Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Confessions of a Newlywed: To Champion One Another's Needs

If you haven't noticed already, Chris and I are very intentional about our marriage. What I mean by that is that we recognize that the odds are against us in this world in many ways. Marriage is not something we take lightly - it needs to be nurtured, protected, and taken care of. Quite simply put, the Beatles were lying to us all when they sang All You Need is Love. It's like a car. You can buy a brand new car and think everything is great, but if you don't wash it regularly, it may rust; and without regular oil changes, your engine (albeit, taking some time) will eventually seize.

So we read books. We attend bible studies focused on marriage. We read countless articles. We pray about it; separately and together. We talk about it often; both between just the two of us, and with others. We both believe in having mentors in our lives. Someone who has already been through your current stage of life, and for us, someone who is further on their walk with God. This too, has been instrumental in our first year together.

There have been a few times when I am talking to someone about marriage and they say something that just blows my mind. This particular time was a turning point for me. Without getting into the details, I'll just say that I was having some trouble with expectations (they'll get you every time!) These expectations caused me to feel upset, and even a little angry. I felt as though what my husband was asking of me was unreasonable. I thought he was being selfish. His expectations were different from my own, that was clear, but where do you land on that? Who is the one to bend to the others wishes? Who "gets their way"?

I met with a mentor who has been an amazing influence in my life. She isn't that much older than me, but is indeed further along down the road than myself. I shared with her that I didn't want to be selfish, but I really felt like his expectations were too much, and I just didn't know what to do with that. She encouraged me with the fact that I am the champion of his needs, and he is the champion of my own. This requires something of me in both respects. Not only do I have to take the responsibility of being the champion of his needs seriously, but I have to allow him to champion my own. I have to trust him, that he will do this. So even when I feel as though he is being selfish, I have to trust that he does in fact have my needs in mind.

Oh man.

Ok... maybe let's break this down a little. What on earth did she mean " I am the champion of his needs"???

Webster's Dictionary defines the word champion as follows:

2: a militant advocate or defender <a champion of civil rights>
3: one that does battle for another's rights or honor <God will raise me up a champion — Sir Walter Scott>
4: a winner of first prize or first place in competition; also : one who shows marked superiority <a champion at selling>

So, I am the advocate and defender of his needs? Huh. That sounds about right, doesn't it?

Now, to be clear, this does not mean that Chris is responsible for my overall happiness or fulfillment. As I've discussed before, that is between me and God. Not me and my husband. If I were to expect Chris to be my all and everything, not only would I be let down, but the weight of that expectation on him would most definitely cause him to fall.

What I am talking about are the needs between spouses. I need to feel loved, needed, and wanted by him. Sometimes I need to know he is thinking about me throughout his day. I need him to actively pursue my heart. I need him to listen to me when I am upset, and to be excited with me when I am celebrating. I need him to help around the house, and to make me delicious dinners (I have completely scored in this category. As a side note, last night for dinner he made Tandoori Chicken with a spicy peanut sauce- both from scratch. I was worried the two flavours wouldn't go together but I was SO wrong. Mmmmmmm)

Where was I?

Right. My needs. To allow him to champion them means that sometimes I have to set aside my feelings of needing to do things for myself. I am allowing him to serve me, and we both feel joy in that. The tricky part is when it feels as though he is only thinking of his own needs. I have two thoughts on this. First of all, sorry if this completely wrecks your world as it did mine when I first heard it, but the truth is, you will only recognize selfishness in someone else if you yourself are having selfish thoughts.

KAPOW!! Mind. Blown.

So, when he is reaching for the last salt and vinegar chip and I think to myself "How selfish for him to not offer that to me" (Real life. Right here folks) I am truly being selfish in wanting the last chip myself. Aw dang. Feel free to apply this to any other situation where you have thought someone was selfish and try to tell me that the root of your own thought is not selfishness. I tried. Real hard.

Now the next part of this, of thinking he is only thinking of his own needs, is that there is a huge lack of trust there. Did I not marry a good man? Heck yes I did! He is not a jerk. He does not only think of himself. In fact, he often bends over backwards to serve me. I'd like to take this moment to remind you all that there is indeed, an enemy in this world. Scripture says that he comes to steal, kill and destroy, and this couldn't be more true in a marital setting. He wants nothing more than to break up our marriages - one place where Christ's love is mirrored between two people. This is outlined so very well in Love and War by John and Staci Eldridge. I highly recommend you check out this book, but if not, at the very least, start praying more for your marriages and for other marriages around you.

Now one last thought. If I am trusting Chris to be the champion of my needs, and believing that he wants to serve me with all his heart, the very least I could do would be to return the favor. Put aside the petty complaints of not wanting to ____ because it doesn't serve me at that very moment. I need to recognize that each time I put my own desires aside to serve him, his love and trust in me as his wife is strengthened. 

I think we both win in that situation, don't you? 

This post was the fifth installment of a new series Confessions of a Newlywed. I hope you'll track along with me, as well as some guest posts as we explore the topic of marriage.

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