In all that you do, endeavor to make your spouse feel wanted, needed, and loved.
The night before our wedding, our officiant pulled us aside. Our rehearsal dinner was winding down, the guests starting to dissipate. Only our bridal party and a few family members remained, chittering and laughing over glasses of sweet tea, as excited as us for what the next day would bring. Noticing a lull in the festivities, our officiant--who also happened to be my best friend's father-- pulled us aside to a quiet booth tucked in a back corner of the venue. There, he proceeded to give us the best marriage advice anyone has ever offered to us. It's advice that I can't say that I've been faithful in remembering or living everyday... but I can honestly say that--on the days I do remember it--it has proven its worth.
"In all that you do, in the actions you take, in the words you speak, in the decision you make... endeavor to make your spouse feel wanted, needed, and loved," he said. "Ask yourself: does what I'm doing make my spouse feel like she's wanted? Like he is needed? Does it make him/her feel that s/he is truly loved? If the answer to one of those questions is a definite no, then maybe you should rethink your words or what you are doing."
At that time, sitting in that booth clutching Mark's hand, I know that I didn't fully comprehend the entirety of his words. I understood that these were words springing from years of marriage experience and from godly wisdom. Yet in that moment, my mind brimmed with last-minute wedding worries: did we have enough napkins? Were there enough flowers in each centerpiece? Would the DJ play the right song when introducing us at the reception? The answer to that last one turned out to be NO by the way.
Now, after two and a half years of marriage, I think I'm beginning to comprehend what this advice may mean.
In short, it means to put each other first. To weigh your daily decisions and actions with your spouse in mind. To consciously choose selflessness. To be willing to make a decision you may not want to make or to do something you may not want to do simply for the other's benefit and joy. To seek your spouse's happiness above your own, to seek their comfort above your own, and to encourage them always.
When we're locked in a heated newlywed fight--whether it be the slamming door kind, the spewing tears kind, or the silent-but-deadly kind--this advice requires that you be willing to swallow your pride. To apologize sincerely, without having to be asked. To be willing to give some ground to spare the other's feelings. It requires bending your will in order to heal the other's heart. And I'll be honest: as a fiercely stubborn and proud person, apologizing first or admitting I'm wrong is one of the hardest tasks that I ever have to do. But then I pause and ask myself "Did what I say make my husband feel loved? Or needed? Or wanted?" If the answer brings guilt, learning to apologize and admit my own faults comes a little easier. As time passes, I'm learning that apology is just another part of marriage.
Lastly, it's important to note that this advice applies to both people in the relationship. These words aren't part of the wives-submit-to-your-husbands mantra. No. Ya'll know me better than that. Both parties should strive to uphold this advice. Because if each person endeavors to put the other first, well then neither one will miss out on much will they?
After all, I think our society could use a little more selflessness and kindness in daily life. And what better place to start that under your own roof?
What's some of the best marriage or relationship advice you ever received? Feel free to share!