Marriage is one of the greatest gifts that we have as human beings. The intimacy that marriage brings has no comparison. The trust, the life, the joy, the happiness that marriage affords are unique to any other sort of relationship. Marriage is in a league all of its own, and a thriving marriage should be marked by two confident, secure, and fulfilled people. It’s not news to say that most marriages have lost their luster. We have experienced and seen firsthand how often marriage can be filled with hurt, pain, guilt, blame, agony and selfishness. If we don’t fight in our own marriage for unity and peace, we inevitably drift towards isolation and bitterness. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. It’s easy to see why most of our culture doesn’t think of marriage as a “forever promise” anymore. What has gone wrong? Why is there so much confusion and pain after we say “I Do”?
In my opinion, the answer has to do with serving. It’s a simple concept but it’s difficult to put into practice. We as people are selfish and let our selfishness take over, especially in marriage. It isn’t long after the honeymoon that we become absorbed in our own thoughts and feelings and agendas, and we stop serving the one that we love the most and have promised to serve for the rest of our life.
Let me share a story from my life. I shared a little about this at the beginning of the year here. Our marriage has been a roller coaster ride. We have our ups, (those are the most amazing times in our lives), and sadly we also have had quite a few downs, which have led to hurt and pain unlike any other we have had in any other relationships. A few years ago I fell into a serious depression and became increasingly self-absorbed. I gave up on life, I gave up on friends, my family, and my faith. The person that was hurt the most from this was my wife, Ashley. On the outside we were growing our business, growing our family (with 2 amazing kids) but on the inside of me there was nothing but selfishness and destruction. I was never happy with the work she was doing, constantly complaining that our house wasn’t clean enough, that she wasn’t working hard enough. In all of this I almost lost my wife.
My focus was all wrong. I was micromanaging and was not focused on serving my wife. I was focused on myself and how she was not completing the tasks I expected of her in my head (even though I had never verbally communicated these with her.) In the book The Story of Marriage John and Lisa Bevere put it this way, “One of the main sources of contention around the issue of serving in marriage is that we expect our spouses to serve us the way we serve them, and that doesn’t always happen.”
I was failing miserably at serving Ashley. I was being controlling, lashing out verbally, and not being there to just listen to her frustrations.
What changed? We had a “make or break” moment a couple years ago where things came to a head. Thankfully, God got hold of my heart and told me that to save my marriage I had to “let go”. I had to let go of trying to have everything my way. I had to let go of trying so hard to make everything perfect. And, most importantly, I had to start serving my wife in the way she received loved. In this process of letting go, God has transformed our relationship and our business. Below are some of the simple steps I tried to take to implement more serving in my interactions with Ashley.
Take responsibility and Step Up!
1) Have an honest talk with your spouse and find out what their greatest needs are both in the business and at home (and repeat this conversation as often as you can, to make sure you are on track!).
2) Come up with a plan and a schedule to serve each other better. It might seem silly at first to develop a schedule for the time you will be serving one another, but without a plan it will be very hard to develop the habit of service.
3) Recognize and affirm your spouse’s service. Whether this is through an encouraging word or maybe a hand written letter, or even a simple hug, communicating that you notice your spouse’s effort is huge. Let your spouse know that you appreciate them and their service to you, and work at having a grateful heart for your spouse.
4) Don’t give up. You and your spouse are definitely going to have moments of weakness and struggle serving one another. Have patience and grace for each other, in the same measure you’d like them to have patience and grace for you. 🙂
So what does serving look like? It can be something as simple as throwing empty soda cans and water bottles, emptying the trash, cleaning up after yourself and your spouse without having to be asked or complain about it. It can also be something bigger, like planning ahead to give your spouse a day off, complete with their favorite activity and people. Service like this gets reward in relationship, you’ll feel refreshed by refreshing your spouse. And the dividends of life it will give to your business and home life will be worth all of that intentional effort.
Through serving one another we have found that we both desire to live in peace with each other and in our home. A huge aspect that’s contributed to our relational peace has been setting realistic roles and expectations for each other. Next week’s post will be all about these roles and how we have used the power of established roles to shape and mold the framework of our business and home.
September 7, 2015
images Copyright The Siners Photography