego than our spouse. You know pride is operating in your life when you know how to point at things but you never point at what is going on inside yourself. You have a pride problem when everyone else is wrong except you. It is not possible. If you have a soul wound, you are more able to be wrong because you are looking through the frame of broken glasses. Your perspective and perception are wrong a lot of the time when you have pride. When your soul is whole, you can talk but when your soul has fragmented and is broken, it is very difficult for you to see and think correctly every time.

How many times have we accused or assumed on someone or our spouse and ended up being wrong? There are a lot of times when our spouses will bring us to humility. Marriage often exposes our brokenness. It exposes our character and that is why it can be really hard.

Marriage Exposes Selfishness

There is a very incorrect mindset that thinks getting married and having children is the end of your life. It is incorrect. Your marriage and children are the end of your self-centered life. Marriage will expose how selfish you truly are. You have to serve. You have to take care of your children at all given times. When people speak negatively about marriage, it is because they are speaking out of their flesh and self-centeredness. Your life is finally in a place where you can cultivate godly character in the Christ-centred life that we were designed for by God.

We must accept that we are not always right and we all carry toxic traits. It takes a lot of self-awareness with the conviction of the Holy Spirit to realize this. We need to humble ourselves and surrender to the Lord. Yield and let God fix you. Not only should we be teachable and students of our spouses but firstly, we need to be teachable and students of God.

Our spouses provoke and blame us a lot. If this becomes one partner constantly blaming the other while they have a log in their own eye, they become blind to self and this is dangerous. We constantly have to come back to a place of humility.

Consistency Of Choice

Philippians 2:3-6, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage."

How do we bring Christ Jesus into the center of our relationship? We must have a Christlike mind with a humble heart. It is the constant choice of servanthood and humility. When your spouse is helping you deal with your blind spots, don’t attack them.

Your spouse’s request might be something like ‘Can you be softer with me? Can you be more graceful towards me? Can you stop looking at your phone while I am talking to you; that hurts my feelings.’ When we take what they say and listen to it, we are making the relationship better. Your ego might be losing but your relationship won’t be.

A Safe Place For Your Spouse

When we choose action and not laziness, to pursue God and our spouse, servanthood over selfishness, and humility over pride, we are creating a safe place for our spouse. Are you a safe place for your spouse? When you respond out of anger, judge, or condemn, you are not creating a safe place. The Lord wants you to cultivate a safe place for your spouse so that you both can grow closer to Christ, (Ephesians 4:2-3). When you are not a safe place for your spouse, you tempt them to sin. There is constant temptation all around us and it is hard enough already. The beautiful part of two being better than one is in these moments, you choose to help them back up, instead of pushing them down.

The Goal For Both Spouses

Proverbs 31:11-12, "The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."

I ask you again, are you a safe place for your partner? Are you a place where they are compelled to tell you instead of tempted to hide? Sometimes your spouse is struggling silently because they are afraid of being safe with you. They have already rebuked themselves for falling short.

Are you a safe place? Do you understand that you are not fighting your spouse, you are fighting an entity of darkness behind them? You should say I am your partner. I am on your team. I am on your side. We are going to pray together and it’s going to be all right. You may have had a hiccup and it hurt me a little but I know we are going to hurt the devil a lot more.

Use Your Authority As A Spouse

When things are short, you fell out of grace, when you think you are not good enough, when it seems your hands are cursed not blessed, can your spouse pray you through? This is not a time to condemn. You have the power, wife. You have the power, husband to lift them back up.

Sometimes, we doubt how much power we have as a wife or a husband because of circumstances. The enemy knows your authority and power, even if your kids don’t listen. When you pray, things shift. Those generational curses, addictions, and strongholds are breaking off.

You can become a safe place when you dwell in the secret place. Some of us have neglected this and the result is we create a toxic environment that promotes sin, instead of a safe place that inspires growth. That is how you partner with the enemy as an accuser or assumer of your spouse. You can create an environment for your spouse to thrive in, to inspire change, and to grow in Christ.

Sermon by Mariana Parkhotyuk; blog by Edward Gardiner

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