I know my title seems too good to be true. You can’t possibly have a #1 key to make your marriage happy and peaceful. But there really is this kind of a powerful key. Before I share it with you, let me warn you, it’s not easy. I’m not sharing it with you because I’ve got it down. I just know it works.
Are you ready?
The #1 key to having peace and happiness in your marriage (and in any relationship for that matter) is replace your sense of entitlement with a sense of service.
“AAAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHH! That’s too hard,” you cry.
Like I said, it’s not easy. But it will work. (Warning: I’m a guy. I have illustrations from the husband’s perspective. I don’t mean to leave wives out. For all of you women, just understand that for me to actually live by this principle, I have to think about this from my standpoint. So, even though my illustrations are from my perspective, you can transfer them to a woman’s perspective and get the same lesson).
The fact is, why do I get angry with my wife? Usually because I feel like she has done something to me that I didn’t deserve or she hasn’t done something I think I deserve. My sense of entitlement is ignited and I begin to resent her. Then I just get downright angry. We start to fight. Of course, she joins right in the fight because now her sense of entitlement kicks in.
What happens if I remove my sense of entitlement. What if I don’t come home with the feeling that I deserve to have supper on the table as I walk through the door? What if I don’t do the dishes with the mindset I should get a reward for it later? What if I don’t judge every word out of her mouth through my “you owe me respect” filter? Perhaps I won’t be provoked as often.
But let’s add the second half of this #1 key. What if I not only removed by sense of entitlement but also replaced it with a sense of service? What if I came home looking for opportunities to help my wife make supper? What if I did the dishes because I love my wife and family and not in order to have sex? What if spoke to my wife in a way that said I loved and served her? Do you think that might impact my marriage.
I’m a Christian, and, sadly, all too often I’ve heard other Christians throw Bible verses at their spouse: “The Bible says you’re supposed to love me!” “The Bible says you’re supposed to respect me!” “The Bible says you have to put out because your body is not your own!” “The Bible says you’re supposed to sacrifice for me like Christ did the church!”
I’ll admit, the Bible says some things to our spouses. However, all those passages on marriage were not given to us to throw at our spouses. They were given to us so we could learn how we are supposed to act. I say we make a pact with ourselves and God. We will no longer attack our spouses with Bible verses that say what they are supposed to do. Instead, we will replace our sense of entitlement with a sense of service. We’ll look at ourselves and what the Bible asks of us. We won’t assume that because we are working extra hard to do what we are supposed to that it means our spouse now owes us a response in kind. That is just sneaking entitlement in the back door. We need to perform the actions of love because we love, not because we hope it will get us some reward.
Please, don’t anyone ask Marita how well I do at this. This is a growth process. I’m not anywhere near perfect on it. I have some good days and I have some bad days. I am thankful, however, that I have finally identified this principle. Maybe it will take hold even deeper. Hold me to it.