Make Your Bed, Change Your Marriage

Dr. Greg Smalley hated making the bed but realized his resistance had become selfish. Read how he decided to serve and sacrifice for his wife.

Picture this: It’s a bright, sunny morning. You roll out of bed and into your most comfy slippers. You lovingly glance across the rumpled duvet at your spouse standing on the other side of the bed, and then you joyfully make the bed together. … What an awful image!

I don’t care about feng shui or that a clean sleep environment is good for my health. It doesn’t matter that Sept. 11 is National Make Your Bed Day or that my mother would cringe if she knew I still don’t straighten the sheets every morning. The bottom line: I hate making our bed.

Many people don’t make their bed in the morning because they’re late and rushing out the door. That’s not me. I like margin in the morning so I’m typically not frantic. I can’t use that as an excuse. Simply put, I like to get into a messy bed.

My wife, Erin, doesn’t see our unmade bed the same way that I do, so a morning disagreement often ensues. Yes, we’ve had this argument many times throughout our 24 years of marriage. I’ve tried to convince her that unless she’s conducting tours of our bedroom while I’m away, no one will know that the bed is unmade. I’ve tried to explain that the idea of slipping my feet into tightly tucked sheets at night gives me the heebie-jeebies. I’ve tried arguing: “I’m just going to get back in it tonight. What’s the point?” I’ve even tried letting science prove my point by showing her a recent scientific theory about the health benefits of an unmade bed.

The other day I was lamenting to Erin — for the thousandth time — why making the bed is absolutely the dumbest waste of time, when it hit me: My resistance had become utterly selfish. So I started making the bed.

Making the bed as a service

As a husband, I want to be like Christ. He came to earth to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28). One of the greatest joys and privileges of being a husband is to serve my wife.

First Peter 3:7 says, “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman.” One of the best ways to show honor to Erin is to serve her.

According to, in the mid 14th century the word servant meant “professed lover, one devoted to the service of a lady.” I love that image — treating my wife like a knight would treat a lady of the court. But I want my model to be Christ, and He took the idea of being a “professed lover” to a new level when He sacrificed His life to serve you and me.

Making the bed as a sacrifice

Ultimately, my role as a husband is not just to serve Erin, but to sacrifice for her. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

Sacrifice is giving up something that you possess that’s valuable to you (e.g., your time, money, comfort, desire, etc.) for the sake of someone you consider to be of greater value. Serving — helping out or assisting — is often easy. But when serving Erin costs me something, it’s a whole different story.

I believe that sacrifice is tied to Philippians 2:3: “In humility value others above yourselves” (NIV). I want to sacrificially serve my wife because I consider her to have greater value than me. King Solomon conveyed this perfectly when he wrote, “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22, NLT).

Thus, from a place of highly valuing Erin as a treasure from the Lord, I told her that making our bed was now my job. I don’t want to feel selfish every time I watch Erin making the bed. I’m far from being a perfect husband and I still hate making the bed, but I love sacrificing for my wife.

This concept of encouraging mutual service in a relationship is more than just good biblical counsel. Researchers have found that couples willing to make sacrifices within their relationships were more effective in solving their problems. This sacrificial love predicted lower divorce rates and slower rates of deterioration in the relationship.
Here Is What Real Commitment to Your Marriage Means as accessed July 29, 2016

A good marriage is made of two servants looking for ways to sacrifice for each other out of a deep awareness of the other’s incredible value. Romans 12:10 says it perfectly, “Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.

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