She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:12 (NLT)
In the book His Needs Her Needs, Willard Harley presents a very simple word picture to describe the give and take that happens within marriage on a moment by moment, day by day basis. He asks couples to picture an internal “love tank” that we all have. With our thoughts, words, and actions we can either make deposits in our spouses love tank that fill them up and produce an increasing sense of love and well being or we can make withrawls that slowly deplete the love tank until our spouse feels empty and drained, and depleted.
Wendy and I talk a lot about marriage. We talk a lot about our relationship and relationships in general. Like every marriage, ours is a union of two broken people living in a fallen world. We are in a unique situation. We work together for the same company out of our home office. We serve together in the visual tech ministry of our church. We re-create together as board members and participants in the local theatrical community. With little exception Wendy and I are around one another 24/7/365.
Ask Wendy or me about the other’s shortcomings and we can supply you with an ample list. We are far from perfect people, and being around one another all the time produces no shortage of opportunities to see one another at our worst. A good friend of mine recently asked me about his observation that there is a genuine loving-kindness he witnesses between Wendy despite the fact that we are around one another all the time. It’s really pretty simple I told him: she fills my love tank, and I do my best to fill hers.
Wendy has chosen in to the things I love. She’s joined the tragic ranks of Cubs fans. She switched allegiance from her Denver Broncos to make my Vikings her favorite team. To be honest, I know she really doesn’t care that much, but she knows that I do and that’s the point. She is considerate of the things that trip my trigger and makes an effort to trip my trigger on a constant basis. I am so knocked out, blessed that I want nothing more than to return the favor and consideration by discovering what trips her trigger and returning the favor. It’s been a process, but I think I’m getting there. When things get tense between us, and they do, the anger and ill feelings quickly drown in our love tanks which are overflowing.
I have observed many marriages which operate in a daily tit-for-tat game of competitive love tank withdrawl: “If you get to do this, then I get to do that. It’s my turn. Let me check the ledger and check the tally. You owe me. It’s time to pay the debt, baby and believe me the interest on that debt has been compounding daily!” Rather than viewing the fulfillment of their spouses need as a good thing for the relationship as a whole, they begin to view it as a diminishment of their own love tank.
I know that this is a simplistic word picture in the complex relationship that is marriage. Yet when I read the above verse, my soul says “That nails it. That describes Wendy. She makes constant deposits in my love tank that far outnumber the withdrawls.”
Today, I’m reminded that I can’t control my spouse, but I can control my own thoughts, words and actions. I want to do good, and not harm. I want to make deposits into Wendy’s love tank, not withdrawls.