“Daddy must be so selfish.”
That’s what I thought as a 13-14 year old girl, watching how my mom served and “catered to” my dad. “Don’t shape the rolls like that. Daddy likes them flatter,” she’d say, and I’d punch down my nice fluffy bread rolls with a grumble in my heart. “No, don’t try that recipe. Daddy doesn’t like casseroles.” So much for my dreams of becoming a good cook…
Now that I am married, though, I understand. It wasn’t that my father was selfish. It was that my mother loved him. He didn’t force her to cook a certain way or fold the clothes a certain way. He probably just occasionally expressed preferences and she wanted to make him happy. I have a feeling he still doesn’t know half the ways in which she gives so much of her life trying to do everything the way he likes it best.
Now I’m the person trying to please my husband. David likes it when I fold his shirts and socks this way. David prefers the vegetables to be crisp, not mushy. The way I do many household chores has changed, not because my husband is a hard taskmaster, but because I love him. He expresses a preference and I try to make him happy. He probably doesn’t even know how much I’ve adapted to him, either.
Why do I enjoy this process of learning him and pleasing him?
- Because we promised to spend the rest of our lives together. I’d like this lifetime to be as pleasant as possible.
- Because my husband not only works hard to provide for me, but he also does so many things to adapt to me and make me happy. He doesn’t watch scary movies with me because they give me nightmares (he’ll even sit through baking shows). He makes me a vegetable garden because I love vegetables (he’d be happy to live on pizza and meatballs). He picks up things at the store for me because he knows it’s hard for me to get out with a baby. Every day, he shows love to me in a million ways.
- Because our marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church. I know this should come first, but it usually comes to my mind when we are facing hard times and hard decisions. The church submits to Christ, not the other way around. The church wants to please Christ. Why? Christ died for her! He ever lives to make intercession for her! (That means us!) [See Hebrews 7:25]
- Because this is what my mom did, and in an age when half of all marriages end in divorce, my parents have maintained a strong, respectful, and loving marriage for 29 years and counting.
Having said all that, do I live in servile scurrying? Absolutely not! I scoop a serving of salad on David’s plate because it’s good for his health, not because he enjoys eating salad. We often eat leftovers. The house isn’t always clean. The towels don’t get washed every day, even though he’d most likely prefer that. When I was pregnant and sick, David was lucky if I got half a meal on the table.
Someday, I’ll be telling my children that we do something because that’s how Daddy likes it–and I’ll be sure to add, “And we really love Daddy, don’t we?”
It’s not about who’s selfish; it’s about a daily demonstration of love and care and kindness. May I be consistently kind, just like my mother was!
My parents as newlyweds in 1988.