Did you take a selfie today? Update your current Facebook status to inform your “friends” that you just went to the gym for three hours? Or maybe you read an article entitled “10 things to practice self-love”? In the age of social media allowing us to constantly promote and compare ourselves to others, I believe American society is becoming more and more narcissistic. If you are not familiar with Greek mythology, Narcissus was the son of a river god and nymph who was known for his beauty. The story goes, Narcissus fell into a spring while admiring his reflection and drowns to death. Sounds vaguely familiar the selfie stick related deaths? People posing for selfies on top of mountains and falling to their deaths?
Sigmund Freud coined the term “narcissism” in 1914 after reflecting on this Greek tragedy. We worry about how many followers we have, how many likes we have, friends we have, if we look cute in a picture with friends before its posted… you get the idea. Psychologists hypothesize that this narcissism epidmeic is linked to the rise of the “self-love movement” and increased individualism. I will emphasize here… I do not think there is anything wrong with taking care of yourself and loving yourself for who God created you to be.
But I have noticed that people have taken this idea of loving yourself to an extreme. We do what feels good for us not worrying about how it will effect others. We focus on what we need, what we can get, and how we feel. So I wonder how can two people in a marriage love each other and put the other before themselves in a day and age promoting self-love above everything else. How can we better love our spouses when the world is screaming “me, Me, ME?”
I remember before Christian and I got married, we met with our pastor for a pre-marital ceremony counseling session. During this session, Pastor Chris said something very profound to me which has stuck with me each and every day since Christian and I said, “I do.” He told us that marriage is the greatest reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church. In the book of Ephesians chapter 5:21, Paul addresses the relationship between husband and wife and compares it to the relationship between Christ and the church. Paul writes,”Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy” (Ephesians 5:25-26).
Pastor Chris went on to explain that marriage is a reflection of the servitude of Christ. How two people can serve each other and love each other until death takes one of them. So I’ve been thinking how can we overcome this desire to serve ourselves and our individuals needs, wants, and dreams and reflect the relationship between Christ and the church in today’s self-indulgent world? How can we better love our spouse in a world promoting extreme self-love?
Christian and I have reflected on a few principles that help us in our marriage we’d like to share with you.
- Remember the sacrifice of Christ – We all have heard the famous scripture John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son and whoever who should believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus gave his life up for us, the church. In the same way, we should give up our life (a.k.a our selfishness) for our marriage. In a way, when you and your spouse got married, you died to your old life. I became we and mine became ours. Remember this principle and it will always help you in your marriage.
- Serve your spouse – “just as the Son of Man did not come to be serve but to serve, and to give his life up as ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28). Serving your spouse will look different for each marriage. For Christian, I have always tried to help him with time management, school, and organization. He is so busy! It’s a lot to keep up with so I try to help him stay on top of his schedule and work. Christian always does the errand running for our home. If I need razors late at night or our son needs medicine, he is on the way to get it. If you do not know how to serve your spouse, ask them. I’m sure they would love your help.
- Forgive – I heard once unforigiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Unforgiveness is one of the greatest things that will weaken your marriage. Unforgiveness leads to resentment which can divide a marriage and a home. Yes, it is hard to forgive. But you will be freeing yourself and your marriage when you are quick to do so. It is selfish to harbor unforgiveness for your spouse. Who are we to hold unforgiveness when God forgave us?
- It is better to give than receive – I know around the holidays we think should I get this person a gift? I know I am not getting one in return. Where would we be if we only did things expecting to get something in return? I think this would lead to unforgiveness and ultimately resentment. What if I got my husband a really nice gift for Valentine’s Day and he only got me flowers? Did I get my husband the nice gift to get something better in return? No. I got that gift to make him happy and for him to enjoy. Give freely without expecting anything in return.
- Don’t have high expectations – I think that in relationships and marriages, we can get caught up in our expectation of the way we predict something will go or how we think they should go, and when they don’t… we get upset and disappointed. Long-term disappointment can lead us to harbor unforgiveness and resent our spouse. If we can learn to love our spouse as they are and who they are rather than focusing on their good works (or what they do or don’t do)… then we will be better able to enjoy our marriage.
We hope these tips were helpful for your marriage. Please feel free to comment, share, and send in prayer requests. We are praying for you.
Below are some articles on the narcissist epidemic I mentioned that reflect its rise. Enjoy!