Growing up, every day, my parents required that each of the kids read a book for 30 minutes per day. We called this "Reading Time." I was not too fond of it.
I wanted to do many different things; I wanted to play, run outside, anything except doing something as dull as reading. It took me until just a few months ago to realize the importance of reading. I finally understood that reading opens up entirely new worlds for me. I'm at the point where I choose to spend my time reading.
I work for a non-profit, and I spend my days sharing our mission with people in the community. I have had the opportunity to meet many unique people in the three years since I've graduated from college. I have met people from all walks of life and have found myself in the offices of influential community members. After a few of those meetings, I have found myself asking if my company should allow me to represent them to such influential people; surely, someone else more qualified should be doing this. After realizing that it's up to me to inspire others to join us, I decided to learn more.
For the past several months, I have been devouring business books. I have been trying to learn about customer service, productivity, personal selling, and any other topic that I thought relevant. I started subscribing to blogs (which got me going on this one), listening to podcasts, and finding out who is out there doing things right. I have learned a lot and have enjoyed the experience. Then, however, I started seeing other books that I wanted to read. While on the Knights of Columbus website Fathers for Good, I saw that they had a reading list of great books for dads and Catholic men. I checked out their marriage page and started reading those books.
After getting halfway through the first marriage book, it hit me: being married is like having the ultimate customer service job. In his book "If Only He Knew," Dr. Gary Smalley emphasized the point that if husbands did whatever they could to make their wives happy, those acts would inspire their wives to reciprocate. However, that's not to say that husbands should serve well for their ends. The point that he was trying to make is that wives respond in kind to acts of love. So, I realized that my "job" is to give my wife the best customer service of her life!
You may have heard that being married isn't very fun and that your spouse will drive you crazy. That statement is true if you let them. Every time we interact with our loved ones, we choose how we react to what they say or do. For example, I used to let it get to me when Alison would leave her clothes all over the floor or not put her dishes in the dishwasher. Then, after realizing that it was my job to serve my wife well, I decided to stop letting those things bother me as much. Instead of begrudgingly putting away her clothes or angrily doing the dishes, I saw it as an opportunity to serve her well.
After choosing to serve lovingly a few times, she responded, and our harmony grew. So, naturally, I took it to the next level. My wife is in Medical School and is currently doing rotations at a local hospital. She works strange hours, sometimes coming home to bed late at night. Before going to bed, I would think about things that I could do to make her coming home more pleasant. I'd put a foot warmer at the foot of her side of the bed, and I'd take her PJs from the bed and put them in a room where she could have light while preparing for bed. I came to enjoy it more and more.
With my career, I spend my days serving the community through the work and mission of my organization. I have professional pride in what I do and get a great sense of self-worth from my work. I took those same principles and began to serve my wife well. I don't particularly appreciate fighting with my Alison because we're terrible at fighting. So, if there is an investment I can make in her to reap a harvest of harmony and love, I'll do it. If there are attitudes and behaviors that I can change to make it easier for her to love me, I'll do it.
If you want to learn how to be a great husband (or a great wife!), it's easy. Don't spend too much time reading marriage books. Read books about customer service, go home and serve well!