you’ve got to make time for others.
…and i don’t mean separately.
i realize when you get married, you have had years of developing the “single” lifestyle. you’ve been used to doing things your way…on your time schedule…with your money…for your own pleasure. marriage definitely delivers a blow to that way of living!
…and for the record, i’ve never understood the idea that men and women still need to have a weekly “guys night” or “girls night”…where you go out and act like you’re single again. gimme a break. once in a while? yeah. i buy it. but not all the time. you’re married!
no. the “others orientation” is something different altogether. it’s making time to give yourself to people. to enter into their stories. unselfishly. not for your own benefit, but for their good and well-being. not for any payback. not to get something in return, but freely.
unselfishness is like the grease that keeps the marriage mechanism moving smoothly. giving to others enlarges the heart and makes room for more love…not less. when we live a life of seeing what others need and extending grace to them, we move ourselves out of the way.
and that’s where our marriages really begin to deepen.
marriage, by it’s design, can become self-centered. instead of giving and serving and pouring out our best for our partner, we can easily become demanding. living side-by-side…all the time…can grow a demanding spirit. we can develop a set of expectations…stated and unstated…that become the litmus test of our love for each other.
over time, it can become easy to take each other for granted. we develop routine. kids and jobs and chores and finances and extended family can suck the joy and emotional energy out of our relationship and leave us with nothing more than a shell…an existence.
and a bizarre form of self-centeredness: apathy to our partner.
i don’t have all the answers to this problem, but i can tell you what works for me and wanda. live a life of giving to others.
let serving define you. invite others deeply into your life. don’t settle for relationships of recreation. push for something with substance. risk putting yourselves in places where others need you.
i believe one of the greatest gifts we ever gave to our boys was teaching them they weren’t the center of our world and there was always room for others. parenting…just like marriage…is not an exact science, but i figure that anything we can do to keep the world from revolving around us is a good thing.
and the effect of making room for others on our marriage? it refines us. it rubs off the bristles of a me-first mentality. it deepens our orientation to love with patience. it stretches spiritual muscles that develop atrophy, if all we do is think about our tight little family circle.
love is meant to be given away. it’s how god made us. the more we give, the more we have to give. love is not like gas or food. it doesn’t run out. it replenishes itself.
try it. i dare you.