I Love Me. I Mean You.
By Ryan Guinee
My wife was working a double shift the next day. The kids were down, and there was a green light for some “me time.” Couldn’t ask for more on a weeknight. This night was different though.
She’s a new mom—again—having to do new mom things, and couldn’t do all the things at once. So I packed her lunch and dinner. I wrote a little love note and stowed away the plastic bag of food in the fridge. Took all of 15 minutes and the task was done.
What I know about me? I can’t go long without acknowledgement and praise. Truthfully, it’s the blood that flows through my heart. What was so different about this night and this act of kindness was my motivation.
This time, I served my wife “from” love and not “for” love.
I could feel the difference. I wasn’t waiting for brownie points or sex. It wasn’t a deposit in our relationship bank account hoping for some return on investment.
If anything, I was ready to get my hands around an Xbox controller and hang out with my friends.
She sent me a text the next day: “Marriage feels magical right now.”
I knew exactly what she was referring to. It felt good to be appreciated, but the greater joy was found in expressing my love for her without an agenda.
Just by noticing her load could be lightened and doing something about it, I gave her butterflies she hasn’t felt since we dated. I felt invincible.
Here’s the catch: If I was expecting her to make me feel whole through her praise, our marriage would be in serious trouble. She won’t always notice or appreciate my acts of kindness.
So I’ve drawn a line in the sand in my heart. Rather than manipulating her through my service when I need affection or appreciation, we talk about it—and I save my acts of service to love her rather than myself.
The good stuff: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
- Examine the “why” behind your acts of kindness. Are they emotional bids for love or humble gestures from love?
- If you do need love and support from your spouse, consider bringing it up in conversation rather than pushing for praise or gratitude through actions. Ask specifically for what you need. (You can do it!)
- If you’re married to a habitual helper, consider addressing this “from love” vs. “for love” distinction. Communicate that you love them for who they are, not what they do. Remind them of their needs and how you can work together to meet them.
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