I walked into the bedroom with my daughter in one hand and a bag full of hotdog buns and condiments in the other. There were a few students already showing up for the meeting, and they greeted me and the food heartily. As I plopped down my daughter and began arranging the food buffet style, one of the students asked who I was. I explained that I was Chris' wife. "You cooked all this for his meeting with us?"
I looked down at the warm up hot dogs, store bought buns, bagged chips and bottled soda, and first thought that he might be joking with me. Then I remembered he was a college student. "Yes, I prepared the hotdogs for you guys."
"Wow", he said. "My wife would never do something like this for me." The comment surprised me. After all, I had done nothing more than add a little to the grocery list and warm up some food. At that moment, Chris walked in the door holding the crock-pot of canned chili from the car and set it in place. He thanked me for my help and offered me a chili dog on my way out the door.
Later on that day as we drve home from school, he told me again how thankful he was for my help earlier. He told me that there were several other married students in the crowd, and each had been amazed that I was willing to cook the lunch for him. He leaned over and kissed me soundly on the cheek, and asked, now what can I do to help you today?
Earlier, I had been asking why I agreed so easily to help out when other wives would refuse. After all, I am a busy work at home mom with too much on my plate already. But now, the answers were obvious.
First of all, my husband and I are a good team. In our relationship, there are a few things that are only my job or his job. We both are capable of doing the housework, watching our daughter, and providing the family income. Together, we decide who would do best doing what in each situation. This minimizes resentment.
Second, I am always willing to help Chris because of his appreciation. He knows that the small things are the big things and thanks me daily for things that easily could go unnoticed. It makes me want to do even more for him because I know it will be acknowledged and appreciated.
Lastly, Chris asked how he could help me in return. This is paramount. Being appreciative is not enough. Couples must both be willing to help one another out. If one is always giving and the other is always thanking without reciprocating, the giver will still burn out on giving. When Chris asked how he could help me, we ended up picking up the house together later that evening. It made me wonder how many of those students who wished their lives helped them out more had spouses at home wishing the same thing about them!
Ultimately, Chris could have cooked the lunch himself and I could have picked up the house in the time it took me to buy and warm up the hotdogs. But we would have missed a chance to strengthen our relationship and show that we cared.
So, how do you get your spouse to do what you want? By being a team player, genuinely saying thank you, and reciprocating acts of kindness and good will in return. Try these three simple things for the next month, and you'll be amazed how they improve your relationship!