On the drive home, we reviewed the surgeon’s prognosis:

Post-surgery, we could expect limited use of the arm and shoulder, lots of downtime, five-months of physical therapy and heaps of ice and pain meds.

Sheri had torn a tendon and needed rotator cuff surgery. I was getting educated on the complexity of shoulder injuries — the recovery would be tough and she’d need my help.

There was no hesitation: I was up to the task.

But the severity of the situation didn’t sink in until Sheri stated these five words: “You will need to cook”.

Was I dreaming? Maybe I dosed off for a second, you know, one of those out-of-body experiences. Had I momentarily passed to an alternate universe?

“Sorry, what did you say?”

“I won’t be able to cook. Handling food, lifting and working around the stove — can’t do it. You will need to cook.”

Up to this point, my contribution to meal preparation was dialing for carryout. Chinese? Thai? Mexican? Sushi? Pizza? Not a problem!

Sheri and I are advocates of the “serving” value in marriage. Authentic servanthood means, without expecting something in return, tirelessly watching for ways you can love, support, praise, appreciate, protect and please your spouse — and then taking action.

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That’s not always easy. Serving opportunities often come at inconvenient times and usually when you’re not in serving-mode. You need to be in a my-spouse-is-number-one mindset.  Your spouse comes first; you come second. Serving tangibly expresses your love to each other and makes your marriage stronger.

I love serving Sheri. But as we “mutually serve” each other, we find ourselves fitting into specific roles and tasks. Such as:

  • I wash the car; Sheri cooks.
  • I blow the snow off the driveway; Sheri cooks.
  • I wash the floor; Sheri cooks.
  • I make coffee; Sheri cooks.
  • I fix Sheri’s computer; Sheri cooks.
  • I do the laundry; Sheri cooks.
  • I wash the cat; Sheri cooks.

Cooking is not my spiritual gift.

Well, the good news is we did eat, and we ate quite well. Thanks to our church, an abundance of pre-prepared meals made me look like Wolfgang Puck. Way to go, church!

My flat iron technique needs work, but I can now add “hair styling” to my list of talents.

I learned how to help Sheri get dressed and un-dressed and even gave her sponge baths. Hey, someone had to do it.

When life throws curves at your marriage, remember:

  • Don’t complain; be patient.
  • Be flexible; get out of your comfort zone.
  • So you have more time to serve, free yourself from your “me” activities.
  • Be proactive to your spouse’s needs.
  • If you need help, surround yourself with your support system — church, small group and family — and let them serve you.
  • Do whatever it takes.


Copyright © 2010 by Jim Mueller, President and co-founder of Growthtrac Ministries.