Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Toothpaste Spells the End

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love   Galatians 5:13

In The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg tells of a therapist friend who asked his client how he knew when his marriage of several decades had gone bad. “It was when she stopped putting toothpaste on my toothbrush in the morning,” the man said. When they were first married, whoever got up first would put a roll of toothpaste on the other spouse’s toothbrush. Then somewhere along the line, they stopped squeezing for each other and squeezed only for themselves.

Love is mostly an action verb, not a feeling.  It is through observation and servanthood that love manifests itself the best.  As a married couple we have ample opportunities to observe our partners.  Just the fact that we take the time to be observant is an act of love in itself.  There are simple things like knowing favorite foods, favorite places, favorite colors, fears, concerns, things or people that cause them anxiety, favorite pass times, favorite places to vacation including the type of vacation they most enjoy, etc.

As the story about the toothpaste suggests the little, more mundane aspects of life also provide an opportunity to demonstrate one’s love.  There are things that your spouse prefers not to do, do you know what they are and can you do them?  Are there simple tasks or chores that if you did them for your husband/wife it would make life easier or more enjoyable for them?

There are other actions that don’t necessarily fit into the category of observation or servanthood that still convey a sense of love. Learn the “love language” of your spouse and act accordingly.  Institute or re-institute “traditions”.  From the beginning of my relationship with Kathleen I got in the habit of opening the car door. At some point in our relationship (probably while dating) that became punctuated with a kiss.  It doesn’t matter if we are in our garage or in the middle of a mall parking lot, nor does the duration or intensity.  The point is to discover your own tradition(s) with which you are both comfortable.  Another hugely important tradition is praying together.  Men are usually less comfortable with this but as the servant leader, protector, and provider of the family it is his role to take the lead.  Ask your spouse, “How can I pray for you today?”  Then take a turn praying for one another.  This takes less than three minutes, I’ve timed it.


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