Yesterday I suggested our wives deserve grace from us. I revived several complaints that, by definition, grace is never deserved. I agree none of us deserves the unmerited grace of God. Note I modified the word grace there with the word unmerited. In referring to God giving to us, the word unmerited might be a bit redundant, but Google returns 69,900 results for “unmerited grace” so is clearly a common concept. It’s also not what I was talking about.
When I speak of grace to others, I mean being loving, kind, generous, and forgiving. I think my bride deserves those things from me. If nothing else, she deserves them because God has commanded me to give them to her.
However, I’m not going to win a war of words here, so let’s ditch the word grace and focus on the other troubling word – “deserve”. I’m going to use part of the first definition for deserve found on dictionary.reference.com “to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to because of actions, qualities, or situation”. Also note the etymology of our English word is from a Latin word meaning “to devote oneself to”.
I suspect more than a few marriage problems boil down to husband and/or wife giving their spouse only as much as they think they “deserve”. They keep a mental record of rights and wrongs. They give only what they feel they must, or only what they think is required by what their spouse has done or has not done. At the same time, such people calculate what they deserve from their spouse based on what they have and have not done for their spouse. Aside from the fact this seems unbiblical, it is based on the false premise we are a fair judge of ourselves and our spouse. Human nature causes most of us over rate ourselves and underrate our spouse. If both husband and wife are giving only what they calculate is “deserved” then both will be giving less than their spouse feels they deserve. It’s easy to see how this ends, and it’s not pretty.
My choice, and it is a choice, is to see my wife as deserving the best I can give her, all the time. Even when she has been bitchy, and even when I’ve had a long day. I don’t always succeed, but I do better and better as I keep working on it. Is my choice the best way to go? Frankly, I think the Bible more than hints it’s how we are to treat others. Not just our spouse, others in general and our spouse in particular. That aside, it’s certainly a more marriage positive and marriage building choice than trying to discern what she deserves.