I hate emptying the dishwasher. Sure, it’s not the worst job (that’s definitely cleaning the toilet), but, for me, it’s up there. There are just always dishes that need to be put away!
I once mentioned this to my husband, Greg, and ever since it has been a race to the dishwasher. He knows I don’t like it, so he is always looking for sneaky ways to unload it without me noticing. But I know my husband doesn’t love putting away dishes either, so I try to make a point of running the dishwasher at times when he can’t get to it. It’s a regular occurrence in our house for one of us to start unloading and the other one coming over to help while telling the other to stop unloading!
Okay, I know that’s a silly example, but it is a reflection of the way we long to serve one another. Both of us are naturally selfish people. If we had it our way, neither of us would do chores, but from day one of our marriage we have constantly looked for ways to out-serve one another.
My husband has taken the lead on this, and his example has encouraged me to become even more selfless in an effort to out-serve him. In our almost six years of marriage I’ve never had to make him a honey-do list. He is diligent about looking for tasks to be done and doing them. And since I can’t let him lavishly love me without serving him right back, throughout the day I’m continuously asking, “What needs to be done?” so I can jump in and never let the task make it to him.
There are a few things we’ve found that have helped us in the area of serving one another. Maybe they will help you lay a foundation of service in your marriage as well.
- Start Small: While I always appreciate a grand act of service, it is the small things that Greg does that truly make me smile. Last week I was hosting a women’s group at our house, and while I was getting ready, I noticed Greg cleaning the toilet for the ladies! An easy way to cultivate this heart of service is to look around your home asking the question, “What needs to be done?” Then when you find something, do it!
- Say Thank You: While I almost never serve him for the recognition, sometimes I slip into wanting him to notice. It is so nice when he says, “Thank you.” I always try to get to Greg’s meal prep before he runs out of something and needs to ask for it. When he notices I’ve taken care of it, he will say, “Thank you,” and it makes me want to find more ways to serve him.
- Talk About It: Every so often my husband and I do a marriage checkup. We ask, “How am I doing at loving you? Is there anything I could be doing better?” We enter these conversations with grace for one another, and it is a great time to ask for what we need or talk about places we feel unappreciated or would like the other to carry a little more weight.
Neither of our primary or secondary love languages is acts of service, but I can say that the way Greg serves me makes me fall more in love with him every single day. I hope that when we are old and gray, we will continue to race each other to the dishwasher to out-serve one another in love.