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. (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)
Several years ago, during my first year of marriage, I was talking with a lady who mentioned she had been married to her husband for 25 years. I remember saying to her, "I can't wait to be married 25 years. Hopefully, by then I'll be better at it!" It did not take long in my marriage for me to realize that I had a lot of room for growth.
My husband and I were both passionately following Christ when we got married and had been for several years. We were both actively involved in ministry. We went through premarital counseling. In my mind, I had "checked all of the boxes" and I really thought we were "ready" to be married. Despite all of my good intentions and preparation for marriage, in the weeks and months after our wedding, I quickly realized how very selfish I was. In my experience, there's nothing like marriage or raising children to reveal this truth.
Fast forward several years, my husband and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary. We went away to a nice hotel on a lake for a weekend to celebrate. It was wonderful! At one point during the weekend, I looked at my husband and said, "I feel like we're getting better at this [marriage]." He agreed and we started talking about why we thought that was and what it takes to have a great marriage.
We both kept coming back to this main theme... in order to have a great marriage, each person has to continually die to themselves and their own selfish desires. A great marriage requires both people putting the interests of the other ahead of their own interests. Through the years, we've learned that doing it in our own strength and our own way does not result in a great marriage. Thankfully, God has been faithful to grow each of us over time. We are far from perfect and still have a lot of room for growth, but as we rely on the Lord, lay down our selfish desires and prioritize each other's interests instead, we are getting better at this!
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