The Sweet Christian Bride

Better to Give Than to Receive

by admin on September 30, 2011 in Faith, Relationship, Spouse with No Comments

I was reading an article on Crosswalk and came across a line that got me up out of my seat, cheering from the sidelines (so to speak, of course): “Reject the mistaken notion that your marriage is about the love that you receive; embrace the truth that your marriage is about the love you give.”

The whole article is great, and especially if you are not yet engaged, I recommend that you read  “Set the Right Expectations for Marriage” by Whitney Hopler.  This particular thought, however, held much weight with me because it sums up the gritty yet triumphant mystery of marriage.  This one eloquent line encapsulates what often takes couples decades to articulate.

We are all familiar with the adage, “It is better to give than to receive.”  But does this really fit with our expectations for marriage?  For many of us, it doesn’t even come close.

When I dreamed of marriage, defined it as a team and partnership, but I pictured it as someone taking care of me, someone making me laugh, someone helping me figure life out, someone romancing me, someone changing for me, someone making my dreams possible…

Then I got married and had a rude awakening.  My dreams weren’t unrealistic, but rather they were incomplete.  The only way that those expectations would be true in a healthy (versus co-dependent) marriage was if I first did those things for him.

It’s totally counter-intuitive.

Sometimes I want to do all those things for him, but when I don’t want to, I’m put in a quandary.  My expectations for marriage become threatened because they immediately start to unravel.  What is revealed at the center is my selfishness, arrogance, and sinfulness.  No marriage can survive with those three at the core unless compassion, humility, and grace are there to cover and correct them.

Christ alone can sustain compassion, humility, and grace.  Through Christ, a wife can choose the lesser for herself because of the joy that comes in knowing her husband received the better, and vice-versa.

I think of this when I stare at my over-flowing, putrid garbage can that is begging someone to take it out of its misery.  I hate taking out the trash and desperately wish my husband would do it every single time just because he loves me.  But that’s not realistic, I know.  And as I think how much I don’t want to take out the trash today, my next thought is, but if I don’t do it, there is only one other person who will.  Wanting to spare my husband from doing something I would hate to do, I take it out.  I may hate the way it smells, but when I think of how I am giving to my husband by sparing him from doing it, it’s not so bad.  It’s a win.

Giving and receiving in a covenant marriage is not a matter of measured transactions transpiring between two people; it’s not a monetary means within the economy of marriage.  Giving and receiving is the rhythm of movement needed for building up a team.  When you are on the same team, then one’s win benefits the other.  In other words, giving to your spouse means receiving in your marriage. Win-win.

I’m not so naive as to think sacrifice is easy, but I don’t mind seeming naive in my confidence that the easiest way to build unity, to reverse a wrong, to heal a wound, and to demonstrate one’s vows is to give love to your spouse.  That naivety is called hope.  God truly does miracles when we give love without expectation or condition.

Simply because you love him, how can you give love to your fiancé today in order to pour into your marriage tomorrow?

By Lindsay

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