For many years now, as we have supported couples through pre-marriage and marriage, we have become known for using the term “prefer one another”. The ASB version of Romans 12:10 says:

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honour”. – Romans 12:10

So what does this mean? It means that when the husband faces a situation in which he could either choose to be a blessing to his wife and consider her own needs above his own, or he could choose what he wants, he will choose to prefer his wife over himself. That is, he chooses to put her first before himself – he prefers her. However, at the same time the wife will chose to prefer her husband in the choices she makes and consider his needs above her own. This means he gets put first too. We find this is a win-win situation as both spouses find themselves being preferred and put first and no-one loses. In practice this works pretty well. However, as research by Bernard Murstein has shown, there can be problems with this “reciprocity” concept because people become unhappy when they think “I did this for her, and she never reciprocated”.

So recently we’ve found another level to add to that. What happens in that moment when you just don’t have it in you to “prefer the other”? You’re so mad at them that nothing in you wants to be a blessing! In these situations we now also encourage couples to “prefer their marriage” as opposed to just preferring each other. Again, when you’re faced with a situation and you have a choice to make, are you going to choose to prefer your marriage which will have great, long-lasting benefits for your relationship or are you going to choose not to do that but go with your own selfish desires? One will build, the other will destroy.

Will you choose to prefer your spouse and your marriage?