Last week I was in a hardware store getting some stuff for the house when I saw a perfect example of marital love. An elderly woman was by the paint section picking out a new color for the house. Her husband, god bless him, was quietly standing beside her, waiting for her to decide between “Brazil sunrise”, or “Relaxed Lime”. The old man loved his wife, so he was quietly waiting for her to make up her mind so he could go home and watch a baseball game.
Men and women are so different it’s a wonder that we ever end up with each other. Men like sports, potty humor, and bacon. Women like romantic comedies, paints with weird names, and…not bacon, (at least not like men love bacon). Yet despite our differences, we are drawn to each other, get married, and choose to stay with each other, (ideally anyway), for a long period of time. In the differences between the sexes we can see an amazing display of love.
For example, I bet you the old man in the paint department did not care at all about whatever paint his wife was choosing. He would probably as equally happy with whatever color his wife wanted, whether that be “Moose in Montana” or “Daisy Petal White”. But since he loves his wife he is going to wait patiently until his wife makes her decision, and tell her “yes, I really do love ‘Lemongrass yellow’,” even though it just looks like yellow to him. He willingly chooses to be interested in what his wife is interested in, even though he would rather be eating bacon or watching a Chuck Norris movie.
Women are the same way. They choose to love the weird things men like, even though they don’t really care or understand. For example, I love college football. My wife, though she won’t admit it, severely dislikes college football because it turns me into a raving lunatic whenever my team is on TV. Still, she will support my weird addiction by getting me food for the games, making sure the kids leave me alone, and even asking how the team is doing, even though she would rather us be watching a movie involving Hugh Jackman. She will love me by supporting my interests, even though she isn’t interested in my interests.
Marital love is at its best when it is selfless and makes concessions for the other’s interests and needs. Sometimes women want to talk about a cute baby outfit she saw and isn’t it a pity we didn’t have 8 more children. Sometimes men want to talk about how the movie Braveheart is probably the greatest cinematic experience of all time. In each situation the loving thing to do is submit your own desires and interests to the interests of the other. By doing so you show respect and consideration to your spouse. Eventually you will find something you can agree on, like watching a Hugh Jackman movie while eating bacon, but in the meantime, you should willingly lay down your own interests for the interests of the other. This will show love, respect, and kindness to the other person.
The alternative is selfishness, which statistically doesn’t make for a happy marriage. I’m willing to bet you won’t find many divorcees who say “My husband was such a giving, selfless, and considerate man, but the fact that he couldn’t make a good beef stroganoff really drove us apart”. Selfishness is only caring about your needs and interests and not making time to discuss the merits of “Lilac Passion” or any other weird paint your spouse is interested in. Selfishness means it’s all about you. And if it’s all about you then your spouse is going to grow tired of talking about bacon and football all the time. Vice versa, if it’s all about the female, the husband is going to grow weary of the Ellen show, paint colors, and being compared to Hugh Jackman. Selfishness in the marriage relationship is poison.
Men and women are incredibly and humorously different, yet somehow we are drawn to one another in love and marriage. The only way we can survive is if we intentionally and periodically lay down our own interests and needs so we can serve and care for the other party. This means guys will sometimes find themselves going to a wine tasting and girls will have to endure their husband’s insights into the greatest quarterback of all time, (it’s Tom Brady by the way).
Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this–that one lays down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13). So this week, take an interest in random paint colors, major league baseball, or whatever else your spouse is interested in. Show them selfless love this week. It’s good for your soul and your marriage, even if you can’t tell the difference between “Baby Cucumber” or “Watermelon Peel”.