As I began to think through these ideas about preparing for marriage, the first and most important thing I believe one must do to prepare for a richly satisfying marriage, is to practice complete and total selflessness!
Marriage requires each partner to lay aside their wants and seek to please their mate.
Although Paul is speaking to the church of Phillipi in the book of Philippians, I believe 2:3-4 apply to each of us as we walk through our lives in relationship with other sinners:
"3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. "
Learning selflessness will be an ongoing process but, in your season of singleness, practicing selflessness will be such a blessing to your mate.
How do you know when you are being selfish?
- Would I be upset if things don't go my way?
- Will I be annoyed if my plans for my day get interrupted?
- Do I feel that I can justify my complaining because I'm having a bad day?
- Do I deserve things (job promotion, position, applause, recognition, praise, sleep, money, time off, time to myself) just because I do?
Of course there are more questions you can ask yourself, but really in your heart of heart do you look to please yourself, rather than those around you.
Maybe you live with roommates, are you respectful of them, looking for ways to bless them? Do you just have days you say, "I'm having a bad day, so back 0ff" instead of closing your bedroom door and praying for a better attitude with those you are in relationship with? Do you expect them to thank you for cleaning the kitchen or taking out the trash when it wasn't your week?
Maybe you are at home with your family, are you looking for way to bless your younger brother or parents? Do you complain at the meal your mom made because you don't like it, or do you just thank her and have a snack later? Do you get annoyed when "your" time is interrupted by a need that arises in your family? Are you late to a family function because getting "your" thing done was more important than keeping a commitment?
As you go about your day keep in mind the concept of being selfless. It's easy (I remember because it wasn't that long ago) when your single to just not be in tune to other people's needs, schedule, and desires. It's easy to become totally inward focused.
As a wife and mom God has brought selfishness to light. There's just no room for it in a marriage! I know that the more I look to bless John, do what he wants, make him happy...the more I am blessed and I get things that make me happy!
We agreed, when we first started dating, that we'd strive to please the other person over our own needs. When you have two people who are looking for ways to bless each other it is richly satisfying!
When you are trying to live a me-centered life, you will only find yourself annoyed, irritable, unpleasant, and unhappy!