My wife, Sheri, had torn a tendon and needed rotator cuff surgery. On our drive home from the visit with her orthopedic surgeon, we reviewed the surgeon’s prognosis. Post-surgery, Sheri could expect limited use of her arm and shoulder, lots of downtime, five months of physical therapy, and heaps of ice and pain meds.

I was getting educated on the complexity of shoulder injuries. The recovery would be tough — and Sheri would need my help.

There was no doubt, no hesitation: I was up to the task. But the severity of the situation didn’t sink in until Sheri uttered these five words: “You will need to cook.”

Was I dreaming? Maybe I had dozed off for a second or experienced one of those out-of-body experiences and passed to an alternate universe.

“Sorry, what did you say, honey?”

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

Up to this point, my contribution to meal preparation in our marriage 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 tirelessly watching for ways you can love, support, praise, appreciate, protect and please your spouse and then taking action — without expecting something in return.

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That’s not always easy. Serving opportunities usually crop up 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. For example:

  • I wash the car; Sheri cooks.
  • I blow 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 wash the cat; Sheri cooks.

Cooking: 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 needed work, but I can now add “hair styling” to my list of talents as well.

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

When life throws curves at your marriage, remember…

  • Don’t complain.
  • 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.


Jim, with his wife Sheri, is a co-founder of Growthtrac Ministries.

Copyright © 2016 Jim Mueller, Growthtrac Ministries