So this is the first Valentine’s Day I’ve spent apart from my bride in likely all of our years of marriage plus the four dating years. (I’m not looking for sympathy in the miles between us, that’s just the reality.) So if my memory serves me well, and sometimes it doesn’t, that’s about twenty-eight VT Days together and one apart.
This past week I’ve been sending Bonita videos relating to love. ‘Red Camaro’ by Keith Urban, ‘Waiting on a Woman’ by Brad Paisley and ‘Honey Honey’ by Johnny Reid. Some of them were funny but some were a little more serious. Our song, if we have a song, is one by Andrew Peterson called ‘Dancing in the Minefields.’
I think that the title says it all. Marriage is a wonderful dance with the one you love but it can also be a battleground. There is this misconception of happily ever after. Maybe we have guzzled down too many rom-coms or too many Disney cartoons. I had a fantasized picture of marriage where everything was going to be hunky dory. It was like I was slammed by a freight train in the first few months.
One author has written about when two sinners say ‘I do.’ Another has written something like when you put two sinners together in a marriage and then you add a couple of sinnerlings…
I don’t think we realize going into marriage how self-centred and self-consumed we are. Marriage clues us into that fact…and when you add a couple of kids to the mix you’re reminded again how self-centred thinking can dominate your heart and mind. How you make decisions that are based solely on what you want. There were a couple of times where Bonita could have easily called the game on account of rain.
By the grace of God, here we are almost twenty-five years later. If there is one piece of advice that I could offer any dating couples or any newlywed couples or any couples that are having a hard go of it, it’s this: the other centred principle.
 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)
You don’t have to teach anyone to be self-centred. We’re born that way. Some of us are worse that others…I’m one of the worst. I have progressed by the grace of God but self-centred motives rear their ugly head from time to time more than I care to admit. I think the old NIV said it ‘consider others better than yourself’ in :3. When it comes to money matters…when it comes to bedroom matters…when it comes to entertainment matters…and the list goes on. Wow! The next verse goes on to say that we are to look after our own interest…so we’re not to be doormats…but we are to put others first. I think that’s a great biblical counsel in general but also for marriages in particular.
We have the example of Jesus Christ who laid down His life for us. The Sinless for the sin-drenched. The Holy One in place of the depraved. That’s the ultimate example of other-centredness. We do know that Jesus is more than just an example though. Because of His death, burial, and resurrection the believer can walk in newness of life. We have access to the same power that brought Christ back from the dead. I say that a lot because I need to hear it a lot. There’s power in the gospel. The gospel’s not just for unbelievers.
Other-centredness is a trait that the Spirit wants to grow and develop in those who are His. And when our self-centredness is on the decline and our other-centredness is on the rise, we present a more glorious picture of Christ and His church to an skeptical world. He want the gospel to be on display in our marriages.