By Kelsey on May 17, 2011 22

Serving Your Spouse

Serving Your Spouse

Today you are in for a treat. You get to read a post about something by someone who is terrible at the topic.

Confused yet? Read on.

Amber asked me what I meant last week when I said that when we got married I wasn’t ready to serve Eric as a godly woman and wife should. I’m so glad she asked, because I remember being confused by the phrase, “serving your husband” for, oh, 26 years.

Honestly, it scared me a little bit.

To me, serving Eric means putting his needs before mine. When we got married, we became one person. (Mark 10:7-9 says “…A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”)

It took me a while after we got married to get over the fact that our clothes now touch in the closet, so I am still wrapping my head around this idea that we’re one.

But, we are. So together we have needs and even if Eric has a need that I don’t, it’s still my need because we’re one.

Are you still with me? I think I might have lost even myself on that one…

Another way to think about it, as I heard it said on Our Marriage Project, is giving 100% of yourself to the relationship or housework, rather than both people splitting the responsibilities and doing half and half. Rather than giving 50%, we’re called to give 100%. And to meet our spouse’s needs and desires. This isn’t easy, and it requires fighting our human nature, but it’s what we’re called to do.

What I say it means to serve Eric:

  • Doing his laundry and folding it so he has clean clothes to wear. (I don’t usually put it away for him, though, so that’s something I could improve on!)
  • Carrying allergy medicine in my purse in case he needs it.
  • Getting up from bed when he wants a glass of water but doesn’t want to get up. (I’ve done this…once, I think…probably because I was also thirsty.)

Serving your spouse is not to say that your spouse can be lazy or have expectations of you. The cool thing is that, if we do it right, Eric will put my needs before his, too.

What the Bible says:

  • Ephesians 5:24-25 says “As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.”To explain this a bit more, my Life Application Study Bible adds, “According to the Bible, the man is the spiritual head of the family, and his wife should acknowledge his leadership. But real spiritual leadership involves loving service (a form of dying). Just as Christ served the disciples, even to the point of washing their feet, so the husband is to serve his wife. A wise and Christ-honoring husband will not take advantage of his leadership role, and a wise and Christ-honoring wife will not try to undermine her husband’s leadership. Either approach causes disunity and friction in marriage. …Both husbands and wives should submit to each other (5:21), just as both should love each other.”

    I find comfort in knowing that “Paul devotes twice as many words to telling husbands to love their wives as to telling wives to submit to their husbands. How should a man love his wife? (1) He should be willing to sacrifice everything for her, (2) make her well being of primary importance, and (3) care for her as he cares for his own body. No wife needs to fear submitting to man who treats her in this way.”

Eric: Jesus is a great example of how we should treat our spouses, and all people, for that matter. I am in no means an expert at this. In fact, there is quite a bit of work to be done in the servanthood area of my life. But He showed us what it was like to humble ourselves. Before the world was about to crucify him, he humbly washed his disciples feet. How crazy is that? That is pure love. So, I try my best to put Kelsey’s needs, desires and requests before my own. This means setting the alarm so that I can gently wake her up in the morning, cooking her dinner, taking care of her when she is sick, and doing things for her before she has to ask me to do them.

I’m so curious of your thoughts! Let’s discuss.


I love my husband, my kids and the Internet.

  1. Whoa! I love this! I couldn’t agree more, even though sometimes it is hard to do this in our very selfish and egotistical (spelled wrong i’m sure) society. In the couple years that I have been married the more we serve each other the happy we are. Sometimes I don’t feel like cooking my husband dinner and he always tells me, its ok you don’t have to. As nice as that is, its my wifely duty and i’m ok with that. I think this is a very important lesson in marriage. I strongly believe that a man should serve his wife too, this isn’t a slave/master relationship. That is how God makes us partners!

  2. I love that you were guided to write this post! The verse in Ephesians is one that I find misconstrued a lot, even among Christians. In this day and age, it is very difficult for a wife to even THINK about submitting to her husband (you know, that whole women’s lib thing) and for men to do the same for their wives (a lot I believe carry the old-fashioned thought that the wife does EVERYTHING around the house and he just has to make the money). Also, today I notice that people that are in a relationship are not willing to compromise or humble themselves to serve their spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend. But, it is so incredibly important and so vital to a thriving relationship. I must share this with others!

  3. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately! Josh and I don’t have defined chores for each around the house. So, sometimes that means one does more than the other. When I feel like I’m getting too much of the load, I try to remind myself of the kind things he does for me! “Remember when he cleaned the bathroom for you?!” I’ve also been learning that looking out for Josh’s needs means I can’t always be trying to protect myself & my needs.

    • We didn’t have a “chore chart” until just a month or so ago. We weren’t sure if it was right to have expectations of each other for that stuff. But, we’ve found that it has been working better for us to know who is responsible for what. The only problem is that Eric still likes the house cleaner than I do…so it’s a work in progress!

  4. Thanks for responding to me! :) So … you both serve each other though, right? You both try to put each other’s needs before your own?

    We had a wedding shower at work last week and one of my co-workers wrote in my card “The key to a great marriage is trying to out-serve each other.” That has stuck with me ever since and I think it might be the best marriage advice I’ve gotten so far.

    Great post guys! :)

    • Yes, that is great advice! Let it be a competition to see who can out-serve the other. :) It goes both ways!

    • Hey Amber and Kelsey,

      I hope you don’t mind me popping in on your convo! First, very well written, and very honest, Kelsey. Well done! Second, I was caught by your question, Amber, and I too struggled with having a servant heart when we got married. I think I sort of wanted a fairytale marriage where my hubs was Prince Charming sweeping me off of my feet all of the time, and then if he did that I would then serve him. Ummm… so Acts of Service is kind of a love language for me. Anyway, the most challenging thing to learn is that I serve my husband even when *I* think that he doesn’t deserve it (which is rare, but still). That is the hard part, but that is one way that we are really bringing glory to God in our marriages.

      • Oh…that is SO hard. When I think he doesn’t deserve it (rare) AND when I don’t feel like it (often). That’s why marriage is hard! But I’d rather be married than not…so I try to serve him. And it’s worth it!

  5. Although I know we don’t share religous beliefs in a textbook sense, I can tell that the core of our values are basically the same!! I don’t ever think of the things that Evan and I do for each other in the term of “serving”…to me it sounds kinda slavey. Although sometimes I do call him “Slave”. Hahahah. Even when we were dating, but even more so once we made it super official with the whole marriage thing – we have always been doing things in the best interest of each other! To me it feels second nature, – what I should be doing in a relationship to show the other person I’m there for them and love them. Caring for him and giving him what I can and in return he cares for me too.

    I think the struggle happens when you feel like you’re giving more than you’re getting, too often! A good one to write about would be – what to do when that happens! No doubt, it will at one time or another!

  6. As always you both blow me away for how much wisdom you have. You encourage me w/ every post. Thank you. Love you guys. God has done amazing things in you both.

  7. This is great! I think serving one another is key to a happy marriage. This has been a hard balance for my hubs and I because I work full time and he works part time – our schedules are very opposite and so we’ve discussed how we can equally contribute to household needs in spite of that. I do my best on weekends to take care of the things that don’t get done during the week by doing laundry and cleaning the bathroom, but he tries to keep the kitchen clean and paying/mailing bills and running errands. It’s so easy for us to forget to accomplish the things that don’t come naturally to us, but through talking out our weaknesses and the things we need help with, we fulfill each others’ needs and keep our lives in order. :)

    • Communication is key, I think. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most. I used to have a job I hated and one morning when I got in the car, Kelsey had put a Milky Way (my favorite) on the steering wheel with a simple note that she loved me. It made me feel so loved!!!

    • It has been really hard for me because acts of service is not one of my love languages. It’s not how I feel loved or show love, but it’s really important to Eric so it has been something I’ve had to learn and get better at, just like he has had to learn how to give me physical touch and words of affirmation. We serve each other not only by doing chores, but by trying to fulfill each other’s needs.

  8. Lovely post you two:) This is such a hard concept to maintain each and every day, but I’ve learned through husband how helpful it is to a relationship/marriage. I’ve always functioned with an “I am woman, hear me roar” mentality and, until Doug, very independently went about my way, meaning I do my own chores and expect the same from my roommates–even if said roommate happens to also be husband. In one year, though, Doug has taught me a tremendous amount about service and what that part of Ephesians really means. It always sounded “slavey” and chauvenistic to me, too, until you really listen. It takes two, and it takes some sacrifice. One wise best man once shared that “Either way the dishes have to be done. You can either wash them single, or you can wash them married.”

  9. Another great post– I think this is one of the hardest things about being married. We still don’t have this down yet. (It’s so easy just to get wrapped into your routine and simply doing what needs to be done.)

    • We don’t have this down yet either. Not even close. But we are trying… and by posting, it helps us focus on those things we need to work on.

  10. Hi guys! I’ve been reading through a lot of your site since finding you via Jess Lively’s podcast and i’ve found a lot of your posts to be super inspiring. Planning to purchase your book hopefully too. This post in particular is really interesting. I am not religious in any way, however, I do still hold a lot of the same qualities/beliefs in my marriage. I can get very “independent woman, hear me roar” as the above commentator also mentioned, and I wonder how do you get over that thinking, to focus so easily on “serving” another (I use air quotes, because serve sounds too forced/slave-like to me” without worrying that you’re the one doing everything? That your “free” time is more used up that your spouses? I mean, a 50/50 split seems like the realistic route, but I agree it doesn’t quite work or feel right in a way. How do you balance, “serving” your spouse, but not forgetting to also serve yourself? I struggle with that. I fully believe women were not made to “serve” the men in their marriage, but I also want to do my best to be there for that person without losing myself/moral beliefs. Thoughts?

    • Hi D,
      I think for me, what I realized over time is that when I am trying to be in control in our marriage, things don’t go that well, and afterward it makes me feel bad or guilty.

      However, we definitely still struggle with this and at times we do feel like each of us is the one doing more. I have learned that I may need to give more at some times or some weeks when Eric has more on his plate with work, and vice versa.

      We have both agreed on our priorities of God first, then self then family then career, so that makes it easier, too.

      • Danielle Campsmith March 3, 2016 at 10:14 am

        Very insightful! My husband and I are speaking at a small marriage conference in 2 weeks and I was looking for good ‘serving’ advice. I heard a sermon that as selfish humans we are also looking to serve ourselves. When we are hungry we feed ourselves, when we are tired we sleep, when we are bored we seek entertainment. If we strive to serve our spouse more than we serve ourselves, we have the makings of a great marriage! no one resents following a great leader and great leaders are ones who think of others above themselves!

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