On sunny Sunday afternoons, my husband almost always volunteers to babysit our kids indoors while I go outside to catch up on my tan and whatever book I’m currently reading. It’s his way of making sure I have a chance to unwind and relax before the chaos of the work week begins the next day. He also knows he married a Floridian sun-worshiper: there are few things that make me as relaxed as catching some rays with the lawn chair in full recline mode.
Two weekends ago, after ordering me and my book outside, the Hubs came out and filled up our son’s kiddie pool, just so I could soak my feet in the cool water while I read. After asking me at least three times if there’s anything else he could get me, he left me outside with my shades, my book and my towel. I was barely six pages into my chapter when he came outside once more, carrying a straw in his hand.
“Here’s a straw for your water,” he said, handing me the neon pink item. “Thanks!” I said, giving him a suprised and “how come?” look. “I just poured you a big glass of ice water inside,” he explained, “but when I looked out the window I saw you already had one. So I remembered you like straws when you drink out of big tumblers, so here you go!”
The moment the Hubs stepped back in our house, I think he forgot about the straw. But I thought of it all afternoon. I was overwhelmingly touched that my husband had noticed that I liked straws with big cups (I never talked about it), let alone that he had been standing there in our kitchen thinking of something nice he could bring me. When we got in bed that night, I brought up the straw and thanked my man again. He seemed a bit surprised – but pleased – that it had made my heart melt.
Two days later, I left for my infamous trip to South Carolina with our two sons. My biggest worry before leaving the house was whether my husband would still eat in my absence. (After all, it had been a while since his bachelor days of Pizza Hut delivery and Marie Calendar frozen dinners!)
I put leftovers in our fridge and freezer, all with Post-It notes taped to them explaining how to reheat, what to eat with what, etc. etc. Not only was his food emblazoned with Sharpie instructions on Post-It notes, but I also gave him a verbal run-down the morning I left: “Did you see the ziti in the fridge? Re-heat that and have the salad in this bowl right here. The organic Ranch is right here next to it. And don’t forget to take the turkey meatloaf out of the freezer Saturday night, so you can eat it for lunch on Sunday…” and on and on I droned while he watched me and nodded.
“Yes, yes I saw all the notes, thank you!” he said. As I turned to walk out of the kitchen he said: “And Babe? Just so you know, that food in there is my straw.”
I stopped in my tracks and we stood there smiling at each other for a second. In that moment, I think we both understood and reveled in an important truth about marriage.
You see, we both know that a good marriage includes mutual attraction, crazy awesome sex, steller communication and shared interests. But the foundation of a truly great marriage is something deeper, something so basic and yet so powerful it’s often hard to put into words. It comes from caring for the other person at the very core of your being; it’s desiring their good above your own; and it’s the interior drive, motivated by pure love and fueled by grace, to shower the other’s life with kindness in every way possible, including the little seemingly insignificant things. For kindness in marriage touches the heart in a profound way, adding fuel to fire all the other aspects of married bliss.
I recently read a quote by Winston Churchill that said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Isn’t this so profoundly true for married life?
I hope the Hubs and I always remember that straw and leftover meatloaf, and strive to continue to shower each other with small acts of kindness. I’m confident it can only serve us well as we journey the long road ahead.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…”
– Philippians 2:1-5 (RSV)