Tomorrow morning, I’ll wake up earlier than everyone else to prepare a fresh breakfast. While it’s true that some mornings I pull out bowls for cold cereal, it’s become the norm around our house for me to make a hot breakfast. Our kids have no idea that eating fluffy homemade pancakes with cheesy scrambled eggs on the side and a cup of whole milk is special, but my husband knows (and loves it). He grew up eating a hot breakfast in a household where the first meal of the day was a priority for family time, and that preference is now shaping the culture of ours too—but this hasn’t always been the case.
Just a few short weeks after our honeymoon, my groom insinuated that I should wake up early to make him a breakfast sandwich each day. As a new, naïve, and self-interested bride, I informed him that the pantry was stocked with granola bars (and we even had a toaster if he cared enough to make one for himself). I figured that what my husband wanted me to do wasn’t a matter of holiness and sin, but a matter of personal preference—so what was the urgent need to honor that preference, especially if it made more work for me? He brought up the idea of a freshly prepared breakfast a few more times after that, but eventually got used to fending for himself.
Listen for Your Mutual Joy
As I look back on those early years of marriage, my heart aches a little. Today’s lively and tasty breakfast meals, full of family fellowship are a high moment for our days. I enjoy serving my family in this way, and feel a little sad about the years where I felt like it wasn’t important. Not to mention, on this side of having children, I can only imagine all of the mornings I could have spent talking with my husband and best friend over coffee and gourmet eggs. Why didn’t I want that? Was it worth that extra 20 minutes of sleep I got each morning.
It never occurred to me that my new husband was also trying to lead me through his expressed preferences. What I shrugged off, he viewed as a means to an important end. My husband wasn’t just hoping that I’d wake up early to slave away in the kitchen on his behalf—no! He wanted to be with me, start the day as companions and make traditions for us to remember. My husband and I wanted to same thing – nearness. I wanted to stay up late and talk, and he wanted me to wake up early to make us breakfast. Something that only clicked years later.
This isn’t the only example that comes to mind. My husband has tried to lead through preferences in many other areas as well; desiring for us to have more people over after church spontaneously, hoping that I’ll create a system for household inventory, making rest a priority on vacations, and even encouraging me to utilize our local library more frequently. While on the surface, these things seem to cramp my style, in reality, honoring these things would be good for our marriage and family.
Listen for the Good of Others
So here is my lesson and my charge for wives: listen to your husband’s preferences and care about them. Insofar as you can manage, honor the way he likes to do things. Not because he’s always right, but because God’s word calls us to look out for the interests of others. Loving your neighbor and your spouse are really one in the same – both include laying down your life for the sake of another. Godly love seeks to satisfy another’s preferences as strongly as they preserve their own.
Also, have you ever considered that the very leadership you are hoping for might be expressed through your husband’s preferences? That the connection and intimacy you long for in your relationship could be fostered as you take an interest in the things your husband likes and enjoys? Sometimes it feels like adapting to someone else’s preferences is too much work, but just as the church’s joy is caught up in Christ, our joy in marriage can actually increase as we make sacrifices for our husband’s pleasure (assuming his preferences aren’t sin). This isn’t manipulative joy, but the genuine blessing that comes with being the giver instead of the receiver.
So maybe it’s time to revisit that list of seemingly annoying things your husband has asked you to do and see how you can bless him. Fold his shirts that special way, get the car washed just how he desires, have those treats he enjoys stocked in the pantry and get ready to watch him smile.
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