Liam and Mary were in our offices in a crisis. They had set up their marriage early on as a series of transactions. Liam would do something for Mary that she wanted if Mary would do something for Liam that he wanted. It worked well for them until they experienced their first period of negative interactions. Then Liam would do something to Mary that she did not want because Mary had done something to Liam that he did not want.
Their communication skills were good. Each understood that the other was communicating that they were not important, did not matter, and were not of any value or worth. They did not have a communication problem. They had a generosity problem.
Being the spouse and having the marriage God wants you to be and have requires you living a life of generosity. In Ephesians 5, husbands are told that they are to “love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Wives are told to “submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord.” Being generous toward your spouse is not optional if you want a marriage God will bless.
Generosity is the virtue of giving good things to your spouse freely and abundantly.
Being Generous Improves Your Marriage
According a study with close to 3,000 participants (all with children), generosity is a key ingredient in a happy marriage. Here are a few of the reasons why generosity is so important in marriage.
- Couples who express a high amount of generosity toward each other are five times more likely to report their marriage as “very happy.”
- Generosity is contagious. When one spouse begins being generous, the other spouse begins to express generosity too.
- Receiving generosity gives your spouse the underlying message that they are valuable and important.
- Couples who report high levels of generosity also reported high levels of sexual satisfaction.
- Couples with high generosity influenced their children’s levels of generosity.
Becoming a Generous Spouse
- Discover your spouse’s love language. Giving generously in a way they cannot receive it is frustrating to both you and your spouse (previous article).
- Go above and beyond. Sacrifice is essential to being generous. If it is uncomfortable or out of your way, it is an act of generosity.
- Give up the scoreboard. Don’t be like Liam and Mary, making exchanges. Be generous without expectations.
- Find joy in giving. Giving of yourself without expecting anything in return provides you with an intrinsic reward that are usually far more valuable than the gift.
- Ask your spouse for what you want. Being a generous spouse also includes sharing with your spouse what you find to be generous. “You have not because you ask not. (James 4:2).
- Take Action and Go First. It is important to develop a plan of action and execute it without waiting. Go for it.
What Do You Have To Say?
We always love to hear from our readers. What advice do you have for spouses who are transactionally focused like Liam and Mary? What have you done to make your marriage more generous? Do you also find that you experience joy when giving without expecting anything in return?
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2015. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.