Cleaning The Garage

No man likes a dirty garage. It’s dirty, unkept, and kills any potential for creativity in a space he claims as his own. The other day I was cleaning my garage really good. I mean I pulled everything out, moved everything, dusted and swept every surface, rearranged all my workout equipment and all the toys and furniture. I was very aware of how I felt afterward: proud. I was excited, refreshed, and just overall creative because I was able to dream up different activities I could do in this new place. I was thinking about how much easier it would be now to do the things I normally do but haven’t been able to enjoy because of the mess. I just wanted to be down there. Even while there was a giant mess going on this beautiful blend of excitement and potential and productivity just led the way.

I couldn’t help but start thinking about my marriage. I was thinking about how important perspective is in a relationship. Despite the mess in my garage I could see the end. I knew exactly what I needed to do and I could see after each little step I took what my next one should be. I wish relationships were that simple, don’t you? I wish how the other person felt or reacted to me didn’t dictate my next move because it takes away my power to be productive with them. Sometimes I feel like I can’t keep doing nice things when said person isn’t puffing me up every time. And I wish I could turn that nice button on after they have frustrated me. My primary love language is Words of Affirmation, so that really turns me on or off. I recommend setting up a pallet with blankets and wine with your wife and learn about each other’s Love Languages here.

That’s what you have to do though. Whether you’re getting it or not, you have to keep giving it. 

My garage got done because I worked at it and I didn’t stop working at it just because I saw an extra pile of dirt there or one more thing out of place I didn’t notice before. The best thing is that I absolutely love it now. I made it my own. I invested in it. I will fight to keep it clean.

I believe most people have heard the Love scriptures before in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. I also believe most of us don’t use it the right way or use it at all. I spent years thinking I was loving my wife as I should until I went really searching for how to revive our marriage. I got led there and realized I hadn’t done any of those things right or consistently. I would get mad at her for not showing me love so I needed to know, was I doing it right? I started using these scriptures like a checklist to measure myself in our relationship:

Love Is (was I?):

– [ ] Patient?

– [ ] Kind?

– [ ] Jealous?

– [ ] Boastful?

– [ ] Proud?

– [ ] Rude?

– [ ] Demanding my way?

– [ ] Irritable?

– [ ] Keeping a record?

– [ ] Happy about the truth?

– [ ] Quick to give up?

‭‭I thought of this in every issue we faced and realized I was never able to check all of these off or even the right ones at the right time. This helped me realize that I needed to be more graceful to my wife in my quest for love. I often demanded what I wasn’t giving to her. I would constantly point out how she wasn’t loving me but based on the above, in order to love her correctly, I couldn’t keep a record. Now that my mind was open to this, I no longer allowed myself the right to expect from her until I fulfilled my part of the deal. Using this guide showed me that my job is just to love her. I am not responsible for how she reacts to me, I am only responsible for doing the best I can to love her as the above tells me to. That is my job as her husband, not to monitor her ability to Love me. 

Guys, when I started doing this and gave it several months for some really healthy habits to be produced, my marriage has never been better. Ever. Here’s why:

  • It took the pressure off her. There was balance. When the other person feels your efforts, they also feel the need to reciprocate.
  • It produced autonomy vs compliance. When someone has the choice to do the right thing and then they do it, they are more confident in themselves. They saw their options and they took the right one. Imagine how you feel when you chase that person down who just dropped a $20 on the street. That feeling just isn’t there when something is asked or monitored.
  • It provided security. When someone is secure they feel safe being themselves. When someone gets comfortable with you and know you will be there a lifetime, you start seeing who they really are. You flourish together because of it.
  • It made me grow. When someone in a marriage grows, everyone wins. A husband’s natural drive is to take his family with him when he moves. There is not much better for a man to do than to constantly better himself for his family. For me, I became a better husband, which in turn also made me a better dad.

When these things happen, then you have two people who are intrinsically motivated to do good to the other person. Each person is consistently getting what they need, therefore giving in the same way. By applying this Love, you are ultimately showing this person that no matter what they do or don’t do, no matter what they say or don’t say, you are going to keep loving them. This is exactly how people come into themselves by understanding that they are loved no matter what.

What would your marriage look like if you started using this guide? Not as a list of commandments for your significant other, but as a mirror for yourself? Galatians 6: 4 says, ““Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”

There ARE going to be times in your relationships where you just can’t give anymore. You have to receive and be fueled back up at times and that’s just natural, but don’t let that go too long. When you feel something weighing in your heart, you are the one responsible for starting that conversation to share how you feel. You can sit there and wait for your significant other to proactively meet your need, but you will likely end up resenting them because they aren’t thinking what you’re thinking. I want to encourage everyone though to keep giving love no matter what and fight for it. Be curious about what happens when you push through that frustration and serve your wife or husband through it. Be curious what happens when you don’t allow pride to dictate your actions and you put someone else higher than yourself.

Additional resources:

These are live links that will take you to your Podcasts app, so don’t freak out when it asks you to Leave.

You Hold The Key-A Net Church sermon. If you are in any relationship at all, you are going to want to hear this. I don’t want to take away your autonomy, but you need to listen to this (because I want good for you all)!
Love Is A Fruit-Another Net Church sermon. (This place is awesome.) This podcast talks about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how Love is the true evidence of a spirit-filled life. Gifts are given but fruit is grown. Listen from about 17:30 and on. “Since love isn’t a gift, it’s a fruit, unfortunately we can’t just get Love. We have to grow it.”
Guys: go clean your garage today. Go grow your relationships today and enjoy the endless benefits you will reap. Go and work toward your marriage so you will be proud of it.

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