Let me be the first to raise my hand on lessons learned the hard way. I got married early, 19 years old; Robin was 18, two weeks out of high school. I don’t need to tell you how selfish most young adults are at this age.
As I think about relationships, and the importance of them, my relationship with my wife is only second to my relationship with Christ. This took me years to finally understand and fully comprehend the full impact of putting my wife in the correct order. I openly admit that my personal desires trumped everything early on.
As time went on I realized the constant battles I was dealing with
were a direct result of my selfishness.
The attempts to get my way, or sway her thinking to best suit me was playing havoc in our marriage. In no way am I saying to lay down and be a doormat. I’m not suggesting that you surrender all personal goals or dreams. I’m not telling you to forgo all pleasures and personal time, so please don’t think I’m placing you in the dungeon of slavery.
What I’m asking you to do is think about the woman you stood before on your wedding day and the pledge you made to love and cherish her always. Think about the vow and responsibility you chose and how she trusted you with it. Stop thinking about her pledge and promise and what you are not getting. We were not selfish when we dated. Otherwise, she would not have married you. We felt all giddy inside and did some of the most ridiculous things while dating. We said little romantic comments and whispered naughty things that would make a sailor blush. We sent little looks their way that only the two of you knew the implications. We had code words and special desserts that we shared on Friday nights. We were excited to introduce our hot chick to all of our jealous buddies. There’s that special perfume you bought her, mainly because it drove you crazy, but you told her it was especially for her. You knew her favorite food, color, and restaurant. You would not consider walking ahead of her or neglect to open her door. Compliments were dripping from the tip of your tongue.
Fast forward five years and two kids later. Do you have amnesia? Does the cat have your tongue? What happened to all the dating rituals? I know that you are not sitting there saying, “I got her and now I don’t have to do all that stuff.” What I believe happens is “life”. We get busy with other events, trying to make a living and changing a million dirty diapers. We’re exhausted at the conclusion of the day, and there is nothing left. We have spent all of our energy pleasing others at the office, and the kids have sucked the life out of mom at home. We are simply trying to get through our checklist and just pay the bills.
I want to encourage you to take a breath, step back for a minute and ask yourself why are you doing all of these “life” things?
Most of us would say it is for our wife and our families but if we lose the relationship with them in the meantime what's the point?! We have forgotten our first love! We have set aside the most important relationship.
I want to fire a warning shot; the red flare has been launched. If you don’t pay attention to each other, you are opening the door for intruders. It may or may not be another person, but something will fill that void. It could be sporting activities or cross stitching. I see so many getting their accolades from colleagues, peers or customers rather than their spouse, pay attention and set boundaries.
It is so rewarding in so many ways to put your mate first. Take the time to be creative and think outside the box. Do those silly little things you did years ago. Don’t be so calculated and conservative, let your hair down a little and be fun.
Not to share every single thing Robin and I have done, because I would be embarrassed (ha ha), but I will encourage and challenge you with a couple fun things:
- Take a spontaneous overnight trip. One of you arrange for the kids and tell your spouse they have one hour to pack. Get in the car and drive. Turn left, right and left again. Drive for two hours. Stay wherever you end up. Wing it, make the best of wherever you end up. I tell Robin I don’t care if we are lost, as long as we are together. It’s silly trips like this that we have had the most fun.
- Write a short love note and leave it somewhere she might find it. Stick it in her purse or car. Why? So that she will smile, and so she will know she is special. Tell her two reasons you are grateful for her. When was the last time you wrote her a note?
- Keep the kids unexpectedly on a Thursday afternoon. Plan ahead of time and book her a massage.
- Get her a gift card at the local hair salon and surprise her with a Saturday appointment. Have her hairdresser give her another gift card after her hair is done for a pedicure immediately following her first surprise. The ten minutes it will take for you to set this up will be well worth it in the long run. It will mean the world to her.
- When you leave early in the morning have her coffee ready to perk. Spell out “I Love You” with the Splenda packs on the kitchen island.
- What about helping to make the bed for the day? This may make unmaking the bed that night a little quicker. Do you understand what I'm saying……?
- What if you sent your wife an email thanking her for everything she does that you get to enjoy as a direct result of all her hard work? Do you show gratitude often enough? Quit thinking about yourself. Quit thinking about how she might not do these things. Man, she is your wife. When you give her this gratitude and serve her first, she will follow you, and you will get what you need too. I challenge you to give first.
- Surprise her with a night out to the movies and dinner with her girlfriends, on you.
Keep in mind, when your motive is wrong, she will know! If you are doing these things for any other reason other than serving your wife, then you might as well not do them at all. Check your heart and motive. Practice serving her. Serve her first. Don't wait for her to serve you. Relationships are about giving.
Well, you get the idea. We must take care of our wife and date her often. It’s pretty simple, just do what you were doing prior to getting married.
Live on purpose,