Lying there on her couch, an image entered my head so clear that I nearly reached out to touch it. It was Christ gently laying down his left hand to be nailed to the cross. Next came his right hand. In the same fashion, he gently laid down to be hammered to his wooden cross. It was such a powerful image that I immediately began to weep.

This was the answer to our struggle. Truly, this was the answer to any couple's struggle - laying down your life for the needs and feelings of your mate. Christ literally went through Hell so we might have life and have it more abundantly. I wasn't willing to give up one year of work to spend valuable time with my children and to help my wife finish her degree at a school she loved.

The Key to a Satisfying Marriage

If we want to have a satisfying marriage, one where the passion and excitement never ends, we must be willing to sacrifice our own needs for the needs of our mate. In other words, we need to be selfless.

When couples, much like us, are entrenched in conflict, there is one major theme pervading the problem: Neither side is willing to give up their position. How can we have harmony when we are not willing to accept the feelings of our mate? In order to successfully solve our marriage conflicts, we must be able to take on the perspective of our spouse. We must be focused toward enhancing their welfare.

When we are selfless, it is like a beautiful dance, where both partners glide around the room of marriage with utter ease and confidence. But the key is that it is a couple's dance. There's no room for stylish single's dancing. This is meant to be a Waltz, not a Mosh Pit! If only one spouse is concentrating on being selfless, the strategy will fail. It takes two to tango, and two to make selflessness work in marriage.

By becoming selfless, we open the possibilities to truly experience the joy and satisfaction in our marriage God intended. When God said, "and the two shall become one", what do you think God meant? The only way we can experience the full benefit of marriage is when we give of ourselves for the good of our mate. This is the ultimate oneness!

So how did we resolve our dilemma? After my clear image of what Christ did for me, it was simple. I told Amy I would do whatever it took to help her finish school at Wheaton College. Amy was overcome with gladness, and amazingly, so was I.

I had no idea at the time how valuable my year would be as a stay-at-home father. One of the most amazing lessons learned from our experience was that of reciprocation. Because I was willing to put Amy's needs ahead of mine, she in turn was willing to do the same for me. When couples act for the complete good of their mate -- guess what -- their mate wants to do the same. It's the most infectious disease ever discovered.

God does a funny thing when we are truly selfless; God rewards us. I know it would have been a different outcome if I was simply "giving in" to Amy just so God would reward me later. It does not work this way. Only when selflessness comes from a complete desire for the good of our mate, and not our own, will we reap the rewards for ourselves as well as the marriage. The reward will be the true intimacy and passion that God intended for marriage.

© Copyright 2003 Smalley Relationship Center