Welcome back to marriage Mondays! Today’s topic is primarily going to be for the guys, although it really does work both ways. I, Allen, will be taking on this topic and it is one that is probably the most important key to having a successful marriage. Today we are going to discuss selfishness. Probably when most people think about being selfish, they know that it is not a good thing to be. Why is that? It’s because it’s not! I know you're probably thinking, "thanks captain obvious!" So why then do we continue to struggle with being selfish and expect to win over the love and admiration of our spouse? It doesn’t work that way. I had a thought, and the more I thought about it, the more I believe that selfishness is THE cause of all divorces. Seriously, every reason that I know of that people get divorced, can all be tied back to one or both people being selfish. Things that make you go hmmmmmmm!?
Now, I know some of you may not be Christians or maybe have never read the Bible, but there are a couple of verses in Ephesians chapter 5 that explain this concept of being unselfish in marriage very well. This is what it reads, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” also “In the same way husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church.” So the question is, how did Christ love the church? He gave up his place on the throne of Heaven and was willing to come down to Earth. He took on the form of a human and then suffered a torturous death, being nailed to a wooden cross, all because that was the only way for us to be cleansed of our sins, and He loved us so much that he was willing to do that, knowing full well it was going to be super hard and painful. He also did that knowing that we, as humans, are not truly able to return that love. He just did it anyway!
Sometimes, most of the time, we as husbands, have to just love our wives and serve them with no expectation of getting anything in return. Here's the good thing though, if you truly treat your wives this way, they will notice and they will have a respect and admiration for you that will be greater than if you just demand things from them, or if your just focused solely on what you want.
The movie, Fireproof, is a great example of this. I don’t want to give the whole movie away if you haven’t seen it, but, the main concept is that the husband was very self-centered and it was pushing his wife away and she wanted a divorce. It wasn’t until he was challenged to serve his wife without expecting anything in return that it began changing their marriage and eventually, over a long period of time, she grew to love him again. We have got to remember that we are in this amazing/crazy thing called marriage for the long haul and sometimes things are going to take time to change. Even if it takes years, do it anyway! Even if it seems like it’s impossible, do it anyway! Even if you are getting little or no response from your spouse, do it anyway! Persistence and commitment are the key! Also, if you are doing it to change your spouse, you’re doing it for the wrong reason! You married your spouse for who they were/are. Real change comes when you stop being selfish and learn to love and serve unconditionally.
Something that we have discovered in our years of marriage is that there will be times when your spouse is either emotionally or physically unable to reciprocate your love and acknowledge your effort. That's when you have to remember your commitment in your vows to love even during the tough times. For us, those times have just been seasons and don't last forever. Our marriage is always stronger on the other side of a difficult season when even one of us chooses to love and serve unconditionally.
Ok, finally, let's give you some tools. I asked my wife, Carol, what are some ways I serve her that make her feel loved. Here were some of her answers and a few I thought of:
- washing my own dishes and not leaving them for her to wash.
- Not expecting her to always serve me at dinner time, but chipping in and helping out.
- That I care more about whether or not she is happy at the end of the day instead of if the house is perfectly clean.
- not expecting her to pick up after me.
- opening the doors for her. This may seem like such a small thing, but this makes her feel special.
- when she is stressed out or overwhelmed, I find ways that I can help take the load off of her to help relieve her stress. ex. bring home dinner, call and check in with her on the way home from work and ask if she needs anything from the store.
A couple of extra things I thought of are:
- Sometimes taking over the chores that your spouse absolutely hates to do (even if you hate that one as well). We're men, we can handle it!
- When you wake up in the morning, think about how you can serve your wife instead of how she can serve you. (Example: maybe you can make the coffee, or get the kids up and going for her).
By the way, I don’t always get this right! Nobody does! But the times that I do, are the best times in our marriage!
Cheering you on!
Allen & Carol (mostly Allen this time,ha ha!)