Marriage Matters: Service


The psychology behind relationships has always fascinated me (which is one reason why I went into psychology as my minor), and I’ve found that most marriage and family counselors will list the following thing when asked to list the top 5 ingredients for a successful marriage:

Service (or the need to be selfless).

In many ways, I married up—

Matt is kind and sensitive to my needs, he is easygoing and nurturing, and he is seriously attractive when he is slicing up vegetables for our dinner.

But of all his admirable qualities, my husband is above all incredibly selfless and giving.

Every day, he shows his love not just through hugs and verbal affirmation, but through countless thoughtful acts, like putting away my dishes, getting me a drink so I don’t have to give up, packing my lunch every single day without fail, and giving me a neck rub when he can tell I’m stressed out.

In fact, it wasn’t until I started dating him that I really realized that I am naturally a kind of selfish person when it comes to relationships–not about all things, mind you, but I wasn’t usually in the habit of constantly looking for ways to serve the person I was with—in fact, I was more the type of girlfriend who was all about the “grand gestures”—the really thoughtful birthday gift, the spontaneous date ideas, or the passionate declarations of love in a letter or email.

And while I think that those “big” acts of love are pretty fun (and appreciated!) every now and then, I have found that marriage has taught me to be much more about acts of daily love, like making your spouse’s side of the bed or folding his/her laundry or picking a movie you know you’ll both actually like.

It’s those small daily acts of love that build a truly loving environment at home—the kind of environment you want to come home to every day more than you want to be anywhere else.

But just as our atmosphere out in nature has to be nurtured and taken care of and not polluted by the daily acts of all involved individuals, so do our homes need to be nurtured and taken care of by the constant daily habit of selfless service.


I’m still not perfect in giving service (I still whine when I leave something downstairs and hope that Matt will volunteer to get it for me or let him pack up our leftovers after every meal), but I HAVE gotten much better at giving service over the course of our marriage.

At first, I started off with the obvious ways of giving service (meaning, the ways that involved things that I naturally enjoyed doing so they didn’t really seem that out of my way) : cooking meals for us most nights, making sure I picked up things Matt liked from the grocery store, or giving hugs and kisses.

And while those were a great start, I have found that there are endless ways to serve my spouse, and the more ways I try, the more the love in our home seems to grow.

Below I’ve created a list of some ideas just in case you’re looking for new ways to increase that daily love in your own home (and to remind myself of things to do the next time I’m cranky):

*Make his favorite meal one night just because (hence the lasagna pics here!)
*Pick up a $5 movie you know he’ll like (even if you won’t)
*Bake or buy a treat that he likes (even if you don’t like it!)
*Fold his laundry and put it away
*Happily agree to watch one of his shows (with no complaints or snide remarks)
*Offer to help him with something having to do with work or school
*Pack his lunch
*Wake up early and make him a special breakfast
*Make his side of the bed
*Pre-order the next book in that series he likes so much
*Write him a little letter and slip it into his backpack, work bag, or wallet
*Buy a Gatorade in his favorite flavor and write a little love note on the cap/bottle, then leave it in his sports bag
*Change the car’s oil without having to be reminded
*Draw him a funny picture of an inside joke or something and put it up on the fridge
*Send him a random email or text during the day to say you’re thinking of him
*Hold hands as much as you can
*Ask him about something he’s interested in and let him describe it to you in great detail
*Tell him you appreciate him and all he does for you
*Thank him specifically whenever he serves you
*Take his dishes to the sink when he’s done eating
*Offer to get him a drink/snack when you’re in the kitchen and he’s not
*Make it possible for him to spend a night (or an afternoon) out with his friends
*Set up the Christmas tree (or other holiday decorations) without making him help you
*Do the chores that he would normally do


What are other little acts of service that you do to add to the daily love found in your home?

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