Looking Out (Part 2) – Blessing Our Spouse Through Our Attitudes

Last week I wrote about the importance of looking for opportunities to bless our spouse. As I wrote then, too often we are focused on how things benefit us and striving to prevent any personal inconvenience. This self-centered perspective is bound to create barriers rather than building a relationship with the one we love. In the previous post I shared three practical things that we can do to turn those tables around and instead intentionally bless our spouse. Today, I have three more suggestions. But instead of being focused on what we do, these three recommendations concentrate on the condition of our hearts. Our attitudes can be a blessing to our spouse just as much as our actions.

Express Gratitude

As I have shared before, my parents were high school sweethearts and when by Dad got his promotion to heaven they had been married for 34 years. Despite this long history, my mom still thanked my dad for every dinner that they went out to – whether it was for a date night or a dinner together as a family. She didn’t have to do this but I am confident that it both encouraged my dad and blessed him to know that my mom still appreciated his gesture. He knew his thoughtfulness was noticed and for most of us, just knowing that we are not taken for granted can be a significant blessing.

In a marriage it is easy to get into routines and have expectations. We would be wise to thank our spouse for the things that they do for us, even if they are things that we are used to them doing. After all, who among us doesn’t appreciate appreciation? And what a blessing it is to know that our spouse is grateful for all we do on a regular basis.

Eliminate the Scorecard

Often times in relationships we seek for balance – we want there to be an equitable division of labor and we don’t want to give more than we take. The problem with this approach is that we are constantly keeping score, trying to figure out which way the scales are tilted. If we are busy trying to figure out whether we are owed something, we are not busy figuring out how to be a blessing. A scorecard mentality is detrimental to any relationship, and it is doubly so in a marriage. There will be seasons of life where you will need to give more, and there will be seasons where you will be the recipient of greater gifts. Our tendency is to focus on the times where we are giving, but it would be better if we didn’t keep track at all. After all, I Corinthians 13 says that love “keeps no record of wrong.” Focusing on what our spouse did or didn’t do is unlikely to strengthen our marriage; thinking about what we can do today, in this moment, to be a blessing, will.

Celebrate Accomplishments

Along with having a propensity towards thanksgiving, we can bless our spouse by sharing in their joy. This may seem obvious, but in far too marriages, people are too busy getting things done to take the time to recognize each others’ accomplishments. It may not seem like a big deal to you that your spouse was complimented at their job, but it may be to them. Perhaps it seems like an easy task to get your kid to sleep on time, but for some moms and dads that requires a herculean effort. The point is that the accomplishment does not have to be something monumental for it to be significant. And looking for ways to encourage your spouse in the work that they are doing by taking notice of milestones and achievements will go along way towards encouraging them to continue doing those things with excellence.

A Mutually Beneficial Arrangement

When it comes to intentionally looking for ways to bless our spouse, both our actions and our attitudes matter.  In all likelihood our actions will follow our attitudes so perhaps that is the best place to start. But even when our hearts are distracted and our minds are overwhelmed, we can still find ways to be a blessing if we are intentional about doing so. The sad reality is that we are more likely to drift into ambivalence than we are to leap into purposefulness. That is why we must commit to consistently seek ways to bless our loved one, and to do so regularly, in big ways as well as small.

 

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Looking Out

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:

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