I grew up seeing both of my grandmothers serve their husbands quite well. And I figured the ways I saw them serving were just how wives were supposed to do it. In my twenty-five years of knowing both my grandfathers, I never once saw them do a single thing in the kitchen. I realize I didn’t live every day with either one of them, but I feel as though I have a good handle on how the duties were delegated in their home. Wives were to cook, clean and take care of the kids; husbands were to work, make the money and take care of the bills.
By no means am I saying that any of these things they did were wrong, but I do want to make sure we aren’t equating servanthood toward our husbands as only those things. In my home, for instance, Aaron does most of the cooking. Does that make me a bad wife? Not at all. In my home we both work and earn income for the family. Does that make me a bad wife? Not at all. Servanthood is a posture of the heart that translates into the actions we do.
When we read a book on servanthood written toward women, often it goes this way: do whatever needs to be done in order to make your man happy. Cook for him, wash his clothes, look pretty and make the children behave. I actually agree with a lot of that, but society has taken it and twisted it in so many ways that it actually feels dirty when I read those words.
What if we truly looked at servanthood in marriage as a dance: a two-person act of laying down our lives for one another. Complementing one another. Sometimes more of him; sometimes more of me; but always both of us. What if, as women yearning to love our husbands well, we began to view our relationship through the eyes of the gospel, the gospel that says God so loved the world that He sent His only Son for us? The gospel says servanthood and love go hand in hand. Hand in hand. That makes for the best dancing anyway.
I’ve figured out one of the best ways to serve my husband, and though it sounds downright unconventional, it works for us. Aaron is a creative. Like, a legit creative. This means he works with his mind, with a lot of competing ideas, and sometimes his mind gets a little overwhelmed and needs a break and needs to breathe some fresh air. He needs to be alone with himself and his thoughts to regroup, to recharge. I get that about him.
So, watch this. We had been married for about ten years when Aaron asked one day if he could go away for a weekend. Alone — as in, I wasn’t invited, nor were the kids. Now at this point in our marriage, I was a stay-at-home mama, which meant the day-to-day kids’ stuff was primarily my responsibility. Which meant when he asked for a trip away — alone — I’ll admit my defenses were a little high. I’m sure I thought things like, “Oh, sure, you really NEED a break.” Or, “Must be nice to take a relaxing, seven-hour drive and have peace and quiet for three whole days.” Did I ever say any of those things out loud? To him or to anyone else? None of your business.
The only thing that matters is that I said yes. Because even if deep down I did think some of those thoughts, I love my husband. I truly want what’s best for him. And what I’ve discovered over the years is that Aaron truly does need that time, and when he gets it, he is not only a better creative but he’s a better husband and father as well. The end game is monumental in our marriage and in our family.
So one of the ways that I have served my husband best over the past decade of our marriage is by letting him head out on the open roads to west Texas once in a while with my full blessing where he can breathe a little. It’s usually three or four days. And although there have been seasons when the timing has felt bad, and it wasn’t the easiest on me to solo-parent for those days, the sacrifice on my part has always been worth it.
Aaron has said to me more times than I can count how thankful he is for my sacrifice in this area of his life. There’s no doubt he understands the weight of what it requires on me for him to get away. I’ll admit the sacrifice was a lot larger when our kids were younger, when life was more chaotic at home and most of my waking hours were spent parenting. It’s still a sacrifice today, but in a different, less intense way.
And the dance goes both ways. There are times when, laying down my “perfect wife” award and instead deciding to be human and vulnerable and honest, I tell Aaron I need a break (or some backup) too. And he serves me back. He’ll give me the time I need to travel for work or a weekend away with some girlfriends to catch my breath. We do the dance. We serve “one another.”
What about you? The way you serve your husband might look nothing like the example I described earlier. But whatever it may be, I encourage you to find it, dig into it and see how you can sacrificially serve your man.
Servanthood is hardly glorified in our society, but it is always glorified in the eyes of God. Serving those around us is what people that follow Jesus do. Everywhere. With everyone. But I pray it would start happening more consistently in our marriages so that we would imitate the servanthood of Jesus in our homes — sacrificial giving with no expectation.
Excerpted with permission from Complement by Jamie and Aaron Ivey. Copyright 2021, B&H Publishing.
Jamie Ivey is the host of the popular podcast "The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey" and co-host of the Relevant podcast. She is the author of If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free. Jamie and her husband, Aaron, live in Austin, Texas with their four kids and two dogs.