Thursday, December 18, 2014
as if you didn't know
I truly believe that the reason we love our children has nothing to do with carrying them in our bodies or sharing genetics and everything to do with the service we give to them every day. I love Clark because I have to serve him. If it weren't for me, he would be hungry, bored, exhausted, and sitting in a dirty diaper. It's this really beautiful cycle though, because the more I serve him, the more I love him, and the more I love him, the happier I am to serve him. When I put my own needs aside for someone else, my love for them grows.
Marriage works in the same way, except the service is a more conscious choice, which makes it harder. I could argue that things like cleaning the house, doing dishes, washing laundry, and caring for his son are acts of service that I do for David, but truthfully, those things benefit me just as much as they benefit him. I would do them even if he wasn't around. Marriage requires extra steps, ones that are sometimes inconvenient, that end up helping me feel more love towards David.
The other day I was putting laundry away and I noticed what a complete mess his side of the closet was. My knee jerk reaction was to make a mental note to ask him to clean it out, but then I thought about his life: he's working 50+ hour weeks, he's in school, he's maxed out. He doesn't have the time. My schedule could be arranged to help him out. I cleaned out his side of the closet, it looked amazing, and he was so grateful when he got home. I've thought about it a lot since then. It was an extra step that showed him I had been thinking about him that day, and it made me love him more because I was serving him.
I know this might sound old-fashioned and sexist, but it's totally not. The more I serve David, the more loved he feels, and the more he's inclined to serve me in return, which makes me feel more loved. It's like this big, cheesy cycle of acts of service, which sometimes look like bouquets of flowers and lingerie and date nights but also sometimes look like a shoulder rub during a panic attack or a roll of toilet paper handed through the bathroom door or stumbling down the hall to get Joony out of bed so one of us can sleep for an extra 20 minutes. It's something outside of the routine that doesn't benefit the person doing the service even a little bit. I'm not perfect at this--sometimes I go days and weeks without remembering to go out of my way to do a kindness for David. A lot of times he'll do something for me that reminds me how long it's been since I've served him. But when I remember, I'm so much more content in my marriage.
If you're interested in this idea, a few years ago I did The Husband Project with a few girlfriends and it was fun and eye-opening (and neat to do it together so we could check in with each other). The title and cover of the book are a bit of an eye roll, but it ended up being a great read. It laid out 21 days of little projects and assignments, and as I did them, I really found myself feeling closer to David and looking for new ways to show him my love. I've thought about it a lot since then. It really impacted the way I look at my marriage (no sponsored shenanigans here btw).