Alright. I can admit it. There have been a few times when as soon as I hear the garage door open, I stand ready for the pass-off.
As soon as my husband Justin walks in, I shove our crying one-year-old into his arms before he can even get his shoes off. I proceed to tell him our oldest son is playing play-doh and to be sure that it is put away when he is done so that it does not dry out. After that, I let him know that I will be upstairs laying down for a bit.
On my way up the stairs, I remember to mention that dinner’s going to be buffet style tonight. And by buffet style, I mean random snacks such as the leftover mac and cheese from lunch, the eight crackers left in the box, a few slices of cheese, and the last eleven grapes.
While I know having a nice well-rounded dinner on the table each night when my husband arrives home is a nice idea, it just does not always work out that way. Some days are just so full. The boys have been extra demanding, and I haven’t gotten much accomplished. On those days, dinner just does not happen. Justin is very understanding, he does not mind having leftovers … even two nights in a row.
The thing is, while it may not seem like that big of a deal that I would want a break from our children, especially on a trying day, I need to remember that my husband might have had a trying day at work too. Even if he didn’t, he has been up since six in the morning and I know most days he hardly has time to eat his lunch.
As a Christian, my first allegiance is to Christ. But right after the Lord, my next priority is my husband. I love Justin. He’s my best friend and, while we may not always get along, he’s the one God’s given me to spend the rest of my days with. Because I love him and I love God, one of my goals should be to look for ways I can daily serve him.
Obviously, this is a two-way street. As I should serve Justin in ways to make his life easier—to give him a break, to give him time to unwind after a long day at work—he too should be looking for ways to help me out such as offering to give the boys a bath, bringing me home my favorite coffee drink, or just letting me read for an hour while he spends time with our boys.
I want to make a specific point here though. When we serve our husband, or anyone for that matter, we should be doing so freely because we want to. Our motivation should come from our love for God, our love for that person, and because we want them to delight in Christ. We should not be serving others to get something in return.
For example, on a night when I have prepared dinner and, better yet, it is Justin’s favorite dish. After dinner, I allow him to relax on the couch while I give the boys their bath, read them a book, pray with them, and tuck them into bed. All on my own. I should do so willingly if I know Justin has had a long day. Even if he hasn’t, I know he appreciates being able to come home and do nothing sometimes.
But, if I come down after doing everything and berate him about not helping out around the house and that I have been working non-stop all day, how am I serving him? My heart is not right. I never asked for his help, and by giving him a hard time I am wrong and displeasing God.
Douglas Wilson, in his book Her Hand in Marriage, writes, "Problems in marriage are always the result of self-centeredness.” He goes on to say,
So the time a person spends when they are single should be time spent in preparation for marriage. This is important even if they never get married. This is because biblical preparation for marriage is nothing more than learning to follow Jesus Christ and love one’s neighbor. In other words, preparation for Christian marriage is basically the same as preparation for Christian living. Christians are to prepare for marriage by learning self-denial, subduing their pride, and putting their neighbor first. Once they learn to love God and love their neighbor, they are prepared to enter into the covenant of marriage with one of their neighbors.
While some weeks we may only have one freshly cooked meal on the table, I’m praying that God would help me to show Justin I love him through serving him. Even when I’m spent. Even when I don’t feel like it. And that I’d do so with the right heart. My heart should be one that glorifies God and allows both Justin and me to grow in our love for Him.