Serving Your Spouse (Episode 136)
Do you serve your spouse? The last two episodes we dug deep into what can lead to divorce, as well as navigating blended families. This week we want to focus in on one powerful thing that can get pretty misconstrued in our girl-power world – serving your spouse.
Serving Your Spouse isn't Submission; it's Essential in Love.
Serving Your Spouse
Lately I've noticed quite a trend in couples fending for themselves; living more side-by-side and doing their own things more than coming together or helping each other out.
Serving your spouse can be seen as a negative. I know in my own conservative Christian upbringing, there were many verses brought up by the church stressing the importance of wives submitting to their husbands.
The feminist in me would rile at that thought, frustrated at the lack of respect for women in this patriarchal religion, and I can understand how a woman could swing to the other end of the spectrum. I mean, my husband is perfectly capable of picking up his own clothes and making his own bed.
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Where are we this week?
Spanish words everywhere! This month we've really jumped in to learning Spanish, and, while Clara and I are doing our own advanced Spanish classes, Clara is also taking the rest of the family through Duolingo together, and labeling everything throughout our house!
Follow us on our journey on Insta as the FieldTripGypsies!
She is truly serving her spouse
I'm sharing another story from Love What Matters this week - if you want more stories like this, you can sign up for their inspirational emails here.
“Apparently, there is a hot topic out there on whether women should ‘serve’ their husbands. Do you fix his plate for him? Make his meals? And so on…
Here is my take on it.
I met my husband in April of 2012. We were married by December of the same year. Every morning I get up with him; fix his lunch for work; get his coffee just right; and gather up his keys, wallet, work badge, and phone to put next to his lunch bag. Most evenings I have dinner cooked when he comes home. I fix his plate, then mine, and we sit to eat.
Do I have to? No. Do I WANT to? Absolutely.
For me, serving him is an extension of my love for him. I don’t have to work. I get to stay home, raise our son, and do the SAHM (stay-at-home mom) things. I clean the house, do laundry, cook meals, run errands, manage our budget, and do all the things we SAHM’s do to manage our household.
Do I have to? No.
Do I want to? Absolutely.
He honestly couldn’t care less if I sat and did nothing. I have that right if I wanted. I have MS and have had three major back surgeries. I am physically disabled. I have the right to do nothing, and he wouldn’t object.
But you see, I ADORE my husband — my life mate, the love of my life. And anything I can do to make his life easier, I will. He works hard so we can provide our autistic son with the best therapies. He works hard so I can stay home. He works hard so we can do fun vacations, hire a live-in nanny, drive nice cars, and even prepare to move to a new city this summer — with a nicer house — just so our son can go to a new school, fit for him.
I hear people say, ‘My husband can fix his own plate.’ So can mine.
‘My husband can get himself dressed and ready.’ So can mine.
‘My husband can do this or that on his own.’ So can mine.
I get the majority of women work and then come home to do what I have all day to do. I am up at 6:45 a.m. and don’t sit down to relax till after 7 p.m. But I love it. And I love him.
So no, I don’t live in the dark ages. I was just taught to show love through actions, not just intimacy. Marriage is a partnership, with each person giving and taking. For me, doing things for my husband means we get to have dinner sooner so we can relax together sooner. We get to have more time together in the evenings. We get stress free weekends so he can actually relax.
On those occasional crazier weeks, he helps me clean, fold laundry, take out the trash, and do the ‘wifely’ things. But he does it out of love too.
I know every morning he can get dressed and head to work not feeling rushed from getting all his stuff together. He goes with a hot thermos of coffee, extra energy-packed foods to fuel his day, cash to spend on frivolous stuff like vending machine soda or a snack, and driving his pride and joy, his new car.
Together we make our household less stressful. Together we make our house a home. Together we raise our son to be a mighty force.
Yes, you can make your husband do his stuff alone. And that is your choice. No one makes me do anything for my husband. I do it because it is an extension of my love. I do it because I WANT to. I do it because anything that makes his day a little easier brings me joy. And I do it because without him, I would be facing MS alone and struggling.
Marriage is an investment to each other. I invest my time and activity into providing for him the way he provides for us. I did it when I worked, too. Not everyone gets to stay home. Not everyone wants to stay home. And not everyone is willing to serve their spouse.
But if we have the mindset of catering to our spouses, then the love is missing. Instead, I call it loving my spouse. And by doing so, I show him every day the love and gratitude I have for his hard work. ‘Serving’ him is the least I can do for all he does for me. It isn’t an extra chore. Yes, he can do it himself. But why not help him? Is it doing me any harm? People who see it as ‘I don’t have to help my spouse’ miss out, in my opinion. When I help make his life easier, I get the joy of knowing he appreciates it. The return on ‘giving’ far exceeds any material possession. And our marriage is amazing for it.”
The Feminist Egalitarian
Do you really serve and care for your spouse? Now, this opens up the door to what an egalitarian household is like:
The dictionary defines egalitarian as:
relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
"a fairer, more egalitarian society"
Kathy Caprino, M.A. is a "Finding Brave" expert, career and executive coach, writer, speaker and leadership trainer dedicated to the advancement of women. I stumbled upon this Forbes article regarding feminism that really lays out well the struggle I've seen repeatedly:
If you look up the definition of “Feminism” in the dictionary, you’ll see these statements:
1. The advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes
2. The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
3. The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities
4. The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men
Feminism at its core is about equality of men and women, not “sameness.” So many people offer up the argument that women are not the “same” as men so there can’t be equality. In other words, because their bodies are different (many say “weaker” and smaller), and because men and women have different physical capabilities, these physical differences mean equality is not possible.
It’s critical to understand that “same” does not mean “equal.” The issue here is about equal rights and equal access to opportunities. Men and women don’t have to be the “same” in physicality to have the right to equality. I’d love to see that argument (that women and men aren’t the “same” so they can’t be equal) disappear forever. From my view, it’s a misguided one.
Here’s an example of why: If there were two young boys in a classroom, and one was physically weaker and smaller than the other, would we believe it’s right to keep the weaker, smaller boy from having the same access – to the teacher, to learning, to the computers, to the books and class resources, to other children in the class -- because he didn’t have the same physical strength as the other boy?
This isn't just about assigning roles. This is a critical component...and isn't just about determining what a "wife" role is or things that are a man's place or woman's place. This is about identifying all the things that are critical in running a household and having a healthy relationship, and determining who is going to do what.
Additionally, it's not just a one-and-done approach. It's consistently checking in. Each person in a relationship will navigate roles differently. Playing with kids, for example, can look very different for each parent. It may be that for a season, one of you is the head cook and the other handles the bills and budgeting. And, it may be that it will shift. Checking in and talking about what's working and what isn't is critical.
Never belittle or demand for a role. Don't poke a potential wound. Look to not only support one another, but show gratitude and appreciation for what you do for each other and for your family.
Is it REALLY a big deal?
I started referencing this in our episode on 6 Traits That Are Destined For Divorce.
Byron Katie's "The Work" process is pretty incredible. In this amazing podcast interview between Marie Forleo and Byron Katie, they dig in and share how to utilize this process with a simple nit-picky issue that often shows up in a relationship - leaving the toilet seat up!
Directly from Marie Forleo's post:
Byron Katie’s four questions (aka “The Work”) is a simple and profound process that will help you transform stress and negativity by questioning what you think and believe.
To start, think about a specific, stressful situation that involves another person. It may be a family member, a spouse, a coworker, a client, a loved one, your child, etc. In order to get the benefit of The Work, you have to isolate a specific, concrete moment in time that you’ve experienced — like a conversation, meeting, or exchange that you’re upset about.
I highly recommend you follow the precise instructions on the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.
I cannot emphasize the importance of using the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet enough. You must write down your answers and be as specific, judgmental and petty as possible while you do it. Use simple, short sentences. Be brutally honest. The Work works, as long as you work it.
Once you’ve completed the full Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, ask yourself the following four questions about your initial thought.
Is it true? (yes or no, if no go to question 3)
Can you absolutely know it’s true? (yes or no)
How do you react — what happens — when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
Next Important Step: Turn That Thought Around.
Once you’ve completed the full Judge Your Neighbor worksheet and asked the Four Questions, you’re going to flip that initial thought. This is often where the biggest a-ha moments happen.
Your goal is to find at least three specific, genuine examples of how a turnaround might be true for you in this situation. For example, let’s say your initial painful thought was “Jen lied to me.” You’ll try on a number of alternate possibilities, or what Katie calls turnarounds to see if those might feel more true. In your effort to turn that thought around you may experiment with a variety of thoughts like:
Jen didn’t lie to me.
I lied to me.
I lied to Jen.
When you begin to see a stressful, painful situation from a variety of alternate perspectives, the stress loses its grip on you. Anger and resentment melt away. Laughter and compassion often emerge. (Not to mention a bit of embarrassment when we start to see what arrogant buttheads we humans can be from time to time.)
The turnaround process is an intense and valuable exercise in perspective taking. Most importantly, it works. One of the most valuable insights you’ll gain from doing turnarounds (and The Work in general) is how often our minds automatically think other people are the problem. “My mother should understand me.” “My boss should appreciate me.” “People should be more socially aware.”
As Katie wisely shares, “You have the key to your own happiness. But the last place we look is to ourselves. Whatever we think another person needs to do, we need to do.”
Almost always, whenever we think another person needs to do something different, it’s us who need to take that advice. It’s us who is the “problem.” This is fantastic news because it also means we’re the solution!
To be clear, The Work is a rich, detailed, nuanced process. As I shared in the episode, Katie has countless free resources and demonstrations on her site (as well as across the web). I highly recommend you take the time and care to do The Work fully, completely, and with an open mind and heart.
Go to thework.com to check it all out.
Look for Ways to Delight
Look for ways to use your creativity to delight your partner. Look for ways to serve and support beyond the essentials, just to foster love and light into your relationship.
“It's not enough to have lived.
We should be determined to live for something.
May I suggest that it be creating joy for others,
sharing what we have for the betterment of person-kind,
bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.”
― Leo Buscaglia
Go back to the five love languages: acts of service, physical touch, gift-giving, quality time, and words of affirmation. What resonates with your partner? What fills their buckets with love and helps them feel supported? What can you do to delight each other? Go back to dating your partner, and remember those fun elements you threw in. Don't discount these. It doesn't have to be all "pomp and circumstance." But maybe adding in a few simple love notes could make a world of difference in your relationship.
you make time for what you prioritize. Period.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Go through the work for the little nit-picky thing that makes you the angriest about your partner. Really sit through the whole process, and see if it remains an issue.
Go back to your reasons for choosing to love your partner. Remember those things about them you fell in love with, and really reflect back on that moment you said yes to creating a life together with them.
These are the things to hold on to and not forget – that spark only stays alive if we keep blowing on it, and often those little quirks that can frustrate us were also things we loved or laughed about when we first got together. It’s not always that things have changed as much as our perspective of them has.
Love your partner as they are exactly, today, with the trust and excitement that they, like you, can continue to grow in their strengths and work on those things that no longer serve them. It’s important to recognize our differences create synergy, and allow us to collaborate in a whole new way. The uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste
Some additional resources for you
- Opposites Attract…And How To Live With Them (Episode 86)
- My Marriage Sucks (Episode 66)
- How Do You Navigate Gender Roles In Marriage? (Episode 56)
- Welcome to the Fight Club – Choose Wisely (Episode 34)
- It’s Not A Habit; It’s Intimacy (Episode 25)
- What Do You Want This Life To Be? (Episode 16)
- Who Has Time For Sex As A Parent, Anyway? (Episode 14)
- Bathtub Boundaries With An Ocean of Love (Episode 15)
- Time Waits For No One (Episode 13)
- Relationships: How Do You Play That Game? (Episode 11)
- On Getting Lost, Laughter, and the Wisdom of Dr. Dre (Episode 12)
- Growability and a Big Dose of Humble Pie (Episode 10)
- What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate! (Episode 8)
- Fighting Toward a Win-Win (Episode 9)
- Will Our Marriage Last? (Episode 113)
- Has Your Marriage Taken A BackSeat?
- The Top Qualities for a Successful Marriage (Episode 123)
- 6 Traits Destined For Divorce (Episode 134)
- 4 Tools for Keeping Discussions from Becoming Arguments
- 5 Tips for Intimate Love
- Having sex consistently for over three years
- What Is Your Goal?
- 3 Secrets for A Long-Lasting Marriage
- Laughter, Humble Pie and Lots of Sex Part 1
- Laughter, Humble Pie and Lots of Sex Part 2
- Laughter, Humble Pie, and Lots of Sex Part 3
- 37 Essential Tips To Save Your Marriage
- Romance May Be A Hue, But Desire Is The Sunshine
- In The Eleventh Hour
- Lighten Up With The One You Love – Get Out And Play!
- Pride Goeth Before A Fall – Can Your Marriage Hold Up?
- Love And Marriage – See The Good