Jesus. Spouse. Kids. The Rest.

Ashley and I have tried to stick to these priorities with our family. It’s not easy. Our sweet crazy kiddos demand a lot of attention and time. Work calls, emails, and text messages interrupt family dinners and date nights. Even with all the things going on in life, we both have realized that the most important part of our marriage is Jesus.

The best way you can love your spouse is by loving Jesus first. When Jesus comes first, I am a better man and husband, and Ashley is loved and valued. When Jesus comes first, Ashley is more loving and caring to me as her husband because it’s an overflow of how she is loving Jesus. We always want to grow in this area, and I hope that these ideas will help you grow too.

Jesus comes first in your identity

First, remember that our identity and worth comes from Jesus, not our spouse.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” - Galatians 2:20

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” - 2 Corinthians 5:17

Throughout the Bible there are verses that talk about our identity in Christ. Because of Christ, I am free, innocent, righteous, made new, and able to change. Ashley has nothing to do with my identity in Christ. Ashley can’t be. My kids can’t be. It has to be Jesus.

Jesus comes first in your authority

God has put Ashley in my life to help me change, but Jesus is my Lord. If Jesus is Lord, we have a higher calling than just to please our spouse. My call as a Christian is to please God. As a husband, Ashley’s happiness is not my main goal. It’s to help her grow in Christ. Ashley’s goal is not to please me, but to please God with how she loves me.

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.” - 2 Corinthians 5:9

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of God.” - Galatians 1:10

When we are focused on pleasing people, we rarely love them with pure motives. If I buy Ashley flowers so that she won’t be mad when I watch the football game, my kindness is more negotiation than love. God calls us to please him, because when we focus on pleasing God, we genuinely love and serve our spouse without strings attached.

Jesus comes first in your priorities

“Make the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” - Ephesians 5:16

If Jesus is first he needs to get my best time. This starts for me with reading my Bible daily. I can’t tell you how much more Ashley and I fight when I haven’t read my Bible. It’s ridiculous! Setting time aside to seek Jesus shapes the way I talk with my wife, and it reminds me who I am and what I’m called to do.

The best way you can love your spouse is by loving Jesus first.

Something that has been important for Ashley and I in our marriage has been consistent worship together. This might seem an obvious point from a pastor but it can be difficult to find time to sit in a service together to worship. I have to be intentional with my time and set time to worship with Ashley above meeting a new person or with a leader. Ashley has to pack up and drive 4 kids over and navigate the parking lot and kids classrooms every week. It takes effort but has been super valuable in our relationship together.

As a husband, my wife's happiness is not my main goal. It’s to help her grow in Christ.

Another way to make Jesus first is to pray with your spouse. Praying for your spouse and with your spouse is huge. This isn’t easy, and takes a lot of intentional effort. It’s difficult enough to find time to have good conversation with Ashley let alone sit and pray together for our situations. Husbands, what are you currently reading in your Bible? How often do you worship at church with your wife and family? Do you know what your wife is reading in her Bible? What are you praying for together?

Jesus comes first in your marriage

“(Marriage) refers to Christ and the church.” - Ephesians 5:31

Jesus needs to be the lens of my marriage. I have read different marriage books about different colored lenses and how you need to see your spouse according to how they see things. There is wisdom in that, as Ashley likes different things and thinks about life differently than me. But when Jesus is the lens and focus of our marriage, we have a constant standard that sets our marriage. Mine changes ALL THE TIME. His vision is perfect. My vision changes. His focus is set.
I need to see my wife the way Jesus sees her. Jesus sees her as beautiful, valuable, pure, and as a daughter. She’s a lot more than my wife. She’s loved by Jesus more than I ever could. I need to help her see that too.
I need to see our relationship the way Jesus calls me to. Jesus sees our marriage as a picture of how he loves his church. Jesus served and gave up his life for his bride, and Jesus wants our relationship to be a picture of love and service to each other. Jesus calls us to serve each other, say sorry, forgive, have a value of purity, to love and consider others.
I need other peoples help. I need other people in my life to help me check for blind spots in my marriage and in my relationship with God. I have a group of guys that I meet with that can ask me any question about my life or my marriage. These guys help me see if I am getting off in any area of my life, and it’s important because I love my wife and I want to honor God with my marriage.

Let’s be real: This is hard and takes some time to work, especially if your spouse (or your kids or work) has been ahead of Jesus. I’m writing this and noticing areas where I need to change! Take some time in prayer to ask God to help you change, ask your community to help you, and begin looking at your marriage second and Jesus first.

As a means to help you get started making Jesus first, James Fields is writing a series of posts on how you can prioritize Jesus. Stay tuned!