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I stood at the sink scrubbing dish after dish. It was like the day after Thanksgiving, and nevermind that the amount of bowls and silverware only appeared monumentally huge because of our smaller RV sink. What mattered was I was singlehandedly tackling the leaning tower of plates and pans on my own. Behind me my husband played a game on his phone, and the ping, ping sounds of his imaginary battle did little to soothe my feelings of neglect. There he was engrossed in his phone while I slaved away at the sink.
When he had mentioned offhand the dreaded takeover of dirty dishes the night before I had commented, “No problem. We can do them together tomorrow.”
Yet here I was. By myself. He didn’t even lift a finger to help me.
I have to work tomorrow, I thought angrily.
My thoughts of being put upon fed into one another, and like fertilizer my discontented mental mayhem made my anger grow. The more I thought about how much I did for the relationship, the madder I became.
I worked, I brought home the bacon. He stayed home. I mean, I wasn’t asking for a lot. Just some help with the dishes.
But he always does the dishes, this meek, quiet part of my mind commented.
Darn her. Yeah, he did. He always did the dishes.
He does the laundry too, the wise, mild-mannered me spoke.
Yeah, I guess you’re right.
He actually does a lot. Like, almost everything, the selfless side of my brain countered.
Gosh, he did do everything. I rinsed a mug as my eyes drifted to our Keurig coffee maker. I mean, he even filled that water. I had noticed a few months ago that every morning when I went to make my morning joe the water line was at maximum capacity, and finding that unusual I asked my spouse about it.
“I do that before I go to bed,” he had said. “I know you get up so early, and you’re rushed sometimes, so I wanted that to be one less thing you have to worry about.
And as I stood there washing the remnant of egg off a frying pan, looking at the water container of my coffee machine, a voice of reason whispered again. This time it wasn’t my good wife side, but rather the Holy Spirit.
This is a service to your spouse.
Bam. The reality of it hit me like a Mack Truck. He always washed the dishes, and by me washing them today I was offering him a reprieve. Last week he had sent me to the pool alone, knowing I needed a little quiet time to myself. Even though he spent all his time with our young daughters, even though he was never alone, and even though he was the one who needed a break without tiny voices demanding attention, he sent me off to be alone. What were a few dishes?
Again the voice of truth.
Marriage is about service, not comparison.
It seemed to bless my spouse to do these things for me. Whether big or small, he took pride in it all. Whether he was folding my pajamas, homeschooling our children, or cooking supper, he always had a smile on his face. He worked so much harder than I always gave him credit for.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that Satan is out to destroy marriage. He wishes to sink the first union God created. He knows that two are better than one, and he understands that a team dedicated to serving the Lord together is a force not to be challenged. It’s much easier on him to divide and conquer, to confuse couples, to deceive them so effectively that they’re too busy focusing of themselves to work with their partner towards God’s will for their life. When he can instill selfish thoughts and comparison, he takes a husband and wife’s eyes off the prize ahead. Instead of moving forward they stall out, and many times they bail all together. Thankfully my own thoughts of self-centeredness were brief in nature, but I knew it was my own desire to be like Jesus and serve in love that blessed my marriage. In showing my love to my husband by appreciating his contributions to our family, remaining humble in my own, and realizing our combined efforts created a beautiful union, I not only served my spouse, I also served the Lord.
The thing is, in the grand scheme of life, a sink full of dishes doesn’t mean much at all. A healthy, happy marriage, though, that means more than we even realize. It means our daughters will grow up in a joy-filled home brimming with laughter rather than a broken one punctuated by raised voices. It means a cord of two strands that won’t easily be broken when the problems of this world rear their ugly head. It means simply more time enjoying each other’s presence rather than resenting our relationship. It means a happier life. No matter how many dishes it racks up.
As I finished placing the last rinsed fork into the dish drain, I noticed my husband walking into the bathroom. He spent the next 45 minutes fixing a clogged sink, and completed the job by scrubbing the sink until it was gleaming. Thank goodness it’s not a competition. The score would definitely be in his favor.