My husband loves sports. I realize that a lot of wives can say that but I think few would find that their husband’s fervor for sports matches his. He can articulately talk about teams and sports that he cares little about, simply because he so enjoys the thrill of competition.
As the wives of sport enthusiasts can tell you, a lot of time can be spent pursuing this passion. (I should also say that my husband is mindful to find the right balance and he has used his love of sports for significant ministry opportunities, so no need to worry – he is keeping the right perspective.) Although I like sports, my threshold for investing in them is far less than what my husband’s is. My interests and inclinations lie elsewhere.
Given this background, it will probably not come as a surprise then that at different points in our marriage there has been some contention regarding my husband’s affection for sports. Normally this is because I feel like something that is interesting to me is being superseded by his affinity for “the game.” Even though my husband has graciously reduced the amount of the time he has invested, and works hard to minimize its impact on our family, selfishly there are still moments where I wish it would be gone completely.
However, I have come to realize that not only was this desire incredibly self-centered, it was also very myopic of me. I was only seeing how my husband’s interest impacted what I wanted; I failed to see how I could bless my husband through it. I knew it was important to him and even though I may not share the same interest, because it mattered to him, this was an area where I could graciously cede my desires so that he could benefit.
What’s true in this regard, is also true in many other areas. I am quick to identify what is beneficial to me and try to protect myself from what is inconvenient. However, I would be wiser, and more loving, if instead I was on the look out for how I could bless him. In doing so, not only would I show my love for him, but our marriage would more accurately reflect the kind of love that Christ has called us to demonstrate.
What does this mean practically? How can we be on the look out to bless our spouse? Here are some ideas:
Pursue One of Their Interests
If you ask my husband, he will tell you that one of the things that makes him happy is when I talk sports with him. He likes that I’m choosing to invest in the subject matter simply because it’s something he cares about. I now somewhat regularly try to find out sports news that I can share with him before he hears about it elsewhere (I’m rarely successful – but he likes that I try.) Half the time it doesn’t even matter if I totally understand what’s at stake, but I ask questions and gain insight, and he appreciates the conversation. He doesn’t expect me to have a fully formed opinion on who the Lakers will draft, or whether the Chargers will win this weekend’s game, but he appreciates that I’m willing to engage on the subjects. I will even do some research to speak intelligently about it, simply because it’s one (relatively easy) way to show him my love.
Sports may not be your spouse’s thing, but we all could probably choose one interest of our spouses and try to engage in that pursuit. Maybe it means that you select a book to read together, or you learn how to play a musical instrument. The important thing is that you choose something that is important to them, and that you have a good attitude about it, even if it’s not your favorite thing.
Prefer Their Preferences
If we’re going out to dinner, my husband will usually ask me if there’s anywhere I would like to go. We generally have pretty different food preferences, so the question is a sacrificial one since he knows my inclination is probably not going to be his. However, sometimes I will simply choose the type of restaurant that I know he prefers. This isn’t because I necessarily want it, but I do want to bring him joy. And if eating one dinner at someplace that isn’t my favorite accomplishes that, it is a sacrifice that is definitely worth making.
You and your spouse may be on the same page when it comes to your dining selection, but there may be other areas where you could choose to prefer their preference. Perhaps it is in how the towels are folded, or what time the kids go to bed. Sometimes we can become very stubborn about things that have very little long-term significance. These are areas where we can easily display our love by sacrificing our preference for our spouse’s. While the matter itself may not have import, the expression of love will.
Plan for Their Priorities
Usually when I think about planning my day (or my week), I think about all the things I want to accomplish. My husband and I both have full plates, and there is a tendency to “divide and conquer” to get things done. However, I’ve learned that one way I can look out for an opportunity to bless him is to proactively ask what he wants to accomplish on a given day. Maybe there is a game he wants to watch or a task he wants to get done. Rather than hustling on my to-do list alone, I can come alongside him in something he wants to do. This may likely mean that I don’t get all my tasks completed, but it does mean that I’ve accomplished one of the most important things I need to do – I have shown my husband that he’s a priority and that I love him more than I love my plans.
More to Come
These are just three ways that we can look out for our spouse’s interest rather than our own. Stay tuned for three more ways – which have more to do with our hearts than our behaviors. And may we all regularly be searching for ways to do good to our spouses, and be less concerned about making sure good is done to us.