I'm speaking directly to the men this morning, but of course, just because I intended this for the men doesn't mean it can't speak to the women as well. Can I be transparent with you? A few weeks ago, when Sherry, Beverly and the team were working diligently to put together the amazing Intentionally and Wonderfully Made women's conference, Sherry was, as you can imagine, under just a bit of stress. Sherry is not a complainer, she rarely says anything about her physical condition, so when she said she felt like she was carrying all of her stress in he neck and shoulders, I did what any self-respecting husband would: I offered to give her a back rub.
Typically, a "back rub" is code for "I want to mask getting what I want from you physically with what appears to be doing something sacrificial for you." This time, however, God through the Holy Spirit stopped me dead in my tracks. The first thing He said was affirming for me: "Scott, you're not that guy anymore. Yes, you still mess up, yes you're still not perfect, but you're not the man you used to be." Second, I was clearly led to tell Sherry (who was by now looking at me skeptically) that sometimes a back rub really is just a back rub. Regardless of who I used to be or how I might use a situation for my own personal gain in the past, I'm not that guy anymore and I can choose to be different.
This was one of those fork-in-the-road moments and fortunately, I was made aware of it. I was given the opportunity to pursue Sherry's heart. I suggested that maybe I could rub some warm lotion on her shoulders and neck and then take care of some household duties so that she could take a long hot shower. It happened in just a few moments, but they were moments we'll never forget. After 20+ years, I could tell that Sherry felt like I had reached a part of her heart that was new territory for me. Not that she had been keeping it from me, but I hadn't captured the opportunity to pursue it before. It was a tender, wonderful time for both of us.
Five things you can do for your wife which are purely for her, with no ulterior motive:
#1 BACK RUB: Give her a back rub with no strings attached. After you've turned her to putty with your hands (non-sexual areas only men!) run a warm bath or make time for her to take a long, hot shower. No strings attached.
#2 DAD DAY: Take the kids out for a Dad-day. Take at least 4 or 5 hours and go. You can take them to someplace like a movie or to play mini-golf, but there are plenty of things you can do together on the cheap: check out local museums, hike through a park, walk on the beach. Give her a big chunk of quiet time. (Note to moms: resist the urge to use this time to catch up on housework, etc. Use the time for you.
#3 REVERSE DAD DAY: Kick her out for a Dad-day. Do the reverse of the above by encouraging her to go out with a close friend or group of friends. Make the necessary arrangements for her: call her friends, get her some Starbuck's gift cards, gather info about museums, parks or beaches. Make it easy for her to go and have fun. While she's out, clean the house. Employ the kids so that you'll get some bonding time with them!
#4 DATE: Take her out on a date. Remember back when you were dating? When you were all about each other? Rekindle that fire by doing what might seem silly now: Ask her out on a date. Arrange childcare if necessary, making sure that the kids go and stay somewhere else so that she can have some quiet time to get ready. Ask her what time you should pick her up, get ready early and leave to drive around the block, then come back to the house to pick her up. Knock on the door and everything. Open the door for her. Make sure she's comfortable. Pursue her like you did when you were trying to win her heart and her hand.
#5 CONSIDER: Consider her heart. In everything you do, consider her heart. I don't always get this right. As a matter of fact, I think I probably miss the mark in this area more than I hit it. But I know this to be true: the more you try, the more you'll succeed. Being selfish by nature, it's hard to put our own desires aside and consider someone else first, but that's exactly what makes a good marriage great.
Here's the amazing thing about sacrificially serving your wife: you end up receiving as much as you give (sometimes more!). I love that in turning away from serving myself, I get served. I love God's economy. I love that it works in ways that just don't make sense. But that's just one wonderful part of what makes God the amazing God He is, isn't it?
Got an idea of how to consider your wife's heart? Share it here!