Mike Berry shares four secrets for serving up a successful marriage.
Is there anyway to truly have a happy marriage? I believe there is. It’s found in the simple act of serving your spouse. There are some big rewards when you do this.
In past posts and articles on marriage I have been quite frank- a healthy marriage comes from intentionally choosing to serve your spouse and put his or her needs above your own. I make no apologies about this, nor do I add anything to it, such as an exception or disclaimer.
It is what it is, as far as I’m concerned.
I even tell engaged couples, before their vows, that if they want to achieve marital success, there are two things they need to have straight in their new life together:
1. Be debt free.
2. Commit to serving one another on a daily basis.
The first takes a bit of work, depending on where you are with your finances. The second is a change you can make almost immediately. Stop being selfish. This world is too full of this type of behavior. The institution of marriage tends to spotlight this. People get into a marriage commitment and they fail to see that their life is no longer their own anymore. It’s shared equity with the one they’ve committed to be with ’til death do em part!’ Personal agendas and individual viewpoints must take a backseat to the union you’ve entered into. At least in a perfect world this is the way it’s supposed to be.
Truth is, selfish behavior is going to happen. Everyone, at some point, because they are human and with fault, will act in a selfish way. After all, you’re talking about two people with individual personalities, two hearts, two minds, and sometimes two agendas. However, this is not an excuse for selfish behavior. It’s actually the very reason why it cannot be allowed to continue.
Divorce statistics are on the rise, and marriages crumble every day. Families are falling apart, and children are thrust into two-home situations seemingly overnight. How do we prevent this from happening to us, or if we’re remarried, from happening again? The answer is simple: serve one another. Before you push back or turn a deaf ear, keep reading. There’s a great benefit to you when you choose to implement this into your marriage.
1. You become a better person. Being generous and serving other people makes you a better human being. Ask anyone who is involved with a homeless outreach or serving through their church or with a local charity organization. They have soft hearts and caring spirits. They tend to be good people who grow everyday. This can also happen to you within your marriage. Serving your spouse and bringing joy to them by your acts of kindness can make you a better human being. That’s quite a reward for something so simple.
2. Your spouse feels honored. She feels valued. He feels appreciated. A few weeks ago we were preparing for a family photo shoot in downtown Indianapolis, where we’re from. I had caught an extremely early flight home that morning and I was exhausted. By the time the lunch hour rolled around and I had fed all of our kids, I was ready to crash hard. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The problem was that I hadn’t yet made it to the store to pick up some new clothes that would match our color scheme for the shoot. I sent my wife a text and told her that I was going to sleep for an hour and then hustle to the store and pick up a shirt or two. Next thing I knew, I woke up 2 hours later, feeling refreshed, and my wife had gone to the store for me. That may seem small and meaningless but it meant the world to me. I had been gone all week, speaking at a conference, and she chose to do something kind and helpful. Wow! I felt appreciated and taken care of. My wife is always a great example of servanthood. The value here is that when you choose to serve your spouse they feel honored and appreciated.
3. You rack up brownie points. I was talking to a friend who was traveling with me to a recent speaking engagement. We were talking about how generous and giving our wives were to let us head out and travel. But in the course of the conversation we both agreed that this is a two-way street. He told his wife, recently, that he would stay home with their newborn when ever she wanted to get out and spend time with friends. The fact that he was generous like this, meant that generosity was reciprocated. And there in lies one of the payoffs of serving your spouse. When you give time and opportunity to your husband or wife to breathe or take a break, they will be more willing to return the favor. You earn marital brownie points so-to-speak. When you willingly pick up a chore your wife usually handles, or take on a task that your husband usually takes care of, without being asked to do so, it speaks volumes to their heart. The only point of caution I’ll make here is that servanthood within marriage is not ONLY about racking up brownie points. Be careful that you don’t look at it like this. It’s about loving and honoring your spouse first. Brownie points are a bonus that come only as a result of authentically serving.
4. You achieve peace and harmony in your marriage. Two very elusive things these days! We get so many emails from hurting people who say “There’s no peace in our home. It’s all chaos.” Or, “I don’t feel like she’s a team with me,” “I can’t get him on the same page!” Lack of harmony. The absence of together! From my personal experience, harmony is absent when I’m not putting my wife’s needs above my own or actively serving her. Peace is fleeting when I’m moving through life drilled down heavily only on what I need or what I have going on. Serving in the context of marriage is a two-way street, no exceptions. You can’t expect peace or harmony when only one of you puts the other’s needs first. Ladies and gentleman, let’s be honest here—we all long for the presence of peace and harmony in our marriages!
Remember … two-way street. Always! This will not work if you’re not equally committed to serving one another. You can argue it, disagree with it, even try to prove this, or anything I’m saying, wrong. It doesn’t erase the fact that couples who actively put one another above themselves have healthier, long-lasting marriages. I’ve never met a married couple, who’ve chosen to serve one another, and are unhappy. Just doesn’t happen.
So, my question is this: what are you doing to serve your spouse? How are you intentionally putting his or her needs above your own? You could ignore this and say I’m full of it, or even decide to keep your focus on you and your needs. It’s your choice to do so. But, you’re missing out on some amazing benefits—for both of you—in your marriage.
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