We’re all busy these days. Many times we’re busy serving others, serving our families, serving in the community. Aren’t we all serving enough? It’s tempting to put my spouse at the bottom of this list of people to serve. He can fend for himself, right?
But true service doesn’t end in the home, it actually starts in the home.
That’s where we see each other as we really are, and where there is more than enough mundane work to go around. Work that that often goes unnoticed instead of getting applauded. There’s nothing really rewarding about having to go rummaging through the house helping your spouse find his keys, especially when you’re thinking, why can’t he just keep track of his keys? (Clarification: In our marriage, I’m the one that usually loses stuff. The one time that Joe couldn’t find his keys was the time that I misplaced them.)
Serving your spouse is thinking of his needs and wanting to make his life easier. It’s not creating a chore chart so that you do your thing and he does his and never the twain shall meet. It’s choosing to look at your spouse and think, how can I lighten his load?
One of the most important facets of Christ-like love is service.
There is no greater way to share that love with each other than serving another. Our example of selfless, sacrificial service is Jesus. The passage in Phillipians 2 paints such a great picture of humble service. Jesus, the King of all, emptying himself, and becoming a servant. He didn’t need to flaunt the fact that He was king. Following His example means I don’t need to be the “important” person in the room. I don’t have to worry about maintaining my status as “great” or insisting my work is more important. I shouldn’t demand to be served but find true joy in serving.
Serving Each Other in Marriage:
I can’t lighten the load if I don’t know what load he is carrying. What does he need? This can be done stealthily or directly: figure out what he needs or just ask him. If Joe is stressed, I ask him outright, what can I do right now to help you? It may be as simple as fixing him a snack or finding a missing shirt. I’ve also become very good at googling for him. Sure, he could google it himself in ten seconds. But if he’s in the middle of a project and wants to know how late the hardware store is open, googling that for him is a simple way to help. Especially when many times he’s working on a project that benefits me :). By studying him I’ve learned what kind of help he appreciates best and what areas he does not want my help with.
Sometimes your spouse serves back. Yaay! But service is a gift born from humility. Humility that says, I care about your happiness more than my own. Being other-centered is not a default human trait. Only in spending time with God and abiding with Him do we begin to understand our true worth. We don’t have to worry about elevating ourselves or being forgotten because we know we are His first.
Some kinds of service are easy and convenient. Like, I’m heading into the kitchen to get a drink, can I get you one as well? That kind of easy service is fantastic. But sometimes our service requires sacrifice and going out of our way. Getting up out of my seat, even if I just sat down. Give him that last piece of dessert that we both really want. Make that stop for something he needs that is out of my way on my way home.
We are programmed to think that with any act of service there is a catch. He must want something. Expect something in return. So it’s hard to even receive an act of service because you’re worried about how you’re supposed to respond. In serving each other it’s important to truly offer service with no strings attached. It’s not a contract where I do you a favor and you pay me back. It’s because I love you and want to help you.
5. Start somewhere
Maybe you don’t feel like serving- maybe you don’t care more about your spouse yet. That’s okay. Pick one small thing to do for him. Maybe he won’t even notice the first time. Or he may even give you a funny look and wonder what is going on. So you may need to be consistent in serving so your spouse isn’t just wondering what it is you want. Just serve.
After Joe and I began a lifestyle of service, you know what we discovered? Serving with love and humility is less tiring that doing those same things with resentment. There have been some days that there’s been a lot I have to do to serve my family and husband and I’m tempted to be grumpy. When I approach those situations with: Why do I have to do this? Does anyone even notice how hard this was? How long this took? – it drains me rather than fills me with joy. Being grumpy and self-centered is exhausting. When I serve with a glad heart, I feel more energetic and happy at the end of the task. It may even feel awkward at first but after some practice, serving can become a lifestyle that breathes life into your marriage!
The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:11