In Part One of Good Sense for a Strong and Healthy Marriage, I spoke of the importance of making sacrifices for your spouse. In Part Two, I will address the importance of making acts of service for one another. Again, I think it is very natural when we first fall in love to serve one another effortlessly. We willingly bring the other a drink when asked, pop the popcorn without complaint, or grab the keys that were left in the house as you both sit in the car realizing someone has to go back in to get them. These acts of service can be even greater when our spouse is sick or hurting. We may bring them a drink when fevered, change the linens when they are sick, or serve them by handling all of the daily tasks for your children, and the like. These are done willingly because we know that loving our spouse is expressed in these little or great acts of service. But as marriages grow over time, there can be a tendency to want to be served instead of being the one who serves. We must stay prepared and stand against this urge. Why? Because Jesus shows us that true love is not about having others serve you; rather, He says that to be great you must be the least.
Jesus Wants Us to Serve One Another
This willingness to sacrifice and serve for our spouse certainly is a countercultural mentality, but it is a Christological certainty. In other words, Jesus wants us to serve one another in marriage because that is the example He gave to us, His bride. Jesus sacrificed everything so that the Church could be born, and His example of giving everything—showing us how to love—is meant to show us how to treat our spouse in marriage. To serve is not based on obligation, but on a willing heart. To lovingly serve our spouse demonstrates our recognition of how much value and worth they have. Even if our spouse does not notice our acts of service, this should not be a surprise, or keep us from serving; Jesus’ love for His bride often goes unnoticed too.
The Great Ongoing Acts
To sacrifice and serve are the great ongoing acts that must be present in a holy marriage, and we must regularly counter the tendency to compare our efforts with those of our spouse. We will want to be served instead of serve, and to be sacrificed for instead of sacrificing for others, but staying prepared and willingly standing against that tendency of selfishness will help us to win in our efforts of love. The rhythm of marriage isn’t about your spouse doing all that you want or meeting your every need, but is more about you finding the rhythm of sacrifice and service so that you can, by your actions, bring them closer to Jesus.
We will all have the good sense to die eventually, but until then, our sacrifice and service towards and on behalf of our spouse will not only lead them closer to Jesus, but create a strong and healthy marriage.
What are some ways I can serve my spouse this week?
Remember some specific instances in which your spouse has served you this week and thank God for these acts of service.