Not for the first time, I heard a complaint from a wife the other day:
“When he comes home from work, my husband greets the dog before he greets me!”
I thought about it for a moment and I asked:
“Are you as happy to see him when he comes home as the dog is? Do you smile and give him a hug?”
I could also apply this to husbands. Do you welcome your wife home from her job? Do you try to connect with her? Most wives these days are not stay-at-home workers.
Over the course of a marriage it is a temptation to let courtesies slide. When we were first together we couldn’t wait to see our beloved. We hugged and kissed. We remembered to say please and thank-you. We smiled a lot at each other and maybe even hung on to each other’s words. As the years progress, life gets busy. Kids may come along and suck up a lot of our time. Resentments and disappointments collect, and we somehow think that we are off the hook from having to continue the friendly exchanges.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I can’t speak for the women, but I know us guys need that friendliness. It keeps us trying to do better. It makes really hard days at work worthwhile. It makes our home our castle – safe and secure.
Both Nan & I drop what we are doing when the other arrives home. We greet each other in the morning when we get up. We pray before bed. We try to remember to ask if the other needs something when we are going to the kitchen (Nanis better at this). All of this says “I like you. You are important to me.”
I have heard all kinds of excuses why he or she doesn’t want to be friendly to their spouse. Apart from needing some distance from addictive behavior, very few excuses are legitimate. Even with addictions, we can choose to be kind, and hopefully make a plan to help them (and us) out of their stuck place.
Beyond the personal and familial benefits of creating harmony in the home, I think there is also a mandate from God:
10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
How about you? Have you let the friendliness in your marriage or other significant relationships slide into a bad place? It could be that you are holding on to anger or resentment and need to forgive. Or perhaps it’s just an oversight, due to relational laziness. Either way, you have some work to do.