It's BEING THERE.
Sound simple. I mean, you married this person, right, so you are there.
Physically, yes, but how many of us are there and available for our spouses, all the time?
Not many. If being there was a widespread phenomenon, half of the marriages today would not end in divorce. And remember that divorce shows the tip of the iceberg. A lot of marriages roll on, tolerable but lacking, and the partners do not know if they'd do it all again.
All because of being there.
What does it mean, to be there for your mate? Is it a life of indentured servitude?
If we look to Jesus as our model - which we're supposed to do - then yes, it is.
The kind of service we're talking about isn't measured so much in acts as it is in attitude.
The acts can be pretty mundane. If you're at the end of your favorite TV show and your spouse wants to tell you something, you hit mute and listen.
You want to sleep in, and your spouse wants to get an early start painting the backyard fence...you don't complain, ask for five more minutes, or pretend to be asleep. You get up, with a smile and a willing heart.
You want to go out to dinner and your spouse is tired from a long day at the office...yeah, you guessed it. Stay home, and you make dinner.
Two things are required for this to work. Only two.
The first is trust. You have to trust that what your spouse wants is important enough to them to override what you're doing, or they would not be asking. It's not always going to be true. Sometimes your mate won't notice what you're doing and that it has some importance for you, or they'll be in a selfish mood and won't care.
You just have to assume that most of the time, your mate knows what he or she is doing.
The second is unconditionality. No quid pro quo's. You're not serving to get service back. You're doing it because it's the right thing to do, before your spouse, before your own sense of honor, and before God.
Yes, you might find yourself taken for granted.
Yes, you leave yourself vulnerable to manipulation.
But that's life. Being taken for granted is just across the fence from dependable, and you can't have intimacy without vulnerability.
So it all circles back to trust.
As God trusted the world with His Son, so you have to trust your mate with your time, and with your heart.
And when your heart gets broken...you have to rise again.