The main question most people ask in marriage relationships today is, “What can I get out of it?” Especially, “What sex can I get out of it?”

And when they’re not getting as much as they want?

Separation. And the search for a better return from someone else. Someone else who won’t take so much of my time and money. Someone else who will fill me rather than drain me.

But if everyone’s trying to get more than they give, no one’s going to be happy and marriages are doomed to premature and painful endings.

In contrast, the Bible says that the most important question in marriage is not, “What can I get?” but “What can I give?”

And, strangely, when each party is focused more on giving than getting, the result is more getting for both parties. In marriage also it really is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

In Ephesians 5:21-33, the Apostle Paul presents Jesus as the ultimate model of this self-giving love.

Paul’s basic argument in this passage is that the more we give of ourselves in the service of our wife, the more union, intimacy, satisfaction, and fulfillment we will discover and enjoy in our marriages.

Let the “What can I give?” question drown out and drive out the “What can I get?” question in every situation of life:

  1. When you argue: What can I give up to resolve this?
  2. When you’ve hurt her: What apology can I give to heal this?
  3. When on vacation: What can I give to make her vacation better?
  4. When in bed: What can I give to enhance her enjoyment of physical intimacy?
  5. When budgeting: What can I give up this month to give her more spending money?
  6. When talking: How can I give her more of a listening ear?
  7. When disappointed: How can I give her grace?
  8. When she’s depressed: How can I give her encouragement?
  9. When she’s lost sleep: How can I give her rest?

Give your mind, your heart, your eyes, your hands, your body, your money. Give financially, emotionally, physically, intellectually, sexually, and spiritually. Give yourself, your whole self, away.

And if we believe the Bible rather than our instincts and our culture, we will be more blessed in that giving than in all the getting we can imagine.

The great aim of all this marital giving is that eventually we each give so much of self away, that each has all of the other, and the two become one; we lose so much independence, and become so inter-dependent that we become “one flesh” in every way.

Real men give themselves away.


  1. What other areas of life can you apply the “What can I give?” question to?
  2. What area of life are you tempted to prioritize getting rather than giving?
  3. When did you last give to your wife in a way that cost you?

Further Reading

What you really need in marriage

B. Warfield’s Beautiful Description of the Self-Forgetful Christian Life

True Leadership Is Sacrifice, Not Privilege