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Practicing the “You First” Principle

Who is first in your marriage? Yes, we all know that the “right” answer is always “Jesus,” 🙂 but in the relationship between you and your spouse—who is first in your marriage?

In the “love” chapter of the Bible it says that love “does not insist on its own way.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) This is what we call the “You First” principle of marriage. So how do we practically live it out?

Here are three ways to implement this expression of love:

1. You First…To Speak While I Listen

This is one that we have had to work on…hard…over the years. We are two first-born verbal people who like to get our point across. Early in our marriage we were more interested in stating our point than actually having a meaningful dialogue. That was selfish and unloving of us.

Now we try to practice “You First” in our conversations by encouraging our spouse to speak their mind and share their heart. It’s pretty easy to get started. We simply say, “I’d like to hear what you have to say first.” Then we try to truly listen, ask follow up questions, and respond thoughtfully.

Simply allowing your spouse to speak first can increase their trust in you and in the relationship. The feeling of actually being heard is sadly rare in marriages, but you have the ability to give that gift of love when you say, “You first.”

2. You First…To Express Your Preference

All around us in the media and relationships people try to tell us what we should want. We’ve even seen spouses do this with each other. We’ve been in awkward situations where perhaps a husband tries to convince his wife of what she really wanted, instead of respecting the her stated desire. (We’ve seen wives do the same.)

It’s true that some spouses have difficulty stating what they would like to do/eat/watch/listen to. In fact, they may actually have no preference—but being given the opportunity to even express that is respectful and loving.

Practice saying, “I’d really like to know what you would prefer” to your spouse. This doesn’t mean you can’t express your desires as well…but draw your spouse out first. Then talk together and decide where to go with it. Try not to “insist on your own way” but show deference when possible.

3. You First…To Hear “Please Forgive Me…”

All too often couples will come to an impasse of reconciliation and restoration because they are stubbornly waiting for the other spouse to come forward and apologize. Simply put: that is selfish, unloving, and doesn’t reflect the initiative of reconciliation that Jesus showed us via the cross.

Start by asking God to reveal to you all of the areas where you have been wrong in attitude, tone of voice, words, gestures, actions, etc. Then confess whatever He reveals to you and ask His forgiveness for how you treated His gift to…your spouse.

Once you have asked God for his forgiveness, go to immediately to your spouse. Tell them that you want to ask their forgiveness, and when they are ready to listen be specific, listing out the things about which God convicted you. How they respond isn’t your concern. Their response is their responsibility. You just do what is right.

Practicing the “You First” principle in marriage is a relationship changer. What are some other ways to practice the “You First” principle in marriage? Share them below and start taking the next steps as you Build Your Marriage!