It had been a long day. I was running on empty. My feet hurt, my head hurt, my back hurt, my ears hurt (that I blame on a teething toddler, and screaming baby). Our 6-year-old argued with me all day, and the 4-year-old thought my idea of lunch was “subpar.” I was still wearing my pajamas, as were the children. Eight loads of laundry, a sink full of dishes, and an unmade dinner were demanding my attention as well. I was on my last nerve when he walked through the door.
Meanwhile my husband’s day had played out equally stressful. Trouble with coworkers was becoming difficult to handle. A student had an accident. It must be a full moon because his students were out of control. He had to stay late for a job that was not his own. He was on his feet all day and did not have a chance to sit down. He was exhausted and hungry, and just needed a break.
Imagine being my husband walking into this kind of chaos after a hard day at work. What do you do when you are both on your last nerve? When you both need a break? When the last thing you want to do is tend to your spouse? You feel as though you need some of your burden lightened. Your needs must be tended to. You are in no place to meet the needs of anybody else.
You do it anyway.
In this particular situation my husband took the lead in our home. He corralled the children, disciplined them where necessary; kept them out of my hair for an hour so I could prepare dinner. He suffered the burden for me for a solid hour so I could get my wits about me.
After dinner I cleaned the kitchen and he continued to play with the kids. After the dishes were done he asks me to put the kids to bed. We suffered the burden together.
Coming to this sort of “agreement” has taken us years. We have had conversations (when we are both sane and not completely sleep deprived) about what we need from each other. We have come up with a sort of “game plan” for situations like these. Give and take. Tit for tat. Give me a hand and I’ll return the favor. This has become such an essential part of our marriage. We have come to a place where we can be totally clear about what we need. Granted, this isn’t always the picture. Sometimes James will walk into this chaos without me communicating it to him first. No warning, just insanity. If I have not given him a moment to realize he’s about to walk into a battlefield, he has no choice but to join the fight and go straight to defense mode. Nothing will get accomplished and you will both be left empty, and defeated.
Keeping open communication throughout the day is so crucial to this. James will let me know he has a headache, or he has had a rough day. I will do the same. He always calls me on his lunch break to check on our day at home. This is my opportunity to let him know what’s going on. Being honest with him helps us both. We are given time to mentally prepare for the rest of the day.
As followers of Christ is this not something that we should just inherently know? After all he talks about helping each other so many times!
“Do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:4
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” ~Galatians 6:2
Marriage is the perfect place to apply this principal. Plus, when you are choosing to love your spouse more than yourself, the love will be reciprocated. What a beautiful thing that is.