Beyond Give and Take
When most of us think about the phrase “happily ever after,” two things come to mind.
First, the classic fairy-tale ending: the knight saves the princess, they live happily ever after.
Second, marriage: it gets dreamed about from that tender age when we still believe in fairy tales. People see a beautiful wedding and describe it as a fairy-tale wedding. So the expectations surrounding weddings and marriages are nothing short of fantasy.
I think the key to being married is to leave your expectations at the door. When the groom carries the bride across the threshold, and you begin your life together, forget about perfect.
We are inundated with images of what love is supposed to look like. Romantic dinners, walks on the beach together, holding hands while taking in a sunset. My wife, Stephanie, and I have had moments like that, and I cherish them every time they come up. But those aren’t the perfect images of marital love.
I’d say the perfect image of love is a beaten, bleeding man on a cross. The apostle Paul says that a husband should love his wife “as Christ loved the church.” That involves dying to yourself. It involves sacrifice. I’ve learned marriage is not about meeting in the middle. It’s about two people sacrificing, giving everything they have to the other person.
While we were dating, Stephanie and I saw a movie called Singles. In the film, one character says she’s fine with doing the cooking, but she wants is a man who will do the dishes. It’s a great analogy for the give and take of marriage.
When Stephanie and I got married, we decided to take that analogy literally. More often than not she cooks, and more often than not I clean up. Over the years, I have come to enjoy the process. (Except for the time I scrubbed a nonstick pan with a Brillo pad. Apparently that’s not a combination that is meant to happen.)
Although a lot of people say marriage is about give and take, I don’t think that’s what marriage is all about. It’s not give and take. It’s give, and give, and give again. A funny thing happens when you give up on give and take and just give. You both change for the better.
How have you seen your marriage, friendships, or other relationships involve sacrifice?