One of the biggest hurdles that I see in marriages and families is probably the simplest to identify and address, but the hardest for us to face. Call it self-interest, self-preservation, selfishness, whatever, but it is when we think more about ourselves than about the needs of our own family that we start to see families drift apart.
I often hear it when people say things like the following:
- Everything in our marriage is 50:50.
- I do my part in our marriage.
- I'm just not happy with him anymore. (Talking about her own husband.)
- She makes me feel alive again! (Talking about an affair.)
I do love it though when people start to realize that submitting themselves to Christ is very much the way we should submit our lives to our spouses. If anyone wants the most out of his or her marriage, one has to go "all in". There is no 50:50 with God, and there has not been a 50:50 relationship between Liv and I since I learned this concept.
If I see she is washing dishes, I grab up a towel and start drying without her asking. Actually, I know now that she would rather dry than wash, so I offer to take over on washing the dishes and hand her the towel. Rather than expecting Liv to always have dinner prepared, I understand that there are days when she is tired, so I cook. There's a good chance that the Cayenne Pepper will disappear soon though. I'm learning the hard way that Liv does not like spicy food, and has threatened to put avocado in a dish the next time she cooks for me. Yikes! I hate avocado! Instead of watching a sports game or my favorite show, I choose to serve my wife even in the little things. I am still banned from doing laundry though, something about having too many pink clothes that should be white.
Unfortunately, I don't always pull this off, and there are times when I think about me more than her, but I have also begun to notice that when I give up my "self" to her needs that I not only make her happy but I often get to enjoy whatever I just sacrificed in the first place without even having to ask. The days when I want it all to be about me don't work out so well and I wind up wishing that I had done the right thing in the first place.
Thinking that marriage is 50:50 has a way of letting us stop short of what we can fully do for our spouses. We often stop once we think we've "done our share" of the relationship workload when what our spouse needs most is for us to be all in and lift her up for a little while. Maybe it's to give her a rest, or simply to spend time with her and connect again. Whatever the reason, our spouses need us to be "all in", 100%, full commitment.
Husbands, your wives don't need 50% of your efforts. Wives need, desire and deserve 100% of your love, commitment, and effort. I don't know why, but God wired women to forget how much their husbands love them, so Men, you have to keep reminding your wives that you love them. Speak it, show it, do it....well, you know what I mean. What if she doesn't show love and respect back to you? So what? You can't control your wife, never could, and never should. All you can truly control is yourself, and the best thing to do is to keep pouring love into your wife. Eventually, that love will begin to overflow and come back to you. Get it? You have to be all in, every day, for this to eventually happen. This can be hard at first, but think back to when you first started dating your wife. You were probably pitching woo left and right trying to impress her, make her laugh, smile, anything to notice you. Well, heck, why should that stop? Who said it is supposed to stop?
It's not enough to simply avoid the big D, divorce. You have to be "all in" if your marriage and family are to thrive, and for you to get the most out of that relationship experience. You have to be there emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, and intentionally. After all, when Jesus loved the Church, He was "all in". Everything He did was for God's will, and for our salvation to be with God again on a personal level. Jesus lived to build us all up. In that same way, we should be "all in" to build up our spouses and then our children.
Love and Marriage, and your commitment in both, is a choice and a privilege, not a life sentence. So, stop thinking and treating it like a life sentence, and start loving and living with your spouse and family the way you were meant to.