To Love, Honor & Ride to the Store
The last thing I wanted was to head to The Home Depot. I was tired. I wanted a bath... and maybe a good book. I also thought about the work project I needed to finish. I could mark that off my to-do list and draw a bath in the hour it would take for my husband to go to the store.
"You wanna go?" John asked again. I knew if I said no, he wouldn't complain. I also knew my husband wanted to spend time with me. I weighed the pleasure of a hot bath against my more selfless desire to put my husband's needs first. I have to admit it wasn't an easy choice.
"Sure," I said. "Give me two minutes to brush my hair and put on my shoes."
"Really?" John's face brightened, and his lips curled into a smile. You'd think I just told him I'd secured an overnight stay at a classy resort. It was just a simple ride into town or was it?
Years ago John and I took a marriage workshop, and I learned how much our together time meant to him. But as a young wife, I had June Cleaver ideals. I wanted to show love by making nice dinners and keeping the house clean and doing the laundry.
When John arrived home after work, I'd blow a kiss as he walked in. "Hi, Hon. I'm almost done with dinner. And there's only one more load of laundry. . . ."
John would give me a hug. "Want to go for a walk tonight?"
"Hmm, maybe. Or I might work on that writing project. With the extra money, we could save for that vacation we've been talking about."
"OK, sure." John would say, but I noticed his downcast eyes.Can't he see all that I'm doing to show I love him?
Only after John's continued request for me to leave the laundry and sit with him did I finally see that I was being selfish even in the ways I showed love to my husband. I wanted to express my love in ways that were easy for me, ways that felt good. As a task-oriented person, doing something for John was a great way to mark a chore off my list.
Considering John's needs before my own began with simple things. I took more time to sit down and chat. I started going on more walks with him in the evenings. Sure, these things took me away from the unfolded clothes or dirty dishes that nagged my mind. But as we strolled side by side, talking about our day, I realized I'd falsely believed it was the big things that made John happy the spotless house, weekend getaways or dinners at fine restaurants. He loved the little things that said, "You're important. I'm here for you."
Six Magic Words
It's funny, though, how different we are. I show selflessness to John when I set aside my tasks and just sidle up to him. And John expresses his selflessness when he's willing to help me with whatever I need at that moment.
John isn't a mind reader. After a few blowups (mine), looks of puzzlement (his), mumbles and tears (mine again), John discovered an important question: "What can I do to help?" Those six words excite me as much as, "You've just won the grand prize." An extra set of hands or a listening ear is a wonderful, amazing gift!
Every marriage is made up of unique partners. In some marriages, it might be the wife who longs to have coffee and chat. Or it may be the husband who would be overjoyed doing yard work together. I suppose what selflessness comes down to is each spouse asking a simple question: "What is the one thing I can do for you right now that would put a smile on your face?"
Today, I'll send John a short e-mail to let him know I'm thinking about him. It won't be a 10-page love letter; my husband doesn't need one. It's enough for him to know that I thought about him, put aside what I was doing and gave some of my time for him. After all, that's what smiles, warm thoughts and lifelong devotion are made of.