In a marriage it’s important that each partner knows what is expected of them in order for the home to work well. You may do most of the inside tasks, while your spouse takes care of the ones outside. Or you may do the kitchen and laundry, while your spouse mops and cleans the bathrooms. There may even be some who do most all of the work themselves while their spouse rarely lends a hand to help. That’s another post.
Today I want to talk about something we went through earlier in our marriage. It was the whole idea of having to have my husband notice every little thing I did for him. I remember when we were first married that I worked really hard to clean our apartment from top to bottom. When Tom came home, not only did he not notice, but he proceeded to vacuum the carpets even though I had already done it! As a new wife I was devastated.
We didn’t handle that conflict very well, but over the years we’ve learned what should have happened.
He had lived alone for 5 years before we were married. He had a routine to keep his place clean. He wasn’t used to having a wife who was willing to help. So, he didn’t vacuum because he didn’t think I did a good enough job. No. He vacuumed because that was his routine.
When Tom didn’t notice how hard I had worked to bless him, I was hurt. Then, to add insult to injury he vacuumed where I had already. I felt worthless!
I know it was an immature response, but I was only 19.
Now that we have 34 years behind us, I realize that what I was doing was working for Tom’s approval. This was mistake #1. Mistake #2 – I was wanting Tom to notice something I had done even though it was my regular job.
How many times I used to do something that was my responsibility only to be offended if Tom didn’t notice. This proved my need to understand the Truth found in Colossians 3:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (ESV) emphasis mine.
If I’m working as to the Lord, then I will find my joy and satisfaction in doing it for Him.
It is a small way to glorify Him as I go about my day. If I’m working for my husband’s approval, then I will be on a roller coaster of emotions–happy when he notices and makes much of my hard work or sad/mad when he doesn’t notice. I might even be tempted to stop doing something just to see if he notices! (Sad to say, I’ve done that too–I don’t recommend it!)
See how the downward spiral happens so quickly? It’s best to focus on the eternal value of our daily work, than the temporary. Our work matters to God. If we do it with joy then our reward will be great in Heaven. If we grumble and complain, God receives no pleasure in that.
So the next time you work really hard doing something you’re supposed to be doing anyway, avoid the temptation to draw attention to it. Let it be between you and God. And if by chance your spouse does notice with appreciation? You’ve received what Solomon penned in Proverbs:
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.
(Proverbs 27:2 ESV)
Have you ever been tempted to get upset when your spouse doesn’t notice something you’ve done on your To Do list?
Ah the wonderful thing called ‘communication’… yes it certainly does solve many issues if we would only do it.
Hey Sharon! Thanks for commenting. Love your new picture and your post on grandchildren is precious.
Great post Debi. Working “for” approval is so different from working “from” approval (meaning knowing you are already loved, accepted and appreciated).
Great point, Scott. It’s all about walking in the good of the grace of God, isn’t it? We need to be reminded because we daily forget!
So true! And very helpful! We are barely three years into marriage (and three almost 2 year olds haven’t made things any easier!). Great advice! 🙂
But you and David have done a great job staying focused on what matters through this very busy season. Pay attention to the rough spots and God will provide the grace to grow and change.