Ben and I both have colds, but he woke up this morning to take care of the puppy, perform a funeral service, and then bring me coffee in bed even though he’s just as sick as I am. Marriage is a lot of things, but what I’ve found is that most of marriage is simply making a choice. Every day (and many times a day) I have to decide whether to serve Ben or serve myself. Whether to be selfless or selfish. Being one with another person means choosing either to serve your spouse, or serve yourself.
But the magic of oneness is that when you make the choice to serve the other person, you still receive. In a way, you are serving a part of yourself. This doesn’t mean I can be “selfishly selfless” and serve my husband in order to receive anything in return. But it does mean that selflessness is always the best option because both people win. Our marriage wins.
I’m not saying I’ve figured it all out, or that I get it right every time. Most times I get it wrong. But Ben teaches this truth to me through his actions. He selflessly serves me every day, which motivates me even more to love and serve him in return. An image of “marriage limbo” comes to mind. Instead of asking the question “what can I get from my spouse?” Or “what can my spouse do for me?”, ask the question “how low can I go?” Or rather “how selfless can I be for the sake of my spouse and our marriage?”. I’m pretty sure Ben must ask himself this every morning because he is so good at it. The sweetest moments in our marriage have come when we both decide to put each other first, and can both enjoy being loved and served and honored. That being said, the most trying moments in our marriage have been when one person (usually me) decides to be selfish. To get “my way”. To choose myself over my Savior Jesus. To choose myself over my husband. Instead of being isolated and exhausted by selfishness, we can be unified and thrive in submission to God and one another.
So here I sit in bed, with my cup of coffee from my equally sick husband. This one act of love and service has brought all of these words to mind. And I’m left with this thought for my day, “How can best love and serve my husband the way he has loved and served me?”. My husband is a living representation of Ephesians 5.
“22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
My husband shows me the love of Christ through his selflessness and unconditional love. This kind of love is so easy and joyful to “submit” to. Some people see “submission” as a dirty word, but I see it as a beautiful picture of Christ and the church.
If you are married, maybe ask yourself how you can serve your spouse today. If you are unmarried, try asking yourself how you can serve and submit to Christ today. I think we will be surprised by the joy that comes through selflessness if we intentionally and recklessly pursue it.