Sunday mornings can be rough for Adam and I. It often consists of me running around “directing traffic” as I try to get our family ready for church.
“Adam, we have to leave in 10 minutes!” I call to him in the shower.
“Here, put this on Gabriel,” I say to Adam as I throw him a bunch of clothes.
“We need diapers in the diaper bag, and don’t forget the wipes!” I remind him.
It usually takes me until we’re all buckled in and driving down the street before I turn to my husband and say, “Thank you for all of your help this morning.”
In college I attended a presentation on love, dating and marriage by a psychology professor from my university. During the presentation he proposed a question to the audience: “What do you think is the first thing to go after couples get married?”
“Sex?” one student responded.
“Appearance?” said another.
“Money?” was another response.
It turns out they were all wrong. One of the first things to go is common courtesy. Couples stop saying please, thank you, excuse me, and the like after they’re married. Prior to saying “I do,” couples are on their best behavior, showing off their best attributes, displaying good manners and politeness. But after the exchange of rings, all too quickly these things fade, giving way to negativity and an attitude of taking each other for granted.
I can see how easily it can happen. I have to make a conscientious effort to remain courteous to Adam, not because I don’t want to be polite and respectful, but because after we were married there was a new level of comfort between us. While this comfort, or greater intimacy, is a good thing, it can also become distorted. I can easily think, “Adam is locked in, he’s not going anywhere,” leading me to falsely believe it doesn’t really matter how I treat him. Now I don’t go around thinking, “I’m not required to say please or thank you because we’re married – it’s one of the perks!” But if kept unchecked, it’s an attitude that can slowly pervade our marriage.
Still, even knowing this it isn’t always easy. The stress of everyday life can be overwhelming at times. Before I know it’s even happening, I can take Adam and our marriage for granted. It’s easy to assume he knows the depth of my love for him, easy to assume he knows I’m thankful for changing that poopy diaper and for passing the milk. It’s also easy to assume that those small “niceties” are unnecessary after the big day, that “please” and “thank you” are no longer needed.
But, that new comfort should be precisely the reason we keep being polite. The more I grow in my love of Adam, the more reverence I want to show him. I want my words and actions to reflect what’s in my heart: that I cherish him and am in awe of the man he is, in awe of the fact that he chose to spend the rest of his life with me.
I don’t do it perfectly, but I put in extra effort to make sure “please” and “thank you” are abundantly used in our marriage, even if that means they’re said as afterthoughts, “Will you take the trash out? …Please?” As a bonus, Adam responds better when I’m polite and vice versa. Luckily we both are committed to making sure we live out our love and commitment to one another in all sorts of ways, including by being courteous and respectful to the other. And I’m thankful for that.