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You Die First: The Biblical Principal That Changed My Marriage

Updated: Jan 21, 2023

The first few years of our marriage, my wife and I used to have some horrendous fights. We would always apologize quickly, forgive each other, and make up, but the fights would continue. The problem was: I thought she was the problem, but I was actually the problem.


There was something in me that just couldn't stand for my wife to talk down to me (in my perception) or talk to me in a way that (in my view) she thinks I'm some kind of idiot. I didn't feel like she respected me, so I demanded respect from her. Whenever she would talk to me in a certain way, eventually I would completely lose my temper. I would throw and break things, yell and curse, and sometimes even leave the house. Looking back at my behavior as I write this, I have to laugh because it's hard to get respect when you act like a 3 year old! But thank God, I am growing up in Christ! He has completely changed my marriage with the principle in this verse:


"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and GAVE HIMSELF for it." Ephesians 5:25


Before I can become the spiritual leader of my household, I have to go to the cross and die first, just like Jesus did for the Church. The King of Kings came down to this Earth and made himself a servant. He was "despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Isaiah 53:3. He could have demanded respect, but instead, He "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:7-8.


So I had it backwards. Instead of taking my self-seeking ways to the cross and letting God change me, I was trying to change my wife. Here's what the Bible says about trying to change other people: "Who are you that judges another man's servant? to his own master he stands or falls. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4). My wife is not my servant. She is Jesus' servant. And He is able to make her stand. If I could change her through yelling, or arguing, or anything else, Jesus wouldn't have had to die on the cross to break the bondage of sin in her life (Gal 2:21). Whatever she is doing wrong (hypothetically; she's perfect after all!), the problem is sin, and the answer to sin is found only in what Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary. So instead of trying to change my wife, I am to lead her the way Jesus leads the church:


First, I take my fleshly self-seeking ways to the cross, where my flesh was crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6-7, Col 2:11, Gal 5:24). Inasmuch as she is actually talking down to me or treating me like an idiot, as opposed to me just thinking that in my faulty perception, I let her do it. I let her trample me just like Jesus let us trample Him. Instead of trying to change her, I take my own sinful attitudes and sinful habits to my Savior. I take up, by faith, the death of that prideful, selfish man that I used to be. I reckon that old man crucified with Christ, trusting in the cross upon which he was crucified, and thereby live crucified with Christ, being made ever-increasingly conformable unto His death. (Gal 2:20, 6:14, Rom 6:6-7, Luke 9:23, Phi 3:10),


As I take up my cross daily, I am able to walk in newness of life. And inasmuch as my wife actually has sinned (as opposed to it just being the bad perception of my prideful self), I do not condemn her or try to change her. I lead her to the cross, which is the only place where change can happen. As we both begin to walk in the Spirit, by continually putting our faith in the victory of the cross and resting in that finished work, which was where the flesh was crucified (Gal 5:24), our marriage becomes full of love, joy, and peace, instead of anger and strife.


Will we continue to have problems? YES! We will never be perfect until Jesus comes back. But now we know how to deal with our problems! We know WHO the problem is, which is our old sinful selves, and we know what to do with that selfish old sinner: reckon him dead and defeated at Calvary!


Thank God for a patient, merciful, and gracious wife!



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Chris Wright
Chris Wright
Oct 23, 2022

Thanks for this. Found your website a few days ago and really been encouraged. It is helping me rethink my thinking.

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