Choosing a “Do Unto Others” Attitude in Marriage
Has God’s command to “do unto others as you would have done to you” been hard to follow in your marriage? Here’s a story of how it has played out in mine.
When I Didn’t Want to “Do Unto Others”
I took off down the gravel road, hoping that a walk would calm me down. Instead, I found myself face-to-face with the very field that had stolen my husband’s time. As I stood on the dusty ground, I felt tiny rocks stuck in my heels, then anger and bitterness crept into my heart.
As I stared down the corn stocks in front of me, questions circled in my mind. Didn’t he know I needed his time too? Didn’t he know I hated farming anyway? Didn’t he know I was just so mad about it all?
The gravel rocks that were stuck in my shoes felt like they were also stuck in my heart. With the dusty ground beneath my feet, I staged a full-on fit. In that moment I was completely committed to throwing my tantrum right in front of the corn field.
A Change of Heart
Mid-outburst, a small, quiet thought entered my mind: “do unto others” from the Golden Rule. God was asking me to grow up. I had an opportunity to lay aside my anger and bitterness in exchange for something better. But what did it mean to “do unto others” in this moment?
The reality is that there are seasons where farming takes a great deal of my husband’s time and energy. I was feeling the pressure that comes with such a time.
In that moment, I found myself hyper-focused on what that time was like for me. I forgot my husband was feeling the pressure too. Could it be that he was just as tired and worn out as I was?
I didn’t want to give up my anger and bitterness. It felt real and justified, but it didn’t produce anything good in me. It didn’t help bring me closer to my husband in a season where I hated the fact we spent so much time apart.
Choosing a “Do Unto Others” Attitude
On that gravel path I had a choice to make. I could continue to give way to all the yuck that had built up inside me, or I could lay it all aside in favor of loving my husband in a season where loving is hard to do. It wouldn’t be easy, but I still had a choice.
While Jesus walked this earth, he taught his followers about this choice to love. In Matthew 7:12 Jesus taught us, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (NLT) Simply put, if you would like love, give love.
Choosing to love our husbands the way that we love ourselves will cost us. It means that although we can be honest about the tension of the season we are in, we don’t need to stand on whatever path we find ourselves on and commit to fit throwing until the season is over. We can remind ourselves that our husbands are the specific “other” that we have an opportunity to “do unto”.
Here are several steps you can take to put on a “do unto others” attitude:
1. Forget the Fit
Before moving forward in love, I had to choose to forget the fit. Remember, a fit doesn’t produce anything good anyway! There is nothing inherently wrong with acknowledging the discomfort of the season, but it is important to make sure that voicing tension does not turn into full-fledged anger and bitterness.
2. Focus on the Truth
Remind yourself of what is true in these difficult moments. For me, this meant remembering that my husband was spending long hours away not because he wanted to, but because he was providing for our family. I also needed to remember that although I was tired, he was tired too.
3. Follow-up With Love
Getting back to the question I asked on my own gravel path, what in the world did loving my husband look like in this season, this moment? For me, I made apple crisp. It was a tangible way I could show love to him in this season. Ask yourself what loving your husband looks like in your marriage. Then simply do the thing that will demonstrate this love to him.
Yes, there are seasons where the attitude of “do unto others” is the furthest thing from our minds. In tense moments, we must remember that Jesus has spoken to this very choice before us. Let us choose wisely!
Wife Step: Asking yourself a few clarifying questions can be a wonderful way to gain some perspective when you need to choose a “do unto others” attitude. Here are some examples: What are the rhythms of our relationship outside of this season? How well have I prepared for the intensity of this season? If there is something that needs to be addressed, when would be a better time?
Amy Walkup is in the final stages of completing her degree as a professional counselor. She is passionate about sitting with others in the midst of their pain and difficulties in order to find the place where God is working to bring restoration and transformation. Amy desires to see women, men, and families transformed by the grace of God. Living in rural Minnesota with her farming husband and two sets of twins, she continues to learn more about the grace of God and how this grace allows God’s children to be made new.