One of the interesting aspects of the Declaration of Independence is the statement that we have the right to pursue happiness. When this was written, I believe it was a valid and well phrased value. However, overtime, we Americans have taken this to the extreme – we have become a hedonistic and selfish society.
We work to get more money, not necessarily because work of and in itself is a good thing – or that it benefits society as a whole. We go to church, as a means of providing personal fire insurance and to save ourselves from the pain of a personal Hell – not necessarily to glorify God or to better represent Him. And often, we pursue relationships because we are lonely, lustful, or too lazy to do our own laundry – not necessarily to lift up another and express unconditional love to them.
Too many of us keep score!
Today’s reading was about our need to be unselfish; which is almost completely against everything we value.
Several statements jumped out at me as I read today’s chapter:
The goal [of marriage], it seems, is to chase the highest level of happiness possible.”
When we are looking for a mate, we usually look for the most attractive, most successful, and best person (who will have us). This is normal, but it really starts off on the wrong foot, and is often carried to an extreme. If she gains too much weight, or he can’t hold a job, we began to look elsewhere to have our needs met. Indeed, how many times have you heard someone justify their divorce by stating that their “needs were no longer being met.”
[Selfishness] is a trait we hate in other people, but justify in ourselves.”
She may not be meeting my needs, but how is that relevant to me not meeting hers? “I didn’t get into this relationship to serve, I married her to be happy. How will unselfishness possibly make me happy?” We often say to ourselves.
In fact, unselfishness will always create more happiness than it sacrifices – but so few of us have truly experienced it. Rarely have we seen it modeled, so we don’t even know what it looks like – let alone know where to start. It takes great humility, strength, and courage to truly be unselfish.
Choosing to love your mate will cause you to say “no” to what you want, so you can say “yes” to what they need.”
I’ve heard this said another way: Many people go into marriage thinking it is a 50/50 proposition. They believe it takes two halves to make a whole, but in reality, both individuals have to give 100%. Without a complete contribution, it is merely a shell of a marriage/relationship.
My brother once taught me that whenever you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to something else. If you tell a coworker that you can come over and fix their car, you’re telling your family no, you won’t be able to spend the weekend with them. If you tell your boss that you’re willing to take home a project and crank it out overnight, you’re telling your wife that you won’t be able to spend the evening with her. If you agree to go to “the game” with the guys, you won’t be able to spend some quality time with your kids.
Sure, an occasional night out, help to a friend, or an urgent work project is a normal part of life; but too many of us make these things routine and we leave our families without the leadership and time they need from us. As men, we often subconsciously escape intimacy and time with our families. TV, the Internets, friends, work, hobbies, and other distractions take us away from the precious time with our wives and kids.
Be the first to demonstrate real love [to your spouse].”
Too many of us keep score. If we don’t get what we want, we don’t give what our partner needs. This is not leadership – this is petty and it leads to pain, resentment, and unbearable walls that destroy relationships.
So, moving past patience and kindness, today I resolve to be unselfish and giving. So, with that, I’m wrapping this up so my Wonderful Wife can take the afternoon off and then go out with friends this evening.