When Suzy and I (Gio) were dating and entering the DTR, “define the relationship”, zone, the last thing on our mind was what would be our responsibilities within the home. We were focused on finding out if we were compatible. Was there anything within our character that either one of us could not live with? We were definitely not considering who was going to do what in the home.
The Conversation about Responsibilities is Necessary
While deciding who’s going to take on certain responsibilities might not be a popular conversation, it’s a necessary one. The reality is this conversation will need to take place sooner than you think. Who is going to pay the bills? Who is going to cook? How about the yard work? Along with so many other responsibilities that if we listed them out would just exhaust us.
Most of the time we walk into this decision based on how it was executed in our home, or what culture has defined as a husband or wife responsibility. The problem with this thinking is what if you both had different examples? Or what if your parents did not align with the cultural norms and your spouse’s parents did?
Before we go any further, you can almost see the strong invitation for Satan to step in. There’s an invitation for him to wreak all kinds of havoc on a relationship if we are not careful. We must have this conversation.
What does the Bible Say?
1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” This advice says take the time to sit down, be sober-minded, and be watchful of the pitfalls we can fall into regarding who does what around the home.
With two people coming together, growing up in different homes, environments, cultures even, it is very easy to already have decided in your head what the dynamics of the home will look like. If we are not careful, and if we are not being molded day in and day out by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, this is one area where Satan can get a foothold. He will definitely move your marriage down what we call the four stages of marital decline: Romance, Reality, Resentment, and Rebellion.
Galatians 4:24 tells us, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”.
We need to look at our home, the responsibilities, how we are going to accomplish them through the lens of love rather than divided tasks.
How We Approach Responsibilities
In our home, I (Gio) enjoy doing yard work. It is therapy for me to take a yard that needs some care and within a few hours get it clean cut and in order. In the same way this is how Suzy sees laundry. It's a big pile of clothes that need to be washed and then folded into order. But there have been times where I have not been able to get to the yard, or she has not been able to get to the laundry and we have each stepped in to help.
Conventional wisdom tells you, “Well, that is not my responsibility, don’t you think he/she could have planned that out better? I already do a lot around the house, and he/she is going to dump that on me?” This is a response in the flesh, rather than the spirit. And if we are not careful, it will push us to resent the other quickly.
When we take the time to read the Bible and read verses like Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”. Most of the time when we see “others” in this text we don’t necessarily think of our spouse. We need to take a personal look into our hearts and ask God to reveal to us the true posture of our hearts.
How we posture our heart towards our spouse as God’s personal perfect provision for us will dictate how we proceed in investing in our family, our homes, our jobs, and anything else that falls under responsibilities. We cannot walk around as if everyone owes us something. We must look through the eyes of “FAITH Love” and see our spouse as Christ would see them.
How You Should Approach this Conversation
Our goal is not to tell you what to do because every situation is different. Our desire is to share some practical principles that we believe will help in navigating the responsibilities in the home.
Here are a few:
1. Look to the Lord to satisfy you. Here is a big piece of advice: your spouse is human; they will let you down. We are not perfect and therefore we need to keep our focus on the one who is, Jesus.
2. Spend some time taking a personal inventory of your heart. Read God’s Word, spend time in prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what areas of your heart need to change in order to posture yourself in a way that loves your spouse unconditionally.
3. Communicate with each other. As I mentioned earlier, there are certain things that bring me energy and others that bring Suzy energy. The responsibilities that don’t, we work through them. We come up with a game plan on how it will get done. If we do not agree, we make the kids do it. Just kidding, but I just made myself laugh. We come to an agreement with Philippians 2:3 in mind.
4. Enjoy the process. We don’t have to feel burdened all the time. It should be our goal to release each other in a way that we don’t place unrealistic expectations. When one spouse knows if they can’t get to something the other spouse is willing to step in, there is great freedom.
Remember, our greatest purpose as husband and wife is to reflect the image of God! Satan’s goal is to disrupt that reflection and bring selfishness, resentment, and unrest to your home. Don’t succumb to the flesh, stay in step with the Spirit and work together to fulfill your purpose!