Picking Up the Slack in Marriage

As seasoned chauffeurs for our two munchkins, hubby and I have an established driving routine. He takes them to school and I pick them up. On the rare occasions when he has an early meeting at work, I’ll take over his shift. This routine has worked out pretty well for us, especially because he’s an early bird and I’m like this cat …

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There have been days however when hubby doesn’t have to go in early, but I offer to take his shift for him. Why? Usually because he had to stay up late to work or he woke up with a migraine due to stress from work (yep, his work can be a beast). Yesterday, it was because there was an issue at work that kept him on the phone till 2AM, then too wired to sleep until 4AM. 🙁 This meant he was still in bed by the time the kids had to leave the house, so I made myself semi-presentable and played morning chauffeur. I haven’t always been this accommodating though. If this scenario had happened a few years ago, I likely would’ve woken hubby up or begrudgingly dragged my pajama-clad behind out of the house. I’d moan and groan and think, Why do I have to do something he’s supposed to do? If I were to be honest, I’d admit that statement goes through my mind. A lot. 😛

I used to be a pro at keeping score in our relationship. When we were first married, I’d remember each time I took out the trash or washed the dishes or did anything of significance (which happened all the time course, ha!). I’d also remember how many times hubby did (or didn’t do) something. For a gal who doesn’t like math much, I spent a lot of time doing mental calculations. But what did all my tallying add up to? A big fat sum of resentment. And as anyone knows, resentment is no fun. You tell ’em, Grumpy Cat.

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So how do you stop resentment in its tracks? It’s simple (kind of!). Stop thinking only about yourself.

One thing hubby taught me that’s really stuck with me through our 15+ years of marriage is the idea of teamwork. Not only the idea, but the ins and outs of how to be a team player. (He’s the youngest of 4, so he’s had plenty of opportunities to learn how to get along with people.) The most important part of being on a team is thinking like a team. It’s no longer me or you, it’s us. And when part of “us” isn’t able to do something that could lead to the success of the team, the other part of “us” picks up the slack.

The thing with picking up the slack for someone else is that it doesn’t always seem fair. You know what? It’s not. People aren’t perfect and situations aren’t always ideal. But what balances those things out is something else that isn’t fair: Love. Love is far from fair. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs or disappointments. It doesn’t keep score or compare. Love is about being the bigger woman (or man) even—and especially—when it’s not fair. And that’s a good thing. Because it means so much more when you do something for your spouse out of kindness, compassion, mercy and grace, not with a sense of obligation, guilt or resentment.

That’s what Jesus did for us. I love the part about joy in the verse below.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Now I’m pretty certain we’ll never have to pick up the slack for our spouse like Jesus did for us (whew!). But there will be plenty of opportunities when we’ll have a choice to make for our marriage: Endure something out of love or become a grumpy cat and feed on a meal of resentment? I think even Grumpy Cat would agree that resentment isn’t worth eating. But love? Love is as sweet and mind-blowing as a big bowl of your favorite ice cream stacked a bazillion scoops high with all the sprinkles, syrup, nuts (or not if you’re allergic) and whipped cream you could ever hope for (without the calories and cavities). 😉

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Yup. Our spouse is our life partner, the closest and most precious teammate we’ll ever have. And each day is a new “game” in the journey of marriage, one in which we have two choices: 1) stay in our own little corner of the playing field or 2) “take one for the team”. When you think about it, when we choose to pick up the slack for our spouse, we’re letting them know they’re worth the extra effort, that they’re worth our love (as imperfect as it is). We’re also contributing to the team’s success by fostering an environment of courtesy, kindness and perseverance. The bottom line? It’s a win for the whole team. I don’t know about you, but winning sounds good. 🙂

Just ask Grumpy Cat. (This is my last meme, I promise!) 😉

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Here’s an oldie but goodie about teamwork, Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”.

Who have you picked up the slack for on your team (ie. your marriage, work or family relationship)? Who has picked up the slack for you?

2 comments

  1. MzChele says:

    Thanks for the great reminder. The feeling of resentment is often the first thing that comes when I need to step up. Thank you for the reminder to take a different perspective.

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