Monday, August 9, 2010

Marriage Mondays ~ Go First

When my feelings were hurt last week, the last thing I wanted to do was reach out in some stellar act of kindness and affection. Instead, I wanted Jeff to read my mind, understand my feelings, and come to me. Starting with the "read my mind" part, there are problems with that scenario that make it rather unfair. In short, I didn't want to "go first" to smooth over the rough spot I felt. But a lot of the miracle of two becoming one is about being willing to "go first," even when it smarts.

Does it ever feel impossible to you to love your partner with a divine quality of love? He calls us to imitate His godly kind of love. The longer I'm married the more I'm amazed that God calls us to do it, but the more dependent I am on His strength to strive for that kind of love.

Ephesians 5:1 "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children."

1 John 4:10-12 "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (emphasis mine)

He DOES call us to love divinely, and that means we GO FIRST. God modeled initiative when He loved us, described in 1 John 4:19: "We love because He first loved us."

His willingness to GO FIRST in the active expression of love caused us to love back. I want that in my marriage!! How about you? God went to the greatest extent, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." I want to be willing to GO FIRST in the active expression of love, and I want to be loved back.

Before we understood or cared about His love for us, before we asked for forgiveness of our offense, before we spoke lovingly to Him, before we gave anything back to Him, before we spent any quality time with Him ... He loved us. He was willing to GO FIRST.

When we receive love's action first, it affirms the unconditional quality of the love, it shows we have been chosen, and it invites us to respond. As we respond the bond deepens and the understanding grows and intensifies. And I'm not just talking about gals like me being loved by the God who went first; I'm talking about gals like me who get their feelings hurt and don't want to "go first" in relationship with our guys. Going first requires humility, humility like Jesus showed. So how does it look in a romance where we are trying to forge two into one?

  • taking initiative to share (your stuff, your space, your time, your self)
  • being willing to change (I'll roll the toothpaste the way you like it, Honey ;) )
  • praying for your spouse first (even if what you long for is to be prayed FOR)
  • making the first move intimately (showing your spouse you desire and want them)
  • giving up what is yours (I can move that meeting; let's go ahead and go out that night)
  • affirming your partner with encouragement (thank you for taking care of those bills)

Our tendency is to wait and let the other person make the first move, so we don't "stick our neck out there" and get burned, so we don't get taken advantage of, so we don't get ignored .... watching out for what the world tells us might happen if we dare ... to GO FIRST. But God's quality of love means we set aside our pride, love the other more than ourselves, and be willing to GO FIRST.

Maybe we should edit the old vows and add: "I Julie take you, Jeff, to love, honor, and cherish, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, for better or for worse, forsaking all others and setting aside my pride to be willing to GO FIRST in love as long as we both shall live.

And by the way, I did go first, and I'm so glad I did. It was worth it. Turns out I totally misunderstood what my unsuspecting hubby tried to say. Been there? What could God be asking you to GO FIRST with in your relationship, so He can shower blessings upon you? Move over closer in bed tonight? Greet your husband with a warm kiss he hasn't had in a while? Call him to tell him you're thinking of him? Make his favorite dinner, and tell him it's just for him? Pray for him today and tell him you did? Say you're sorry? Tell him you want to be a better wife? Ask him what he wants to do on his day off and be willing to do it? God knows how hard it is to lower Himself and reach out when the vibes are icy and there are no warm fuzzies. He went first with us, and I'm so glad He did.

Praying for you as you read Marriage Monday today. If you'd like to email me or leave a comment, I'd love to add your specific name to my prayers ... you go first. :)

13 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Cindy said...

Julie, thanks for this post. I really needed this one this AM.

Blessing to you!

mjellis said...

I needed to hear this today. Thank you so much!

Mary Joy said...

Excellent!!! Excellent!!! Excellent!!! Just what I needed to hear today. It does make such a difference when I do are so right. I work very hard on this...some days I do better than others, but I am improving and it makes a great difference in our communication!

Anonymous said...

I needed that little reminder...thanks

Kristi Stephens said...

Such wisdom, Julie - thanks for sharing with us.

NP and I just had a long discussion along these lines last night... it definitely is hard to go first, but so, so worth it!

Ann said...

I guess all of ladies have some of the very same marriage issues:) I thought I was alone (lol). It is amazing how we can love our spouse so much but sometimes it is very difficult to communicate with them.

Many times it is a simple understanding that starts the hurt feelings or disagreement. It is very difficult for me to say I am sorry first. My mind wants to do it, but my lips do not want to cooperate :) It is a very humbling experience to say you are sorry first. Thanks so much for the reminder and speaking to my heart!

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Ann, so profound to say that our mind wants to do it, but our lips won't cooperate! Maybe in addition to taking every thought captive, we should also take every verbal word captive. I know that just "pausing" before I speak makes a huge difference. I'm so glad for the times I paused and so sorry for the times I skipped it!

Ashley said...

I've been put in a position where I've needed to be the one to "go first" a lot over the past several years. It's not an easy position to be in, or an easy choice to lay aside my pride to obey, but it keeps the relationship moving and alive.

Thanks for sharing your heart!

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Oh, Ashley, it is NOT easy to go first a lot, but I know the Lord will honor that. It's hard to look long term instead of "how about a change this week?" I'm not always real patient like that. Will add you to my prayers for God's divine patience and ability to communicate with your husband in a way he understands.

Michelle said...

This post goes so well with Philippians which I am reading through right now.

The fact that our attitude should be the same as Christ, who emptied Himself of everything.

It's very humbling when you think of the many ways He wants us to actually live that out in our marriages and lives.

Beautiful post, Julie!

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Michelle, I'm in Philippians right now, too. Isn't it interesting to see that theme of humility woven throughout the Bible, applied to every area of life? Just meditated on those verses in Phil. 2 this morning. :)

Amanda said...

Why in the world do I forget about your Marriage Monday? My Monday posts are usually consumed by my Just a Motivating Monday, but I occasionally do a Motivating Monday post on marriage and should come over and link up.

I really enjoyed reading this post. It's something I've been trying so hard to work on in my marriage. Not expecting him to do, but be willing to step and do first. It's hard, especially as women! But it definitely is so worth it in the end.

Thanks for posting this and I'll link up my Just a Motivating Monday post from this week since it was on marriage :)

Sue Stevens said...

Your Marriage Mondays are my favorite part of your blog. Go first. It's really kind of the secret to a great marriage, isn't it? That and look for ways to bless your spouse. Not to get, but to give.