We live in a culture that greatly values individualism and fairness. We are familiar with being required to do our part and expecting others to do theirs. This is not a bad thing, but can lead to unrealistic expectations and can even be inconsistent with Scripture if taken too far.
In her article for Relevant titled “Marriage Shouldn’t Be ‘Fair’” Sara Wallace explores why fairness isn’t the best model for a marriage.
Wallace shares the story of hearing a woman on TV say that she loves serving her husband. When he comes home from work she makes sure to have a hot meal prepared for him and doesn’t expect him to do any housework. “It’s my job to care for him and I love it,” the woman said.
Many of us may balk at such commitment to serve one’s spouse. While we likely do our best to serve our significant other, we likely expect the same in return, which raises the question, is this a biblical mindset?
“The idea of the 50/50 marriage has permeated our society for years. It appeals to our American ideal of rights, freedom and equality. We have a right to be treated fairly. We have a right to be respected. We deserve to get back what we put in,” states Wallace.
If everything in our marriage is divided up evenly, including household tasks, cleaning, errands, etc. we should be content and satisfied, right?
The truth is, that is usually not the case. When we begin to feel entitled to what we think we deserve, we can easily become bitter when we believe the other person isn’t doing their part or pulling their weight. And, as Wallace notes, because of our sinful nature, we tend to think we have done more and are better at serving our spouse than we actually are.
This mindset can lead us to resent our spouse and ultimately feel unfulfilled in our marriage because of what we believe we are entitled to. We can begin to think of our spouse as lazy and ourselves as the ones who do all the work.
This selfish mindset can be very destructive, to our marriage and to our walk with the Lord.
Contrary to this, Scripture tells us, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
Jesus extended love and grace to us not because of something we were entitled to, but because he loves us. The same applies to our relationship with our spouse.
In his article for Crosswalk.com titled “For the Days You Don’t Like Your Spouse,” John UpChurch says, “A good marriage practices mutual submission. Ephesians 5:21 commands us to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. Marriage is not a 50/50 deal. It’s a 100/100 deal—each willing to surrender all to the other person.”
The point is not that your spouse doesn’t deserve your extra work and acts of service. Perhaps they do not, but God is always more concerned with you searching your own heart and submitting to Him than he is with fulfilling your desires to change another person.
“If marriage is about love,” says Wallace, “it can’t be split up 50/50. Love is whole. Love is abandon. Love is 100 percent, regardless of how much we perceive the other person is giving.”
This is how the love of Christ works, and that is the love we are called to emulate.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Veronica Neffinger is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com
Publication date: March 2, 2016