Everyone wants to win. But in marriage, the desire to win all the time can be absolutely toxic. Because even though you might win the battle, you can very well lose the war. Your “victory” may feel good momentarily, but over time it can seriously damage your relationship.

I love what Dr. Kelly Flanagan says in his blog post called “Marriage Is for Losers.” He describes three kinds of marriages. The first kind is where both spouses are competing to win in a duel to the death. The second is where one spouse dominates and the other submits. Then he says:

“But there is a third kind of marriage… [where] two people have decided to love each other to the limit,  and to sacrifice the most important thing of all—themselves. In these marriages, losing becomes a way of life,  a competition to see who can listen to, care for, serve, forgive, and accept the other the most.”

I think Kelly absolutely nailed the biblical model for marriage. Our culture says winning is  coming in first. But God says winning is volunteering to come in second.

First Corinthians 13:4-5 says, “Love is patient, love is kind… it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking.” When husbands and wives start loving each other this way, it's a complete game-changer for our marriages.

When you choose to lose so your marriage wins, your marriage gets better—plain and simple. And, you grow in ways you never would have if you'd won all those arguments.

Ask Jesus to show you opportunities where you can choose to lose in a healthy way. That doesn't mean you just lie down and say,  “Well, whatever you want, honey.” It means you allow Christ to live through you, by having a heart that's willing to not have things go your way.

As you choose to pray and work together in the power of the Spirit, your marriage will grow deeper and richer—and you'll both win.

More on this topic:
Bring new Life to your marriage
How you can forgive even when it seems impossible
A word from Stuart: Language of love
Jill answers questions about relationships and singleness