Back in April, the U.S. celebrated Husband Appreciation Day, a time for wives to reflect on the various ways their spouses enrich their lives. I love the idea—especially since my husband does a ton of things for me, which too often I take for granted. Little things, such as taking care of the yard work, fixing leaky toilets, making me coffee in the mornings, holding doors open, watching Dr. Phil with me.
I was talking about this "holiday" with an acquaintance, when she said, "What about Wife Appreciation Day?"
"Um," I said, taken aback by her snarky tone. "Wouldn't that be Sweetest Day?"
She snorted in disgust.
"Mother's Day?" I tried again.
"And they have Father's Day," she pointed out with a tight grin.
I could see our conversation was going nowhere.
I told her about my recent discussion with a pastor who spoke of the big difference between Mother's Day and Father's Day. Mothers, he asserted, receive flowers, breakfasts in bed, and sermons about the blessing of having a wonderful mom. Fathers receive good meals, time to watch TV, and sermons about the huge responsibility of fatherhood and the importance of not messing it up.
As I relayed this conversation, I hoped she'd see my point—albeit subtle and slightly tangential—that husbands need kudos, too. They need to know their wives appreciate the way men carry such huge responsibilities.
That idea was a no go.
"Wives make huge sacrifices every day," she continued. "We have responsibilities, too. Many women have a job outside the home and a full-time job inside the home."
"Where are my kudos?"
Seeing we weren't going to agree, I changed the subject. But her words, especially about her give-to-get mentality, stuck with me. How many times have I taken that stance in my marriage? I wondered. (I can see my husband pointing to that question and nodding.) The idea is, You do for me; I do for you. Equal. 50-50. 100-100. I appreciate you—so where's my appreciation?
It sounds right, fair, justifiable. Most women do the lion's share of housework (statistics back this up, by the way). They're saddled with most of the child-care issues and health care concerns and household duties and and and ….
But when I, as a Christian, slip into the mentality of I give, so you'd better pony up and do your fair share, I do nothing to strengthen my marriage, or, frankly, my relationship with God.
The give-to-get argument doesn't hold up against God's standard for love. I shudder to think what would happen if God took that mentality with me. How could I possibly equal giving an only son to die a horrible death for an enemy? Even for a friend? I can never do enough to equal God's blessings in my life. And yet, he keeps blessing—whether or not I reciprocate, and despite the unfairness. And God calls me to love my husband exactly as God loves me. No wonder marriage is for a lifetime. Sometimes I think that's how long it will take for that realization to finally sink in.
So, understanding how self-centered and self-indulgent I can be, I asked God's forgiveness for my give-to-get mentality. And I asked him to help me love my husband with God-love. Even without an official Wife Appreciation Day.
Copyright © 2010 by the author or Christianity Today/Kyria.com.
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