Competing Affections

Most of the time when we think of “competing affections” we are probably thinking of the tension that exists between two good things that we like:

– The desire to be alone v. The desire to be with our friends

– The desire to buy something we want v. The desire to save our pennies

– The desire for ice cream v. The desire for chocolate

(of course, a rational person would realize that you could just have chocolate ice cream and satisfy both desires, but that’s a different lesson.)

In relationships, there often seems to be a different kind of competition .  Our significant other may feel like that they have to compete with our other interests for our affections and attention:

– The husband may feel that the wife neglects him to go spend time with her friends.

– The wife may struggle with her husband’s desire to watch sports over spending quality time with her.

And the list goes on and on. After the initial warm fuzzies that stir the beginnings of a relationship seem to fade, the struggle between sacrificing what we want for the good of the other takes hold, and we realize that there is an ongoing battle for our time, attention and affection.

However, that might not be the only competition for affection in our relationships. In godly relationships, there is also the struggle to outdo each other in showing one another love. This is not a struggle between what we want and what the other person desires, but a fight to be the first to forgive, the first to sacrifice, the first to say “I’m sorry.” This is a competition between who can be the first to put their affection for the other person in front of their desire for anything else. A “fight” to see who can show the most love.

It’s a biblical way to live. After all, Romans 13 commands us that we should constantly feel the debt of love towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, and by implication, be striving o “pay back” this debt. How much more so should this be true in a marriage! In a society where we are constantly concerned with what we are owed, it is wise to think of what we owe, and to realize that we can never “pay up” when it comes to showing one another love.  But we should try! And in a romantic relationship we should be outdoing one another in the attempt.

It’s easy to have a competition between what we want, and what is good for the relationship. It’s harder to see the struggle that should exist between who can show love first and farthest. But maybe if we had more of these types of competitions, our relationships would freer of the other kinds.


P.S. – I hope its implied, but just in case its not, it would be unwise to have a competition for affection with the desire of being able to proclaim oneself the victor. This shouldn’t be about “winning” but by competing with ourselves to constantly show the other person greater deference.


What do you think?