Why You Must Volley the Serve in Your Marriage

Friends, I’m starting a new series today called FAMILY FOCUS. For the next three Wednesdays, I hope to encourage you through three posts I believe God has laid on my heart and has been developing in me over the past few months. Today we start with MARRIAGE. Next week we’ll talk about our CHILDREN. Then lastly, we’ll look at SELF. I hope that you’ll join the conversation as we focus in on building healthy and balanced families. Be sure and share this series with your friends. The more the merrier over here at Grace for Moms!

Although volleying the serve will cost you a point and give you a bad start in the game of tennis, I’ve come to understand this otherwise illegal move is crucial in the arena of marriage. My husband and I have a laundry list of areas we could improve in our marriage (ironically, including how we handle the laundry) but one thing we seem to do well is serve one another.

As I pondered the steadiness and fairness of how we serve each other, I was reminded of the game of tennis, picturing that small, yellow ball flying gracefully back and forth, back and forth across the net. . . never dropping. It goes without saying that our figurative “ball” is dropped from time to time but for the most part, the hubs and I have a good volley going.

This wasn’t always the case. We celebrate 10 years of marriage this fall. It’s taken us a long time and a lot of adjusting to get to this place. And we still have a long way to go. I will admit, my amazing partner in life has been my mentor in the area of service. Watching how he continually serves me and the kids has compelled me to volley the ball back and forth, back and forth.

Romans chapter 12 verse 10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

This is “love in action” as this chapter of Romans is often titled. And this verse is speaking generally about how we should treat every person we come in contact with. How much more then, should we be honoring our spouse above ourselves?

So what does a steady volley look like?

For us, it’s a lot about taking turns. From everything to feeding the kids to doing the dishes to changing poopie diapers, we’ve taken our cues from popular preschool practices. If one of the children wake up early, someone gets up. The next time, the other one does. If the hubs lets me sleep in on Saturday morning, I let him sleep in on Sunday. We don’t usually need to discuss the volley, we just pay attention and do it.

In order to keep the “ball” in the air, both parties must be conscientious. It’s easy to get tired and lazy and take your head out of the game. Sure, this is going to happen from time to time and there is grace to cover you both. But more often than not, both husband and wife need to keep their eye on the ball.

How do we get there?

When my husband and I first married, we both worked full time jobs since we did not yet have children. I remember feeling an immense pressure to be the perfect wife. . .with apartment sparkling and dinner on the table no later than 6pm. But it rarely happened because of my work schedule. One night I apologized for not having it all done and him needing to help out. His response is the foundation of the way we “play this game.” He said, “I’ve never looked at it as your job.” Now before you start throwing stones at me, let me qualify that I am a believer in the traditional roles of man and wife. I believe men are the be the head of the household and women are to be the heart of the home. But nowadays, that doesn’t mean we cook, clean and have babies while he brings home the bacon. Knowing early on that he viewed our union as a true partnership – both in theory and practically in our home – was so freeing to me.

If your husband does not share this viewpoint, I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to reveal to him His heart for your partnership. Because all of our lifestyles and stories vary, this will look very different for each individual couple. But at the end of the day, true partnership includes sharing the load and ultimately putting the other person first, as often as possible, if not always.

I loved reading this verse in other translations. Some of the best ones are:

“. . .in honor giving preference to one another.” {NKJV}

“. . .practice playing second fiddle.” {MSG}

“. . .take delight in honoring each other.” {NLT}

“. . .outdo one another in showing honor.” {ESV}

No matter how you say it, out-serving your spouse is a game we all should be playing. I pray you are able to get on the same page with your husband and begin to volley the serve in your home.

We’d love to hear how you and your spouse have purposed to serve one another? What has worked well for you? How can we pray for you if this is an area of needed growth for your marriage?

{Photo courtesy of Creative Commons}

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  1. 1

    Denise says

    This caught my attention right away today…as it was something already on my heart for a few weeks. In fact, I already knew it was “on queue” this morning in my time with the Lord…and not because God wanted to commend me on my brilliant “serves.” Nope, it was because I know I’ve “dropped the ball” of late!

    Aside from Christ, my hubby too, has been the ultimate example to me of how to serve one another in our marriage. In our almost 13 years, his “serve” has continued to improve. Lately, my “returns” are coming up a bit short. And I am thankful for the Lord’s conviction. Because, two things I notice: Without the appropriate return on my end, I tend to get a little selfish! And when we don’t return the serve, our partner will start to wear out…and get discouraged. Is my desire that I would be a drain on my husband? Of course not! I want to be an encouragement and bring life into our home. But, sometimes, I need to check myself.

    So, this is both my confession and a whole-hearted agreement with Jessica on what we are called to in our marriages. We have the example of ultimate sacrifice: “…just as the Son of man did not come to be served, BUT TO SERVE…” (Mt. 20:28). And He served until His very last days.

    I need to pick up my game. But, not in my own strength…

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      Denise, Thank you so much for sharing here. I find I drop the ball a lot lately too. Thank God there is grace for both ourselves and our spouses. I believe if we hold the goal in our heart, chances are we’ll meet it much of the time. It’s about our willingness, right?! Praying for you this morning as you seek the Lord in this area. Blessings to you!

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