Being a Servant Spouse requires that we give 110% to our marriage. Marriage is not 50/50 as much of the world might lead us to believe. Many parts of our society will offer marriage advice. In books and magazines we read about compromise or “meeting each other half way”. On TV and the radio we hear about “focusing on ourselves”. In my opinion and experience, all of these approaches foster a focus of self (worldly focus) instead of being selfless (Godly focus). When we are focused on ourselves or what the other person is not doing to meet OUR needs, we self-sabotage our relationship. When we negotiate or compromise someone often looses, fostering resentment instead of love. This resentment creates a score keeping mentality. This mentality leads to thoughts or statements like “Last time I did _________!” or “I have done _______, the least you could do is _________” or ”It’s not my turn to _________.”
The world would have us treat our marriage like a business, something to be negotiated. SURPRISE….Our marriage is not a business. Our marriage is not a contract. Our marriage is not a negotiation. If our marriage was a business we could walk away if the contract was not fulfilled or we do not like the tone of the negotiations. Instead, Christian marriage is a covenant, a promise.
In business negotiations, you might compromise on one point to gain some place else in the contract. In a Christian marriage, compromise can be a four-letter word. The better word for Christian marriage is SACRIFICE! The sooner we can learn that our role in marriage is to help get our spouse into heaven and to literally die of ourselves to serve them. The sooner we are going to find out what it really means to be truly happy in our marriage.
Focusing on negotiation and compromise, or taking turns, in a marriage results in resentment and the spouses start thinking “Its not my turn to do the right thing.” As a Servant Spouse it should ALWAYS be our turn to do the BEST thing for our spouse.
A lifetime together requires a love that gives even when our spouse is not giving. We pick up the slack when our spouse is unable to. The more challenging times are when our spouse is not giving as much as we think they should; maybe they don’t see the value in giving, or maybe they have their priorities upside down, or maybe they are suffering with an addiction, or maybe our expectations are unrealistic. In all of these situations we should give our 110% and accept that our spouse’s 110% might or might not be as much as we think it should be.
So, what if my spouse isn’t giving THEIR 110%, do I still have to give mine? YES! The reality is we can only change ourselves; only God can change our spouse. You might be thinking “THIS IS SO NOT FAIR!” And you are right. It isn’t fair, but marriage (a Christian marriage) is not about being fair. It is about giving and loving. Dying of ourselves and submitting to God’s will and not our own. Even the question “What if my spouse isn’t giving their 110%?” is score keeping. So, yes, we still have to give our 110% even when it appears our spouse is not giving theirs. In that moment we need to give the judgment and evaluation of their effort to God and focus on our effort alone.
It is human to expect our spouse to pull their weight, do their part, or meet us half way. BUT in a Christian marriage we are held to a higher standard, God’s standard. With God’s assistance we must learn to be selfless and sacrificial instead of keeping score. We must draw upon God’s strength to help us give 110% even when we feel we have already done our share. Focusing on our 110% means looking at what we can do instead of pointing fingers. More progress is made in our marriage when we spend time reforming ourselves rather than worrying about our spouses reform. If you are faithful to giving your 110%, over time (God’s time), God will facilitate change in your spouse and you will grow to see your spouse as God sees them. TALK ABOUT GROWING IN VIRTUE – PATIENCE!
There were times in our marriage when my husband was a mess and I was giving 110% (for years and years), without getting anything from him. Now we can look back on those times and joke about how he was such a drain on the relationship that I had to give 200% just to make up for the negative value he brought to the marriage. Back then this was not a joking matter. It was very painful. I was heart broken and the last thing I wanted to do was to “die of myself” to serve him. I am so thankful for God’s strength, assistance, and grace. Without God’s help I would not have been able to give my 110%; I would have stopped trying. Why give when I am getting nothing in return, year after year after year? The answer is: I trusted that God could make good out of our mess. And He did. It took a long while, but He did make good out of our mess. We learned to love each other again. I grew in virtue as a result of giving my 110% and my husband did eventually change too. His 110% became stronger and stronger; over time he also grew in virtue. THEN…I became very sick and I could not give much of anything and he had to give everything. Now it was his turn to carry me. He still carries me.
We learned that when we died of yourselves and gave your 110%, our efforts were often lop-sided. Lop-sided meaning that one of us was always giving more than the other because of everything else that was going on around us. At times it was me that carried more of the relationship, then it flipped to my husband carrying more, and so on. When we finally realized how important it was to give to the other person instead of being worried about when we were going to take next, it elevated our relationship to a God level. A level only God could orchestrate. Eventually, God showered us with so much happiness, happiness we could not have ever imagined.
Giving 110% to our marriage is not easy. It takes work and sacrifice. Our fast-paced culture values career success & getting ahead, while our family responsibilities pull us in different directions. The reality is that usually our careers, house responsibilities and parenting demand so much of us that our marriage often takes a back seat. Leaving us little or no time for each other. I learned that if my marriage was important to me, I had to make it a priority. I needed to focus on how I can impact our situation instead of critiquing my spouse and his efforts. I had to stop listening to the opinions of the world, and I had to start listening to scripture and the church. The world would have us think that being sacrificial in our marriage is “weak”, but I learned that being sacrificial took great strength, God’s strength.
So why do I keep referring to 110% and not 100%. Seems like a small question but it is an important one. We can only give 110% when God is part of our marriage. On our own 100% is all that is possible and because of our human nature, even 100% when life is challenging is impossible because of our tendency to want “fair” or to keep score. 110% effort toward our marriage allows God to assist and guide us to the marriage that He desires.
Suggested Action: So, what does it look like to give 110%? Realistically, we cannot give every minute to our spouse and in no way is that what I am suggesting. I am also not suggesting that we be a doormat for our spouse. I am suggesting 2 things:
- Everyday, make a conscious decision to do something for your spouse. (No matter if they have or have not done something for you).
- When you hear yourself thinking or saying things like “meet me half way”, “do your part”, or “I have already done enough” make a choice to think differently. Choose to say instead “What else can I do?”, “I can do a little bit more”, or “I could take another turn”.
Suggested Prayer (by Melissa B)
Aba Father, you are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Thank you for the gift of your son, for his loving ministry, his death and resurrection. It is this sacrifice that opened the gates of heaven so that we may one day enter into your presence. Help us to remember this sacrificial example as we work to strengthen our marriage and help each other get into heaven. Help us to look for you first and last to guide our marriage every day. Help to remove any selfishness that exists in our marriage and replace it with a spirit of selflessness. Please send us your Holy Spirit to help us grow in holiness together. In your name, O Lord. We Pray. Amen!
Coming Soon….The next several posts will be focused on Resolving Conflict. Giving 110% will be an important piece of Resolving Conflict with our suggest approach.
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