Song of Songs 5:6 – I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer.
This is an excerpt from the new book “Real Romance: Sex in the Song of Songs”. To purchase the book, click here, and to access the sermon series that accompanies these devos and this book, click here.
Everything in this life works against helping us to be servants. When we are little, our parents, grandparents, teachers, and coaches serve us. The teen years are often characterized by great selfishness. Things only get worse in our 20s as we have freedom, money, and no one to whom we are accountable or responsible. We eat what we want, go where we want, watch what we want, and do what we want without considering anyone else. Any tasks we don’t like doing, we attempt to find ways to pay other people to serve us and do the work for us, which explains the entire segment of our workforce called the service industry.
Eventually, two people who have spent their entire lives being served get married, and they expect their spouses to serve them. This situation leads to a lot of marital conflicts, and things get even more challenging with children, who are completely helpless and need to be served. The problem is both the husband and wife often look to be served, but they do not want to serve. The sooner this problem is recognized, the sooner their healing begins.
Everyone lives on a continuum from selfishness to servanthood. Three kinds of marriages fall somewhere along that line.
- Selfish + Selfish = a brutal marriage
Two selfish people end up keeping score for everything from chores to sex, and like a competitive business negotiation, they want to get more than they give. This is a lose-lose arrangement because as the two spouses both seek to win by taking rather than giving, they both lose.
- Selfish + Servant = an abusive marriage
If one person is always giving and the other person is always taking, then the relationship becomes exhausting and lonely for the person who feels like they are a bank that gets robbed every day. This win-lose arrangement eventually becomes a lose-lose when the giver gets fed up with the taker and walks away from the relationship because it is abusive.
- Servant + Servant = a beautiful marriage
If both the husband and the wife try their best to consider one another, serve one another, care for one another, and lift burdens for one another, then the result is a beautiful marriage. By striving to live as one, so that when your spouse wins you also win, a marriage can be blessed, healthy, safe, and life-giving.
Sociologists tell us that most divorces happen by the eighth year, which lends some truth to the concept of the seven-year itch. (1) It then takes most couples between 9 and 14 years to go from “me” to “we”, as they stop being selfish and start serving one another. The quicker this lesson is learned by both the husband and wife, the better the odds for a marriage that is endearing and enduring.
If you’re married, what type of marriage do you have? If it’s not the third one, what do you both need to do to get there? If you aren’t yet married, in what ways can you serve others to prepare yourself to serve a spouse in marriage?
- “32 Shocking Divorce Statistics,” McKinley Irvin Family Law, November 7, 2019, https://www.mckinleyirvin.com/family-law-blog/2012/october/32-shocking-divorce-statistics/.