In any type of relationship, there is a give and take dimension. One wise friend of mine equates relationships with bank accounts. Sometimes you are making deposits and sometimes you are making withdrawals. A “good” relationship is one in which the deposits exceed the withdrawals. Otherwise, the other party will eventually feel used rather than appreciated in the relationship.
The closer the relationship is, the more inclined we are to ask the other person to do something for us. I rarely hesitate to ask my husband to help me take care of something at home. I would be less inclined to make the same appeal of a visitor. My husband and I share an intimacy that is built upon mutual understanding and trust. Therefore, I’m able to ask things of him that I wouldn’t ask of someone with whom I don’t share as close of a relationship.
The challenge is that as with any relationship, sometimes the familiarity we experience in marriage can cause us to make a plethora of withdrawals without considering whether or not we have made any deposits. Compound the fact that oftentimes the basis of our appeal is what we want, and not what is good for the other person or our marriage, and the “account balance” can quickly run low. It’s counterintuitive, but the more we know someone, the less likely we are to consider them when we make our requests. Familiarity often replaces courtesy. And while we may be glad for the lack of required social convention, we should be mindful that fulfilling our requests doesn’t become an “expected” part of our behavior.
One way to mitigate this is to, as stated earlier, make it a practice to ask for things that are for the other’s good. Perhaps this is not needed when we need a jar opened, or help making the bed, but when we are making requests that have to do with the overall direction of our relationship or the plans for our future together, we should be mindful that our appeals are not just centered on ourself. What can we request that is for the other’s benefit or the mutual benefit of our marriage? How can we make our appeal with the good of the other person in mind? In doing so, we ensure that our requests aren’t just for our own desires, but that even in asking for things, we are making a “deposit” in our relationship.
If we think about it, this is what Christ does. Scripture makes it clear that He is frequently interceding to the Father on our behalf (Ro. 8:34). The nature of His appeal are for our good – that we may grow to be the men and women that our Father desires us to be. We should have the same concern for our spouse in the requests we make as He.