Marriage is not for the faint of heart. It takes time, effort, commitment, and sacrifice. A huge component of making your marriage work is putting your spouse first in your relationship.
There are several ways you can put your spouse first in your marriage. In this post, we will talk about 8 ways you can successfully make your spouse a priority in your marriage. These fall under 4 areas: getting real, thinking of their needs, putting God first, and remembering you’re a team.
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Let’s Get Real
First off, let’s get real. When putting your spouse first, you have to have realistic expectations. You need to have realistic expectations for your spouse, and also for yourself. If you don’t have these realistic expectations, your marriage can be in serious trouble.
When you are putting your spouse first, you should have realistic expectations for them. Your husband is only human. Whatever pedestal you have put him on, you have to take him off of it now.
People put their spouse on a pedestal for many reasons. Early in a marriage, people often think that their spouse is perfect and can do no wrong. The sooner you realize that they are NOT perfect, the sooner your relationship can deepen between the two of you.
TV, movies, and social media can also play a part in driving those unrealistic expectations you might have of your spouse. Real relationship conflicts never end as easily as they do in a 30-minute sitcom or a 2-hour movie. It’s just not going to happen. And the glossy, best foot forward images people post on social media are totally fake, especially when it comes to their marriage and family relationships!
When you allow your husband to be a real person, and you love that real person, your deep relationship together can finally begin. By having realistic expectations for your spouse, you’ll deepen your relationship and your intimacy with each other.
Remember Your Flaws
When you accept your spouse to be real with you, this also frees you up to be your real self with them. This includes your mistakes and flaws.
Let me put it this way: you’re not perfect. Not even close. There was only one person to ever walk this world as perfect. And even though we should strive to be like Him, we’re going to fall short most of the time.
By remembering that you don’t do everything perfectly, it frees you up for total intimacy with your husband And in turn, you can more easily accept your spouse for their flaws.
If you’re a child of God, you know that your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. If what you have done wrong is forgiven, then shouldn’t you pass on this forgiveness to others? This includes everyone, but your spouse should be the one you forgive the most.
If you each will remember your own flaws, and quickly forgive each other, then your relationship will become stronger day by day.
By being honest, you are actively putting your spouse first in your marriage. If your husband can trust you, and you can trust him, your marriage will grow stronger over the years together.
But being honest can be a challenge! Even in the best relationships, putting yourself totally out there to someone can be intimidating. You’re asking them to accept you, warts and all. And if you expect to be accepted completely by your spouse, then they should be able to expect the same in turn.
This means that while being honest with your spouse, you should also actively work to be kind to them. There will be times you’ll have to tell them something they do is bothering you. When those times come, and they will, remembering to be kind can keep your criticism from turning into a fight.
Let’s reverse that for a minute and think about when your spouse criticizes something you do. Even when they are trying to be kind, your first reaction (I know mine is) is probably to go on the defensive.
Guess what? Chances are they are NOT trying to upset you. If your spouse loves you and wants the best for you, then their criticisms should be considered a good thing! Even though it can be hard to take, accepting their honesty with kindness is another way to show you are putting your spouse first in your marriage.
Meet Their Needs
When putting your spouse first, meeting their needs is a crucial way to do this! If you never work to meet your spouse’s needs, he will never feel like you have made him a priority.
Listen to What They are Saying
When putting your spouse first, you have to figure out what they need. And the most obvious way to do that is by listening to them. Sadly, it’s one a lot of us struggle with. Listening to our husband’s needs sounds simple enough. But I’m guilty of doing this a lot less than I should.
Oftentimes, our spouse will tell us exactly what they need. My husband asks for my help a lot. He likes to get my opinion on everything from what he wears to church to how we should do things on our farm. And I’m not going to lie, sometimes it wears me out! I’m thinking “make your own decision” the whole time…
But when I think about it, there are a few reasons why my husband asks for my opinion a lot. One obvious reason is that he values my thoughts. My husband asks what I think so much not to drive me nuts, but because he truly wants to hear what I’m thinking. So many people don’t have that type of relationship. I need to be thankful and cherish when he does ask.
Another reason I think he asks me is to strengthen the connection between us. When you talk to your spouse, you’re making a connection with them. Carrying on a constant (or near-constant) conversation can only strengthen your relationship.
Figure out What They aren’t Saying
Sometimes, your spouse will tell you exactly what they need. At other times, it can be a mystery. You might have to “read between the lines” to figure out what they need when they aren’t saying it. This is another key way of putting your spouse first.
One of the best ways to figure out what they aren’t saying is by observing their behavior. It’s kind of like when we as women say we are “fine.” According to Everyday Know, there are up to 7 different things that a woman means when she says she is “fine.”
This is the same thing with your spouse and their behavior. Your husband may not tell you what’s bothering him, but by the way he’s acting, you KNOW something is going on!
When my husband is under a lot of stress, he starts to get, shall we say, a lot more snarky than usual. His temper is much shorter and he is sooooo much more critical of everything! In the past, I would commonly respond with my own snarky comment. But now, as I’ve learned his behavior/body language, I realize that he’s just getting stress. So now, I (usually) react with being helpful instead of hurtful. By paying attention to his signals, I can be a better wife and partner.
God Should Be First in Your Marriage
This might not make sense at first, but putting your spouse first begins only when you both hold God as the number 1 in your lives. Let me explain, along with some examples of how to do this.
Put Your Spouse Above Yourself by Praying for Them
When you put God as the top priority in your life, praying to Him should be automatic. And if you’re spending consistent time in prayer, your husband should be at the top of your prayer list!
Even if he’s getting on your nerves, or has made you mad (and you know he will) you should still be spending time praying for your spouse!
Praying for the people that are important in your life is essential. With that being said, since you’re putting your spouse first above all other people, you should be praying for him over all others too. In a Focus on The Family article, they have listed 6 reasons why you should pray for your husband. One of these is that by praying for your spouse, you’re showing God that they are a priority in your life. And when you share with God the priorities of your life, He will be there with you through them!
Pray for Your Marriage
I’m pretty good at praying for my husband. I have a prayer list on one page of my planner. At the top, I have daily prayers listed, and then I separate the remainder of the list into the different days of the week. My husband (and kids) are at the top of the daily list. But I never thought that putting your spouse first might also mean that I should pray for my marriage by itself.
So how should we pray for our marriage? You can do the generic “Lord, please bless my marriage” but I’m sure God would want us to go much deeper than that. Plus, when you come to God with specific prayers for your marriage, you’re giving Him an opportunity to bless both you and your husband in a very specific way.
Precious Core shares 10 prayers that can be powerful for your marriage. One of these is a prayer of thanks for your spouse. Right now, my husband and I are both working from home, which equals a LOT of together time. Even though we both love each other very much, it can be a struggle to go from the Monday-Friday work week out of the house to being at home, almost 24/7, together!
The first day we both started working from home, I began thanking God for giving us this extra time together. Even though we’ll probably bug each other on MANY occasions these next few weeks, I thought it was important to thank God for this unexpected blessing!
Kingdom Bloggers mentions prayer as an important part of staying in love with your spouse for a lifetime. By praying for your spouse, and your marriage, you’re allowing God to help strengthen your relationship, probably in more ways than you could ever imagine!
Pray Together for a Godly Marriage
Praying for your spouse and for your marriage are both great examples of putting your spouse first. But if you want to go that extra mile, praying with your spouse is the next step to take for a strong and healthy marriage.
Praying with your husband will take your relationship with him, and with God, to a totally different level! You’ll find yourself growing stronger in your faith and closer to your spouse at the same time. If your spouse has upset you, praying with them is an awesome way to move forward and extend forgiveness.
The Bible talks about unity in marriage and also the unity of praying together. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” The triple-braided cord in this verse is a perfect example of a Godly marriage. When a husband and wife are united and they both put God first, their marriage will grow stronger as it continues.
Another great example of unity is Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” This verse can be applied to meeting with fellow Christians, but it can also be applied to marriage. When a couple vows to become united, and comes together in Christ, then they will know God is with them and will bless their marriage.
Remember You’re a Team
To close it out, putting your spouse first is remembering you are in it together. As a team. If you think of your spouse as a part of you, you’re not going to want to hurt them. That’s the way God intended our marriages to work.
Genesis 2:24 says it best, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” People have made a mess of marriage on so many levels and for thousands of years. But if you’re willing to work at it, putting God at the center of your marriage will bless your relationship for years to come.