Tuesday, February 23, 2016
"staying in love" synopsis part 2 : "re-modeling"
A few years ago Jesse (my husband- if you're new here) and I were invited to a couples' study group. We met for 4 weeks and read from Andy Stanley's book Staying in Love. This week I'm sharing a synopsis of the study in 4 parts. I shared part 1 "Love is a Verb" yesterday.
I will be sharing the intro from yesterday's post again for anyone who happens upon this post first- background information is helpful. If you've already read the intro, feel free to skip past the italicized portion.
During the "Staying in Love" couples' study group, we would read a couple of questions and meditate on some thoughts from the book prior to attending the sessions. During each session we would eat together; mingle; watch Andy Stanley (author and speaker) discuss 4 topics pertaining to "Staying in Love;" and then, as a group, discuss questions from the study guide. This study has been the best advice I have ever received in regards to "staying in love" / marital happiness, which is why I'd like to share it here and pass along the information. I've mentioned that I listen to Andy Stanley's podcast "Your Move" almost every morning. I download a series and then listen to the episodes (sometimes a couple of times because I get distracted).
"Staying in Love" is one of various series Andy Stanley offers. I believe the podcast episodes are shorter versions of the extended video episodes also offered on the "Your Move" site. These video episodes are often offered as DVDs (with the full video episodes) for purchase along with a study guide if that's more helpful to you. (It definitely helps me retain the information). Anyway, I recently listened to the "Staying in Love" podcast episodes again- perfect around Valentine's Day, right? I would like to share some of what I learned, but highly, highly recommend buying the book, watching the videos, and/or listening to the podcast episodes. I will definitely not do the study any justice. I should tell you that, yes, this is a Christian study, but I believe that the information is practical and universally applicable. I decided to split up my synopsis into 4 parts because 1 post was getting to be too long. I will share all 4 posts this week.
The second discussion is titled: "Re-Modeling." Again, he begins (as he begins every episode) with the assertion that we desire a longstanding, romantic relationship and are convinced we can have such a relationship even though we haven't really seen an ideal one or behave in a way that will facilitate a healthy relationship. In this chapter (video/podcast episode), Andy Stanley suggests that in order to stay in love, it is important to make your partner the priority in your relationship. He quotes from the Bible: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition [can also be translated as competitiveness] or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-5)
Andy Stanley suggests that we are hesitant in using this approach ("I'll go if you go, but it's too risky to go first"), but actually this is exactly the way we want to be treated- to be treated as though our interests and desires are priorities, to be treated with high value, and to obviously be treated with respect. And he says we are perfectly capable of treating others above ourselves and respecting that dynamic (i.e. appreciating a bride at a wedding, your boss at a dinner party, a national hero, etc). He further emphasizes that we're advised (if not commanded) to "value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others."
He poignantly states the way most of us think: "I'm mostly interested in the things that interest me [...] and I'm not naturally interested in the things that aren't interesting to me" (at the 13:30 min. mark). It's funny, yet true. He adds that we naturally emotionally and physically invest (with our time and money) in that which interests us and run into a dilemma when our significant other has other interests that do not interest us.
He suggests that in order to enrich the relationship and become more intimate we decide to express interest in our significant other's interests and that they become at least as important as our own interests. He uses Jesus as an example saying that he put our interests as his priority. He desired relationship with us so much that he was willing to humble himself. He humbled himself to us though we weren't even equal to begin with. (I realize you may not believe the same things I do. I'm glad you're here to read my post and take that which is most helpful to you).
In a similar way, if we want relationship and value relationship, we, too, need to humble ourselves to our significant other (and for Christians- as a respect for what Jesus did for us as individuals for our relationship with him). He concludes with verses 5-8 in Philippians 2: "In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had. Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross." Jesus never leveraged his position (as we're tempted to do in our relationships) for his benefit. Likewise, to stay in love, we should adopt the same mindset, use his model- set self aside for the good of the relationship. (I find this portion of the message to be especially beautiful). He didn't have to humble himself. It was a choice.
Tomorrow I will provide a synopsis of the third discussion: "Feelin' It" - though you can obviously listen to it now (and all episodes at some point), which I highly recommend you do!
Again, you can buy the book and DVD "Staying in Love" with all 4 extended video versions here or watch (or listen) to the episodes at the site Your Move right here.
Photo by Alicia Danielle for my sister Jasmine's wedding
at 11:00 AM