I am so thankful to have my wife,
My true companion, and best friend,
I am so thankful to have my wife,
My true companion, and best friend,
You are being selfish.
These are words that we never want to hear in marriage, business, sport, or any other scenario for that matter. Being selfish means that you are making decisions without regard of someone else’s well-being and emotions. We disguise being selfish as “splurging” or “treating yourself,” but there are some major consequences to making decisions in ignorance of someone else’s (especially your spouse’s) feelings or well-being.
Marriages can end by Selfishness
Divorce rates are where they are due to selfishness. I really want to expound on this sentence, but I really don’t feel the need. There is no doubt that very near to 100% of marriages end due to this one characteristic. Upon reflection, I’ve come up with 3 pointers to preserve your marriage and help you become less selfish.
1. Take care of the past
Each human being on earth is attracted to something in which they don’t want to be attracted. It’s part of our nature as a fallen species to have an unGodly urge to do something that pleases our flesh but destroys us long-term. Some people made decisions as children to look at pornography, smoke cigarettes, drink beer, etc. Some people are naturally bent to get angry quickly, to manipulate or otherwise have control over external situations.
When you make a decision to choose an addictive behavior, you make the decision once but the addiction chooses you afterwards.
To combat an addiction, you must seek a counselor, seek a friend, seek wisdom from the scriptures, and don’t give up. Passionately pursue kicking the habit. Write about it. Listen to sermons about it. Share your weakness in a small-group or personal setting. People will pray for you and will know which area to see God work in your life. But you must be vulnerable enough to let the beast out of the closet in order to see these things work. Kicking an addiction without community is nearly impossible. Get people around you that love you and will hold you accountable for replacing your selfish habit with a Godly one.
2. Don’t pick up an addiction
You cannot pick up a selfish addiction and live in a happy marriage. Your personal decisions are now decisions that will either grow you closer to your spouse or tear you away from her. If your spouse does not want you to have tobacco in your mouth, then leave it and don’t return to it. If your husband does not want to you drink, then leave it. It is a waste of money, and your husband has noticed that you are becoming more addicted daily. It pulls you apart, and it takes divine intervention sometimes to pull people back together. It actually takes divine intervention to kick a habit too, which is why I am so adamant about you taking a passionate approach to kicking your habit before it alters your decision-making abilities.
3. “Don’t spend major money on minor things.” ~ Jim Rohn
Dave Ramsey’s talk-radio show teaches many married couples to live a debt-free life. Without debt, a lot of stress about the spouse’s monetary decisions decreases significantly. However, being debt-free is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is being able to trust each other with monetary decisions in the absence of the other spouse. When the two of you come together as a team to eliminate debt and dream about what your future will be some day, you become selfless. Becoming selfless is a huge part of being on a team and is exactly what needs to happen for you to be in a happy marriage.
As a final note, this initial idea of selfishness destroying marriages came to me this past weekend when my wife and I attended the “Love Worth Fighting For” marriage event. There were many other great points that Kirk and Warren made, and I highly recommend you go to the conference if it is in your area anytime soon.
I was most impressed by Warren’s story-telling ability, transparency, and charisma. I think everyone in the place fell in love with him. His genuineness in telling us about his experiences with each song makes each one more meaningful, and I totally went overboard and bought both CDs (selfish right? lol).
When having a conversation with one of my friends, I tend to relax and enjoy my time. Even if my friend says something contrary to how I think or believe, I don’t get upset. I shrug it off and keep enjoying the conversation. I may not even notice a mistake in the conversation at all.
Why does all of that change when communicating with my spouse?
When we talk, I’m sure that Audrey does not say anything worse than a friend. She says how she feels and talks openly with me, but often times I get upset. Why?
I’ll try to explain a) why it is ok to get upset, b) why I tend to get upset, and c) why I should not get upset but enjoy the ride.
When it is okay to get upset:
2. If/when we are not on the same page with our religious affiliation.
3. If/when we struggle with addictions.
Of course, there are more reasons to fight in a marriage (for the marriage), but that’s all I’ll include here. Please just begin to use your discernment and ask yourself if it is truly worth the fight or is it a time when you should shrug it off and laugh.
Reasons that I get upset:
There is a lot that can be said in just the tone of your voice. I know that I certainly do not use the proper tone-of-voice in many situations. When I don’t, Audrey calls me on it. She says that I sound really snappy, and then I claim that I’m just trying to get whatever it is done. I really should watch my tone, recognize it, apologize, and move forward. Rather than casting it back on Audrey by saying that she is being too sensitive, I should recognize the miscommunication on my part. This recognition allows for a more pleasurable day in all.
I also get really upset when I feel criticized about not doing enough at home. I am a guy who does help out, but I am also one who takes care of myself. Therefore, I may eat when others are still hungry; I may take a nap even though my wife is busy with the kids, cooking, etc. With all that being said, I do dishes on a regular basis, help the kids to bed, and take my son outside when I get home so that we can have some time together. I try to get honey-do lists completed in a timely manner (there are a lot of loose-ends), but there is only so much time in the day. A big portion of the day has to be devoted to work, so it’s hard to notice what kind of impact I have on the daily chores. (I know it’s not much.) I still feel like I make a significant impact, and it hurts when it is suggested otherwise.
Reasons why I should just drop it.
My wife is the only person on Earth that supports me to the end of the world. She knows what it is I want and need in life and is here to support me. She is not an enemy, and she never (I mean never) speaks poorly of me. So why do I take it so personally when we disagree?
If I can back up, take a breath, and find the humor in the moment, then we may both be able to enjoy the conversation. Making this choice sends us into a more playful mode rather than argue. If we choose to argue, it could worsen our attitudes for the remainder of the day. Often times it is more important to have a good day with each other than it is to be right about whatever it is we are arguing over.
I encourage you, friend, to find the humor in situations this week. Start enjoying each moment with your spouse and kids. Enjoying the moments is almost just as important as having the moment. If you are devoting your time to your family, make it a pleasurable experience so that you will stay committed to it.
I want to share with you scripture that shows us how to treat each other. In it, we find 4 action steps that show how to approach one another daily.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Give Yourself Up for Her
There is nobody else on this planet that is more important than your wife. As a man, it is your job to give yourself up for your wife in order to make her holy. It’s not about you anymore. Just like Jesus made it not about himself. He made it all about you.
We have to realize that it is about giving up your selfish desires and devoting yourself to her so that she is separate from all others.
Wash your wife with the Word. Many times Audrey says to me that she is struggling reading the Bible or that she wants a “scripture of the week” to help motivate more reading and learning. This is a clear callout for action. She wants me to be the man that I am called to be in Ephesians 5. She wants me to cleanse her with the Word by sharing with her and relating it to our world around us.
Present your wife as a Holy and blameless person. Build her up when you communicate with your peers. Don’t joke about arguments or personality quirks. It’s not funny. She has to be presented as someone who is above any other human on earth. She is your wife. She mothers and otherwise spends so much time with your kids. In doing so, she unselfishly devotes her life to raising them appropriately. Be a good man then and speak well of her. She deserves it.
In the end, it’s all about love. The definition of love is Christ. Pay close attention to His actions and His words in the Bible. Make sure to recognize how he treats his disciples and other followers (the church). When you read the Bible with purpose, many times scripture will jump off the page and affect your thought patterns in the future. I pray that this happens to you as a result of reading this reflection of Ephesians 5.
In my life…
As a final note, I need to do a better job at loving my wife. I need to have compassion in times of weakness. I need to be more diligent about having empathy. I should passionately seek ways to improve our communication. I should pray more. I should seek out moments where she really needs me to step up and be the man she wants me to be. I should cleanse her with the Word. I should build her up around peers and not joke about any inadequacies that I think she has.
And so it starts…
My wife is awesome. She shows our children how to love and how to behave. She is ademate about preparing meals for us. She ensures that the kids are healthy. She notices little “bad” things that our son does and nips them in the bud so that those little things don’t become monsters. She’s incredible at noticing details. She keeps the house clean and keeps me in check.
She is a true friend, and I don’t know where I would be without her.
Each decision we make in life has an eternal impact. Therefore, we have to be very particular about our decisions. We have to concentrate on doing the next good deed, and continue on a path to righteousness. We must kick addictions and focus on why we are here on earth. We have to fight. We have to overcome obstacles that get in the way.
And obstacles will get in the way…
In any level of commitment, obstacles will appear. Obstacles show up sometimes because of our own actions, but sometimes they show up just because that is what God has in plan for us at the time. In this moment, we must be still. We must freeze and concentrate on what it is we are trying to accomplish. In that moment, we have to make a fatherly decision.
This is mainly a blog post for the fathers out there but can really be applied to anyone.
Let’s talk Adam and Eve:
Adam and Eve lived in Paradise. They walked and talked with God. Any of us put in that situation say to ourselves, “If I had everything, I would never…” However, we act like Adam and Eve everyday, and we live in a pretty good situation. Most of us have a house overhead, food, and the necessities of life. Then, we make decisions that tear us apart from God.
I want you to be very careful of the decisions that you make, especially if they are repeated violations. Being a father means that you transfer things down generationally, and you are raising percentages for your children or grandchildren to struggle with the very same habit that you are caught in.
It’s like a snowball effect. If you cannot destroy the snowball before it binds you and keeps you in its shackles, then the beast grows bigger. Left untreated, your life can be destroyed. The same can happen to your children. Don’t let unbroken curses flow to your next generation. Kick it out and leave it behind. Don’t let a smoking habit turn into a marijuana habit. Don’t let anger turn into abuse. Don’t let who you are in Christ be overcome by your selfishness to please the flesh.
Your example lasts for generations.
Let’s talk Jesus:
Jesus is another father of mankind that we have a joy of knowing. We see in the Bible that he was here on earth to show us how to live and love abundantly. He did not sin and leaves a perfect example for us to follow. His decisions affected those he taught. We have to trust in his willingness to love us through tough situations. We know that he was tempted, but he did not fault. He claimed His Father’s words when he was tempted. He knew his father so well and trusted that His promises were true. His father was perfect, and Jesus ultimately chose what His father would have him choose.
We must realize that our children will do the same. They will trust us because they think (at least for a while) that we are perfect. They will make decisions based on our promises and our choices. So, choose wisely.
Have you ever been on a webpage or other document for one specific reason but couldn’t find what you were looking for? After 30 minutes of not finding what you are looking for, you finally say, “Oh yeah!” and hit Ctrl F to find the exact match in less than a second.
I wish there was a Ctrl F button when searching for our purpose on earth. The closest thing to the Ctrl F button for me is Family.
There are actually three mindsets that people must maintain while finding their purpose, and they are listed in the picture below. I’m taking this advice directly from the book “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk. Click here for a sample. (I chose to listen to it at Audiobooks.com/spi.)
Love Your Family
Family. is. first. The main ways I love my family is through loving God, praying for them, and cherishing moments that we have together. Time is valuable and is ultimately the main way I know to raise a family. Without the time commitment, I find it hard to grow with them. If I’m not growing with them, then I am growing apart from them. Time as a family unit must be a priority, and you have to be committed to making the time necessary to work your familial relationships.
Working super-hard comes natural to some people. You wouldn’t be on this page without some inclination of wanting a better life. You have to stick to your guns and determine when you are working, and when you are playing. However, work feels a lot like play when you love what you are doing. Simply put, sometimes we work super-hard in the wrong line of work. You have to love what you do; there is no substitute for desire or hustle.
If something hinders your desire, you either have to get through the hardship, delegate responsibilities, or alter your approach so that the work becomes something that you love to do again. Each situation is unique and must be evaluated by you.
Working super-hard is closely related to living your passion but not entirely the same.
A way to begin discovering your passion is to pretend that there are no hindrances in the world. Pretend that your food and shelter are taken care of, the house does not need painting, the yard is perfect, and you have no other outside obligation.
Now pretend that you have $500. What would you do? List your ideas in the Comments section below.
This exercise can get things done for you in the next 6 months that you would have never had happen because you did not dream of it beforehand. Even though you had always wanted to do it, you never would take care of yourself in that way. Why do we do this to ourselves? We need to start enjoying life!
If you really want to go crazy, imagine that you have $10,000. If you write a $10,000 goal, you can more than likely see your dream come into fruition within 5 years.
Then, imagine that you have everything. You own it all. How would you spend tomorrow?
The amazing thought is that we know the one who owns it all. We have conversations with the master of the universe, and then we somehow believe that enjoying a $500 splurge is too much. We think that Starbucks is too expensive, and we don’t give the first ten percent of our income away to the poor as Jesus instructs us.
An interesting point that I’ve come to believe is that
Everything is eternal. Everything is limitless.
Everything has energy.
Everything is attracted or repelled.
If everything is truly eternal, then why do we worry so much about the next paycheck. Why do we worry about what is going to happen next? God will provide.
We have no excuse, then, not to live our passion.
Put some feet on it…
Okay, now it is time to put some feet on the ideas that were discussed in the blog. Please take the time to dream and post a comment below. Post how you are going to be more committed to family. Post what you would do with $500 and no obligation. Post something you passionately love. Post something you hate.
I look forward to communicating with you,
There are many pathways to creating great children. Great people can sometimes rise from the worst possible parenting and have an everlasting positive influence on people around them. Take Joyce Meyer, for example, who was abused all her life but has become one of the most trusted sources in the Christian community and invests time in showing women how to break boundaries. She is a true hero; I learn from each message she delivers.
Abuse is definitely not the correct way to parent, however, and most people that are put in those situations as children abandon their parents and live lost lives restricted to their memories of affliction and torment.
On the flip side, my wife is an awesome human being. She encourages our children and shows them what it is to love through service, affection, and doing things that are fun for them. Just before our first son Clay was born, she wanted to display why I was going to be a great father. I was really moved.
Here is what she had to say :
Each of us can learn from my wife’s words and soak up the different things that we ought to do to be awesome fathers. Having a servant’s heart is huge, praying for your family, undeniably important. Making your wife a priority each and every day, and openly communicating schedules and desires is an absolute must. There is no doubt that her words of wisdom run deep, and a preacher could make a sermon (or even a series of sermons) on each point.
I encourage you to go through the list one more time but replace “you” with “I”. See how it transforms you into a better mindset. Walking through this list at least weekly will definitely keep my priorities straight with my family.
Numbers 1 through 9 are reasons that any man would make a great father. The one reason that motivates me the most, however, is #10. The reason that I am a great father to my children is because I am me. Simply put, there is no substitute for who I am. There are only a couple of roles in my life in which there is absolutely no substitute, being a husband to my wife and a father to my kids.
Make a Decision
In a life full of demands from outside circumstances that seem to pull us away from the family, we have to decide on how we are going to spend our time. And if we find ourselves spending less and less time with our family, our family is growing without us, apart from us. We have to make a lifestyle decision so that our family is a priority, not the leftover. Family time is absolutely crucial to growing together into one unit.
Let’s face it…
You can be replaced in any position you have on earth. If you’re a teacher like me, there is another teacher out there that can replace you. If you’re a coach, replaceable. Even if you are doing the Lord’s work and must be away from home to spread the word of the gospel, you are replaceable. The only unique roles that you have in your life is that you are a husband to your wife and father to your children.
There is no substitute for “Daddy”
Even God in Heaven does not want you to claim someone else as Daddy. We are jealous of that title and rightly so. I urge you to please take time to watch and/or listen to this thirty minute message from Andy Stanley on making Breathing Room (Part 4 of series). If you don’t have 30 minutes, you can always download the podcast through your phone and listen on the way to work.
So what are you going to do, Daddy?
It’s time to make priorities in your life. Is your wife a priority? She loves you because she wants to. Your kids love you because they want to. They are pulling for you to be a dad who has great influence on them. They want you to support them and to make family time as important as making a dollar. Family time is more important than nearly any other event that I can name. Don’t cover up family time with television; kick the thing off. There is no substitute for you in your role as a father. I, just like all of us, am working on prioritizing my life and have some accountability to make sure that it happens. I encourage you to do the same.
I encourage you to leave a comment below to let me know what you will do (or what you have already implemented) to make family time a priority. As I stated, I am still figuring out how to balance work and family time so seeing your comments will benefit me as well. Let’s learn together.