Ladies, Go Make Your Husband a Sandwich

"The Milkmaid" by Johannes Vermeer (Public Domain)

One of my guilty pleasures is watching a show called "Married at First Sight." So-called "experts" pair couples using "science," essentially an arranged marriage. The couple meets for the first time when the bride walks down the aisle to meet her new husband. Yes, it's silly, and they get to choose whether to divorce or stay married at the conclusion of the series, but you can learn a lot about the culture's views on marriage by watching. My husband and I like to predict which couples will survive based on their relationship and coping skills. 

It only takes a few minutes of watching to realize how therapized the contestants (for lack of a better word) are. Nearly every one of them talks endlessly about "being the best version of myself," "being my authentic self," and "practicing self-care." Notice the word all these mantras have in common: self. Rarely do couples talk about self-sacrifice or denial of self, which are crucial for a happy, successful marriage. 

Enter a video I stumbled across on X this week, where a woman lists all the things she refuses to do for her husband. 

She points her finger at the camera with barely concealed rage and declares that "small acts of kindness... are mostly domestic labor [and] just add up to work at the end of the day."

She then lists all the things she refuses to do for her husband. 

You all know I don't do his laundry. He can do that himself. I do my laundry and we do the kids laundry, but he does his own. I don't cook dinner. He cooks dinner every single night. I do breakfast and lunch for us and our kids. I don't pack him a lunch. If he's hungry. he'll figure out what he's going to eat for lunch the same way that I do. I don't make his doctor's appointments because guess what? He's not making mine. Would it be kind of me to do that? For sure. Is it my job? Absolutely not. I want him to be healthy, but he's a grown a*s man, and he can focus on appointments, right? There's a lot of things that I don't do for my husband. I don't schedule his haircuts. I don't pack his clothes for vacation, right? I don't do those things. I don't buy him new underwear when it's got holes in it. All of those are things that he's a grown man and he can do himself. 

She says that she occasionally buys him things she thinks he will like as "acts of kindness," which apparently excuses her from having to buy him new underwear. 

The thing is, if you go into marriage with expectations about what you will get rather than what you will give, then it's going to be really difficult to survive the relationship's ups and downs. If you're more concerned with self-fulfillment and being "the best version of yourself" (whatever that means) rather than focusing on how you can make your spouse happy, then you're setting yourself up for failure. 

I'm not saying that women are supposed to do all the domestic chores. Indeed, spouses should share them, but it should not be transactional—if you do this for me, I'll do that for you. If one person prefers cooking and the other likes yard work, then, by all means, split those chores up accordingly. But keeping score or insisting that you will never do a certain thing for your spouse is just selfish. 

In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul gives instructions for marriage: 

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The sense is of a relationship characterized by self-sacrifice, putting your spouse's needs ahead of your own. 

Renowned theologian D.A. Carson explained it this way

Now the very least that that means, of course, is that wives should not be given to belittling their husbands, running them down, nagging, talking about them behind their backs, treating them disrespectfully to a lot of other wives. None of that. That’s the least, but in addition, it means that you [men], as the head of the home, in your desire to serve Christ, in your desire to live sacrificially for the sake of the wife, you take some charge. At the end of the day you’ll work things out, you’ll talk things out, and you’ll argue things over, but at the end of the day, you are responsible.

It's not about one person dominating the other; rather, it's mutual submission, reflecting Christ's love for his church. 

In Romans, Paul instructs Christians to "outdo one another in showing honor." 

So be the better person. Be the one who cheerfully serves. Happy marriages are built on self-sacrifice. If you go into it with a chip on your shoulder, you'll become embittered, and your marriage will be miserable. Ladies, make the sandwich if it will make your husband happy, and maybe buy him some new underwear (you know he needs it). Men, if your wife asks you to take the trash out or change a diaper, do it cheerfully without grumbling. Treat one another respectfully ("please" and "thank you" go a long way) and compete to serve one another rather than worrying about what you're getting out of the relationship. 


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