A few days ago I posted a picture of a book written for wives on how to communicate in a way that your husband will understand. The ensuing comments were interesting to say the least. The comments quickly veered into serving the other spouse. The comments on that showed a fundamental misunderstanding of serving one another in marriage, in particular a biblical – Christ centered marriage.
To explain this I’m going to go with two premises that could be taken as one. The first is that marriage was created by God and is to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church ( Ephesians 5:22-32 ). In this relationship one serves the other, not in the manner of slaves like in Roots, but in free men and women who are serving each other in a manner of worship. This worship is to bring honor and glory to Jesus the Christ. This is where the misunderstanding of service lies. We say it’s a great and honorable thing to serve the nation. We applaud and honor those who service the community. We lift up those who are faithful and serve the church, yet we allow our pride to get the better of us and say we will not serve our spouse.
The second premise is marriage is not about our happiness or contentment, it’s to bring glory to God and reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. Nowhere does it say that following Jesus is to bring us happiness, but that we are to bring glory to God and carry out His will.
The Bible does say to find contentment in all things ( some translations say to learn to be content in all things ). It does not say the other party has to do “x” for us to do “y”. We are to learn to be content in the marriage we are in and serve our spouse in a manner that brings glory to God before man. This means we will do things that may seem to be ignored or not appreciated. It means we will have to do things we don’t want to or don’t like. It means we will have to behave in a manner that is counter cultural. If we do not learn to be content we will always be chasing something new, eager to throw away the old and never learning how to value, cherish and maintain what we have.
Taking the hard-line that we will not serve our spouse is showing a fundamental lack of communication with God and therefore a lack of understanding His word. This has led to the bastardization of the passage in Ephesians mentioned above. Poor teaching has caused many women to view submission and serving as being the same as slavery. This has caused communication issues in marriage. If a wife can’t respect her husband, the husband will find it hard to love the wife. If the husband does not love the wife, the wife will not respect the husband. It’s interesting that serving each other is interwoven in this love and respect formula.
To say I will not serve my husband is to say I do not respect the position he holds that God put him in. For a husband to say he will not serve his wife is to say he does not love her. Both are saying they will willfully disobey God’s word. If we are not willing to serve each other, how are we going to communicate effectively? There are numerous areas where tone of voice and body language set the course of the coming discussion.
Gary Chapman wrote a book “The 5 Love Languages”. In it he discusses the five ways we feel loved. In order to find the way that speaks love to you, that makes you feel loved, by your spouse requires you two to communicate. To “speak” the others “love language” it requires you to submit yourself to the other and serve them. To not do this is selfish, immature and disregard for His word.
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs wrote a book titled “Love and Respect”. He published a video series title “His needs, Her needs”. Both of these explain how the husband and wife have different needs and hear the same thing differently. An example is the wife wants the husband to take out the trash. He thinks it’s no big deal and doesn’t so she does it, or nags him by asking a hundred times and throwing in some complaining for good measure. What he hears is every female in his life that nagged, scolded or tried to control him screeching in his ear. I know, you will say you are not doing that, but that is what he hears. If taking out the trash is so important to you explain why while not scolding him. Communicate the “why”.
The same goes when the husband is home from work and he wants to kick back for a few minutes, but the wife has the overwhelming need to dump the remaining days needs on him or start telling him about her day. His brain doesn’t work like that. One comment made was ” How many men come home from work and go deaf when they walk in the door? ” It’s not that they go deaf per say, they compartmentalized it so they can mentally transition from work to home. When they don’t have time to do that they typically shut down in response.
Those of you married to someone who is gone from home for weeks, months and sometimes a year or more should keep in mind that the routine day-to-day things of running the home does not cross their mind. They don’t have to deal with that at work, someone else is tasked with taking out the trash or mowing the lawn. Most of the routine tasks just don’t register with them. When you do ask they may not see the importance or the harm in letting it wait. Here comes the importance of communicating in an effective manner. Explaining the importance of this being done to you instead of asking 50 times should be more effective. If not, pray more and talk about it less. That is the only way to bring honor to God.
The key to marriage is effective communication and serving one another in the manner that speaks to them, not you. Just because it’s something you like does not mean they will appreciate it.