I’m privileged to be in a number of groups that are really family to me, and I think quite a number of us are in similar groups: the worship team at church, a lifegroup, a men’s group, etc. One thing I’m grateful for about these groups is the various opportunities they accord me to prepare for marriage.
At the core of what makes a marriage successful, I believe, is the willingness to place your spouse first, valuing him/her more than you do yourself. Your thinking in this case is more of “What’s best for him/her?”, and not “How can I get my way?” Being active members in groups provides a space for us to practice this.
In a recent discussion we had in a fam I’m in, an issue came up about how people would ask a question in the Whatsapp group and very few people, if any, would respond, and yet the app had indicated that a number of people had read the question. A reason that was given as to why some people don’t respond was that “it’s their personality.” To me, what that sounds like is, “This is who I am, deal with it.” One may be able to get by with that in a home group or serving group, but when it comes to marriage, that’s may be a recipe for quite a tough relationship.
For relationships to thrive, it requires, in many cases, for one to say & do things that are quite likely not part of “their personality.” And hey, that’s love. Love is not a feeling; it’s a verb. You don’t necessarily have to feel something. It’s a decision you make. So if throughout one’s life before marriage, they’ve never made the effort to put others first, to do things outside their comfort zone for the sake of someone else, it most likely makes for some rough times in marriage. One can only pretend to enjoy sacrificing for someone else for so long in the beginning of a marriage, before the real them comes out.
So take advantage of the opportunities you have now as a single individual. Yes, you are free to leave that group where you’re not getting along with a particular someone/people, but then again, that’s an opportunity for you to exercise yourself in love. You may not always “feel” like loving your spouse when you’re married. Build that love muscle now, when you have various opportunities to do so, and set a strong foundation for a great marriage.
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
~ Philippians 2:1-3
“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
~ Ephesians 5:17-21 NKJV
Below is a great sermon I was listening to last week by Andy Stanley on valuing others above oneself & staying in love: