It has taken me ten years to realize that Marriage is about serving your partner. We’ve all heard the statistics. Over fifty percent of marriages fall apart, and that number increases for subsequent marriages. As a culture, we cite a plethora of reasons for our divorces. We fall out of love. We desire to be with someone more “compatible” or who better meets our needs. There’s too much fighting. We simply aren’t happy. We deserve better. They are no longer the person I married. With every reason, we feel justified in walking away. It simply isn’t working anymore… right? The only way marriage works is if you serve each other. That’s how God designed it. There are two reasons this is true. First, we can’t meet our own needs. If we could, we wouldn’t be seeking a partner in the first place. A husband has what his wife needs. A wife has what her husband needs. The best way to receive these things if we serve each other. Going into marriage, I felt that I could just continue in the same state that I was when I was single. I kid you not, that was a totally wrong approach.
Service requires humility, and speaking from a mans perspective, its always difficult to be humble when you are the designated head of the family. Sometimes this title comes with a very big head and a tendency to be overly Prideful . Marriage requires a Christ-like love, which means we should love each other with the character of Jesus. Jesus is humble. Jesus sacrificed for us. Jesus came to serve. He said, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). Husbands are called to lay down their lives for their wives – just as Christ laid down his life for the Church. And wives are called to submit to their husbands – just as Christ submitted to the will of His Father, and just as the Church follows that Christlike example by submitting to Jesus. You only discover your own happiness after each of you has put the happiness of your spouse ahead of your own, in a sustained way, in response to what Jesus has done for you . . . It is the joy that comes from giving joy, from loving another person in a costly way.”
Its not as easy as it sounds. The main barrier to this “service”to our partner is “Self Centredness”. “Self-centeredness,” is easily seen in the signs Paul lists: impatience, irritability, a lack of graciousness and kindness in speech, envious brooding on the better situations of others, and holding past injuries and hurt against others.” This summarizes why a lot of us find it difficult to serve each other, myself included. If I look to my marriage to fill the God-sized spiritual vacuum in my heart, I will not be in position to serve my spouse. “Only God can fill a God-sized hole. Until God has the proper place in my life, I will always be complaining that my spouse is not loving me well enough, not respecting me enough, not supporting me enough.”
My wife and I were watching Joyce Meyer last night and she said something that struck me. She said, your spouse is not responsible for your happiness. In other words, I shouldn’t depend on my spouse to make me happy, but i must find the peace and happiness within myself to be truly fulfilled. A lot of the time we peg huge expectations on our spouse to do things that we cant even do ourselves. If you cant find your own happiness, dont expect someone to find it for you. Be the change you want to see through Christ.
But once you realize that God is the one who will be fulfilling your needs and God is the one to whom you look for sustenance, you will be better equipped to serve your spouse. No longer will it be what I refers to as a “consumer relationship” of “I’ll serve her if she serves me.” It then becomes “I’ll serve her because Christ served me.”
Because I have done a lot of wrong to my wife and she has done some wrong to me in response, we got into a space where we were both not fully serving each other based on the way God wants. This made our relationship cold and lonely, as we will be in the same house but in very different worlds. We have had to relearn how to serve with a spirit of grace and faith. I believe my wife and I and many other couples would say, “Well, my spouse is bad. They don’t deserve it. If I serve them, it will just encourage their selfish behavior. They need to repent first.”
I understand that thinking, but if we are following the example of Jesus, we have to remember that He loved us while we were yet sinners. He loves whether we deserve it or not. That’s grace. If your husband or wife is doing the wrong thing, your best approach is still to do the right thing. This is called redemptive love. It means giving even when you don’t want to give, and trusting God to use your sacrificial love to redeem your spouse.
Marriage can be a challenge, but it always works best when a husband and wife are committed to serving one another. The strongest marriages begin with two servants in love. If you want to change your marriage, make the decision today to start serving your spouse—then trust God for the results.
Do you realize when you do something for your spouse you’re doing it for Jesus Christ? When you serve and help your spouse, you’re serving Jesus. In Matthew 25 Jesus said:
“’I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty. And you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes. And you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“When the ‘righteous’ asked him when they did all those things Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Those who didn’t do those things which met his needs, he said, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed.’“
If your spouse does any good deed for you, thank the Lord for the blessings you’re experiencing. Thank Him for kindness in how he or she treats you in your marriage. Not every spouse treats his or her partner “as unto the Lord.” So we shouldn’t take that for granted.
Wilbert Frank Chaniwa