Being married means creating a new life with your spouse. This new life means you’ll have to leave old patterns behind, especially selfish behavior. To build a successful and happy marriage, you and your spouse will both need to be more self-giving.
So how can you become more self-giving in your marriage? In this article, we’re sharing five things you can do to become more selfless, and build a happier marriage as a result.
1. Consider Your Spouse First
The first step toward being more self-giving in your marriage is to consider your spouse’s needs and preferences first. This doesn’t mean that you should deny yourself all the time. Instead, it helps you begin to intentionally practice more careful consideration.
Thinking of one another first should be mutual, but it’s not always easy. Many of us come into marriage with a highly individualized sense of our own likes, dislikes, wants, and needs. But in marriage, it’s important to think about what your spouse might need or want before you serve yourself.
2. Don’t Hold Your Demands Too Tightly
It’s great to know what you want. Sometimes, though, you will need to loosen your grip on those demands in favor of your spouse. This is particularly true if your demands will be detrimental to the goals you’ve set as a couple.
Married couples experience many seasons, and sometimes, a season requires you to pause. There will be times when you need to set aside something you want, sometimes long-term. The same is true for your spouse.
3. Don’t Be Afraid
Being married and having a family means making sacrifices. Putting your spouse first and setting your demands aside means that you’ll have to stop being afraid. To put someone else first, we also have to stop fearing that we won’t be able to get what we want.
Communicate openly and honestly with one another about your individual goals. Make sure you both understand what the other would like to achieve. Find ways to work toward outcomes that will benefit both of you. Working together as a team will raise your likelihood of achieving your goals, too.
4. Learn to Notice When You’re Self-Seeking
Serving yourself first requires you to be ignorant of your spouse’s needs. It also keeps you from seeing your own selfishness. If you really want to put your spouse first, then you will need to open your eyes.
It takes bravery and self-awareness to know when you’re being self-seeking. Start paying attention to your thoughts when there’s something you want or a compromise to be made. Over time, you’ll notice patterns that will help you stop, take a breath, and choose selflessness.
5. Practice Empathy
We like to say that empathy is something you practice over the long term. It’s a continual work in progress. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to empathize with your spouse every day.
When you truly take a walk in your spouse’s shoes, it will be easier to be more self-giving. Developing a deep understanding of your spouse’s wants, needs, and dreams–and then imagining yourself in their place–will pay dividends for your marriage. It’s even better if you can achieve that level of empathy for each other.
How to Love Like That
Jesus is our greatest example of selfless love. To love one another to the best of our abilities, we believe following Jesus’s example is essential. Les’s book, Love Like That takes a deep dive into how Jesus loved so that we can do the same. You can learn more and pick up your copy here.
How do you and your spouse practice selflessness in your marriage? Tell us your story in the comments.