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Friday, March 23, 2012
You’ve probably heard marriage advice like this: “Be sure to put your husband on your to-do list,” or “Make sure you plan time in your schedule for your wife.” I’ve probably given that exact advice myself.
While I’m all for making your marriage and your spouse a priority, something my wife said to me convinced me that we should rethink the put-your-spouse-on-your-list thing.
Let me explain.
You see, your marriage is unlike any other relationship in your life. And it’s not just because you get to enjoy sex with your spouse and no one else. God designed the marriage relationship so that you and your spouse are one: physically, emotionally and spiritually. That is ONLY true of your marriage, and the implications are HUGE!
A New Outlook
It’s easy to treat your spouse as just another “to do” item. How many times do you see your husband or wife as one more demand on your oh-so-limited time and energy? How often do you see the things you do for your spouse in the same light as the things you do for your kids, your job, or your home? It is actually NOTHING like any of those things.
We need to renew our thinking about it. When we look at it through the lens of being “one flesh,” we can begin to see that giving our time and attention to our spouse is actually something for us not taking something from us. Yes, it’s actually upside down from how we normally look at it.
That’s how things often are in the Kingdom of God: upside down.
When you feed your marriage, you are also giving life to yourself. When you give lavishly to your spouse, you actually accrue the benefit. When you act unselfishly, you still get to receive from it.
How cool is that?
Re-Thinking the To Do List
Here are some examples of how to renew your perspective away from the “to do list” mentality.
- Say your wife asks you to pick something up at the grocery store on your way home so that she doesn’t have to go there for the fifth time in a week. Instead of being annoyed by the inconvenience at the end of your long work day, consider also buying her a little treat or some flowers when you stop, just to bless her. Do it without grumbling or complaining and let yourself really enjoy doing this small act of willing kindness.
- Say you know your husband is “in the mood” or “it’s been too long.” Rather than resisting his advances, putting him off for a future time, or complaining about how tired you are or how much the kids demanded of you all day, throw yourself into his arms willingly. Enjoy the connection and intimacy, even if you are too tired to get all worked up. Let yourself be blessed by his desire for you and by giving him pleasure. You can also get pleasure whether or not your get the “ultimate pleasure.”
- Say your wife has to run the kids to soccer practice after dinner and says on her way out the door that she’ll take care of the dishes when she gets back. Or maybe she even asks you to load the dishwasher while she is gone. Remind yourself that when you help her out, you are helping yourself out too. (Many women actually consider their husband doing dishes a form of foreplay.)
- Say your husband has to work late for the fifth night in a row. Rather than feeling neglected and annoyed and reminding him with guilt-laden overtones that he really needs to get the grass cut and the hedges trimmed, hire a local boy to do the work for him. Or go out and trim the hedged yourself. Greet him cheerily when he finally does get home and thank him for working so hard and being such a good provider. Watch what kind of welcome home kiss you’ll get for that!
Now that I’ve said all that, let me make something clear: You need to put your husband or wife on your to-do list.
OK, I’m kind of kidding around. What I actually mean is that you do need to be intentional about taking care of your spouse and your marriage, and that usually takes some planning and forethought. But when you do that, try thinking about it in a different light. When you do something deliberately to bless your spouse or to take care of your marriage, allow some of that blessing to flow back to you too - because it does!
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