by JAVIER & SHANNAN LABRADOR, The Marriage Flippers- 24/7 Marriage
“I felt alone, beaten down, and angry. I was honestly upset, frustrated, and asking myself if this marriage would ever change. I was at the end of my rope.”
It had been three difficult years, yet as I tied the last knot on the rope, thinking, “I will not give up on us, on her,” something shifted. I realized I couldn’t change her, but I could change myself. I can change how I move toward her. I can change how I respond and not react. I am in control of what I can do daily to love her fully. I made a decision that night as I lay inches from her, yet felt miles apart. I knew what I must do.
The next morning, as she walked into the kitchen I asked her, “How can I serve you today? How can I make today better for you?” It was not met with excitement, yet these two small powerful questions would transform our marriage, and I believe they can do the same for you when asked and acted upon daily. You see, marriages don’t die in the big moments; they don’t become beautiful overnight. It’s in all the small moments, the small daily decisions, the small acts of service, and the small questions asked that can lead to a marriage falling apart or prepare a marriage for the BIG moments that inevitably will come. If I looked at all the small moments in your marriage, how you serve one another, your intentionality, then what picture would it paint, what would it reveal and say about your marriage, where it has been, and where it’s headed? Everything we do weaves through our marriage, knitting us together or pulling us apart.
Learning to serve one another is one of those threads that will knit you together and be a catalyst for healing in your marriage. Here is where you start, with a desire and devotion to serve your spouse. Desire first, then devotion to invest in one another daily. And desire and devotion are not the same thing. You can have the desire to work in and on your marriage, great. Yet desire will only produce change if it’s married with devotion. And devotion comes from framing your desires, talking to your spouse about what you both hope to become in this area of serving, then moving towards one another with intentional acts of service that produce intimacy and connection.
Here is what we know to be true and have seen when working with couples in this area. Successful marriages do consistently what others do occasionally. I’ll say it again, successful marriages do consistently what others do occasionally. It means having an everyday marriage with a commitment to be an everyday servant. Let’s break down the last sentence: an everyday marriage is one where you work to improve your marriage daily. You commit to serving, loving, and pursuing one another in small and big ways. An everyday servant is someone who looks to serve their spouse each day intentionally. You look for ways to move toward and invest in your spouse each day- not only on the days when there is something you want or need, to butter them up to soften the blow of your mistake!
It does not have to be complicated; it implies lifting your head and seeing your spouse’s needs. Becoming an everyday servant is asking the question, “How can I best serve you today?” If that’s cleaning the kitchen, helping him with a project or picking up the kids for her, you do it, happily. Listen, I’m just like you; life happens. I get busy and, at times, self-focused. What I’m about to say sounds terrible, but it would be easier to take a bullet for her, because that’s a one-time thing. Bang bang. Done. Compared to doing the dishes every day, helping with the laundry when I’d rather be doing something fun for me. Serving is not always easy or what comes naturally. Yet, over time we can build a habit of serving our spouse, and soon they will ask you- “How can I make today better for you?”