Recently a salesman appeared at our front door to pitch a new cable TV company. He promised affordable rates and full access to all channels and guaranteed those services for the first year. He was offering the best services and asking for little in return. We asked what happened after the first year. He grinned sheepishly and said, “Well, you only get the best at the beginning. After a year, the costs go up and the service goes down. … But that’s how everyone does it.”
The cable company marriage trap
Cable companies seem to treat their customers amazingly well when they’re trying to seal the initial deal, but a year after patrons have signed up, the introductory rates disappear and are replaced with expensive fees. In addition, the service nose-dives, which makes customers want to trade in the old cable company for a new one.
A lot of marriages operate this way, too. In the beginning when a couple is trying to win each other’s heart, newlyweds roll out the red carpet. They give the best of themselves, but that royal treatment doesn’t last long. Once the day-to-day realities of married life set in, husbands and wives may stop doing all those extra-special things they did in the beginning. They take each other for granted. Some husbands and wives begin to long for that special love and care and become open to leaving the relationship in search of someone new who will treat them well again.
If you’ve been married for at least a year, by now you’re probably facing a temptation common to all married people: You start to take your spouse for granted. But you don’t have to sign the “cable company marriage contract.” You can work toward a better deal. My dad taught me a simple lesson that keeps me from taking Ashley for granted.
Put your spouse ahead of yourself
Just days before I became a husband, Dad said, “Son, always invest the best of yourself into your marriage. Put your wife ahead of yourself.”
My parents have a wonderful marriage. They’re best friends. They love each other and they actually like each other, too! They have the kind of marriage that made me genuinely excited about getting married someday, so I took Dad’s advice to heart.
I recently was able to put this principle into action. Ashley and I were offered an opportunity to take on a project that would bring in a good chunk of additional income. I wanted to do it. I was already mentally spending the extra money. The problem was that Ashely would have to take on the stress and strain of this project.
We both knew Ashley didn’t have much extra margin to invest in a new project. However, she saw I was excited about the opportunity and wanted to encourage me, so she agreed to accept the opportunity.
As we started making preparations, I sensed she was feeling stressed. She insisted she was fine and willing to carry the extra workload, but I could tell she felt uneasy about it. I knew that no amount of money would be worth taking peace away from her. I’d much rather have joy in our home than the extra money and stress, so I pulled the plug on the idea.
With the potential strain removed, Ashley gave me a smile that still melts my heart. The choice was a no-brainer. That money wouldn’t have meant much at the end of our life together, but there’s no price tag I could ever place on having a quality relationship. Giving up the money was a small (but also tangible) way I could show her that she still comes first in my heart, even after nearly two decades of marriage.
Dave and Ashley Willis are authors and spokespersons for MarriageToday, a ministry designed to help couples build stronger, Christ-centered marriages.
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