I leaned back in the driver's seat as the key hung from the ignition on a rare “no kids day”. In that morning I had accomplished four bed sheet changes (one of which was a bunk bed, by the way – oy vey!), a fridge purge, vacuuming, grocery shopping and lastly, a Target run. I looked at the clock; I still had one whole, precious hour to myself. Victory.
And then I remembered.
When I had first pulled into that Target parking lot nearly an hour before, I had texted my husband asking if he needed anything. And had failed to check my phone since.
Oh, he rarely says yes, I reasoned. You're in the clear.
But not so on this day. I unearthed my phone from the black hole that is my purse and read the text he had sent only minutes prior.
Deodorant, actually, his message read. Great.
I audibly chuckled, as I thought about the countless times I had texted him that “one more thing” I failed to include on his grocery store list, only to find out he had literally just made it to (or sometimes through) the checkout lane. It was sort of a running joke between us.
Turnabout is fair play, my friend, I texted back, along with a winky face.
Really not wanting to go back into the store and feeling quite possessive of the “free time” I had remaining, I reasoned with myself that he was a big boy who was more than capable of purchasing his own personal hygiene items. He could just as easily stop to pick it up on the way home from work as I could go back into the store. After all, I had already spent the majority of the day working “for the good of the family” and I was tired. I deserved to go home and enjoy the peace while it was still within my grasp.
Then I pictured my husband: hands dirty, sweat on his brow, undoubtedly contorted in some uncomfortable position as he dealt with the plumbing in an obscurely laid out hospital at a poorly managed job site nearly an hour from home. And he had been there since quarter-to-six that morning.
I smiled and removed the keys from the ignition, quickly sending him a text back. My nose and your pits are lucky I love ya so much..., the message read.
I briskly walked back into the store, heading straight to the correct aisle, did a sniff test on a few options and valiantly carried the best one to the check out. I was back in the van in less than 5 minutes. And ya know what?
I felt amazing.
How could a stick of deodorant make me feel this way, you ask? Because, despite the simplistic and menial nature of the task, I still had made a conscious decision to put my husband above my own wants and my own plan for the afternoon. Was it a huge sacrifice? Not in the slightest. But did it feel like it at that particular selfish moment? You bet.
But that's just it: How many times do I spend the day caring for the needs of my children (or even the dog), taking care of the house, making time for the tasks which I deem important without ever stopping to think what my husband might need from me? I justify it by reasoning that all of those other things are helping and serving him, all-be-it indirectly – which I do believe to be true, by the way – but then fail to admit that I often treat his most simple, direct needs (whether verbalized or not) like less of a priority. They almost always fall to the bottom of my to-do list.
Because he's a grown man. He can handle it. He doesn't need me like the kids do, I tell myself time and time again.
Yes, yes and yes.
But why did God create Eve? Did God see fit to add her to His creation plan because Adam was an incapable human being? Most certainly not. God created Eve a) to provide companionship (“It is not good for man to be alone,” God says in Genesis 2:18) and b) to provide assistance (“But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” Genesis 2:20b). God didn't look at Adam and say, “Oh you silly man, you'll never be a good enough cook or a tidy enough housekeeper or a strong enough parent or a careful enough budgetor to make it on your own – here's a woman.”
It's taken me nearly 10 years of marriage to discover – and trust me, I am still very much a work in progress – that it's not about who works harder or who has it worse or who deserves what. It's about being partners in life, a team who cares about each other, helpers to one another. It's about caring for one another and putting the other person ahead of yourself. It's about following Christ's model for marriage, regardless of your spouse's actions, mood or personality.
Am I making too big of a deal out of a stick of deodorant? Possibly and probably. But putting my husband's needs above my own every now and again IS a big deal. And one I pray God continues to help me discover.