Monday, February 24, 2014

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

There was a Janet Jackson song in the 1980s called, "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" which came off her album entitled, "Control."  The title of the album should give us all a clue.  Control.  We can crave control because we want to make sure our own needs are met.  We can hold this attitude in marriage more than in most other relationships.  The propensity to drift into an attitude of subtle {or not so subtle} demanding and expecting from our spouse is natural.  Our nature slides towards selfishness.  We need to be alert against this downward spiral.

I can find myself looking at my husband and thinking about what he hasn't done in the past day or week and how my needs or wants were left neglected.  When I go there emotionally and mentally, I'm on thin ice.  I am setting myself and my husband up for disappointment and even an argument when I look at our marriage through the lens of selfish expectations.

My unmet needs are mine.  I am responsible for meeting those needs.  I do best when I bring those to God in prayer and wait on Him to meet them in His way and time.  I can talk to my husband about those needs and ask him to do something to help.  What I can't do is complain or grumble -- even in my own heart.

Here are five things I think are doom for a marriage when it comes to the "What Have You Done for Me Lately" mentality:
  1. Focusing solely on my needs instead of opening my eyes to my husband's needs as well and making the meeting of his needs a part of my daily aim as a wife.  
  2. Keeping a record of wrongs (yeah, that's in the Bible)
  3. Grumbling (even in my heart) about the lack I feel from whatever my husband is or is not doing.
  4. Comparing my marriage to other marriages.  (We see the inside of our own marriage and the outside of others -- we can't compare insides to outsides).
  5. Complaining to others about my husband.
Here are five things we can do instead when we feel a need that is being unmet or we feel just plain grumpy or grumbly about our marriage.
  1. Focusing on our husband's needs as much as we focus on our own.  This doesn't mean we become a mamby-pamby selfless mush, but it does mean we need to stop asking "What have you done for me lately?" and turn the table on ourselves: "What have I done for him lately?"
  2. Keep a record of "rights."  Count the things your husband does that bless you and your family.  Turn your eyes to what is good in your husband and count it -- keep a journal of these if you will.  
  3. Celebrate (in your heart and out loud) what is right about your husband and your marriage.
  4. Keep your eyes on you and your husband.  Each marriage is different.  We need to be the best we can be, not compete or compare with others. 
  5. Pray with others over your husbands.  Pray for them, not "about" them and encourage one another to live lives of love which build our husbands up instead of tearing them down.  
One last note -- laugh.  If you can find time to laugh with your husband, great chasms will shrink.  This morning our family was all sitting around before my husband went to work and the boys were snuggled on couches under blankets.  My husband was sipping his coffee and my youngest son said something silly which got us all started.  Within moments we all were laughing hysterically together for about five minutes and it set our day into such a good path.  Laugh together and play together and pray together.  These are the things which tie heartstrings.  The next time you find yourself (or I find myself) asking the Janet Jackson question, turn it around and see what you can do to add to your marriage rather than demand that you get something from it.

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