Are you curious what the very best thing is that you can do for your spouse?
Drumroll please...the very best thing you can do for your husband or wife is to serve him or her.
That's right, to do something for that amazing spouse of yours that let's him or her know that you care about them, that you want to help them, and that you are there for them (even, or especially when, it is inconvenient).
Service is at the heart of all happy, healthy, and well-nurtured marriages.
How Often Do You Deep-Clean the Blinds For Your Spouse?
The other day I found my sweet husband standing on the kitchen counter washing the blinds. Like deep-cleaning the blinds. The dirty, dusty, I-haven't-cleaned-these-ever blinds. Yes, he is that amazing. He proceeded to go around and to deep-clean all the blinds on the first floor of our home. Without complaining. And without mentioning his disgust at how dirty they have become! (Did I mention how attractive a husband cleaning blinds is? WHOA...)
My husband simply saw something that needed to be done and he did it. He may not have realized he was serving me, since the blinds aren't my job and they aren't his job, but by finding a way to help around the house without being asked (and to do a job that no one wants to do), he definitely made my day.
His simple act of service made me think of all the little - and big - ways that he serves me. Since I just had a baby two weeks ago, this husband of mine has been serving me around the clock. Literally. He has been selfless, considerate, and way-too-kind to me. Man, I love him.
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Watching my husband serve me has helped me feel loved, cared about, and safe in our relationship. It has also made me want to find more ways to serve my husband!
It has taken me almost eight years of marriage, but I think I am finally discovering that service is one of the great secrets to a happy marriage. In fact, it is A CENTRAL AND NECESSARY KEY for a successful and well-nurtured marriage. I'm sure of it.
So, if you are looking for something you can do to improve your marriage immediately, find a way to make the life of your spouse a bit better, a bit easier, and a bit more joyful.
Service Often Requires Sacrifice
Nearly everyday I think most of us come to a moment when we think to ourselves, “That’s really not my problem,” or, “I did that last time, it’s his/her turn to do it.” Two actively contributing partners of a marriage can easily find themselves slipping into thinking, even for just a moment, that perhaps the other spouse isn’t quite contributing to the marriage like they should be on that particular day, week, or month.
I heard a quote once that I have since internalized, and that has helped me a lot - especially in my marriage.
“Do something every day that you don't want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.” (Mark Twain)
What a difference it makes to begin with that mindset everyday. All you have to do is find one thing in your marriage relationship that you don’t deserve to do – something that it is not your turn to do – and do it. You may choose to do it because you love your spouse, or because it will curb conflict, but whatever the reason at least choose to do it because it is your duty. You made promises when you were married to love and serve your spouse, and it is your duty to live up to those promises.
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As you choose to do things that aren't your turn to do, you will find that conversations like,
“You never do the dishes,”
“You always do the dishes, it’s your turn to rest. I'm taking over!”
Yes, the very best thing you can do for your spouse is often the thing you don't want to do - but the thing that you know you should do.
Opportunities to serve your spouse often pop up at inconvenient times, but if you choose to serve your spouse in those inconvenient moments, it will go a long way towards nurturing your marriage. So the next time your wife needs a hug when you are running late to a meeting, stop and hug her. Or when your husband gets invited on a fishing trip for the weekend and really wants to go, let him go, help him pack, and be excited for him (even if you feel like he has been gone a lot lately).
Or perhaps you are tired and just want to go to bed, but you notice that your husband keeps mentioning how sore his back is from putting in the garden box in the backyard yesterday. The very best thing you could do for your marriage in that moment is to thank him for his hard work by offering to give him a back rub. Maybe don't even offer, just start rubbing his back, even if you are tired. It will take less than ten minutes, but through a simple act of service you will be able to send the message to your husband that he matters to you. A lot.
Can the time spent doing small acts of service for your spouse be better spent any other way? I don't think so. For time spent serving is really time invested in the most important relationship of your life.
Service is Also Natural and Fun
Not all service requires sacrifice, often service comes naturally and is really quite fun. You are better at serving your spouse than you realize. Remember last week when your wife pulled in after going grocery shopping and you opened her door to help her out, and then you carried all of the groceries in like a champ? Or that crazy chaotic day when you knew your husband was stressed to the max and you still found time to make his favorite dessert (which made his day, btw)? Yes, you are better at serving your spouse than you think. So, keep it up!
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Service invites you to be a full and contributing partner in your marriage. It invites you to forget about yourself and to focus on discerning needs, understanding your spouse, and finding ways to encourage, strengthen, nurture, and build him or her up.
Service invites the very best you have to offer. It invites kindness, respect, consideration, and true love.
Serving your spouse will help you forget about yourself and keep your spouse and his/her needs in proper perspective. Plus, there is something about focusing on your spouse that will bring you true happiness - deep happiness. The kind of happiness that does amazing things for a marriage. And who doesn't want that?
That's because service is love set in motion. Serving your spouse will, quite naturally, fill your heart with love for him or her. And that love will motivate you to continue serving your spouse. That love will also fill you with confidence, joy, and a deep sense of fulfillment in your marriage and in your life.
Now obviously, the most ideal formula for a happy and healthy marriage is when both spouses serve each other. However, I'm confident that as you serve your spouse, without thought for what he or she may or may not be doing for you, you will come to know what marriage was really meant to be - an invitation to love, and to live for something more than yourself.
How to Serve Your Spouse
So, how can you start to serve your spouse more this week? It's pretty simple.
Choose to be more mindful - more mindful about what needs to be done around the house/yard, about what is going on in your spouse's life, and about how you could make your spouse's day a little bit better.
If you truly pay attention to your spouse, you will start to know what makes him or her tick, or what is overwhelming her and what is stressing him out. If you listen to your spouse you will start to notice very obvious ways you could step in and help, or simply say the right thing at the right time. And it never hurts to simply ask your spouse what you could do for him/her that would be most helpful. It may be cuddling on the couch, or cleaning the toilet. Just ask.
Finally, pay attention and then act. Do something, no matter how small, to help your spouse out. Find your own way to "deep-clean the blinds" for your spouse, and watch how small acts of service change your marriage in big ways.
We want to hear from you. Comment below and share the most thoughtful way your spouse has served you, and how that simple act helped nurture your marriage in big ways.
Top photo credit - Caitlinn Mahar-Daniels
"You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly."
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