Unless you’re referring to someone with a frontal lobotomy, every person (even the ones who pretend they don’t) has some preferences. They’re not “right”’ or “wrong” – they just are.
You’re not picky, are you? . . . but, your spouse, now that’s another matter entirely! He / She has an opinion about . . . everything! Right?
Blistering hot, black coffee or lukewarm coffee with cream and sugar?
Walking on a windy beach in winter or sitting by the fire with a good book?
The Patriots, Redskins, Steelers, or the Ravens?
Chinese, Mexican, or Thai?
Sitting with your back to the wall or in the center of the restaurant?
Please fold my t-shirts a certain way (One of my personal preferences . . . trust me, Lisa has them, too!)
When you were dating and during the first months of marriage, all those little preferences and differences were endearing – things that made your spouse interesting and loveable.
But, a few months or years into marriage and those exact same preferences often begin to migrate from endearing to annoying. How did that happen?
He / She is so picky! I don’t see why it’s so important to heat the coffee cup before the coffee goes in. It’s inconvenient and, frankly, is a waste of time.
On one level, your spouse’s preferences aren’t important at all. If he/she gets all or none of them, life will still go on. But, when it comes to growing deep in relationship, your spouse’s preferences matter deeply– not because having or not having them fundamentally changes anything, but because of what your care in providing them is saying loudly without words.
And, there’s always a message in your service to each other.
When you take a step back, it’s easy to see that “picky” is really about “perspective”. In and of themselves, most preferences are no big deal. Please close the bathroom door all the way when you come out. Make sure the garage door is closed when you leave. Would you not set your briefcase on the bed? But when we allow them to become the “annoying” “silly” “inconvenient” “unnecessary” “frustrating” demands of our spouse, they take on a whole new power – the power to degrade your marriage relationship and begin the process of driving a wedge between each other.
Don’t give such small things so much power to destroy. It’s just not that difficult to accommodate your spouse in these small matters. It only becomes difficult because your once positive attitude about them has become negative.
The good news is that we can change our attitude. And when we change our attitude, everything changes, as if a bright light were turned on in a dimly lit room.
What does it cost to bless your husband or wife by joyfully serving in the matter of small preferences?
Next to nothing. And, that small gesture says so much about how you love and care for each other.
Of course, you’d like your spouse to reciprocate and lovingly attend to all your preferences and desires – serving then would then be easy, wouldn’t it? But that’s not how we’re called to serve one another, is it? Doing good only in proportion to the good done to us is payback, not acting out of love.
Wise and genuinely loving husbands and wives seek to serve with joy in each other’s small preferences, not to get something in return but to make your spouse smile.
Would you like to listen to Matt & Lisa’s latest Faithful Life Podcast on How To Become Good Friends With Your Spouse? . . .
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Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach, founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is also the creator of FREEDOM Course, an 8 session class, including a workbook, where he teaches men the biblical path to finding total victory from pornography and sexual sin. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Cline Falls Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).