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Sunday, July 10, 2011
Today’s post was inspired by one from last week, “How Little Can I Get By With,” from The Generous Husband. In it Paul Byerly describes the tendency we can have to do the bare minimum that we can get away with.
In marriage, giving only the bare minimum is almost certainly going to poison the atmosphere in your relationship and damage the level of trust and intimacy between you. Giving the bare minimum communicates to your spouse that your own needs and wants are more important than theirs.
It essentially says to them, “I don’t love you as much as I love me.”
That may sound harsh or judgmental. It’s not meant to be. It’s just that when you develop a pattern of just barely meeting your spouse’s needs, of only giving in when they beg or demand it, or of withholding your full effort and attention, it invites them to do the same toward you. A cycle of selfishness can ensue that will have lasting negative consequences for your marriage. A good-willed spouse may still be generous toward you for a while, even if you don’t reciprocate, but inevitably, it’s a formula for marital disaster.
And Then Some
Instead, I encourage you to adopt the attitude of doing what they ask or desire “and then some.” It’s this Kingdom principle that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 5:41, when he says, “If someone compels you to go a mile, go with him two.” In the context of that verse he is actually speaking of those who do evil against you. How much more should the principle of “and them some” be the guiding one in how you give to one whom you profess to love.
When you give to your spouse that extra measure of devotion, when you give of your time and attention extravagantly, or when you show love to them way above what you deem adequate, you start to create an atmosphere of selflessness that is contagious.
“I’ll Try” Is Not Enough
Marriage blogger Stu Gray has a new website where he and his wife are podcasting weekly about marriage. I’ve only had time to listen to one episode so far, but from what I can tell this is going to be a great marriage resources. (More details will be in an RRR Resource post coming soon.)
In the episode I listened to they discuss a guest blog post by another favorite marriage blogger of mine, Debi Walter of The Romantic Vineyard. Here’s an excerpt from her post entitled “I’ll try.”
Imagine a wedding where the Bride and Groom instead of confirming their wedding vows with an “I Do,” offer meekly an “I’ll Try!” Not many marriages would last if trying is all they’re aiming for. Anyone can try – the marriages who don’t simply try, but hold their vows even through the blazing fire of conflict will be welded together in the heat and become stronger as a result. They are resolved to succeed, not merely t.r.y
She explains how an “I’ll try” answer instead of an enthusiastic “I do” or “yes, absolutely” tells your spouse that you either haven’t really heard them or you don’t really care about their request. Both equally bad!
If your response to my urging you to meet your spouse’s needs “and then some” has you thinking “I’ll try,” then think again.
Shifting the atmosphere in your marriage to one of outdoing one another by generously and consistently delighting one another will take more than an “I’ll try” attitude. It will require dedication and deliberate attention to the task. But you can do it, if you really want to. This is not beyond your ability, and it is largely up to you to decide.
Believe me when I say that it will pay huge dividends in your marriage. More on that next time.
The next time you identify something you can do for your spouse, think about what doing it “and then some” would look like. Then do that instead.
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